Saturday, April 07, 2012

So anyway...

It's Holy Saturday - some totally random thoughts.

I finished the icon-style painting I made of Blessed Alberto Marvelli.  I still have to 'varnish' the panel, but I laid the gold leaf last night.  My Lenten work is complete... which brings me to the emptiness of Holy Saturday.  The feeling of being a useless servant, having only done my duty - and not very well at that. 

The reason we seek diversions and satisfactions in life is because of our fear of annihilation - the silence of Holy Saturday reminds me of that.

I went to my local parish for Holy Thursday.  It was rather strange.  I'm good with just reading the Gospel of the washing of the feet - but the Church makes the call to do it - although I think maybe the practice should be limited to the cathedrals.  Anyway.  At my parish I had no idea that the custom is to wash one another's feet.  Personally I don't care if they wash cat's feet, it really doesn't seem necessary.  I'm just fine with not following the rubrics and washing women's feet - for 'pastoral reasons' of course - I know!  I'm just not into the performance aspect.  But I digress.

So they washed each other's feet, which meant many pitchers of water and a whole lot of musical chairs style action going on.  Perhaps it was meaningful to the people who had their feet washed, I don't know.  Watching the whole spectacle is what inspired my thoughts about washing cat's feet - you would only need three cats to have twelve feet - although, since half the congregation went forward for the foot bath, it was a lot more than twelve feet.  Confused?  Me too.  But I don't care because I was there for the Mass.

After Mass, the Blessed Sacrament was reposed in an unadorned tabernacle, on an unadorned altar of repose - very Cistercian I thought.  The doors were left open.  A few people remained for adoration, but soon left.  The doors remained open.  I remained somewhat longer, but left as I heard the doors of the Church being locked - I wanted to stay, but I was sure the tabernacle would be moved into the sacristy, and I didn't want to watch how that was done - better not to look.  It was 9 PM.  The doors remained open on the tabernacle as I left.

All in all, it was a very odd experience.  I try to roll with stuff - I've always been like that.  It is what it is - it was my experience of Holy Thursday - the holiness of the night wasn't affected in the least - for me.  I don't like it when people decry the abuses and proclaim the rubrics, while condemning the ministers and congregants.  Especially while people are trying to pray.  And since I was trying to pray, I decided not to go back to my parish church until after Easter.

Oh.  Comments remain closed by the way.  I sort of just want to say what I want to say and be done with it. 

With comments closed, I'm not tempted to worry as much about pleasing people, or choosing my words as carefully.  (I also don't have to drop everything just to check comments.)  Someone, somewhere, wrote something about Merton and his concerns about writing and seeking self through it: seeking approval, recognition and reputation, and so on.  It reminded me of what Christ said to the Pharisees, "How can you believe when you accept praise from one another?"

I do that both with my painting and my writing.  We all do it.  The beautiful posts by religious people over the triduum - we all do it.  Everything we do is corrupted by self-interest and pride - seeking praise from one another.

Someone suggested to me that advertising revenue on one's blog goes up in proportion to the hits they receive.  Some blogs are like brothels in that respect.


Holy Saturday is emptiness and pain... it is reality. 

Sometimes I have the strange experience of watching a young actor or actress, whose talent I admire and whose career holds promise, and I think, "I'll never live to see how their lives turn out."  Unlike the famous people I knew of while growing up, following their careers until they died - I won't know how the 'new one's' lives will turn out.  I imagine it is similar to the feeling a parent has with a child - knowing that they will probably die before them.  Or a lover who lost his beloved.  We won't know because death will do us part and no one will remember us after we are gone...  "Our life is over like a sigh. Our span is seventy years or eighty for those who are strong. And most of these are emptiness and pain."

That's Holy Saturday.  (Christ already rose from the dead you know.)

Art:  L'attraction du vide (The attraction of emptiness) - Gilbert Garcin

Keeping Our Lady company...

Where has your lover gone,
O most beautiful among women?
Where has your lover gone
that we may seek him with you?

