Saturday, April 14, 2012

Piermario Morosini, RIP

Morosini, 25, collapsed of a heart attack and later died at Pescara's Civile Santo Spirito hospital.  Story here.

I wonder if he was related to the Blessed Pierina Morosini, martyr for purity?  She was beaten to death at the age of 26 by her attacker.  Her story here.

Both were from Bergamo-Albino area of Italy.   Perhaps it's a common name there?

So young.  May he rest in peace.

Sudden deaths such as these remind us we need to remain in the state of grace, for we know not the day nor the hour when we will be taken.

B. Pierina

"Go blog-up my Church."

Church leaders have been angered by the penchant of many bloggers to call them out on their failures to expound and defend controversial Catholic teachings on moral issues like contraception, homosexuality, and abortion. - U.S. Bishops: Bloggers play 'critical role' in defending the Church.

A friend of mine sent a link to an article in Homiletic and Pastoral Review titled, The Danger of  Criticizing Bishops and Priests, by Fr. Thomas Morrow.  I've written about the issue from time to time myself, noting how some warn that the wrath of God awaits those who do harm to His anointed, pretty much as a deterrent to their perceived foes, who they claim are persecuting them. 

Oftentimes, at least it seems to me, most people who utter the least criticism of Churchmen seem to regard it as their right and duty.  On the other hand, those in authority, though they urge the Catholic faithful to evangelize culture, to stand up for Church teaching and Religious Freedom in the public forum, get a little touchy about any criticism of how they happen to be teaching, defending - or not defending the faith.

It's always a catch-22 deal - damned if you do, damned if you don't.  My personal thoughts on the issue show up in my blog posts - I try really hard to be respectful and charitable, and to express my opinion honestly in charity.  Charity is key, but so is humility, and the respect Christians owe to those in authority.  Prayerful vigilance is extremely important, as is frequent examinations of conscience, in order to check our tendency to rash-judgement, detraction, calumny, and other sins of the tongue.  It's a scary thing, shooting off ones mouth online, knowing we will be judged on every word we say.  I wonder if gaining huge numbers of followers, pumping up our stats, in other words, gaining the whole blogosphere, while risking our immortal soul is worth it?  But I digress.

The part of Fr. Morrow's essay I found most interesting is the history he shares on how corrupt the Church was at the time of St. Francis of Assisi and the different responses to the corruption in the hopes of reform.  Anyway - I'll reprint that part, and then you can go read the rest if you are interested.

Alas, how sad it is that some are far more ready to judge (and criticize) priests than they are to pray for them.

In the thirteenth century many priests were involved in seeking wealth and having a pleasant life. They hardly preached at all, virtually never studied, and paid for important positions so that they could get even more money. A number of priests openly lived with women, causing great scandal. Some of the bishops lived in unbelievable wealth, and would sell Church positions to keep their rich life style. Many of the people were just as bad as their leaders.

As a result, many so-called prophets had appeared, some good, some not-so-good, who promised terrible punishments if people did not reform. Peter Waldo was one of the reformers who had a great beginning. He gave up his riches to live in poverty and spread the faith. He had many followers who also lived as poor men, and did penance. However, when they began to preach without permission against the lazy and sinful priests, the Archbishop of Lyons, France, excommunicated them.

The group, called the Waldensians, took their case to the pope, and he encouraged them. He praised Peter for living in poverty and gave him and his followers permission to urge the people to live moral and holy lives wherever the bishops allowed them to do so. But since they had not studied theology they were not permitted to explain the Bible or to instruct people in the faith. Unfortunately, they began to do both.

In time they got into all sorts of errors, such as placing their interpretation of the Bible over the authority of the pope, denying both purgatory, and veneration of the saints. They also refused to go to confession to immoral priests, preferring to confess to good people who were not priests. As a result, the Waldensians were excommunicated by the pope in 1184.

However, there were still a number of them going all over, spreading their errors. And, there were also the Albigensians or Cathari, as they were called in Italy, who condemned the material world as evil. As a result they denied the sacraments, and marriage in particular. Many people listened to both the leftover Waldensians and Cathari because they lived Gospel poverty, unlike the priests.

