Saturday, September 10, 2011

I found it!

I think...
Even Fr. Z has asked where the quote comes from referring to souls falling into hell like snowflakes - or leaves falling from the trees in Fall.  Some have attributed it to St. Teresa of Avila (I never came across it), others to the messages of Our Lady of Fatima (I never found it in any of the writings), but now I think I may have found what appears to be the closest, most verifiable contemporary source. 
From a message given by the Blessed Virgin to Venerable Elena Aiello, an Italian nun and mystic, soon to be beatified:
“The Madonna then came closer, and with a sad expression, showed me the flames of Hell. She said:” ‘Satan reigns and triumphs on earth! See how the souls are falling into Hell. See how high the flames are, and the souls who fall into them like flakes of snow look like transparent embers! How many sparks! How many cries of hate, and of despair! How much pain!’" - Mystics of the Church
Soon after my conversion in 1972 I read many mystics and revelations regarding coming chastisements and so on.  I was impressed for a time with Mother Elena, due in part to her devotion to the Holy Face.  Over the years I tried to mortify my interest in private revelation and apparitions since many were in dispute and most seemed unfulfilled.  I also felt such things were novel distractions, somewhat like spiritual science fiction entertainment - not to mention that a lot of crazy people got themselves all worked up over such things.  The freaks often scared me away, but if I did get involved, the initial excitement and fervor gradually diminished and ended in disappointment that nothing 'big' ever happened. 
In the meantime, preachers and teachers kept saying things like, 'in every age there were doomsayers', 'back in such and such century even some of the saints believed the world would end', 'the end of the world comes to every person at death', yadda, yadda,yadda.  So I more or less ignored the increase of mystics and their private revelations, although always keeping in mind the 'warnings' I heard before from mystics such as Mother Aiello.  The earlier revelations became a sort of reference point by which to discern the plethora of new warnings - usually resulting in my wondering if the new mystics hadn't read the same stuff I had.  So here I am today - and the mystics are getting beatified - and I'm still my sinful, skeptical self -  "time will prove where wisdom lies." [Matt. 11:19]
One thing about M. Aiello's 'messages' is that today we can look back on what she wrote and kind of see more clearly what they referred to and how they were either fulfilled or perhaps mitigated.  We also can learn something regarding the nature of private revelations as well - that they are received according to the mode of understanding of the receiver.  In other words, some stuff can be mixed up in the translation, some stuff is symbolic, and so on.  Such communications and messages remain interesting to read and ponder however, and they can be useful to jump-start a tepid devotion, or to cast light upon one's state of soul and/or the troubled times we live in.  Hence they can be good insofar as they lead one to a deeper, more solid devotion and fidelity to the Church and the Gospel.
As Catholics we have the added consolation of knowing that holy persons are never canonized for their private revelations or the mystical phenomena and charisms they may have exhibited while on earth. 
Venerable Elena Aiello will be declared Blessed on September 14, 2011 -Feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross.
Photo:  Flaky Bayside visionary, Veronica Lueken claimed to be 'miraculous photo'  of souls falling into hell.  Another reason I don't get involved in mystics and apparitions.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Accepting Vatican II.

Is it optional?
Has anyone noticed how even some Roman Catholic blogs seem to blithely question 'The Council'?  Claiming: "It was simply a pastoral council" - "nothing was defined" - "nothing was binding" - "it was subverted, infiltrated by Masons and Protestants" - and stuff like that.  What is the source of this invective infection?  Aside from the attempt by some to try and explain numerous abuses perpetrated by those movers and shakers of the "spirit" of Vatican II, I would say the clear source of such defiant propaganda has been... "The Lefebrians"!  I like that label BTW, since the SSPX is actually much too limiting and non-inclusive, therefore, considering how the excommunicated Archbishop Lefebvre has many sympathizers amongst Roman Catholics who prefer the EF Mass - I'd say Lefebrians is fairly apt.  Nothing wrong with that of course - but I'm pretty sure that as Roman Catholics, we are obliged to acknowledge that Vatican II was a legitimate council - and that the OF Mass is a valid, licit, true and holy Mass - in fact, that it is the ordinary form of Mass in the Roman Catholic Church.
What does the SSPX Bishop Fellay really say?
“If their aim is still to force us to accept the second Vatican Council, the discussions have been clear enough in showing that we have no intention of doing any such thing.”
He went on to say that “there are those who say that up until now, they (the Vatican, editor’s note) have always tried to shove the Council down our throats. I don’t know. All I am saying is: We are moving on. We have our principles, above all faith… Without faith God can never like you, so our decision is made. Faith comes first, no matter what, it even comes before recognition by the Church. We need to be strong.” - Bishop Fellay - Vatican Insider