My lover has come down to his garden,
to the beds of spice,
To browse in the garden
and to gather lilies...

Christ amongst the dead.

Friday, April 06, 2012

The Grand Silence

Coming in from the fields, they laid the cross upon him to bear it behind Jesus.

Simon of Cyrene, returning from the hard labor of toiling in the fields, exhausted by the heat, is put upon - forced to help Jesus carry the cross.  In the process, Simon recognizes it is the Christ he is serving, and his anger and resentment is turned into heart rending compassion.  The sinful, angry man's heart melts like wax in the presence of the God-Man's Heart, aflame with love and mercy.  Thus, Simon accepts and embraces the cross in love.

This scene has been played out in the lives of saints and sinners alike.  It is often retold in the stories of lay brothers and lay sisters, who after a long, arduous day, have been asked to perform some other task, and out of obedience they do so - albeit, sometimes with murmuring at the onset - only to encounter the wonderful reward of Christ's presence, or some experience of his merciful love.

When we can't participate in the liturgy and prayers of Good Friday, maybe we could at least have the intention of offering our work and difficulties in the spirit of Simon the Cyrenian instead.   Without calling attention to ourselves, without politicizing the Holy Day, and without condemning others in their observance - or lack thereof; always mindful of Christ's words, "We are useless servants: we have done no more than our duty." [Luke: 17:10]

It is mercy I desire
not sacrifice
go and learn the meaning...


Remember, the Divine Mercy Novena begins today - details here.  Do not forget that the Chaplet (here) is the  recommended prayer for the novena.  Likewise, we are expected to show mercy to one another, forgiving one another as we have been forgiven.  "Will you be kind to that person who, because he offended you, you have regarded as an enemy?"

Christ imprisoned...

Thursday, April 05, 2012

When insulted, he made no reply... 1 Peter 2:23

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before the shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. - Isaiah 53: 7

Did I mention comments are closed for the Triduum?

Just a kiss away...

The Son of Man betrayed by a kiss.

A sweet kiss of friendship.

Just a kiss.

Many years ago when I lived in Boston and was very near to falling, a Jewish kid cautioned me, "Do not sell your birthright for a meal." (As did Esau.)  At the time, someone attracted to me, had been suggesting we move in together.

It is very easy to betray Christ, through some inordinate affection, or disordered attraction.  Just one kiss... 

One little compromise for a 'greater good' - or one's 'happiness'.

It's just a kiss away, kiss away, kiss away...


Where true charity dwells, God is present there.

A friend loaned me Rome, the HBO series.  It's a disgusting film - full of sex and gore - so I haven't been able to watch the entire thing, although I appreciate the sets and costumes and historical detail.  If anything, the series helps one to understand the phrase, "the sin of the Gentiles is they lacked charity".  The hatred and lust is graphically depicted as I implied - but the complete lack of charity is so starkly depicted, it is almost startling.  It reminds me of St. Paul's letters (especially Romans) and his cautions to the new Christians.

Likewise, I think the rawness of the film helps one comprehend the complete change the coming of Christ had upon humanity.  Mercy and love literally poured out from the cross, upon civilization, down through the centuries, giving birth to a culture of love - charity. As Christianity spread throughout the world, charity increased; thus even our post-Christian era benefits from the warmth of its flame, which burns for all to see in the Catholic Church.  Although we see evidence of charity in our secularized culture today, it is very often perverted.  As society continues to decline, we see ourselves becoming more and more like pagan Rome,  We see ourselves becoming mean and selfish and full of self-love.  Yet the Church remains unchanged, and though love may not be loved, and the love of most may grow cold, it is still charity and love which sustains the world and which lasts forever.

I've noticed some really angry, nasty blog posts and comments online this week - Catholics fighting one another, ripping one another apart, about petty matters.  Perhaps there are serious concerns, and as usual at this time, matters which concern the liturgy in certain places - but the fighting and name-calling seems to me to be out of order for Holy Week, and especially now, as we enter the Sacred Triduum. 

