Saturday, October 06, 2012

The Pope's Butler found guilty! The surprise witness in white who sealed his fate...

Off camera the Pope's butler, Paolo Gabriele shouted: "I do not feel I am a thief."  (Remember when Nixon said "I am not a crook"?  I know.)
Presiding Judge Guiseppe Dalla Torre handed down a sentence of three years, then cut it to 18 months citing Gabriele's lack of a criminal record, his apology to the Pope and past services rendered to the Church.  The former butler will also have to pay court costs out of his own pocket.

Gabriele has now been returned to house arrest inside his Vatican apartment, where he has already been confined for several months.  The verdict brings to an end a week-long trial that has revealed an embarrassing breach of security at the highest levels of the Vatican. - BBCNews
Questions regarding the butler's psychological state which were raised in the trial remained unanswered however.
Bishop Francesco Cavina, who knew Gabriele in the Vatican, told Italian newspaper La Repubblica on Wednesday that the butler, a father-of-three, may have a "disturbed mind" and "a split personality". - Source
That could be Spirit-of-Vatican-II-speak for "Was Pablo Gabrielle a Malachi Martin, conspiracy theory loving, crazed traditionalist?"


Friday, October 05, 2012

Do you know who this is?

I didn't think so.

The wedding feast.

Go out into the byroads and hedgerows and invite anyone you come upon...

For the past few nights I've been dreaming about getting married - not at this time in my life of course - but years ago.  I was going to get married - twice - but I couldn't.  I was terrified and repelled by the very idea of it, and broke off the engagement soon after each proposal.  I know all the reasons why - yet I thought marriage would 'cure' me.  That's not the right intention of course, so the marriage would have been null and void to begin with.  That said, I'm not sure why I've been dreaming about it now.  As I state in my profile on Blogger, I can't be married anyway.  And I don't want to be.

I kept thinking about the dream however, and it reminded me of Christ's teaching on celibacy - to be more accurate - on eunuchs.  Hence I re-considered the teaching on celibacy in terms of a disability.  Of course celibacy chosen for the kingdom isn't a disability in the classic sense, nevertheless, a normal human function is deliberately disabled in professing it.  Therefore, what if Christ said, "Some men are disabled from birth; some have been disable by men, and some have freely renounced sex for the sake of God's reign."  For me the key word here is disabled - some people may be sexually disabled just as some people have been physically disabled - either at birth, through some illness or accident, or deliberately so by man, and so on.  The disabled are not barred from the kingdom of God, the Church.  Even though the disability remains as a thorn in the flesh, or bars them from this or that vocation, they are called to sanctity.

Once I wrote that Christ didn't heal everyone who came to him, but a reader corrected me and said that he pretty much did - there is no account in the Gospel that he sent anyone away.  This morning I read something from Monsignor Luigi Giussani which is much closer to what I originally was attempting to say:  "Christ came for this; indeed he did not heal everybody, he did not straighten things out for everybody.  The task Christ gave to us is to proclaim his name, not to fix all heads, all the arms, to make everybody well educated..."  That's it!

That's what I meant and what I have been trying to say for a long time.  Some people are disabled, crippled for life as it were, and they aren't always cured.  In fact, it may be better if they go into eternal life this way than be led astray by versions of what I call the Prosperity Gospel mentality that insists everyone must be cured or is cursed.  The disabled exist, they have always lived amongst us, they do not simply survive - they thrive in their conformity to the rejected, wounded Christ.  They need not be identified or defined by their disability, but by their identity with Christ.  Christ invites the lame, the crippled, the lame and the blind - he wants his Church to be filled.

This is not to say he cannot or will not heal - he does: "Stand up and go your way; your faith has been your salvation."  And like Christ, you may have the wounds to prove it.

Art: Beggars and cripples, 18th century engraver

More on Indulgences: Fr. Z

Fr. Z has posted on the plenary indulgence for the 'Holy Year', the Year of Faith which begins October 11.  Holy Years are times of special grace. 


Vatican City, 5 October 2012 (VIS) – According to a decree made public today and signed by Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro and Bishop Krzysztof Nykiel, respectively penitentiary major and regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary, Benedict XVI will grant faithful Plenary Indulgence for the occasion of the Year of Faith. The indulgence will be valid from the opening of the Year on 11 October 2012 until its end on 24 November 2013. - Read more here.

Blessed Alberto Marvelli

Today is the feast day of Blessed Alberto Marvelli.  The reason I prefer lay saints is because they demonstrate that we can attain sanctity in and through ordinary life...   And they didn't do it by endlessly trying to figure out what God wanted them to do. 


Thursday, October 04, 2012

Pray for Archbishop Cordileone


The installation of the new Roman Catholic archbishop of San Francisco took place today in the City.

Salvatore Cordileone was installed as archbishop during a ceremony at St. Mary's Cathedral after being appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in July. - Source

The Archbishop needs our prayers.  Very much.

It is really very simple...

Remember Lot's wife.