So, they are moving on.  "Faith comes first, no matter what, it even comes before recognition by the Church."  See - there it is - if that is indeed an accurate translation that is.  Nevertheless, just remember - we can't be holier than the Church.  

Don't Look Back - The Corapi Story.


I'm pretty much 'over' the Corapi deal now.  In my opinion he's just a guy who moved onto something else in life.  He moved on and reinvented himself - he has a new life.  It happens.  There are many priests who have left ministry to pursue a private, personal life.  Once the shock is over, we ought to be able to let it go - live and let live.  People leave things all of the time.  Parents get divorced, mother's give up babies for adoption, father's leave their families, children leave home, friendships break up, people move on.  I know of men who were priests who received a dispensation from their 'vows' and were permitted to marry.  Sometimes they met the woman they fell in love with while they were still priests.  Once laicized, the men were free to marry and did so in the Church and raised good Catholic families - all the while remaining in good standing with the Church.  Life goes on.
That said, I think one reason I find the Corapi story somewhat compelling is because of what seems to me to be a connection, or inspiration motivating his 'makeover', which appears to have been influenced by the works of Bob Dylan.  I'm speculating here of course, and by no means am I being sarcastic or uncharitable, to the contrary.  I'm rather intrigued - from a purely natural point of view of course.  Earlier on in the fracas that arose over the allegations of sexual misconduct which ended in Corapi's resignation from ministry, someone wrote a comment to one of his posts.  The comment was more or less comprised of lyrics from Dylan.  At the time I suggested the anonymous commenter had to be Corapi - and I continue to hold to that theory.  I've reprinted the comment here:
Good People, it’s time to roll the stone and gather no moss. And grow up.
What did Christ say to the Apostles upon His Resurrection when they were all bamboozled, fadoodled and outright poodled? “Peace! My Peace be with you!”
Then buy, borrow, steal or mortgage a bit of Peace if you can, cuz it’s time move on and leave the funeral parlor and bury old Father John and baptize and circumsize Hot Rod Johnny Corapi.
Get used to it. The old Padre is gone and Harley John Corapi is rumbling out of your towne for good.
The Wild Ones, Part II. You don’t like it? You get a new messiah and he’ll get new groupies. We’ll call it even and call it a day.
It’s over. It’s past over. Father Corapi is Dead! Long Live The Black Sheep Dog Corapi.
What? You don’t like it? Too bad. Get over it and get over yourself. John Corapi’s patiently laid the storyline and the plot about his big changes in life, and he’s given you every chance to get it.
Do you get it yet?
Let me explain it to you so that you’ll understand it.
He ain’t working on Maggie’s Farm no more.
You can guess, surmise, assume and presume all day long about why he ain’t working on Maggie’s Farm no more, but the bottom line is that he ain’t.
Did he sin? Did he do “it” or all that other stuff that’s bandied about here, there and everywhere in your mind and hearts? Probably, maybe, could be, who knows? Who cares?
Maybe even more than you could guess. Maybe none of it.
It’s over.
He ain’t a priest no more.
You can live in Yesterdayville all you want and wish him back as hard as your little soul can until your heart breaks and your eyes burst with tears of pain and sorrow and confusion.
Be his guest.
But it’s over.
Move along now, there ain’t nothing to see here no more.
He ain’t working on Maggie’s Farm no more.
“He’s got a head full of ideas that are drivin’ him insane.
Well, he tries his best
To be just like he is
But everybody wants you
To be just like them
They say sing while you slave and he just get bored
He ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more.”
He’s told you now, for the last time. He ain’t working on Maggie’s Farm no more. Either come along for the ride or move along. If you’re looking for him to save you, forget it. Ain’t gonna happen. No more. He’s mixed his last magic potion and heard his last confession and you can go away mad or go away empty. Just go away.
You want a suggestion on how to deal with all your broken dreams?
Don’t follow leaders…watch the parking meters.
You want Jesus? Then go get Jesus. But leave Corapi out of it.
He ain’t working on Maggie’s Farm no more. - Black SheepDog
To be clear - this is just a personal theory of mine - but since the title of his autobiography is the same as the Bob Dylan film/album, Don't Look Back, I can't help but see a link, a connection, an identification as it were.  I find it interesting mainly because I'm a big fan of Bob Dylan as well... and some of Dylan's lyrics had become a sort of 'anthem' for my own life at different stages.  Likewise it seems to me the lyrics reflect something about Corapi's life that he would like people to understand.  Now if Corapi is indeed relying on the Dylan lyrics as a sort of catalyst to tell his story, I think I 'get it' then - regarding where Corapi is at these days - but needless to say, that means setting aside any religious prejudice, expectation and/or judgment regarding his personal decision to leave ministry.   Today, all I can say to that is: It's his life - his decision.
Moving on.
Photo credit:  Don't Look Back - Rui Oliveira