Remember Lot's wife:
Take warning from the example of Lot's wife who, because she was disturbed at the destruction of Sodom, turned back to look at it. God punished her for this, and she was 'turned into a pillar of salt' (Genesis 19.26). This teaches you that it is the will of God, even if you were living among devils, you should so live as not to turn back in thought to consider what they are doing, but forget them utterly. You are to keep your soul wholly to God, and not to suffer the thought of this or that to disturb you. - John of the Cross
I hope to do this, I will try to do this, at least during the Triduum.  I will try to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus - who walked in peace through the midst of them, carrying his cross amidst the noise and clamour of the crowds.


Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Semana Santa

Holy Week - get that?  Holy Week.

In case you were wondering about my header for this week, it is a photo of the hoods and the shadows they made by New Mexican penitentes.  Likewise, the photo shown at the top of this post shows Spanish penitentes in religious procession during Holy Week.  (The photo at the bottom shows a devout Catholic mother and her daughters on spring break during Holy Week. LOL!)  What?

I love Hispanic religious culture - Latinos actually participate in Holy Week liturgies and para-liturgical observances.  The poor and rich alike take part.  The penitentes cover their heads to remain anonymous in their penance, as the Gospel recommends.  So unlike Anglos - we blog about the wonderful works we perform, and ask for donations and junk up our sites with ads, in order to maintain the comfortable lifestyle we've become accustomed to, while some of us even take Holy Week off to spend vacation time at our favorite resort, and yet complain that priests are not hearing confessions during the Triduum... just because we got drunk on Holy Thursday night and need to confess again*. 

No problemo, I'm not judging here - just observing behaviour.

Holy Week at the beach.

*Been there, done that.

***Please note:  Comments are closed for the remainder of Holy Week.  Awww!

The greatest conspiracy ever...

Spy Wednesday.  Betrayal and denial ... and unforgiveness...

The psalms this week tell it all:

Have mercy on me, God, men crush me;
they fight me all day long and oppress me.

All day long they distort my words,
all their thoughts are to harm me...

For your sake I bear insult,
and shame covers my face.

I have become an outcast to my brothers,
a stranger to my mother's sons...

My enemies whisper together against me...
Thus even my friend, in whom I trusted,
who ate my bread, has turned against me.

The traitor has turned against his friends;
he has broken his word.

His speech is softer than butter,
but war is in his heart.

More numerous than the hairs on my head
are those who hate me without cause...

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Obama "warning" the Supreme Court?

"US President Barack Obama on Monday challenged the "unelected" Supreme Court not to take the "extraordinary" and "unprecedented" step of overturning his landmark health reform law."

Isn't that at the very least an attempt to interfere with the administration of justice?  Or coming close to  'justice tampering' - or something like that?  Doesn't it sound like intimidation when he reminds them that they are unelected?  Isn't it strange how a patron of 'activist judges' now complains and warns against the court not to adopt an activist approach?  What about 'separation of powers'?

I think Obama is over-reaching.

Watch out America.

Monday, April 02, 2012

St. Mary of Egypt, penitent...

Hold the applause, please.

Today is the day I have been accustomed to commemorate St. Mary of Egypt, yet depending on where you are in the Catholic world, her feast is observed on the 5th Sunday of Easter, or April 1, 2, or 3.  It doesn't matter to me - I think of her today.

Mary of Egypt is a good patron for many modern day sinners like myself who have been given over to hedonistic excess at one time or another - looking for love in all the wrong places, and so on.  A prostitute, she went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem and made her services available on the way - sort of like adding an advertising app to her blog on which she promotes her conversion.  The lady just wanted to be loved, don't we all.  (Actually, she would often 'do it' for free, as she liked the sex.)

