Saturday, April 21, 2012

The priest who complained....

Omnipresent, Boundless Christ

The gates of mercy stand open.

Remember when I wrote about the priest(s) and bishop who complained about the Divine Mercy devotion extending meditation on the sorrowful passion through what is supposed to be the joy of Easter week?  Like we all just suddenly got high on the Risen Jesus on Easter morning after we found our Easter basket all filled up with whatever it was we gave up during Lent?  As if we merited anything, or could accomplish anything on our own.  Haha!

Anyway - I wonder if people who think like that still retain that Easter joy, savouring the presence of the Risen Lord, not wanting to leave his presence?  Because the Easter season lasts for 50 days - and most especially, until the Ascension, Christ seems to me to be present in many unusual and wonderful ways.  It is during the Easter season that Christ, though always present, seems to me to be especially so:  In a very active way.  It is hard for me to explain since I'm not a theologian - but I think he reveals himself to those who earnestly seek him - to find him.  He appears in the strangest ways - not always according to our senses - but sometimes.  Many, many hidden conversions take place during the Easter season...  As today's Collect reminds us:
O God, who willed that through the paschal mysteries the gates of mercy should stand open for your faithful, look upon us and have mercy...
John 6: 16-21

The Devils - redux

And the LCWR potshots.

Perhaps just a few online Catholics seem to be sneering, jeering and cheering the idea of the LCWR coming under scrutiny by the CDF. 

This reminds me of the story by Aldous Huxley, The Devils of Loudun.  The novel is based on fact and offers an account of the monastery of Ursuline nuns, which was believed to be enchanted by demons, and the nuns possessed.  The entire community was subjected to a visitation and subsequent exorcisms, which titillated the local citizens, including the nobility and clergy, who were entertained by the spectacle, sneering, jeering and cheering throughout the trials and rituals.

That's all.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Quick sayings...

All good ideas for mugs or bumper stickers...

"Youth is wasted on the young."

"Education is wasted on youth."

"Did you send your kids to expensive universities to learn or to earn?"

"Hey Whitey!"


Disclaimer:  No seminarians, priest or bishops are picked on in this post.  Though I did not mention it, I am against abortion and same sex marriage.  I do not prize the life or well being of animals over human life.  I am not picking on any blogger in this post.  "Whitey" is a quote from Caddy Shack and it refers to the colour of a character's hair. - it is not a racist comment.  I thought this stuff up while doing yard work.  BTW - new Blogger kind of sucks - stuff doesn't print, comments don't post - what up with that?

Dr. Evangelical and Mr. Hide...

Isn't that a great post title?

I haven't much to say about it however.

I maybe should just write copy - like:

"I am not the content of my posts."

That could so be a mug, couldn't it.

Anyway, my friend Jacqui suggested to me that I install a donate button and maybe permit ads.  I responded that although that is a good idea, I've decided not to do that here, on my blog - although it isn't mine, is it.  It could be taken away at any time.  Once I blogged for a small blogomerate and the administrator deleted the entire blog because I said something critical... as to how difficult the format was to work with... click of a button - all that intellectual work down the cyber-toilet. 

Be that as it may, I stressed to Jacqui that I am no longer against people doing such things on their blogs and websites because it has indeed become a legitimate, and very respectable means for supplementing one's livelihood, and may perhaps even be a stepping stone to achieving some recognition as a professional writer - perhaps even a Pulitzer.  In short, I now see it as a good thing, beneficial and perhaps even necessary.  Oh!  If only I could take back my rash criticism leveled against the practice, those harsh critiques which today remain indelibly imprinted upon someone's Google Reader, and in the hearts of those poor, desperate souls, who were the very first - veritable pioneers in the paypal scheme of things - those enterprising souls who jumped on the cash-cow of blogomania!

Actually, I didn't say all of that, but I did tell her I think it is a very acceptable and legitimate way to earn extra money.  Nothing wrong with it.

You see, dearest reader, I changed my mind, I stepped out of my paradigm on that one.  I stretched myself. 