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Not all are teachers.

Therefore, strive for the greater spiritual gifts...
St. Paul says that someplace - I believe in first or second Corinthians.  I mention it because sometimes during our spiritual lives, when we experience a more fervent love for Christ and feel ourselves especially beloved by him, our enthusiasm gets the best of us and occasionally we imagine ourselves gifted with every grace and charism the Holy Spirit has to offer.  Indeed, the Holy Spirit pours out his gifts in abundance, yet not all of us are actually called to be teachers or spiritual guides and so on.  I expect the point can be argued that all of us are called to be all these things as Christians, but I'm thinking of the explicit roles here and how people of good will, often in their first fervor sometimes tend to over-reach.  John of the Cross writes of these things in his section concerning the faults of beginners.  And though St. John can come off as harsh and critical, I prefer to think he is all charity and gentleness in what he writes.  Likewise, I think maybe God smiles as a father might when his son tries to act like a grown up - keeping a close watch, yet allowing the boy to fall - much as the Lord does with ourselves, he permits us to fall through presumption in order to learn humility.  That is my hope at least.
Fraternal correction.
I didn't read the Holy Father's homily from last Sunday wherein he said Christians should offer fraternal correction to sinners, although I had to wonder after reading the headline if he has never read a Catholic blog?  Catholic bloggers and online personalities seem to thrive on fraternal correction. Of course, most non-religious people think that is all Christians do anyway - call out people for their sins and condemning everything they do.  After doing our Christian duty, we can find ourselves confronted by those who disagree with us, and we subsequently defend ourselves claiming we are victims of persecution for standing up for the truth.  I'm not sure the Holy Father sees it in exactly the same way many of us do however.
Pope Benedict XVI spoke on the prayer of prayer, and the obligation for Christians to admonish sinners, during his Angelus audience on Sunday, September 4.
Fraternal love, the Pope said, “involves a feeling of mutual responsibility,” which sometimes requires speaking frankly to an acquaintance “to help him understand that what he has done is wrong.” Making this sort of fraternal correction “requires great humility and simplicity of heart,” the Pope cautioned. A correction should be made with love, not with anger. “If a brother sins, we do not cease to love him by inviting him to return to the straight path.” The Holy Father observed that loving someone means helping that person in times of need, and sometimes what the person needs is guidance away from moral harm. - Catholic Culture       