Despite their sincerity, and their living radical Gospel poverty, they all fell astray. They lost the faith. But, their contemporary, Francis of Assisi did not. Why not? Because he never went anywhere to preach the Gospel without permission of the priests. Furthermore, he would never criticize the priests and bishops—even the most lazy and immoral ones—nor would he allow his friars to do so. (As a result, the Franciscans were always welcome just about everywhere they went.)

Once a Waldensian challenged Francis on his unshakeable reverence for priests, by pointing out the local pastor who was living in sin. “Must we believe in his teaching and respect the sacraments he performs?”

In response, Francis went to the priest’s home and knelt before him saying, “I don’t know whether these hands are stained as the other man says they are. [But] I do know that even if they are, that in no way lessens the power and effectiveness of the sacraments of God… That is why I kiss these hands out of respect for what they perform and out of respect for Him who gave His authority to them.” His challenger left in silence. - Finish reading here.  

Art:  The dream of Pope Innocent.  When Francis first 'got the call' to 'go build up my Church' - he took it literally and started rebuilding churches, he later understood the deeper meaning of that call.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Well, here you go. (Just one more for the road.)

Vatican consultant has defended Cardinal Christoph Schönborn...

Remember how the Cardinal over-ruled a parish priest and allowed a gay man a seat on the parish council of that priest's parish and then the priest resigned and people around the world were confused because they weren't exactly sure what the Cardinal was really saying and many wanted him to be more slavishly accurate in the translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church - which isn't the only document on Church teaching regarding persons with same sex inclinations/attractions BTW?

So anyway, a Vaticanist has chimed in with his support...
.- An Italian politician and papal consultant has defended Viennese Cardinal Christoph Schönborn's choice to reinstate an Austrian parish council member living in a homosexual partnership.

“I defend the cardinal’s decision and I say that it seems to me that it is an intelligent pastoral reading of the Church's position toward homosexuals and homosexuality,” wrote Professor Rocco Buttiglione, a member of the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences, in the Italian daily Il Foglio.

“If the cardinal would say that homosexuality is not a serious moral disorder, he would be mistaken. But he doesn’t say that,” Fr. Butt noted in the April 6 column. “According to the Catholic doctrine, homosexuality is a serious moral disorder … I don’t think Cardinal Schönborn denies this truth.”

“He just says that the homosexual is a faithful sinner, one who struggles for the faith and who needs support, with friendly and discrete dialogue, in this fight. He can’t be admitted to the sacraments, but he needs to be invited to participate in the religious functions and in the parish life.”

While the Church must maintain its teaching on homosexuality, Fr. Butt stressed that the doctrine must not “be accompanied by an attitude of human closure or hostility towards homosexuals. This, I think, it is the lesson that we have these days from Vienna.” - CNA
I'm glad that's settled.

I kinda want to start drinking again.

Lazy Romans.

Waste of space.
If they'd clean up the ruins (eye-sores) all over the city - renovate the run down neighborhoods filled with cats - and build decent, live-able, workable buildings/housing* - they wouldn't have this problem of jobless men dressed up as centurions, cluttering up the streets, extorting money from tourists. 

The policemen arrived at the ancient amphitheatre to enforce an eviction notice to the men, who normally ask tourists for money in exchange for a photograph with them. - Read about the scumbags here.

(Remember when that Roman student said something similar about the gypsies in Rome.  I know!)

I think I'm done here.

*Like McMansions or something.

Fr. James Martin S.J. is doing it again!

Mocking the Catholic Blogosphere.

Haha!  He has a very funny post on how we take issue with ...just about anything and everything.
What's that supposed to mean?

I wonder if you can say anything about the Catholic faith without people taking offense. No matter how benign, no comment on the web about Catholicism goes unchallenged. That goes for blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and pretty much everything else. Moreover, the idea of trying to understand a person by reading carefully what they're actually saying, or giving them the benefit of the doubt, is fading quickly from Catholic discourse. No matter what you write, there are Catholics ready to take immediate offense, to explode in righteous anger, to threaten to report you to the proper authorities or, most of all, to correct. The most common responses are these five: 1.) Your soul is in mortal danger. 2.) You’re uneducated and need to be schooled. 3.) I hate the church and so I hate you. 4.) You’re an unthinking tool of the Vatican. 5.) You’re disobedient and must be reported.