So, after you realize how poor Christ really is, and that there is nowhere to rest your head - or rather, rest on your laurels in this life; and after you finally decide to let the dead bury their dead and move on to follow Christ with resolute determination - don't forget that whoever 'puts their hand to the plow' - sets their will to do so - but keeps looking back, is unfit for the Kingdom of God.

We really need to keep that in mind...

As St. Paul explains it:  "Whatever gains I had, I consider as so much loss in the light of Christ.  I have come to rate all as loss in the light of the surpassing knowledge of my Lord Jesus Christ.  For his sake I have forfeited everything; I have accounted all else as rubbish that Christ may be my wealth and I may be in him, not having any justice of my own... I wish only to know Christ and the power flowing from his resurrection; likewise to know how to share in his sufferings by being formed into  the pattern of his death." - Philippians 3: 7-11

So, it seems to me, that if we have left behind family or friends, a career, a ministry, or a life of unbelief and/or sin, we need to consider it all as loss, that Christ may be our wealth and that we may be in him...

It's really very simple.
Revealed to little ones.
The wise and the learned
simply study it.

Catholic stuff some Catholics may not know or remember.

Or why we used to memorize the catechism.

Some Catholics don't know everything, and if they did, they may have forgotten it.

Which is why we have a catechism to guide us, and explains why the Church instructs the faithful by way of encyclicals and Apostolic exhortations and such -  documents conveniently found online at the Vatican website BTW.

For instance, questions about what does the Church really say about same sex marriage can be answered with a Google search for Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith on same sex marriage... voila!  You have a clear, concise answer:
Homosexuality is a troubling moral and social phenomenon, even in those countries where it does not present significant legal issues. It gives rise to greater concern in those countries that have granted or intend to grant – legal recognition to homosexual unions, which may include the possibility of adopting children.

... and then:

6. To understand why it is necessary to oppose legal recognition of homosexual unions, ethical considerations of different orders need to be taken into consideration. ... etc.
Now wasn't that simple, and special.

So anyway.  When you go to the sources of actual teaching, and not some pastoral interpretation on a blog or in a bulletin, you get the truth and the facts.  Yet we hear, "I don't get it though!  I don't understand how the Church can say this or that or tell people how to live their lives?"  or, "If this is the case, then who can be saved?"  (The disciples asked that.)  In other words, if you still don't get it, you don't get it.  God will enlighten you.  Really, he will.  Or as Christ said to the disciples, "What is impossible for man is possible for God."  Too simplistic for you?  Then maybe you can't handle the truth, or maybe you just aren't ready to accept it.  That's normal.

A friend asked me about indulgences and the forgiveness of sins and God forgetting our sins and yet we have to atone for them and what about the death of Christ - wherein he thought all of that was taken care of. For me to answer that stuff is beyond my expertise.  But our friends ask such questions and charity obliges a considerate reply. Doctrinally, it is all answered for us in the catechism and in the 1968 document explaining all the rules concerning indulgences, Enchiridion of Indulgences
An indulgence is the remission before God of the temporal punishment due for sins already forgiven as far as their guilt is concerned. This remission the faithful with the proper dispositions and under certain determined conditions acquire through the intervention of the Church which, as minister of the Redemption, authoritatively dispenses and applies the treasury of the satisfaction won by Christ and the Saints. -Enchiridion

For doctrinal questions on the forgiveness of sins and the satisfaction due to them, check out the CCC:
1459 Many sins wrong our neighbor. One must do what is possible in order to repair the harm (e.g., return stolen goods, restore the reputation of someone slandered, pay compensation for injuries). Simple justice requires as much. But sin also injures and weakens the sinner himself, as well as his relationships with God and neighbor. Absolution takes away sin, but it does not remedy all the disorders sin has caused.62 Raised up from sin, the sinner must still recover his full spiritual health by doing something more to make amends for the sin: he must "make satisfaction for" or "expiate" his sins. This satisfaction is also called "penance."  
1460 The penance the confessor imposes must take into account the penitents personal situation and must seek his spiritual good. It must correspond as far as possible with the gravity and nature of the sins committed. It can consist of prayer, an offering, works of mercy, service of neighbor, voluntary self-denial, sacrifices, and above all the patient acceptance of the cross we must bear. Such penances help configure us to Christ, who alone expiated our sins once for all. They allow us to become co-heirs with the risen Christ, "provided we suffer with him."63
The satisfaction that we make for our sins, however, is not so much ours as though it were not done through Jesus Christ. We who can do nothing ourselves, as if just by ourselves, can do all things with the cooperation of "him who strengthens" us. Thus man has nothing of which to boast, but all our boasting is in Christ . . . in whom we make satisfaction by bringing forth "fruits that befit repentance." These fruits have their efficacy from him, by him they are offered to the Father, and through him they are accepted by the Father.64 - CCC
So you see, we Catholics have authoritative sources to go to in order to form our consciences by.  If some celebrity mystic or online Catholic personality wrote something you think is odd or strange or scary or too good to be true - check your sources.  Talk to a good priest.  If you are plagued with doubts, pray.  I mean really pray - use words.  Many of the saints prayed acts of faith, hope and love when they were assailed with doubts or temptations against the faith.  Today formula prayers are snubbed for prayers from the heart - prayers in your own words - it's more contemplative, they say.  St. Therese made acts of faith at the height of her union with God!  Popular mystics, not unlike the rest of us, can miss such human foibles in the lives of great saints. 