The speck in their eye.
Somewhere in the writings of St. Teresa, the saint expresses exasperation with seculars who exaggerate the faults of religious, considering their behavior so much worse precisely because they are religious, while if the same fault were observed in a lay person, it wouldn't even qualify as a fault, much less a defect in character - it would simply be overlooked.  We all have done the same thing I think - especially with fellow believers who aspire to a 'closer walk with Jesus' so to speak.
When I was little I tended to be rather pious and loved to pray, attend daily Mass, and make visits to the Blessed Sacrament - in addition to frequent confession.  I went to confession so often because members of my family were always quick to point out what a hypocrite I was because I had so many obvious faults.  I was especially castigated if I told my parents I couldn't answer the phone if they wanted me to lie and say they weren't home.  Or when I asked them not to take God's name in vain, or why they drank so much.  I learned quickly that 'fraternal correction' doesn't always work out so well.
Can a blind person guide a blind person?
I once worked for a group of nuns.  I rarely ever speak of the experience since I considered it my side-job as it were, it supported me through the years I painted more or less full time - I worked there for about 15 years, with benefits such as health care and retirement.  It was a wonderful experience and a time of great grace - I liken the experience to being as close as possible to actually living in community.  Privately I helped a friend care for his elderly parents until they died - painting and living much like a hermit.  Long story short, the experience taught me much about fraternal correction and the imperfections of pride possessed by beginners in the spiritual life.  (And as a 'retarded soul' I still have much to learn - believe me!  A teacher, a guide I am not - the blind cannot lead the blind.  Ever.)
During those years, many fervent, devout persons came through the place.  I remember one woman who worked as a housekeeper.  She was intensely devoted to the Eucharist, and to use her words, "could never go a day without receiving her Jesus!"  Once, a scheduling conflict arose and the woman made some demands upon one of the sisters in charge, only to be refused permission to do whatever it was to 'get her Jesus in her'.  I can't recall what the exact circumstances were, but I remember seeing the woman standing in the hallway, twirling her hair in her fingers, apparently feeling persecuted and denied her rights, she kept repeating over and over, "That nun is not going to drive the love of Jesus out of my heart!" 
For days after that the housekeeper lady watched the sister closely, looking for every little fault she could find about her, calling her a hypocrite and a bitch whenever she spoke about her.  As deranged as the woman seemed to be, she was able to convince, for a time, several others that this particular sister was evil.  Eventually the woman left employment on her own accord.  Sadly, her personal history was rather complicated and dysfunctional, her devotion extremely emotional and self-serving.  Yet her 'case' isn't all that unusual when it comes to church people.  I've been just as nuts myself at times.

We are all very much susceptible to sins of spiritual pride and vanity - which very often masquerades as zeal for the salvation of souls, expressing itself in and through fraternal correction based upon mistaken notions of perfection - and very often in the process, we miss the log in our own eye while we seek to remove the speck in one another's eye.  What I learned as a kid holds true for us today I think - frequent confession is a very good antidote - as well as a sense of humor.  I always wish I had a video of the woman standing in the sister's hallway with her mop-bucket, twirling her hair, ranting.  Catherine Tate could do a segment on her - frequently comedians and satirists show us our faults quite nicely - their antics can help us put matters back in perspective, while bringing us back down to earth.
As I said earlier, even God must smile sometimes, remembering how little children, with their big imaginations, do some very funny things when they try to act like grown-ups and play at being teachers and spiritual guides.
Art: Top - Allegory of hypocrisy and gluttony
        Middle - Allegory of treachery and calumny (aka slander) riding upon envy's back. The arrows protruding from envy's eyes show that she is always ready to stab those of whom she is jealous.
        Bottom:  Allegory of pride borne by flattery. Pride is depicted tooting her own horn. 

Our Lady's Birthday!

Merry Marymass!

Pictured, The Infant Mary, venerated as Maria Bambina in Italy.

here for details of the history and devotions attached to the veneration of the Infant Mary.