Here is a not-so-farfetched exchange, based on some very, very real experiences. Believe me, it would be hard to make this stuff up. - Read the rest here.
 Yeah?  Yeah?  Who's he talking about?

Photo:  Obviously it's part of our tradition.  Those darn German-Irish Catholics!

[Label meaning here.]  I know - it has nothin' to do with nothin'. 

Does God wait for us... ?

Or something like that.

Some time ago a woman wrote a post discussing whether God waits for us - or as I said above - something like that.  I thought the answer would be simple but it was far too complicated a discussion for me to enter into.  I don't like long posts and commentaries.  It's like scholars spending their lives writing a doctoral dissertation on the little way of St. Therese - does anyone else see the irony in that?  Don't answer.

I thought of that post in the light of today's Gospel.  This morning, there was Jesus, waiting on the beach for the disciples who were out fishing.  He called to them, "Children!"  And he had prepared breakfast for them.  He waited for them - for that moment - to wait on them - just to show how tenderly he loves us.

Years ago - when I was still a kid - someone who had 'picked me up' had breakfast ready for me the next morning, my shoes were shined and my clothes were all pressed...  No one had ever been that kind to me before.

God is kind - he waits for us to come ashore - he makes breakfast for us.  It is kindness which reveals the charity that is deep in our hearts.  Don't over-think it.

The artist, Thomas Kinkade.

Lombard Street - Thomas Kinkade

Self proclaimed 'painter of light'.

The news of Kinkade's death led national news last weekend.  Many bloggers have discussed the man and his art since, some of the more serious discussion I found interesting.  Personally I thought most of his work to be too sentimental and more Hallmark gift card art than fine art, albeit suitable for reproduction, signing and framing.  Actually Kinkade was a very skilled painter and an astonishing marketing expert.  Artists normally are not known for their business capabilities, but Kinkade came close to being the Steve Jobs of the commercial art world. 

Despite what critics say, I think Kinkade's style of painting may best be described as neo-post-impressionist - especially his more serious work - views of New York and Nascar paintings.  Otherwise the fantasy cottages and landscapes, though skillfully executed, are pretty much what I used to call department store fine art.  (When I was in school I honestly hoped to paint as well... I continue to hope.)  Buyers from major stores such as Macy's and Marshall Fields scouted post-war European capitols, especially Paris and Rome, up until the early '60's, buying up the work of street artists, who painted in the always popular and very saleable, post-impressionist style of Édouard Cortès, among others.  Department store Fine Art-Pictures and Mirrors departments were filled with such paintings - some were very good - and I've seen a few make it on Antiques Road Show with a nice auction estimate.  A lot of it is good art. 

Kinkade pretty much did the same thing with his product - 1980's+ style of course: marketing, reproduction of original works, and licensing.  Knocking out signed and numbered, sofa-sized reproductions just like the wild life galleries did for the wild-life/hunting market.  Kincade's select market was much wider however.  He sold no-place-like-home/oh-what-a-beautiful-card fantasies of heaven on earth, while making a good Christian, born-again, post-impressionist impression upon old fashioned,  dysfunctional, home-sick hearts, who never lived like that.  His work appealed to the same bourgeois taste which loved Cortès and all the other post-impressionist painters ever since.  That is not a bad thing, BTW.

That said, no doubt about it, he was a talented man; a skilled painter and and a brilliant marketeer.  Nothing wrong with that.  RIP.

Flower Market At La Madeleine - Edouard Cortes.

UPDATE: I came across a really good critique of Kinkade at First Things by Joe Carter.  Check it out.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

"Y'abba, dabba, doo!" Were the Flintstones anti-Catholic?

I'm thinking they probably were.  I figured it out by analyzing the phrase, "yabba, dabba, doo!"  As a result, I think it is all too obvious.  First, a little bit of history:  The Church of Scientology was founded in 1952 - although it was officially incorporated the following year.  The Flintstones debuted in 1960 - the year the Fatima secret was supposed to be revealed.  2012 begins the 60th anniversary of the founding of Scientology - hence the connection to 1960.  Kind of.  I'm not sure what that means, either.