Truth is, we don't always know how to pray.  How can we pray with our own words, especially if we do not always know or understand the fundamentals of the faith - which begs the question; what makes us so sure we can pray properly?  None of us can, thus the Spirit intercedes for us - and we sometimes need to fall back on acts of faith and other formula prayers when we don't know how to pray as we ought.. . or when we just can't find our navel during centering prayer.  Moreover, traditional prayers contain doctrine, in addition to instructing us as to how we ought to pray and what to ask for.

Another reason plain teaching doesn't always work for us is that we remain attached to a particular sin or way of life, or a perception of how spiritual life ought to be.  Sometimes we become deluded in our spiritual combat and prefer our own opinion to Church teaching - doctrine.  Not to worry too much.  Why?  Because that wrestling, that questioning, that preference for our own will and self-opinion, can lead to a great fall, great humiliations, or even greater confusion - which can bring us to a profound sense of our own powerlessness.  Thus, if we are so blessed to find our self so spiritually poor, it is then that we can finally be open to the truth - but only if we want to be.

So don't try to be smarter or holier than the Church.  Just, allow yourself to be taught, as St. John of the Cross wrote.
Act of Faith

O my God, I firmly believe that you are one God in three divine Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. I believe that your divine Son became man, died for our sins, and that He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because you have revealed them, Who can neither deceive nor be deceived. Amen.

Editor's note:  Blogger was impossible today - I lost whole sentences during editing and publishing, and had to go back and rewrite.  I hate the new Blogger.  I hate it!  All this time wasted on writing and rewriting for phantoms.

Feast of St. Francis of Assisi

Art: Apotheosis of St. Francis, Giotto
Basilica of St. Francis, Assisi.

Poverty of spirit.

"If you now yearn to know how that happens (mystical communion with God), ask grace, not doctrine; desire, not the intellect; the groaning of prayer, not the study of the letter; the spouse, not the teacher; God, not man; darkness not clarity; not light but the fire that inflames everything and transport to God with strong unctions and ardent affections. ... We enter therefore into darkness, we silence worries, the passions and illusions; we pass with Christ Crucified from this world to the Father, so that, after having seen him, we say with Philip: 'that is enough for me'." - St. Bonaventure 

Happy feast day!

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Kalley Yanta, Spokesperson for Minnesota For Marriage

The "Vote Yes" ads are airing now.  Minnesota For Marriage has had 'marriage tutorials' out for some time.  I'm featuring this one because it explains the Vote Yes position very well. I also want to introduce Kalley Yanta to my readers.  Kalley is a Catholic wife and mother, and experienced television news-journalist.  She gave up a successful career as a local news anchor to be a stay at home mom, she's also remained active in pro-life activities all along.  Kalley's latest television ad wasn't available to me to post, but as I said, this Minnesota Marriage spot covers the basics.  It explains why the decision should be left to the voters and emphasizes that the vote is not an anti-gay measure, but a pro-family, pro-children safeguard.  Watch and listen and you will understand what I'm trying to say.  Kalley Yanta does a great job!

Nudity in the public square: Our Voice, Our Values, Our Vision ... What?

Castroite San Franciscans.
"Ball-park Franks"

Why do people want to get naked in public?

The 'nutty' professor did it because ???
According to Michigan State police, a 9-1-1 call was received at the Ingham County Central Dispatch Center at 1:07 p.m. local time, reporting a man shouting in the hallway of the MSU Engineering Building. MSU police said "a university professor" was taken "into protective custody and transported ... to a local hospital. No one was injured, and the professor is not being charged with a crime. MSU's Counseling Center has reached out to students who may have witnessed the incident to offer any support they need."
"He was screaming profanities and things you really couldn't understand, and something about religion," David Grabowski, an MSU senior, told "He was pacing up and down the hallway." - Source
The  Pennsylvania woman did it because ???
According to the Delaware County Daily Times ( ), Sara Butler's lawyer says contradictory medications for lupus led the 44-year-old mother to think the world was ending.

Butler drove to Upper Darby High School in March with two adult children and a teenage son. She wanted to pick up another child, but the student wasn't released because Butler was not the custodial parent.

Police say family members then shed their clothes in the parking lot and chanted religious phrases.

Butler and her adult daughters pleaded guilty Monday to indecent exposure and related charges. All were placed on probation. - Source

The inhabitants of Castro do it because ???

Then you have your everyday, run of the mill, bath-salts druggies who cannibalize people - they are clearly insane. 

Of course, there are the San Franciscans who take their clothes off in public - but these are probably better identified as exhibitionists and fetishists and seriously gay, rather than be accused of any mental disorder or drug induced psychosis.

San Francisco has tolerated public nudity at public events for years - Folsom St. festivities come to mind.   Yet the city is considering clamping down on the activity elsewhere ...

Yet some argue a ban would mark a slippery slope for the city ???
 "Today it is naked people, and next week it will be drag queens, and then the week after that it will be people who wear leather," said Mitch Hightower, 51, who organizes an annual "nude-in" body freedom demonstration in the city and runs an exhibitionist website.