At the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Mary the Egyptian experienced a stunning conversion and fled into the desert to do penance.  She lived in solitude and silence, and chose not to keep a conversion diary, so we have little to go on as far as her life of penance goes.  Giving up her means of making a living and not cashing in on her conversion story proved costly - thus she went about the desert precincts naked, for decades, barely recognizable as woman or man, accepting the abundance of what little the desert had to offer... 
Approximately one year before her death, she recounted her life to St. Zosimas of Palestine who encountered her in the desert. When he unexpectedly met her in the desert, she was completely naked and almost unrecognizable as human. She asked Zosimas to toss her his mantle to cover herself with, and then she narrated her life's story to him, manifesting marvellous clairvoyance. She asked him to meet her at the banks of the Jordan on Holy Thursday of the following year, and bring her Holy Communion. When he fulfilled her wish, she crossed the river to get to him by walking on the surface of the water and received Holy Communion, telling him to meet her again in the desert the following Lent. The next year, Zosimas travelled to the same spot where he first met her, some twenty day's journey from his monastery, and found her lying there dead. According to an inscription written in the sand next to her head, she had died on the very night he had given her Communion and had been somehow miraculously transported to the place he found her, and her body preserved incorrupt. He buried her body with the assistance of a passing lion. On returning to the monastery he related her life story to the brethren, and it was preserved among them as oral tradition until it was written down by St. Sophronius. - Sorry, I took this from WIKI, although it is fairly accurate.

Conversions can be instantaneous, but they are ordinarily, only the beginning of a long process of purification.  Interestingly, when Our Lady instructed the penitent to go yonder across the Jordan into the desert, she said, "There you will find peace."  She never said happiness.  Today everyone seems to look for happiness and witnesses to their 'courage'.  Yet only true happiness can be had in heaven... at least that was what the Catholic Church taught when I was little.  As we once memorized from the Baltimore Catechism:
Question: Why did God make you?
Answer: God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.
Today however, the prosperity gospel seems to have influenced American Catholics, who freely promote and sell their conversion stories.  Some, like Fr. Corapi, fail to understand that conversion is only the beginning of a long process... 'as long and as hard as life itself'.  (Angela of Foligno)

Mother Dolores on The View This Morning

She did well and was treated very respectfully.  Barbara especially was very respectful.  Joy, a little glib, but M. Dolores seemed never to notice.

What I found most edifying, and revealing, was when Mother said the first seven years of monastic life were the hardest - implying she was continually tempted to leave.  She said the experience was akin to being skinned alive - referring to her 'conversion' from secular life to religious life.  M. Dolores seems to have very much to say to the Church regarding vocation, especially today when everyone considers themselves to be a "star".

This is something important for prospective candidates to monastic life to consider, since most of us left within the initial seven year time period - and of course, we are all so fantastic and Hollywood beckons... worldly success and glamour and fame and all of that.

El Señor de la Columna

Asking your forgiveness.

Leo XIII and the 100 Years test...

In a post titled, There was something awful about the 20th century, Monsignor Pope mentions the Prayer to St. Michael, which Leo XIII ordered to be said after all low Masses, a practice in use until the reforms of Vatican II.  The vision of Pope Leo might be apocryphal, but the insertion of the prayer at the end of Mass is not.  Monsignor records the vision as follows:
October 13, 1884, Pope Leo XIII had just finished celebrating Mass in a chapel in the Vatican. At the Mass were a few Cardinals and members of the household staff. Suddenly the Pope stopped at the foot of the altar. He stood there for about 10 minutes, as if in a trance, his face ashen white. The going straightway from the Chapel to his office, he composed the prayer to St. Michael and later issued instructions that it be said after all Low Masses everywhere in the world. He explained that, as he was about to leave the foot of the altar, he had suddenly heard voices – two voices, one kind and gentle, the other guttural and harsh. There he heard the voice of Satan in his pride, boasting to Our Lord: “I can destroy your Church.” The gentle voice of Our Lord: “You can? Then go ahead and do so.” Satan replied, “To do so, I need more time and more power.” The Lord said, “How much time? How much power?” “75 to 100 years, and a greater power over those who will give themselves over to my service.” was Satan’s reply. Mysteriously our Lord said, “You have the time, you have the power. Do with them what you will.” - Source
I've always accepted the story of the vision as true, but apparently there is no official documentation of it.  When I was little, it was my understanding the St. Michael prayer was said for the conversion of Russia. 