Personally... for myself... I just don't want to do it.  I think it would cause me to feel beholden to my sponsors and I'd feel restricted, restrained, owned by someone else.  It is the same reason I usually refuse commissions.  It is why I am poor.  The poor have a wonderful freedom of spirit... ah!  The poor are free!  Free I tell you!  Unless they are on welfare.

Man, could I go for a vodka-tonic right now.

Top photo:  Friar questor, from Fellini's 'Nights of Cabria'.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A post about nothing.

The Good Thief.

I really like this icon.


Today I saw an orphan kid on the news.  I think he was about 8 or 9 years old.  Interestingly enough, he was at an animal shelter for the story, the reporter doing the spot asked him, "Who would you like to adopt you?"

The kid answered, "Someone who cares about me and won't want to get rid of me."


Yesterday I was talking to an older guy who does lawn work to supplement his retirement, and as we were speaking, a woman down the block walked by.  She's the mother of 4 kids, she told me once she is epileptic, but I also think she has mental illness.  Her kids stay with a single man who lives across the street.  She stopped to talk without looking at us.  She spoke like Bernadette Peters in "The Jerk".  She was acting rather grandiose, waving her hands, discussing the cost of lawn care - then she turned abruptly and walked away.  I got the sense that she may live in a half-way house right now, and was just visiting her kids.  I forgot to mention that her husband has a live in nanny. 

I just mention this stuff because it affects kids. 

I always feel bad for kids and animals.

I just read a blog post by a theologian who said, "we all know - or should know - that animals don't go to heaven."  I'll bet some people worry more about that than they do about kids.

I always pray for little children - and animals.

The other day there was another news story about a black lab keeping vigil next to his white lab friend.  The white lab had been struck and killed by a passing car.  He just laid there, next to his friend.

I wonder how many theologians make it to heaven? 

No, I don't really.

"Love is a teacher, but we must know how to acquire it, for it is hard to acquire... it is dearly bought... it is won slowly by long labor. For we must love, not occasionally, or for a moment, but forever. " - Dostoevsky: Fr. Zosima

That's all.

Now this is a crackdown: Vatican calls for reform amid a doctrinal “crisis” within the U.S.'s Leadership Conference of Women Religious

Or, what happened after the apostolic visitation?

They came, they saw, they reported, and now the reform begins.

The visitation is over and the studies concluded and now the LCWR has to account for themselves.  Some poor sisters in their congregations must be thanking God their prayers have been answered and the religious spirit may once again be restored to their particular order. 

From CNA:
.- The Vatican called for reform amid a doctrinal “crisis” within the U.S.'s Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), appointing Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle to lead renewal efforts.

The appointment was made as the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith revealed the findings of its multi-year doctrinal assessment of the women's conference, which has more than 1,500 members throughout the country.

The assessment document explained, “it is clear that greater emphasis needs to be placed both on the relationship of the LCWR with the Conference of Bishops, and on the need to provide a sound doctrinal foundation in the faith of the Church.”

Initiated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2008, the assessment was carried out by Bishop Leonard P. Blair of Toledo, Ohio, a member of the U.S. bishops’ doctrine committee.

Among the key findings of the assessment were serious theological and doctrinal errors in presentations at the conference's annual assemblies in recent years.
Several of the addresses depicted a vision of religious life that is incompatible with the faith of the Church, the assessment said. Some attempted to justify dissent from Church doctrine and showed “scant regard for the role of the Magisterium.” - Finish reading here.
Sr. Joan Chittister is pissed...

God bless her.  Sister says the action is immoral:
"Within the canonical framework, there is only one way I can see to deal with this," said Benedictine Sr. Joan Chittister, who has served as president of the group as well as in various leadership positions. (Chittister also writes a column for NCR.) "They would have to disband canonically and regroup as an unofficial interest group.