O Blessed and Immaculate Virgin, Maria Bambina, pray for us now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Happy feast day to all!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Even though comments have been closed indefinitely...

I'll continue blogging my wonderful feel-good posts for your amusement.

Update:  I've opened comments but with 'comment moderation' activated.

Time's up!

Comments are now closed until further notice.

That's it folks - the freak show is over here.


Overreacting online...

The backhander approach...


Rash Judgment and imprudence.

Diane at Te deum Blog has a timely post discussing the issue of rash judgement in Catholic new media, as well as social media, explaining,
 "I have often wondered whether we have engaged in rash judgment online without realizing it because we do not understand it and have not contemplated the matter. Typically, when the 8th Commandment is taught to young people, the focus is on telling the truth and not to tell lies. However, few sources really discuss rash judgment.
A simple rule to follow is that we cannot judge someone else's motive, or the state of their soul. We are sometimes incapable of discerning our own motives, especially when we fail to spend time in silence and prayer. How much more incapable when it involves motives behind other people's words and actions. We cannot claim that someone in a position of authority is a coward because he did not do this or that. We may make the observation that something was not done, but we get into trouble when we continue with the thought, "because...." The moment we convince ourselves that the "why" behind the inaction is some kind of bad conduct, in the absence of reasonable, manifest proof, we have likely crossed the line into rash judgment because only God can know motive. " - Te Deum
I know I have forgotten what it means to judge rashly at times, often because I tend to be imprudent.  I did it just the other day in fact. 
I find Diane's post to be a catechesis in the best sense, she relies upon Scripture, the Catechism, Thomas Aquinas, John Hardon and others to help us understand how serious the issue can be.  For instance, these definitions from Fr. Hardon are most helpful:

Unquestioning conviction about another person's bad conduct without adequate grounds for the judgment. The sinfulness of rash judgment lies in the hasty imprudence with which the critical appraisal is made and in the loss of reputation that a peson suffers in the eyes of the one who judges adversely.

Going back to what I said earlier about wisdom being the engine behind prudence, I found Fr. Hardon's explanation of imprudence very fitting to pull out, in part.

Sins against prudence that are either by defect or by excess. Sins by defect against prudence are: rashness, which acts before due consideration has been given; thoughtlessness, which neglects to take the necessary circumstances into account; and negligence, which does not give the mind sufficient time for mature deliberation.
Check out Diane's post here:  Catholics in the Combox.  I know I will be using it for my examination of conscience.
Art:  Illustration for Canterbury Tales

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Holy Communion in the hand...

[Editor's note:  Since there was some discussion about this topic, I decided it would be best to post something official from the Holy See that addresses the issue of Communion in the hand.]
What does the Congregation for Divine Worship say?
[90.] “The faithful should receive Communion kneeling or standing, as the Conference of Bishops will have determined”, with its acts having received the recognitio of the Apostolic See. “However, if they receive Communion standing, it is recommended that they give due reverence before the reception of the Sacrament, as set forth in the same norms”.[176]
[92.] Although each of the faithful always has the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, at his choice,[178] if any communicant should wish to receive the Sacrament in the hand, in areas where the Bishops’ Conference with the recognitio of the Apostolic See has given permission, the sacred host is to be administered to him or her. However, special care should be taken to ensure that the host is consumed by the communicant in the presence of the minister, so that no one goes away carrying the Eucharistic species in his hand. If there is a risk of profanation, then Holy Communion should not be given in the hand to the faithful.[179]
[14.] “The regulation of the Sacred Liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, which rests specifically with the Apostolic See and, according to the norms of law, with the Bishop.[34] - Redemptionis Sacramentum
Communion-in-the-hand is approved by the Holy See as an option for the United States, and for many other countries, including Italy.
And don't forget...
[19.] The diocesan Bishop, the first steward of the mysteries of God in the particular Church entrusted to him, is the moderator, promoter and guardian of her whole liturgical life.[39] For “the Bishop, endowed with the fullness of the Sacrament of Order, is ‘the steward of the grace of the high Priesthood’,[40] especially in the Eucharist which he either himself offers or causes to be offered,[41] by which the Church continually lives and grows”.[42] - Redemptionis Sacramentum
That's all.