I was thinking of the vision all day however, and I couldn't help wonder about all the subsequent prophecies of a great chastisement for the sins of the world - if indeed Satan had been given permission to destroy the Church and lead souls to perdition, why should we be chastised?  The devil started it.  Then I remembered the test in the Garden of Eden... the story of the prophet Job... the temptation and Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.

Oh - as for the hundred years time limit - I think we are overdo for a correction - but remember, God measures time differently than we do.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

His Most Illustrious and Reverend Eminence Christoph Maria Michael Hugo Damian Peter Adalbert (Graf von) Schönborn, OP

Cardinal Schönborn also throws priest under bus...
Archdiocese confirms homosexual parish council member

The 26-year-old who lives in a registered homosexual partnership, may now belong to a parish council in the Weinviertel [region].
The Archdiocese of Vienna confirmed on Friday the election of a 26-year-old homosexual council member in the Mayrhofen municipality of the Weinviertel [region, north of Vienna]. The case had triggered a heated debate. Florian Stangl, who lives in a registered partnership, had been elected in mid-March, and, although chosen by a large majority of the population,had been rejected by the local priest because of his way of life. The diocese has specifically approved the first such case. Cardinal Christoph Schönborn also met Stangl and his partner.

Press Statement by Archbishop Christoph Cardinal Schönborn on the problems of the parish council elections in Mayrhofen

I thank all the people who have put forth their candidacy in the parish council elections, they are the church and faith is a big concern [for them]. They witness the vitality of the Church. In their diversity, they reflect the diversity of today's way of life and faith. ...
In the personal conversation I had with Mr. Stangl, I was impressed with his pious attitude, his humility and his firm willingness to serve. ...

Well, there you go Poodle - another WTF moment for the books.  So Cardinal Wuerl is not the only one doin' the dirty dirty ... 

"Do as they say, not as they do."

UPDATE:  There are new developments in the case.  Rorate Caeli has posted the text here.
Many thanks to Rorate Caeli for the text.

Update: 4/2/12 - Cardinal permits married man in homosexual partnership to serve on parish council.

Mass Chat: My pastor reads America magazine.

The ordinary form of Catholicism.

Father used a quote from America magazine in his homily.  Nothing wrong with that of course.  It was a remark about the Passion of Christ.  Although, if he was a Catholic blogger - he's not and he doesn't read blogs - but if he was, and he wrote that on his blog, or even admitted he read the magazine, he would probably be reprimanded sharply.  Catholic bloggers should not be surprised however, that most urban diocesan priests and almost all regular religious communities - OFM, OP, SJ, OCSO, and so on, also receive and frequently read publications such as America, Commonweal, both NCR's, and maybe OSV, along with their diocesan papers.  And how many Catholic school principals attended the Los Angeles Religious Ed Congress?  See.  In other words, that's still the real ordinary form for the Catholic Church in the United States.  (And Austria, I might add.)

What can I say?
So anyway - my job is pretty much done here.  My Lenten charity that is.  Lent is just about over and I've been posting regularly as a teeth-grinding penance for most of those who know me and read this blog.  I know!  My latest blog posts especially have been verging on the insane, I hope you have noticed?   I'm actually serious about the topics I've written on, but as always with my posts, I like to mix in a bit of humor.  In fact I've been having fun pretending I'm the guy from Invasion of the Body Snatchers*, warning y'all: 'they're here already!'    Obviously, long time readers knew that, although I'm not sure new readers have been picking up on that aspect.

*Critics of the first production believed the film was a metaphor for either the McCarthy-era witch hunt, or the infiltration of Communists into American institutions and society.   Kind of two sides of the same coin really - which is another point BTW.