"That would be the only way to maintain growth and nourish their congregational charisms and the charism of the LCWR, which is to help religious communities assess the signs of the time. If everything you do has to be approved by somebody outside, then you're giving your charism away, and you're certainly demeaning the ability of women to make distinctions." - Finish reading here.
Very seriously, it must be remembered that within each congregation of women religious, whose superiors are members of the LCWR, there are very good religious who want to be faithful to the religious charism of their founders, as well as Roman Catholic teaching.  I'm convinced there are generous, faithful, hidden souls even amongst the most progressive and secularized of congregations.  Likewise there may be weaker souls, who 'went along' with the changes, who are most in need, and have been looking forward to such an intervention, offering direction and guidance. 
Citing a passage from the Gospel of Luke -- "I have prayed for you, Peter, that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned to me, you must strengthen the faith of your brothers and sisters" -- the document says the pope gave Levada the authority to show his "pastoral concern" for women religious, "who through the past several centuries have been so instrumental in building up the faith and life of the Holy Church of God." 
In his letter Wednesday, Levada writes that Sartain's appointment is "aimed at fostering a patient and collaborative renewal of this conference of major superiors in order to provide a stronger doctrinal foundation for its many laudable initiatives and activities." - NCR
Prayers for the success of the reform and renewal of religious life in the United States.  I think Teresa of Avila would be a good intercessor for this cause.  Check out the movie "Teresa of Jesus" and at 6:35 or so into the clip, you will see how the nuns reacted to her reform.  Teresa returns to the Incarnation as prioress.  It's literally a riot.  Click here.  It's in Spanish but easily understood if you know the story.

Link to the actual document:

Photo: Scene from Ken Russell's film The Devils

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

"We can no longer be Catholics by accident, but instead be Catholics by conviction." - Bishop Jenky

Blessed Franz Jägerstätter

I thought we already were.

Bishop Jenky preached an excellent homily on April 14 at the Mass for  "A Call to Catholic Men of Faith" in Peoria.  The homily was on the need for Catholic witness in our times, which bear striking resemblance to the beginings of the totalitarian regimes of the early part of the 20th century.  The full text of his homily here.

When I returned to the Church in 1972 I did so by conviction, and though I have faltered over the years, that conviction remains indelibly marked upon my soul.  When I first returned, I thought everyone was Catholic by conviction - otherwise, why would they remain tied to a Church and fill certain prescriptions of the law if they weren't convinced.  By prescriptions of the law I mean Sunday observance, support of the Church and her ministers, raising children in the faith - as in Catholic schooling - the minimal requirements.  Soon I came to understand that the conviction of many may not have been all of that intense.  Nevertheless, I thought the obligation to be a Catholic of conviction remained.  Now we have a few strong bishops pointing out the fact that not everyone is on board with Catholic teaching, and these bishops, unlike their predecessors, are doing their job to see that faithful Catholics get on board.

I thought of Blessed Franz Jägerstätter in the light of Bishop Jenky's 'call to action'.  The great mandate today seems to be evangelization.  I've always thought of evangelization along the lines of the Opus Dei model, which for me is much like the little way of St. Therese.  Personally, I tend to be slightly repelled by the Bill Donohue/Michael Voris boisterous style of evangelization - although I respect what these types do.

However, I like the St. Thomas Moore/Bl. Jägerstätter approach better.  These men lived in fidelity to the Church and Catholic teaching, and when push came to shove, they submitted like sheep before the slaughter, in imitation of Christ crucified.  That was their witness.  Faithful to the duties of their state in life, to the very end, they were always Catholics by conviction.  

A friend sent me the following quote from another blog regarding being out of step with modern culture and the acceptance of contraception:
This is indeed a culture where promiscuity is branded as empowering and contraception is an assumed part of life. So this is not an attack on anyone standing up to the culture. I’ve sat through enough doctor’s visits and sipped my way through enough cocktail parties to know I am viewed as a cultural freak if I’m not on the pill. Speaking out against the pill? Even freakier.
His response to me was: "I think the same could be said of those with same sex attraction trying to talk about chastity etc. Talk about a cultural freak."

What I take from the bishop's homily, and these remarks in light of that, is this:  So unless your faith, your fidelity is challenged - very often your Catholic conviction doesn't show - and it maybe hasn't cost you anything so far.  Threaten, or take away something from our comfortable, self-sufficient selves, and we begin to figure out what being a Catholic by conviction means.  As the blogger and the commenter show - they too know what it means to be a Catholic of conviction in our times.