Monday, September 05, 2011

The Feast of Blessed Mother Teresa

Why I was off-line today.
I was fortunate to get up very early today to attend Mass latter in the morning at the Cathedral of St. Paul for the feast day of Blessed Mother Teresa.  It was so awesome and beautiful, reverent and holy.  It seemed to me that I heard very deeply in my heart that we must love one another and forgive one another.  That the truth is all about love and being loved - that we are first loved by God - and that is how we are able to love.  We must love one another.  We must see Christ in one another.  We need to forgive one another.  If we have not love, we have nothing, we are the poorest of the poor... which in itself makes us lovable.  I understood how far adrift I've gone from that one thing necessary, how I've lost sight of the immensity of the love of God, wasting my time on trifles and shadows.  The joy of Mother Teresa seemed to fill the Cathedral, dispersing the darkest, gloomiest thoughts clouding my heart and once again it seemed I recognized how simple and pure the love of God is and how critical it is for us to love one another.

I'm convinced that Blessed Mother Teresa is very much the greatest saint of these modern times.
Pray for us Blessed Mother Teresa, obtain for us a great increase in love of God and our neighbor.  Amen.

Fraternal correction...

And yet the Bishop went to a 'bad' Mass and said nothing to the priest...  (Editor:  Correction - it appears he probably did say something.)

So once upon a time a bishop went on vacation and attended a Mass with lots of liturgical abuses.  It wasn't before long that the bishop came to the conclusion, "if things are this bad at Mass, I will not go to confession to this priest."  .
As soon as Mass was over, the bishop departed in silence.  (Editor:  That appears to be untrue.)
When the bishop returned home, he blogged about the sorry state of affairs at that parish.  Evidently the naughty priest was never granted the grace of fraternal correction.  And yet the bishop received kudos for recognizing what many of us have had to put up with for years.  (Editor:  I was later informed that it is more likely that the good bishop did speak to the priest privately - which is how good fraternal correction works best.)

No wonder the Holy Father is recommending fraternal correction.  One might hope that his exhortation would apply especially to those in authority...
The text of the Gospel “tells us that brotherly love also involves a sense of mutual responsibility,” said the Pope, “so if my brother sins against me, I must use love towards him and, first of all, speak to him personally, pointing out that what he has said or done is not good.” - CNA
Of course, it could be that the bishops actually prefer Michael Voris to do it instead? 
(Editor: My apologies for such a snarky post in the first place.)
Art:  Dada's Magic Bishop, Hugo Ball

Larry of Acts of the Apostacy was so kind as to offer a correction to my post, he wrote:

"Terry - in the spirit of gentle fraternal correction - I think you might have skimmed past this line in the Bishop's post:

"I was also on vacation so ... Nevertheless, I didn't let it go. What I did or did not do, I will leave between me and the priest. I hope it was helpful."

Sounds as if he did speak to the priest, but refrained to discuss it publicly."

Now if only I had refrained from posting this.  Thank you Larry. My apologies to the bishop and everyone concerned. The bishop is indeed deserving of 'kudos' .  One less thing for Mike to take care of too.  What?  (Added @ 3:17 PM.  I have been offline since last evening.)

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Mass chat: Introduction to the new translation.

"You shall love your neighbor as yourself." - Romans 13

Before Mass began the music director offered a short video presentation on the new Missal and some of the changes.  Quick and informative.  I have no idea what other people thought, but I can't understand why anyone would object to a more faithful translation.
Coming back from Communion two different old people grabbed my hand and said hello.  Isn't that nice?  Awkward, but very touching.  It was totally spontaneous.  God bless them.
"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." - Today's Gospel.

Drinking with rabbits.