Anyway - when we examine the structure of the first word of Fred Flintstones seemingly innocuous chant:  "Y'abba" - though the script never inserts the apostrophe after the "Y" - we can recognize its presence phonetically.   Therefore, the astute listener must ask himself;  "What does the first word of the phrase really mean?"

It's quite simple really, if we dissect each word with slavish accuracy.  For example:  "Y" stands for  Yahweh, therefore it follows that "abba" stands for Father.  It's meant to be blasphemous - taking God's name in vain.  Additionally, there are never any references in the series to Adam and Eve, the origins of the universe, and so on.  All of that is considered myth - although it is not stated, it is implied.  In fact there was a space alien guardian in the series, The Great Gazoo, who tried to help the characters out, clearly suggesting humanity originated from aliens.  (Just like Scientology!  See the connection now?)  Gazoo rhymes with "y'abba dabba doo" too.  It's all there, people.

Anyway, now I'm trying to figure out what Cardinal Pell meant when...
Asked by journalist Tony Jones if he believed in the existence of an actual Garden of Eden with an Adam and Eve, Cardinal Pell said it was not a matter of science but rather a beautiful mythological account.
"It's a very sophisticated mythology to try to explain the evil and the suffering in the world," he said. - Source
Any myth will do, I suppose.

“[In the Universe it may be that] Primitive life is very common and intelligent life is fairly rare. Some would say it has yet to occur on Earth.”― Stephen Hawking

Quake watch...

The 'big one' on its way?

The ring of fire is erupting again...

The big one that struck San Francisco in 1906 occurred on April 18. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Study finds...

New vocations younger and more educated. (CNA)

Survey says: Vocations are increasing.  From 0 to 60 in seconds - like a car ad.  Kidding aside, it does appear to be the case - just think of the 'new' Dominican women and reforms like the Franciscans of the Immaculate, CFR's and so on.  And these vocations truly are young.

Survey says:  Vocations are younger.  What this study calls young used to be called delayed vocations.  Still - all is good - because the age limit no longer seems to be a barrier for the over 40 crowd.

Survey says:  Better, or more educated.  I've always thought higher education was pretty much a prerequisite with most groups - especially for younger vocations.  On the other hand, the burden of student loans seems to be what keeps increasing numbers from entering religious life in the first place.

I've usually associated really 'young' vocations with those just out of college, or those just out of high school.  A contemplative community in my area accepts young women just out of high school - those I've known, entered and stayed.  Education, or a 'life experience' equivalent seems to have always been a requirement for most religious orders - the emphasis on education of course.

Good news all around, however.

That said, I'm not sure many of the lay-brother, lay-sister saints - and even some priest saints, would make the cut for several major religious communities in our times.  

Photo:  Little Sisters of the Very Highly Educated 

There's an app for that?

"Cough, cough..."

With few exceptions, a priest should not have his iPhone 'on' while hearing confessions or while saying Mass. 


Where to now?

Remember that the chaplet is the essential prayer for the Divine Mercy Novena.  And remember you can enter into the novena any time during the duration, with the same confidence as those who began it on Good Friday.  The novena culminates on the feast of Divine Mercy, this Sunday.

I'm praying for those people who for some reason can't accept Church teaching, as well as those who have refused to believe because they have been scandalized by the failures and bad behaviour of believers like me. 

United in prayer with all of you who pray this novena...  remember:

 "By this Novena (of Chaplets), I will grant every possible grace to souls." - Our Lord to St. Faustina

How to recite the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

At the table of sinners.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Blogging: Now it's a "call"?

 "Weight Watchers, maybe?"

Have you got the call?

Like it's a vocation or something.

I came across a blog post, "Ten signs you might be called to be a Catholic Blogger."

I'm still discerning.

Friends and followers.

Have you changed or are you who you are?

Last night I had a dream that I was running a marathon, which began in the neighborhood of my childhood, ending at the river bank. (That right there is rich in symbolism.)  My best friends took what I considered to be the longer, out of the way route, while I followed some of my new friends, or acquaintances along what seemed to be a shorter route:  Knowing full well we'd have to follow a detour because the downtown area and other obstacles were in the way, thus causing our route to be the longer and more arduous route. Along the way, I passed several places that seemed significant to my life, some of them I ran past, others I stopped momentarily to revisit - always moving on, intent on passing my friends to arrive at the finish line first.  