His bishop and priest tried to dissuade Bl. Jägerstätter from his refusal to fight in the war for the Third Reich.  After his death, Jägerstätter was criticized by his countrymen, especially Catholics who had served in the military, for failing in his duty as a husband and father.  The man had persevered - that's what conviction is.  When I returned to the Church in 1972 I began to run into opposition for my fidelity to Church teaching regarding sexuality, which in the 1980's included asking for a support group for men who desired to live according to Church teaching - only to be refused, although Dignity had its supporters in the local Church.  (I've written about this in the past, and how Fr. Harvey wrote letters to the Archbishop and so on.  It's no longer a problem today.)  At the time, bishops and priests refused me their support as well.  One learns, as Jägerstätter did, how to persevere and remain faithful even when others do not 'get it' or support you.

All I can say is, welcome to the Roman Catholic Church folks.  Troubles and persecution is good for the soul - it makes us stronger and is the stairway to heaven. 

Explicit Sex Talk in the pulpit, the classroom, the bathroom...

The blog.

Michael Brown has one of his best posts ever posted on today's issue of Spirit Daily.  What's it called?  EXPLICIT TALK OF SEX ENTERS CHRISTIANITY AS A PRETEXT OF MARITAL INTIMACY AND LOVE: SAD TIME.

Ed. note:  I suppose you could call it sad, but I think we say things are sad way too often - and I'm not sure we are always sad about the things we say are 'sad'.  We may be saddened, but usually we are really disgusted, scandalized, offended, and outraged.  Sadness follows, and if it is healthy, it leads to compunction.  If it doesn't - then we are just being self-righteous.  But I digress.

Brown has a timely post on what all the sex talk going on in sacred spaces is all about - at least, I think he does...
There is a big push in Christian circles to openly discuss and advocate more and better sex in marriage. It's become a "hot" topic on websites. There are those who use (and misuse) the writing of John Paul II on the "theology of the body." There are those who speak in explicit and even lurid terms from the Protestant-evangelical pulpit.
Shame on the sex preachers. In our opinion, it's an excuse to justify certain prurient undercurrents. There is a shadow behind it. It feels and looks unclean.

We have a Catholic version [...] who will remain unnamed. Suffice it to say that John Paul II's encyclical on the body was not meant to be stretched into a ministry of sex. Let it say what it says and that's the end of it. - Read more here.

Swedes adopt a gender neutral pronoun...


I was way ahead of them though - I call everyone 'hon'.  My dad did too - and he was Swedish.  Although I just found out that 'hon' is the word for 'she' in Swedish.  Who knew?  My dad didn't, he only knew Norwegian.  Don't ask.

So here's the deal:
Swedes are shaking up their language with a new gender-neutral pronoun. The pronoun, “hen,” allows speakers and writers to refer to a person without including reference to a person’s gender. This month, the pronoun made a big leap toward mainstream usage when it was added to the country’s National Encyclopedia.
“Hen” (pronounced like the English word for chicken) is a modified version of the Swedish words “han” and “hon,” which mean “he” and “she” respectively. The pronoun first emerged as a suggestion from Swedish linguists back to the 1960s. Though it has taken a while for the word to catch on, some Swedish magazines and even a children’s book have now adopted it in their texts. - Read more here.
I think I'll keep going with 'hon' and 'poodle' - it makes people feel special.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Having a blog is kinda like being married...

No matter what you say, you're always wrong.

I'm out of touch... I'm fading fast... I no longer get it...

Euthanize me now.

Do you ever feel like that?  I have a feeling it could happen, and soon.

I've been thinking of McMansions ever since I read what seemed like a defense of them by another Catholic blogger - I can't recall which blogger it was, but she's more a professional type blogger who happens to be a real writer - I think she actually writes for a real publication or two, and may even have a real published book or two.  (So she's kind of old fashioned that way - get it?)

Though I say I don't get it, I think I'm learning - pretty much what I knew already.

Yesterday I learned why young professionals can't hold a job - they finish and move on.  I wish I knew that terminology when I was working, and I'm sure some of the people I didn't hire would have appreciated it too.  My apologies.