"I think there are a lot of people in the community that feel in order to advance legal and civil rights they need to blend in and be as bland and vanilla as possible," he said.
Increasingly over the past year, a group of three to more than a dozen men have formed what Mr. Wiener calls an "ad hoc nudist colony" on most afternoons in the Castro's main public plaza, just steps away from a train station and the city's jumbo rainbow gay pride flag.
 In a nod toward compromise, Mr. Wiener's proposal would prohibit nudity in city plazas, sidewalks and public transit, but not at festivals and parades like the annual Folsom Street Fair and crosstown Bay to Breakers race, which attract naked participants from far and wide.-Source
Like the great  Catholic-Enneagram contemplative- mystic Fr. Richard Rohr would say: "The boy always gets naked." 
There's this deep desire to get naked, to somehow, even risk nakedness in front of one another. To expose the self. That's really pretty archetypal. It shouldn't really surprise us at all, should it? I mean, that's really what all lovemaking is, of course — could you love me when you see me in my nakedness? Could I still be beautiful, could I still be attractive to you in my nakedness? Can you see it all and still be desirous of me?' - Rohr
To be honest, No.  That said, I think people just want others to see they're nuts and accept them just as they are.


Nutty Professor.


Sometimes I wouldn't mind being Fr. Z.

Fr. Z's flight home.
I so wanted a cocktail after seeing this.

I'm not envious, but I must admit, sometimes I wouldn't mind being Fr. Z. 


He's a priest on his own, he can say Mass and live in great intimacy with Christ in the Eucharist.  He lives very well, he doesn't have a lot of responsibility, and he travels a lot, he eats quite well and drinks well - he wants for nothing a gift card can't obtain.  Not a bad gig.

 Father is on his way back to the United States tonight.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Oh no he di'int!

DAILY CALLER: 'For nearly 40 minutes, using an accent he never adopts in public, Obama describes a racist, zero-sum society, in which the white majority profits by exploiting black America'... Developing tonight...

H/T Adrienne and Drudge.

Is belief in Guardian Angels doctrinal?

Comments on Heather King's essay on the Angels.
Catholic doctrinal teaching on angels is part of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.  The existence of guardian angels is not child's play, it is not simply a cherished notion in Church tradition, that can be accepted or rejected upon whim.  Indeed, the teaching on Guardian Angels does 'rise to the level of doctrine' as it is part of the deposit of faith - not simply the 'mind of the Church'.
"It is clear therefore that, in the supremely wise arrangement of God, sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church are so connected and associated that one of them cannot stand without the others. Working together, each in its own way, under the action of the one Holy Spirit, they all contribute effectively to the salvation of souls." - CCC

A light cursory reading of Heather King's essay for today's feast in Magnificat can perhaps give the impression that Catholic teaching on the angels is simply a 'cherished notion'.  Of course she goes on to quote Paul VI in affirming that angels are 'a truth of faith', yet it is this type of personal, casual commentary, when found in a source-book like Magnificat, that can confuse those who are more or less accustomed to filtered, cafeteria teachings on popular piety and devotion.  Faith is not about  feeling something is true, nor a  fairy tale, or myth, like children believing in the tooth fairy.  Sometimes I think Protestant and New Age notions infect our descriptions or expressions of the faith. 
The apostles entrusted the "Sacred deposit" of the faith (the depositum fidei),45 contained in Sacred Scripture and Tradition, to the whole of the Church. "By adhering to [this heritage] the entire holy people, united to its pastors, remains always faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. So, in maintaining, practicing and professing the faith that has been handed on, there should be a remarkable harmony between the bishops and the faithful."  - CCC 

Though guardian angels are often depicted as effeminate beings in long flowing robes, escorting little children through the woods, the archetype, though charming to effeminate taste, is more or less a corruption of genuine iconography.  Eastern iconography is much more sober and doctrinal, traditionally depicting the angels vested in military, courtly or liturgical-priestly array.  They are thus represented to express their superior status, demonstrating power and strength as manly beings, relying upon such symbols of gender and uniform to express virtues necessary in the spiritual combat;  fortitude and prudence, wisdom and counsel, while denoting the angel's function as messenger, protector, defender, guide, and so on.  The child depicted with the angel does not so much reference the angel's protection of children, but rather symbolizes the soul to whom the angel is assigned.  Unfortunately, today even Orthodox icons are sentimentalized.  Misguided by popular romantic depictions of the angels, we imagine they are just for children and the pietistic.

But is the belief in Guardian Angels from conception to death doctrinal? 

Yes.  Fr. Hardon explains why.

There is a variety of doctrinal values, as we call them, in angelology. In general, however, we can distinguish six levels of doctrinal value in the science of the angels. Each of these levels has its own distinctive degree of certitude and corresponding obligation for acceptance by the faithful.

1) What is the first and highest level of doctrinal value in angelology?
The highest level of doctrinal value is where a doctrine has been defined by the Catholic Church as formally revealed by God.

