Saturday, March 30, 2013

Keeping watch...

Punk Easter Vigil.  What?

But seriously...

Don't ever give up.

Remember, 'darkness is not dark' for Him.

The novena to Divine Mercy has begun - remember it is the chaplet that is the most important part...

It is a great grace to recognize our misery, and our desperate need for God's mercy.

I have to wash my jeans for the Easter Vigil now.

Poverty - The Flip Side.

 A Holy Saturday Story

Yesterday I had to mail a package - UPS it, actually.  Since I was in the neighborhood - of my little UPS shipping outlet - I stopped at a place called ARC - it's like a Goodwill store, only operated by the county.  On occasion I stop by to look for frames for my paintings, hoping against hope I'll come across a lovely Renaissance tabernacle frame. 

What struck me as so funny yesterday was my immediate revulsion upon entering the store.  I experience a similar feeling sometimes in antique shops - only then it's a sense that I'm looking at dead people's stuff.  Yesterday was different however.

For one thing, the place was packed with customers.  I couldn't imagine why so many people were there 'shopping'.  The store had a lot of Easter things - used - so would people really buy that stuff, I wondered?  Then I recalled ARC advertises on TV as having hidden treasures, therefore I decided that must be it... Except everyone looked poor and rumpled - not one fashionable suburban housewife in sight.  I myself had very cool bed hair and a day's growth of beard, and I was dressed in my painting clothes as well - so I imagined I fit in. 

Despite management's best efforts to simulate a standard retail store; aisles, counters, clothing racks, and so on - the place is a mess.  It also smells.  Like old stuff and insecticide.

Oddly enough, I ran into the same two Somali women who are always there when I am, either working or rummaging.  They wear what Muslim women from Somalia always wear.  They were speaking to a huge, mentally disabled girl, who also may work there, although all three appeared to be shopping yesterday.  The girl - young woman - shopped while speaking loudly and clearly to her mother on her cell phone - did I mention really loudly?  Just then I imagined I heard Karen Walker calling me, "Oh honey - let's get the hell out of here!  These people are freaks!" 

I didn't find any frames.  Some of the junk I noticed in the store is what I refer to as, "stuff that should never have been manufactured in the first place."  Although I did notice two large, signed prints that were quite good landscapes.  If I were a dealer I would have snapped them up for resale.  While looking at them I smelled alcohol on the breath of a rumpled, crazy looking man who happened to walk by me.  I moved on.  Strangely enough, I bumped into a little old lady, who seemed to be following me with her empty cart, since no matter where I was in the store, she was there too.  She was probably a pick pocket. 

I left the store promising myself I'd never return - convincing myself it was because I never find anything decent there anyway.  Although, lurking deep within my denial, I was thinking to myself, "The poor are so disgusting."

I know! 

I think I love the poor and disabled, but I'm really repelled by them when I'm not feeling all pious and kind hearted, or just in a bad mood or preoccupied with my selfish sensuality and self-seeking.  I thought to myself, "What if I had to live with these people?  What if I had to live with those Somali women, or that retarded girl?!"

See what a sanctimonious, holier than thou, hypocrite-jerk I am? 

Every day and every hour, every minute, walk round yourself and

watch yourself, and see that your image is a seemly one. You pass by a

little child, you pass by, spiteful, with ugly words, with wrathful

heart; you may not have noticed the child, but he has seen you, and

your image, unseemly and ignoble, may remain in his defenceless heart.

You don't know it, but you may have sown an evil seed in him and it

may grow, and all because you were not careful before the child,

because you did not foster in yourself a careful, actively

benevolent love. Brothers, love is a teacher; but one must know how to

acquire it, for it is hard to acquire, it is dearly bought, it is

won slowly by long labour. For we must love not only occasionally, for

a moment, but for ever.
- Fr. Zosima, Brothers Karamazov


The Great Silence

Friday, March 29, 2013

Judging the Pope: Unfortunately, the Associated Press has picked up the story.

The negative, venomous attacks against the Holy Father - by faithful Catholics... is now Breaking News!

Francis' decision to disregard church law and wash the feet of two girls - a Serbian Muslim and an Italian Catholic - during a Holy Thursday ritual has become something of the final straw, evidence that Francis has little or no interest in one of the key priorities of Benedict's papacy: reviving the pre-Vatican II traditions of the Catholic Church.

One of the most-read traditionalist blogs, "Rorate Caeli," reacted to the foot-washing ceremony by declaring the death of Benedict's eight-year project to correct what he considered the botched interpretations of the Second Vatican Council's modernizing reforms.