See how out of it I am?  Even religion is passe - it's spirituality grandma - no one needs a church.

I knew this day would come.


Looking forward to the apocalypse.

Photo:  I found it on a blog called "Subrealism" - is that not the best word?  Anyway - I reprint below the post it illustrated.  (It's from 2009, so I'll bet the author has been replaced with a pod-clone by now.)
Beneath the finely groomed blissful suburban façade of America lurk desperation, denial, hypocrisy, and anger. The kids of suburbia today have an entirely different reality than the suburbs I grew up in during the 1970’s. The Ozzie & Harriet idealized version of suburbia from the 1950’s has degenerated to the Green Day nightmare vision of today. The suburbs have mansion-like homes with spotless interiors, entertainment centers, three car garages, manicured lawns, and no soul. The children of suburbia have been brought up on soda pop and Ritalin. They come home to empty mansions, as both parents must work to pay for the glorious abode. Our homes have gotten bigger and better, while our lives have gotten smaller and less satisfying. One third of all children in the United States are growing up in a single parent household. Many kids feel angry and disconnected from their families, friends and home. Fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce. The kids feel rage and hopelessness at their existence in a suburban nightmare. There are 2 million children who take Ritalin every day. Is this because they truly have ADHD, or it is the painless way out for overstressed suburban parents?

My parents both grew up in South Philly. My Dad had a good secure job with Atlantic Richfield and they took the leap to the 1st ring of suburbs outside of Philadelphia in 1955. They bought a 1,120 sq ft row home in Collingdale for $10,000. It had 3 small bedrooms and one small bathroom. They raised three kids (and three dogs) in this home and my Mother still lives there today. I shared (not happily) a 100 sq ft room with my brother and when I was six, the boogeyman who lived under the bed. We had a double bed, two bureaus, a nightstand, a bookshelf and a desk for studying in this room. When I walk in the room today, I wonder how we possibly shared this small space. Prisoners at Guantanamo have more space. In the summer, with no air conditioner upstairs, I’m sure it got as hot as a Guantanamo prison cell. The walls were so thin between row homes I knew what the people next door were thinking. People never moved. We were a neighborhood where everyone knew everyone. You could depend on your neighbors. There were cookouts, holiday parties, and you could ask your neighbor for a cup of sugar. If your son (me) fell through the basement stairs and cracked his head open on the concrete floor, a neighbor would drive him to the hospital. The fathers went to work. Mothers worked at home, because they could. Mothers were there when the kids arrived home from school. No one was divorced in our neighborhood. All the kids went to the same school. No one was diagnosed with ADHD. I cut our lawn with a manual push mower. Times have surely changed. Bigger hasn’t translated into better over the decades. - Subrealism

Monday, April 16, 2012

Modern suicides

Francesca Woodman

I think modern suicides are different from the traditional suicide - if one can call it that.  Of course many suicides are the result of serious depression.  A friend of mine with bipolar disease - is that how you are supposed to say it? - recently committed suicide.

I stayed up late last night to watch a documentary on PBS about a young artist, Francesca Woodman.  I found it disturbing and couldn't sleep very well.  She threw herself from her roof in NYC.  The interviews with her parents were quite sad - Francesca killed herself because she wasn't achieving her goal - that is how I understood it - I may be wrong of course.  Oddly enough, her suicide almost seemed to be part of her art - which had been her reason for being.  That is why, aside from the nihilism of the age, I believe suicide is understood differently by younger people in our day.  

The documentary was an interesting look at Francesca and her family, all of them artists.  It might have been nice, I thought, to grow up in a family of artists.  The Woodman's made a good living - they were able to summer in Italy - the kids schooled there - I can't begin to imagine what it would be like to have such a family.  They seemed removed from ordinary life, although I'm sure they would claim their life was most ordinary.  I'd like to see the documentary again, when I don't have to worry about going to sleep, or getting up the next morning.