2) What is this kind of doctrine called in Catholic theology?
It is called dogma. Not all doctrines are dogmas. Everything which the Church teaches is a doctrine. But not all doctrine is dogma. A doctrine becomes a dogma when it has been expressly revealed in Sacred Scripture or Sacred Tradition. Thus, the existence of angels and demons is a dogma of the Faith.
3) What is the second level of doctrinal teaching?
Doctrinal teaching is called dogmatic doctrine when it has been revealed by God, either in Scripture or in Tradition; but the teaching comes not from formal definitions by the Bishop of Rome or from councils of the Church approved by the pope. It is infallible doctrine, indeed, but the source of the Church's knowledge is derived from her unbroken teaching over the centuries. This is commonly called the Church's universal ordinary magisterium. An example of this kind of dogma would be the existence of guardian angels for all Christians. - Read more here.
Check your sources people.

Disclaimer:  I link and I like Heather King, her blog and her essays.  I'm not picking on her.  I still like Magnificat as well.  That's all.

October lore...

I imitate Mrs. Rudd of Widow's Weeds here...

The Anglo-Saxons called October Winterfylleth, a name which indicated that winter approached with the full moon of the month. In old almanacs the sport of hawking is adopted as emblematic of this which was accounted the last month of autumn." William Shepard Walsh, Curiosities of Popular Customs, p. 762 (1898).

+ + +

If in October you do marry
Love will come, but riches tarry.

Married when leaves in October thin,
Toil and hardships for you begin.

An October bride will be pretty, coquettish,
Loving but jealous.
+ + +

Weather lore of October (Northern Hemisphere): the more bright red berries (haws and hips) that can be seen in the hedgerows, the more frost and snow there will be the next Winter.
The second `Summer' in October is called Indian Summer in America, St Bridget's Summer in Sweden; in Italy, the Summer of St Teresa; in Germany and Switzerland, the Summer of St Gall. In England, it is called St Luke's Summer.
+ + +
A wind has blown the rain away
and blown the sky away
and all the leaves away,
and the trees stand. 
I think,
I too,
have known autumn too long. 
                        ~e.e. cummings

+ + +

The month of October is dedicated to the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Pray the Rosary every day.

Art:  October Landscape, Michael Workman 

Feast of the Guardian Angels

"Guardian angels exist to protect every human life from its beginning to end." - Pope Benedict XVI

We are never alone, and while our angels always behold the Face of God - they are in the Divine Presence and experience the beatific vision - they are with us continually. 

Even unbelievers and those living in sin have a guardian angel who love them:
We may say it is the common teaching of Church commentators that every human being has a guardian spirit in so far as he is human, and not precisely as a result of baptism and a state of grace. St. Jerome therefore says that this angelic custody begins at birth. “What great dignity,” he exclaims, “belongs to souls that each has an angel delegated to watch over it from the moment of its birth” - Fr. Hardon
Prayers to our Guardian Angel...
“Angel of God, you love God so deeply because you understand God’s love so completely. Ask our Lord to give me something of your great love for God, a repentant sinner, that I may join you in heavenly glory. Our Lord promised that ‘There will be joy among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.’ May I give you and your fellow angels something of this joy over my own generous repentance for my sins.”

“My guardian angel, you always behold the Holy Trinity. You are deeply loved by the divine Majesty. You know how desperately I need the grace of God to know what He wants me to do and the strength I need to surrender my stubborn will to His divine will. How I need your powerful intercession with the Almighty. I trust you will hear my prayer and I am confident that with your help I will live my life as a sacrifice of myself to God and thus merit to join you in that celestial glory where you are waiting for me. Amen.” - Fr. Hardon 

Monday, October 01, 2012

What to do? The Priest's Housekeeper is selling phones now?

Help.  The Priest's Housekeeper Blog has apparently been taken over by a spam bot or something.  How do I get out of following the blog so that I no longer receive the updates?  Anyone?

And if you have her email - someone please tell her.  Thanks.

The Feast of St. Therese: At the table of sinners.

Some reflections.

St. Therese was very close to my family - more than I realized.

Though my mother was a divorced, remarried Catholic who stayed away from Mass and the sacraments, she continued to pray, make novenas, send her kids to Catholic school, support the Church and the missions and so on.  I found out on her deathbed that she was very devout as a child and wanted to be a nun.  Indeed she attended boarding school at the Motherhouse of the School Sisters of Notre Dame for that purpose.  Midway through high school, my grandmother took her out of school and had her get a job to help support her brothers through seminary.  Her vocation was lost, she was 'forced' into a marriage by her mom, had two kids, divorced and remarried the love of her life, my dad.  Then I came along and her devotion to Therese was revealed in naming me - Terrance, to be called, Terry.  Seriously - I only came to realize it recently -  I mention it hoping to demonstrate what I understand to be St. Therese's patronage of sinners.  I'm not sure how to express myself on that, but I will try.

The table of sinners.