Within the dream I told myself the dream was interesting because it demonstrated that I have always been on a path much different than my good friends, while those I had conceded to follow were not really my friends at all. In fact they were just people I encountered on my way.  As I grew conscious of familiar sites along my way, sites the others knew nothing about, I noticed I was alone each time I stopped to revisit a place or event; my companions remained outside my experience.

Nevertheless, it seemed my thoughts always returned to my real friends, my childhood friends - those who had taken the shorter route.  I also think I knew we could never had taken the same route. Of course I knew the shorter route was easier, not only because it was more direct, but because my friends had the support of one another. My route grew more and more difficult because it not only had many detours and obstacles to overcome, it also lacked the support of faithful friends. Thus it became clearer to me that I was really just caught up in a milieu, that those persons in my company were in reality simply acquaintances. I no longer needed to try to catch up to them, or try to win their approval or acceptance.  I didn't have to prove myself to strangers because real friends accept one another for who they are - just as they are.

I suppose I know more about the dream and what it meant than I've revealed here, at least I think I do - but I don't really pay attention to dreams - they can't be trusted, although one may enjoy them.   Some people imagine their dreams to be inspired - perhaps they are - for the dreamer.  Keep in mind the following maxim however, "whatever is received is received according to the mode of the receiver." 

I don't really 'believe' in dreams.  Neither do I believe in other people's locutions.

Once I thought I saw Blessed Pier Giorgio in the clouds - like a flash, out of the corner of my eye. But I just thought I saw him.

Paschal Chat: It's still Easter.

I can do this Paschal Chat bit all week because Easter is just one day, all week long.

Today's Gospel speaks of the Magdalen's solitary encounter, first with the angels, and then, the risen Christ.  She was at the tomb simply looking for the body of the Lord and thus the angels didn't really impress her; their presence and message couldn't satisfy her.  Likewise she did not recognize the Lord - until he called her by name.  I like the Magdalen's attitude - nothing could satisfy or console her until Jesus recognized her first - only then did she recognize the Lord.  I like that.

The intro in Magnificat for today's readings suggests the Magdalen needed to be converted from her pessimism which blinded her spiritual insight, keeping her from recognizing the Lord.  That is one way to look at it I guess.  There are times we are all prone to pessimism in our spiritual lives and relationship to the Body of Christ.  At such times we may tend to cling to our "preconceptions" with a "stubbornness" of heart.   I think we do that because we need to feel safe and secure in our faith, lest we get lost or somehow take the wrong path.  When we are found by Christ, meaning when we are given the grace to recognize him on a deeper level - we naturally want to cling to him in that particular perception or experience.  But Christ tells us, "Do not cling to me."

Some day we may not be able to get to Mass, or visit a church to be with Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.  Someday we may not be able to be with friends and fellow Catholics - we may find ourselves alone, isolated.  Someday all of what we cling to could be taken away from us.  I'm not necessarily thinking about something apocalyptic, such as suppression of the Church through persecution, disaster or war.  That could happen of course, but we may be more likely to find ourselves unable "find the body of the Lord" for more ordinary or natural reasons.  Think of those people in hospitals, nursing homes, and other institutions - even prison; or those with dementia, or in a coma, or someone home-bound for whatever reason.  Many of these people have no access to the sacraments or friends.  It could happen to us.

Just a thought.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Lent is over - it's Easter now.

Jesus, I trust in you.

Are you changed?

Or was it wasted on you?

Divine Mercy Sunday is coming.

Dawn Eden's new book, My Peace I Give You, debuts today.