Anyway - Francesca reminded me of Isabella Blow - the lady I just posted about - she also committed suicide.  (The news of my friend's death prompted these reflections.)  I sometimes wonder if some people are so numbed down, so depressed, they come to a point where they can no longer feel anything but pain, at which point they self-inflict a physical act so violent and painful, perhaps to prove to themselves they were really alive - that they could still 'feel' something 'other'.  But then it is too late.

Just a thought.

I've written in the past about a nun who suffered from depression all of her life.  Just before she died - of old age, she told me the Lord had finally healed her, delivered her of all anxiety and depression, that she no longer cared about what people thought of her.  She told me she no longer had anything to prove to anyone, or felt the need to compete.  She died in great peace.  If only everyone could embrace that peace for themselves now - to anticipate the graces Our Lord holds in store for us, to be distributed at the time allotted.

Remember what Fr. Zosima said:  "Pray for the suicides."  Perhaps our prayers for them now could have been anticipated at the moment of their death...

Art:  Francesca Woodman

Off topic...

Few people realize, before Gaga and Nicki:  Isabella Blow.

I haven't done any fashion commentary in a long time.

Crisis and the Hermeneutic of Reform - Fr. Angelo Geiger

Fr. Angelo's book is now in publication and is soon to be released.  Information here.

From the preface by Fr. Peter Damian Fehlner:
The well-documented, clear exposition of the issue by Father Angelo is among the best available in any language. It is a must read for anyone concerned with current controversies in the Church and with the efforts of Pope Benedict to resolve these bitter conflicts: those stemming from a one-sided love of tradition, and those stemming from a naïve confidence in modernity and secularism. In both cases, the ultimate response to each is Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit and Mother of the Church, prophetic voice of Vatican II and profile of its pastoral vision for the Church.

Fr. Angelo Mary

"Fr. Geiger has written a badly needed volume indispensable for troubled souls bewildered by false accusations that Vatican II represented a “hermeneutics of rupture” with Catholic Tradition.
With theological discernment, he refutes the polemics of modernists, gnostic intellectual elites, pseudo-charismatics, and especially “traditionalists”. All these disturbers of ecclesial peace and unity assume to speak with the prophetic voice of the Church while undermining the Petrine ministry which alone has doctrinal authority to settle disputes affecting faith and morals. Real renewal of the Church demands fidelity to the Marian and Petrine principles of the Church heralded by its great Saints." - James Likoudis

What's a 'right-wing nut'?

Oh, they are real.  Some even have blogs.

"When asked for his employment status, Anders Breivk  described himself as a writer.  The 33-year-old mass-murderer, who admits killing eight in an Oslo bomb blast and 69 in a shooting spree on the island of Utoya last July, remained emotionless as prosecutors spent two hours describing in graphic detail how each of his victims died."Read about it here.

"When asked for his employment status, Anders Breivk described himself as a writer."  All rightey then.

Andrew Domini's faith...

He's not even Catholic.

The 'kid' walked 70 miles without a thought to preparing for the trip except to do it by walking because it would be more of a sacrifice.  He took no provisions and had no place to stay or rest.  He went on pilgrimage, like the saints and pilgrim's of old, seeking God's grace, honoring God's saint...  It is an edifying story.  Not a 'feel good' story - but an edifying story... for today's feast of St. Benedict Joseph Labre.
“I wanted it to be a sacrifice,” he said.
Andrew Domini’s feet were blistered and bloodied. He could barely walk by the time he finally made it to a pink marble church and crawled the last 90 feet to a quiet shrine tucked into the corner.

As he paused a couple of weeks ago in front of the wooden coffin that held the remains of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin and prayed, the 19-year-old said he finally felt at peace.

Domini had walked nearly 70 miles, becoming an unlikely spiritual pilgrim. But the religious shrine wasn’t in Rome, Jerusalem or some other officially holy city. It was in St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. - Finish reading here.
What would Jesus say?  I don't know of course, but I'm guessing that he might say something like this:  "I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith."

Top Photo: Andrew Domini and Sister Lisa Stallings.

H/T to The Deacon's Bench for the story and the photo.

Mother Guerin, pray for us,
especially for Andrew Domini
 and his friend Fred Lewis.

What a guy!