"The official end of the reform of the reform - by example," "Rorate Caeli" lamented in its report on Francis' Holy Thursday ritual.

A like-minded commentator in Francis' native Argentina, Marcelo Gonzalez at International Catholic Panorama, reacted to Francis' election with this phrase: "The Horror." Gonzalez's beef? While serving as the archbishop of Buenos Aires, the then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio's efforts to revive the old Latin Mass so dear to Benedict and traditionalists were "non-existent." - AP

Just when Catholic Defense League members have been watching and waiting for secular media to do damage to the Sacred Season - faithful Catholics step in.  (BTW - the Catholic League also missed Jimmy Kimmel.)

The constant criticism, the questioning and suspicion-mongering rumor mill, along with all the speculation on what may happen next, foments doubt and fear in the minds of simple souls.  It implants skepticism in the hearts of fellow Catholics.  It betrays the negative culture deeply embedded within extreme traditionalist/fundamentalist circles.     


Pope Francis, Via Crucis ... what did he wear?

Did he genuflect?

I haven't watched anything with the Holy Father today - I painted instead.

Although I searched for a photo to see what he wore at the Via Crucis.  A commenter on another blog stated that if the Pope wore the mozetta tonight - or not - it would determine if the pope was traditional enough for him.

That's bullshit.  Fr. Z has a nice post on what the Pope is really saying, really doing.  He talks about liberals and conservatives - we all continue to insist upon dividing Catholics into separate factions.  That's bullshit too.

The Pope is Roman Catholic.  The Church is not a political entity, a worldly institution, or an earthly kingdom.  Being Catholic is neither liberal nor conservative, trad nor progressive. 

I get the feeling everyone is so busy pigeonholing the Pope, scrutinizing everything he does or says, measuring him according to their preconceived notions on what and how he is supposed to be doing things, that they are hardening their hearts and not listening to what the Holy Spirit is doing or saying.

Sorry the Pope wrecked your Easter. 

Perhaps it's better this way.

"It is finished." And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit...

Art: El Greco

"... they all deserted him and fled." - Mark 14: 50

After a long time he climbed a tree.

Art: Guido Da Siena

Christ climbing the Cross

I love the image included in this icon of the funeral of St. Clare. 

It depicts Christ eager to ascend the Cross, to accomplish his greatest work.

It most likely didn't happen that way - but the symbolism is a teacher.

A lone young shepherd...
After a long time he climbed a tree,
and spreading his shining arms,
and hung by them, and died,
his heart an open wound with love.
-St. John of the Cross

Jesus embraces the Cross.

Night watch...

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Is the Pope Catholic?

Or are some just 'more Catholic than the Pope?'

Sorry, couldn't resist the cliche.

Anyway - everyone is talking about it...  you know... washing the feet of women and Muslims.  Jimmy Akin has a helpful shakedown on the 'scandal' - with links to another couple of perspectives written by the clergy.  Go here.


Inclusive Foot Washing on Holy Thursday.

"The pope's washing the feet of women is hugely significant because including women in this part of the Holy Thursday Mass has been frowned on – and even banned – in some dioceses," said the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author of "The Jesuit Guide."
"It shows the all-embracing love of Christ, who ministered to all he met: man or woman, slave or free, Jew or Gentile," he said. - Source

It's not a big deal to me.  BTW - parishes don't have to do it at the Mass of the Lord's Supper.

I'm glad all the controversy over the practice is ended now days.  Obviously Pope Francis washed the feet of women in the past as Cardinal - and he has done so once again today.  Such things used to be a point of contention when parishes did it - for some people - but all of that has ended now. 

If they didn't do it at all, no one would complain.  ;)

I like simple Masses.  However, if they do the washing of feet, I'm fine with that too.

Holy Thursday is a feast day.  But you knew that.


O spring like crystal!

“shepherds who have the smell of their sheep'.”

That is how I think of the words flowing from the mouth of the Pope... spring like crystal...

I know - I'm crazy, 'steeped in sin since birth'... what would I know?
O spring like crystal!
[The soul] says faith is like crystal for two reasons: first, because it concerns Christ, her Bridegroom; second, because it has the characteristics of crystal, being pure in its truths, strong, clear, and cleansed of errors and natural forms. - John of the Cross
Being the crude, inarticulate and ignorant man that I am, that quote from St. John is the best I can do to express how I perceive the things the Holy Father is teaching us...
This morning, Pope Francis warned Catholic priests around the world that “the reason why some priests grow dissatisfied, lose heart and become in some sense collectors of antiques or novelties” comes from seldom going out of oneself, which leads to “missing out on the best of our people”. Instead, he strongly urged priests to be “shepherds who have the smell of their sheep'.”
He added that “it is not in soul-searching or constant introspection that we encounter the Lord: self-help courses can be useful in life, but to live our priestly life by going from one course to another, from one method to another, leads us to become pelagians and to minimize the power of grace, which comes alive and flourishes to the extent that we, in faith, go out and give ourselves and the Gospel to others”.