My Peace I Give You:  Healing Sexual Wounds With the Help of the Saints - Dawn Eden

My friend Dawn sent me an email informing me the book she has been working on is available today!  I rarely promote and never advertise anything on this blog, but Dawn Eden's book is an exception since she confronts very important issues related to sexual abuse - and people need to read what Dawn has to say.  What appeals especially to me is that Dawn's work pretty much re-introduces to Catholics the healing power available to those suffering the psychological, emotional and spiritual wounds of sexual abuse, through the intercession of modern and ancient saints acquainted with such suffering.  Sharing insights from her own experience, Dawn's work is sure to be a source of hope and understanding both for those recovering from the wounds of sexual abuse and those who may be unaware the harm sexual abuse does to the person who experiences it.

Dawn Eden wrote:
Today is a joyful day for me, as my second book, My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints, is shipped to stores. It'll take a few days or more for the book to arrive in the Amazon warehouse and become available on Kindle, but already it is available for online preview using Amazon's "Look Inside" feature. (The book is also available for pre-order from Barnes&Noble.comand will soon be for sale in the Nook format.)

What's more, my publisher's website is now showing links to the table of contents and "Sample Text" of My Peace. The sample text is the first several pages of the book's introduction, which is also available as a free PDF download.

"The saints show us how renewal works..." - Benedict XVI

Dawn Eden and I corresponded discussing the lives of some of the saints she writes about in her book, as well as sharing some insights regarding the effects of sexual abuse, which can endure even into mid-life and beyond.  I think Dawn's work is very important to the Church in our time.  The very real companionship and help the saints are ready to provide to those who seek their aid is very much under-rated these days.  On Holy Thursday, the Holy Father himself reaffirmed for us the important role of the saints in our lives: 
Dear friends, it is clear that configuration to Christ is the precondition and the basis for all renewal. But perhaps at times the figure of Jesus Christ seems too lofty and too great for us to dare to measure ourselves by him. The Lord knows this. So he has provided “translations” on a scale that is more accessible and closer to us. For this same reason, Saint Paul did not hesitate to say to his communities: Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. For his disciples, he was a “translation” of Christ’s manner of life that they could see and identify with. Ever since Paul’s time, history has furnished a constant flow of other such “translations” of Jesus’ way into historical figures. - Benedict XVI, Chrism Mass Homily 2012

I hope you will get this book.  Congratulations, prayers, and best wishes to Dawn Eden.

Dawn discusses healing from sexual abuse with Jennifer Fulwiler here.

The Risen Christ Shows Himself to His Blessed Mother.

In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week...

Jesus must have shown himself to Our Lady first of all, though the New Testament doesn't record it.  Likewise, it is rarely portrayed in art, and I can find no image of the event that I like.  I think the meeting is perhaps described in the Song of Songs, but for me it is far too mystical to comprehend outside of prayer, and even more difficult to translate into words.

Neither does art cannot do it justice for me, simply because the encounter between the mother and the son was so intimate.  For my taste, the image shown above comes closest to an ideal I think desirable, precisely because the narrative is similar in composition to the usual depiction of the Annunciation.

An account of the Risen Christ visiting the Blessed Virgin:
“And then about the same time, that is to say, early in the morning, Mary Magdalene, Mary Jacobi and Salome, taking their leave first of Our Lady, took their way toward the grave with precious ointments. Dwelling still at home Our Lady made her prayer….” (Snipping quote of the prayer in which she recounts the Passion and pleads for her Son to be returned to life)
“And with that, she so praying, sweet tears shedding, lo suddenly Our Lord Jesus came and appeared to her, and in all white clothes, with a glad and lovely cheer, greeting her in these words “Hail, Holy Mother.” And anon she turning said: “Art Thou Jesus, my blessed Son?” And therewith she kneeling down honored Him; and He also kneeling beside her said: “My dear Mother, I am. I have risen, and lo, I am with you.” And then both rising up kissed the other; and she with unspeakable joy clasped
Him, sadly, resting all upon Him, and He gladly bare her up and sustained her.” - Source

Art: Christ Appearing to His Mother
Juan de Flandres
Berlin, Gemaeldegalerie

Sunday, April 08, 2012


I went to the Vigil at my neighborhood parish last night... 

That's all.


Happy Easter!

Hide the candles!

Empty Tomb Syndrome


Don't feel bad if you feel Easter is kind of a 'let-down' - you may be in good company - some of the disciples did too -  at first.

Fortunately, faith isn't dependent upon feelings.

Happy Easter!