An American Hermit - Rather, A Hermit in America.

Way before the Canon 603 type arrived...

He was a real hermit too.  Poor, penitential, solitary, rugged, prayerful, desert-father-ish... so different from what we see today.  (No offense intended.)  His name is Giovanni Maria de Agostini, and he was known as Fr. Francesco.  He seems to have been a penitent, initially living a life similar to St. Benedict Joseph Labre.  I find it interesting how frequently such ascetics are dismissed in our day as being misfits, mentally ill, and so forth.

 To my very pleasant surprise, I discovered today that he died on the 17 of April, 1869, making this day the eve of the anniversary of his death. How providential is that?

Fr. Francesco was born in Italy in 1801 to nobility, studied for the priesthood, but was 'exiled' after an amorous affair with a young woman.  His pilgrimage finally led him to Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Everywhere he went, he preached and catechized when permission was given by local bishops but steadfastly refused to accept holy orders “because my vocation called me to solitude, not to the exalted ministry of the priesthood.”
Eventually he traveled (always by foot) through Central America and southern Mexico where he was expelled by the anti-clerical government of Benito Juarez. He went briefly to Cuba; sailed north to Quebec Province and then traveled through the U.S. By then he was a venerable old man in his 60′s with a long white beard, a pilgrim’s staff and bell, and still wearing his black capa and hood. Once in New Mexico, he wandered the small villages, giving advice and counsel, helping children with their catechism, and healing the ill and infirm with potions and herbs. Some legends even ascribe miracles to him. But the continuous press of people pushed him to seek greater solitude on Cerro del Tecolote. Friends built him a small cabin over a spring on the crest. However people continued to seek him out and he moved once more, 300 miles south to the Organ Mountains outside Las Cruces. There, too, he made friends and agreed to light a signal fire every 3rd night so they would know he was all right.

On the appointed night in mid-April, 1869 no fire was seen. A posse was formed which found Giovanni Maria, now 69, lying prostrate on the ground with a dagger in his back. They surmised he was killed while kneeling at prayer by someone who knew his habits. To this day, his memory is revered and the places made holy by his presence are reverently cared for. Twice yearly formal pilgrimages are made to the crest of Hermit’s Peak (renamed in his honor,) near Las Vegas, NM. - Source

Hermit's cave.  Reminds me of the Carceri in Italy.

How cool is that?  I wonder how he was able to get along without the Internet?  How did he publish the minutiae of his holy life?  How did he get donations?  Okay - I'll stop.  ;)

More information here.

Photo credit.

My special patron saint...

April 16 is the Saint's feast day.

St. Benedict Joseph Labre could be the Pope's special patron as well. Why?  Because Joseph Ratzinger was born on April 16, and, since becoming pope, he is now Benedict Joseph.  How perfect for such a humble intellectual to have a simple, vagrant, holy-fool for a special patron.  Happy birthday Holy Father.

St. Benedict Joseph, pray for us.
For more information on St. Benedict Joseph Labre go here.

Image:  One of my early 'icons' now in the custody of the Little Brothers of St. Francis, Boston.  Fr. Benedict Groeschel also has a copy in his cell.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Quick shot...

I'm reading the story of my life - but I didn't write it.

Figure that out.

You can't.

I like this video.

The Orthodox monks know about mercy - they repent all the time - unceasingly.  "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner."


Seeking the Mercy of God.

"On My Feast - on the Feast of Mercy ... run through the whole world and lead souls that fainted away to the source of My Mercy. I will lead and strengthen them." - Jesus to St. Faustina

I ran across the following comment on a post regarding the celebration of the Feast of Divine Mercy and subjective criticism of the various images associated with the devotion.  I want to reprint the priest's comment since it represents what a lot of priests think about the novena and feast of Divine Mercy, in fact one friend of mine, who happens to be a bishop now, once said the same thing as the priest I'm quoting here.  He was pastor of a parish at the time the Second Sunday of Easter was established as Divine Mercy Sunday by Blessed John Paul II.  Comment from Fr. Ben here:
Fr. Ben: You write:

The joy and victory of Easter came through the Cross, and came for us mired as we are in brokenness, sadness, and sin… It’s because we NEED to be saved that we are filled with joy at the news of Christ Risen!… It seems that our Easter Joy is deepened by our awareness of how much we need that victory!