I always thought I adopted Therese to be my patron, when I asked her at a very young age to be my godmother.   As it turns out, I see clearly that she adopted me.  Much as she did my mother, and my dad, who only became a Catholic after my mom's death - a conversion he attributed to Therese.   St. Therese was always a hidden presence, silently influencing and guiding our lives.  This reminds me of her saying that she wished to be found at the 'table of sinners'... expressing that in the depths of her dark night, her trial of temptations against faith before she died. In that abject state, she experienced the faithlessness of the atheist, the bitter taste of rancor of the unbeliever, even the hollow, vacuous, hopelessness of those who hate the faith.  Like her Master, "who had not known sin, yet became sin," thus she, who was innocent (as she had been once assured she had never committed a mortal sin), became sin, as it were.  Not in the exact same sense of Christ of course, but she shared, or imitated His redemptive suffering in and through that experience... seated with Christ crucified, at the table of sinners.  That is the secret of St. Therese.

"While Jesus was at table many tax collectors and sinners sat with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many who followed him... " - Mark 2: 13-17

Souls complain that they lack her innocence, that they lack her love, that all they find in themselves is misery and the awful despair of knowing they are too sinful to attain the heights of sanctity.  Yet it is precisely for those of us who find ourselves powerless and unfaithful, "miserated" by our selfish self indulgence and sin, who attract Therese and are most fitted to her little way.  We do not have to worry about merit or accomplishments to attract her patronage, or much more, to attract the merciful love of God.  This is what Little Therese teaches and demonstrates in her little way of confidence and love.  It is our misery which attracts the divine mercy.  It is our sins and our faults which so attracts God that he sent his only Son to be crucified for our sins.  Therefore, who can not trust in merciful love when one is vulnerable enough, humble enough, to be embraced by it? The mystery is so deep, so wide, I can't express it.

Whoever is a little one, let him come to me... seated at the table of sinners.

I have so much trouble trying to express these things, but I'm convinced that St. Therese is much more the patron saint of sinners than she is anything else.  It is almost like saying that Jesus Christ is the God of sinners as far as he made himself the bread of sinners, likewise he ate and drank with them, and most certainly, he came to call sinners, not the righteous... the Gospel proclaims that, and so does the life of St. Therese.

Some more random thoughts on the little way ...
A saint like St. Therese, St. Simeon Salus, loved humility so much he was convinced one can only attain it perfectly by loving humiliations. Thus he took the last place even amongst those whose lot he shared - the wounded, the lame, the outcast, the prostitutes and the sinful.  
To the Deacon John, the only one who knew his holiness: I beg you, never disregard a single soul, especially when it happens to be a monk or a beggar. For Your Charity knows that His place is among the beggars, especially among the blind, people made as pure as the sun through their patience and distress. . . . [S]how love of your neighbor through almsgiving. For this virtue, above all, will help us on (the Day of Judgment)." - Simeon Salus,  Source

"I was unable to believe there were really impious people who had no faith... [but] Jesus made me feel that there were really souls who have no faith, and who, through the abuse of grace, lost this precious treasure, the source of the only real and pure joy." - S. Therese
Those who really believe do not attribute too much importance to the struggle for the reform of ecclesiastical ritual.

At bottom there is always hidden pride at work when criticism of the Church adopts that tone of rancorous bitterness which today is already beginning to become a fashionable habit. Unfortunately it is accompanied only too often by a spiritual emptiness in which the specific nature of the Church as a whole is no longer seen, in which it is only regarded as a political instrument whose organization is felt to be pitiable or brutal, as the case may be, as if the real function of the Church did not lie beyond organization, in the comfort of the Word and of the sacraments which she provides in good and bad days alike. Those who really believe do not attribute too much importance to the struggle for the reform of ecclesiastical ritual. They live on what the Church always is; and if one wants to know what the Church really is one must go to them. For the Church is most present not where organizing, reforming and governing are going on but in those who simply believe and receive from her the gift of faith that is life to them." - Ratzinger: "Introduction to Christianity." Holy, Yet Mingled with Sinners: The Church of the Pope Theologian

Happy feast day!

Spiritual but not religious.

S. Juan Macias, one of my patrons.*

So. What.

I'm serious: So what?  If a kid says he is spiritual but not religious he is probably on a quest.  Meet him there.  Greet him there.  Speak to him there of all the cool mysticism and spiritual treasures of Catholic spirituality.  Tell him about the mystics, speak to him about the holy mysteries.  Make yourself, your faith, your love, so attractive that he might fall in love with Jesus Christ.

So many people make such a big deal of this spiritual but not religious thing.  I was spiritual but not religious for a time.  You are misguided and blind guides, if you cannot perceive that a soul is on its course, its journey, its pilgrimage.  Do not impose your fears and prejudice upon such innocence.  Neither should you disturb ... rouse love before its time.  Love attracts... make Love loved.

*S. John Macias, feast September 18.  Years ago I sent to Rome for first class relics of St. John, St. Martin, and St. Rose, all mystics and humble lay saints from Lima, Peru, each devoted to the Infant Jesus.  I waited months and months without hearing a word; I had also sent a generous donation, so I half expected some sort of acknowledgement.  Nothing came.  Then after praying to St. John I had a dream one night.  In it he showed me the nuns who assemble relics in Rome, and let me know the relics were being prepared and would be sent to me shortly.  A few days later, the relics arrived from the same convent of nuns I had seen in the dream.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

St. Therese ... the death of love.