I don’t deny any of this. But isn’t that precisely what 40 days of Lenten penance, Holy Week, Triduum, and above all Good Friday are all about? Fully facing up to brokenness, sadness and sin, as well as the horror of our Lord’s passion, the horror of the cross, and our own need to internalize the passion, take up our own cross and follow Christ—in order that, having so faced up to all the bad news, we may finally be prepared to fully celebrate the joy of Easter and our Lord’s triumph over death and sin?

After all that, having at last come to the Easter Octave, couldn’t we finally use a special devotion for this season focused with laser like intensity on Jesus’ triumph, rather than making this a special occasion for drawing our gaze to His sorrowful Passion … His sorrowful Passion … His sorrowful Passion … 50 times a day all week long?

I don’t say this in a spirit of pride or resistance. I pray the Divine Mercy novena every year. But surely you at least see the uncomfortable irony?
There is absolutely nothing wrong with this priest, or others, expressing difficulty understanding the feast and the devotion.  It doesn't mean there is anything wrong with their theology, devotion or fidelity to the Church.  The man is not a bad priest, the bishop I know is not a bad bishop because of it.  So that's settled.

Having said that, the devotion, beginning as it does on Good Friday  seems to me to be the perfect way in which to enter into the joy of the Resurrection, the perfect means in which to encounter the Risen Lord, and most of all, to experience the power which flows from his Resurrection.  Precisely because everything, all life, all graces, flow from wound in the side of Christ, and Him Crucified.  St Paul wanted to other knowledge than that. 

In fact until Christ shows his wounds to the disciples, and opens their minds to the scriptures - which foretold his sorrowful passion - the disciples were mourning, unable to open their hearts to the joy of the Resurrection.  It was in this post-Resurrection experience that the disciples were able to understand the events of Holy Week, and were able to "finally be prepared to fully celebrate the joy of Easter and our Lord’s triumph over death and sin" as Fr. Ben desires.  Lent served as our purification and preparation, to be able to accept the mystery revealed to us by the Risen Christ.

As the Holy Father explained in his Regina Caeli message today:
The Holy Father explained that this is the reason for which Blessed John Paul II desired to call this Sunday after Easter “Divine Mercy Sunday” - with an icon in mind: that of the pierced side of Christ, from which flow blood and water. But now Christ is risen, and from the Living Christ spring the Easter Sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist: those who approach them with faith receive the gift of eternal life. 
“Dear brothers and sisters,” said Pope Benedict, “Let us welcome the gift of peace that the risen Jesus offers us, let us fill our hearts with His mercy!” He concluded saying, “In this way, with the power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit who raised Christ from the dead, we too can bring these Easter gifts to others. May Mary, Mother of Mercy, obtain these things for us.” - Vatican News

So celebrate Easter, sing and dance, eat and drink with joy, bang on your drum all day (8 in total) - but let all you do 'be seasoned with salt'. (Mark 9:50)  At each and every Mass, we are brought back to the Crucifixion - we celebrate Mass in the Easter season - in season and out -  at each and every Mass, we fix "our gaze to His sorrowful Passion … His sorrowful Passion … His sorrowful Passion ..." 

Nothing wrong with that.

Art:  Little souls and those most in need of mercy seem to have no problems with any aspect of the devotion.

Divine Mercy Sunday

"I am offering people a vessel
with which they are to keep
coming for graces
to the fountain of mercy.
That vessel is this image
with the inscription:
'Jesus, I trust in you.'"

"On My Feast - on the Feast of Mercy ... run through the whole world and lead souls that fainted away to the source of My Mercy.  I will lead and strengthen them." - Jesus to St. Faustina

I thought of those very words after communion.

I saw water flowing from the right side
of the temple, Alleluia
and all they to whom that water came were saved;
and they shall say: Alleluia, Alleluia.

Praise the Lord
for He is good,
His mercy
endures forever,