"When certain dates were suggested as days for her death, Thérese said: “Ah! Mother, intuitions! If you only knew how spiritually poor I really am. I know nothing that you yourself don’t know! I know only what I see and feel!”
It was through the grace of God alone that Thêrèse had reached this state of absolute surrender to Him. She stated: “the words of Job: ‘Even though he should kill me, yet will I trust him,’ always fascinated me in my childhood days. It took me a long time, however, to reach that degree of surrender. Now I have reached it; God has placed me in this degree, for He has taken me up into His arms and placed me there.” - Mother Agnes of Jesus (Pauline)

+ + +

The death of love.

Little Therese died on September 30, 1897 at 7:20 in the evening, after a prolonged agony.  From Sr. Genevieve of the Holy Face (Celine) book, My Sister, St. Therese; Celine wrote:

Once in the infirmary - just a few days ago (1897) in fact...
I had been going to and fro in the Infirmary, and became upset because something had gone wrong. Therese called, "Bo-bonne, no interior anxiety if you please!" (September 3) I can almost hear her say that. Therese always knows when something is wrong.  Her death reminds me so much of the death of love Our Lord suffered... today she cries out:
"Oh! It is pure suffering, because there is not a drop of consolation, no, not one."  No, I would never have believed that it was possible to suffer so much... never, never. I can only explain it by my extreme desire to save souls." (September 30) 
Celine continued: 
"She was trembling from head to foot..." 
At one point she told Celine, "Va, va, ma Celine, je serais avec tois..." "Go on with courage... I shall be with you."

Finally, gazing on her crucifix, Little Therese cried out:

"Oh!... Je L'aime!... Mon Dieu, je... vous... aime!" "Oh! ...I love Him! ...My God, I!"

On suffering and love.

Something from Ven. Pere Eugene-Marie of the Child Jesus, O.C.D.:

Thérèse thus explained a little of her doctrine, but always in the midst of distress, because of the opposition of her surroundings and the sermons she had to listen to. Her teaching was quite different from all this. In her obscure contemplation she had made the discovery of the God who is Love, an obscure discovery but one which she grasped almost by second nature and which created certitude in the depths of her soul. God is Love. She could say:

"I contemplate and adore the other divine perfections ... through Mercy. All of these perfections appear to be resplendent with Love." There was nothing but this in God.

The searching went on in darkness. Thérèse only explained what she had to explain, either for the novices or when asked to write the story of her life later. Habitually she lived in the dark. We might say that she found herself bogged down in what is often called the purification of the spirit. This consists far less in keen sufferings marked by distinct stages - some of these there were indeed - than in a muddled fog or kind of quicksand in which one becomes enmired and unable to move. This trial continued in anguish, but with upward thrusts toward God and convictions that she had found him. There was an apparent contradiction between her progressive discovery of sin and of sinful tendencies in herself and others, and her discovery of God.

The God whom Thérèse discovered was the God of Love. At the same time she saw that around her, and even in her Carmel, God was not known. The God who is Love was not known! They knew the God of justice, quid pro quo, and they tried to acquire merits. But, thought Thérèse, this was not the way to win him. God is Love, God is Mercy. But what is Mercy? It is the Love of God which gives itself beyond all demands and rights.

The Council of Trent declared that God bestows his gifts in two ways: out of justice, that is, as a reward for merits, and out of Mercy, that is, surpassing all merit. Thus he is true to his own nature, for he is Love, Goodness which pours itself out. He has a need to give. Therein ties his joy.

Thérèse read the Gospels. What did she find there? Mary Magdalen: God had forgiven her much, and therefore she loved much." Thérèse also contemplated the prodigal son and the fathers joy in receiving him back: joy, for this was his opportunity to give himself. There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner repenting than over ninety-nine upright people who have no need of repentance. What glorifies God and "delights him' is to be able to give himself, and give himself freely. This was Thérèse's discovery: what gives God joy is the power to give more than what is required by strict justice, freely, based on our needs and the exegencies of his nature which is Love, and not on our merits.

Thérèse felt acutely the tension of her surroundings, the opposition between her light, her needs, and what she saw being practiced around her . People kept score with God. When you stood before the eternal Father who was to judge you, he would look at your list of merits. You would have obtained so many indulgences, you would have so many merits, and your place would be assigned. For her part Thérèse said: I shall take care not to present any merits of mine, but only those of our Lord. As for me, I shall have nothing, I do not want to present anything, I prefer to let God love me as much as he wants." Then she added, "It is because of this that I shall get such a good reception." Here we have the heart of her teaching. - P. Parie-Eugene ocd, from Carmel in the Desert

The 'alpargates' of St. Therese.
The traditional footwear of Discalced Carmelite nuns.

Church bells sounding in the distance.

Holy reminders.

All week I look forward to Sunday Mass and Holy Communion.  I especially love Sunday mornings.  During the warmer months, when the windows are open, I can often hear the church bells for at least one of the three Masses for Sundays.  I'm usually praying at the time and the bells remind me how my prayer is united to the prayer of the Church, especially the Mass.  My daily prayer, lectio and meditation, is centered upon the liturgy and readings of the day.  I've developed a naive understanding of the verse from the Book of Revelation in connection with the daily readings at Mass, which reads: "Let him who has ears heed the Spirit's word to the churches." Oddly enough, I think of church bells in much the same way.

Bells and such instruments as cymbals and gongs date back to ancient cultures, used in ritual and worship, to summon worshipers, to offer praise or signify the divine presence, as well as to ward off evil, frighten spirits, marauders, storms, and so on.  In Catholic tradition, bells serve pretty much the same function.

Ding-dong factoids.
The first ecclesiastical use of bells was to announce the hour of church services. It is plain that in the days before watches and clocks some such signal must have been a necessity, more especially in religious communities which assembled many times a day to sing the Divine praises.

In Rome on the evening before a fast day, the bells are rung for a quarters of an hour in all the parish churches to remind people of their obligation on the morrow.

In Rome, the "De Profundis" is rung every evening by the parish churches one hour after the Ave Maria. Clement XII in 1736 granted an indulgence for this practice and endeavoured to extend it. This custom is observed in many other places, particularly in North America.

The Curfew (ignitegium), a warning to extinguish fires and lights, after which all respectable characters went home to bed, was possibly of ecclesiastical origin but seems to have been rung as a rule by the town bell (compana communiae, bancloche). Still in many cases one of the church bells was used for this and similar purposes. In England this was particularly frequent, and in many small towns and parishes the curfew is rung to this day at hours varying from 8 p.m. to 10.

The Angelus or Ave Maria may or may not have developed out of the curfew. There seems good reason to believe that a special bell, often called the Gabriel bell, was devoted to this purpose.

From the introduction of the Elevation of the Host in the Mass at the beginning of the thirteenth century it seems to have been customary to ring one of the great bells of the church, at any rate during the principal Mass, at the moment when the Sacred Host was raised on high. This was to give warning to the people at work in the fields in order that they might momentarily knell down and make an act of adoration. - Source
Demons scattered and put to flight.

Church bells are normally christened or 'baptized' - in other words consecrated, as well as named or dedicated to a patron saint.  The custom dates back to at least medieval times.   Hence the sacramental function of bells is explained and perhaps understood more clearly:

Some rude lines quoted in the gloss of the "Corpus Juris", and often found in inscriptions, describe the principal functions of a bell (cf. Longfellow, The Golden Legend):
Laudo Deum verum plebem voco congrego clerum
Defunctos ploro, nimbum fugo, festa decoro.
(I praise the true God, I call the people, I assemble the clergy;
I bewail the dead, I dispense storm clouds, I do honour to feasts.)

Or otherwise:
Funera plango fulmina frango sabbata pango
Excito lentos dissipo ventos paco cruentos
(At obsequies I mourn, the thunderbolts I scatter, I ring in the sabbaths;
I hustle the sluggards, I drive away storms, I proclaim peace after bloodshed.)
*For more information on bells go here.
 As society becomes more secularized and less tolerant of religious freedom, this may be one reason why neighbors of inner city churches now complain that the bells are a nusaince and seek to have them silenced.

"Do you hear those bells Sister?"
"No Father, I can't hear shit with my ears covered like this!"

Mass Chat: Focus on the readings...

I have some people in my life who think they are rich.  Truth be told, they really do have a lot of money, a nice big house in an upscale neighborhood, many possessions, they travel at will, wear designer, drive an expensive luxury vehicle, dine lavishly, entertain frequently, and so on.  They are very impressed with themselves and their station and they let everyone know it.

They each suffer from depression and take multiple medications for several disorders associated with it.  They are also under the care of a psychiatrist.  If one were to ask, they would say they are very happy, and very proud of their accomplishments.

I saw them not too long ago, but I wasn't convinced.  If they were at all content, they wouldn't try so hard to impress others.

I think I might embarrass them. I thought of that while listening to the second reading for today:  "My wealth has rotted away, my clothes have become moth-eaten, my gold and my silver have corroded..." - James 5: 1-6   (I've applied the reading to myself, not them.)

Anyway, listen to the readings for today - they are loaded, as usual - yet today, they impressed themselves upon me with a greater sense of urgency.

The Gospel [Mark 9] gave me pause regarding my attitude towards private revelations and stories of apparitions:  "There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who at the same time can speak ill of me.  For whoever is not against us is for us."

And then, the inconvenient truth about scandal and sin - perpetrators cause others to sin.  Christ says: "Whoever causes one of these little ones to sin..."

Listen closely, meditate, ponder, ruminate the readings from Mass today.  Savor every word.

For no man buy his own ransom,
or pay a price to God for his life.
The ransom of his soul is beyond him.
He cannot buy life without end,
nor avoid coming to the grave.

He knows that wise men and fools must both perish
and must leave their wealth to others.
Their graves are their homes for ever,
their dwelling place from age to age,
though their names spread wide through the land.

In his riches, man lacks wisdom;
he is like the beasts that are destroyed. - Psalm 49