He developed this theme throughout his homily, which he began by recalling that this Mass was a reminder to all priests—including himself—of the day of their ordination. In this context the Pope explained what it means to be anointed ones, to “be for” others, and he focused on the meaning of the liturgical vestments. “When we put on our simple chasuble, it might well make us feel, upon our shoulders and in our hearts, the burdens and the faces of our faithful people, our saints and martyrs, of which we have so many in our times.”
At the same time, he noted how “the beauty of all these liturgical things ... is not so much about trappings and fine fabrics” as it is destined to the action expected of priests. “The ointment, dear brothers, is not intended just to make us fragrant, much less to be kept in a jar, for then it would become rancid … and the heart bitter.” - VIS
O my God!  I love you!  I love the Church!


Why I Am Catholic...

The "Why I am Catholic" question...  It appears to be a trend.  Maybe I missed a meme or something?  Oh.  It's a Patheos thing then.

Anyway, it's a good question.

I am Roman Catholic because of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.  Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Papal supremacy.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The New Pope of the ...

Thinking of the next Pope: He must be a man who,
from the contemplation and adoration of Jesus Christ,
helps the Church to go out to the existential peripheries,
that helps her to be the fruitful mother,
who gains life from “the sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing.”

Of the new Springtime.

I thought again last night: "This is new.  This is completely novel...  Pope Benedict signaled the change, prepared the Church for it."  The papacy is changing - not going away - but it is changing.  Paul VI sold the tiara, and gradually the trappings of an extinct 'monarchical-style' system have been set aside.  Paul VI became the first 'Pilgrim Pope' travelling extensively, to evangelize and minister.  We have witnessed it - watched it happen over the decades.  Yet the office is held in even higher esteem today, continuing to retain it's supreme authority - spiritually, morally and temporally.  Why else would International media stop to document the change from Benedict to Francis?
It seems to me it is a mystery unfolding in our day.  Perhaps I'm overreacting?  Maybe I'm mistaken?  At any rate, I came across the following, the address Cardinal Bergoglio made to the pre-conclave General Congregation Cardinals.  Perhaps it helps us to understand better the new Pope and how he is officiating...
Evangelizing implies Apostolic Zeal 
1. - Evangelizing pre-supposes a desire in the Church to come out of herself. The Church is called to come out of herself and to go to the peripheries, not only geographically, but also the existential peripheries: the mystery of sin, of pain, of injustice, of ignorance and indifference to religion, of intellectual currents, and of all misery. 
2. - When the Church does not come out of herself to evangelize, she becomes self-referential and then gets sick. (cf. The deformed woman of the Gospel). The evils that, over time, happen in ecclesial institutions have their root in self-referentiality and a kind of theological narcissism. In Revelation, Jesus says that he is at the door and knocks. Obviously, the text refers to his knocking from the outside in order to enter but I think about the times in which Jesus knocks from within so that we will let him come out. The self-referential Church keeps Jesus Christ within herself and does not let him out.

3. - When the Church is self-referential, inadvertently, she believes she has her own light; she ceases to be the mysterium lunae and gives way to that very serious evil, spiritual worldliness (which according to De Lubac, is the worst evil that can befall the Church). It lives to give glory only to one another.

Put simply, there are two images of the Church: Church which evangelizes and comes out of herself, the Dei Verbum religiose audiens et fidente proclamans; and the worldly Church, living within herself, of herself, for herself. This should shed light on the possible changes and reforms which must be done for the salvation of souls.

4. - Thinking of the next Pope: He must be a man who, from the contemplation and adoration of Jesus Christ, helps the Church to go out to the existential peripheries, that helps her to be the fruitful mother, who gains life from “the sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing.” - Source


Why cats don't go to Mass, and other stuff.

Les hommes ont oublié cette vérité, dit le renard. Mais tu ne dois pas l’oublier. Tu deviens responsable pour toujours de ce que tu as apprivoisé.

So why don't cats go to Mass?

Because they would bat at the censor and the priest's cincture.
Gabby told me that.

I've been so busy.

I've been rounding up the rabbits on the 'estate'.

They've decimated my hedge.

I got a Have-A-Heart trap and I've trapped 7 rabbits so far - in 48 hours.  Yet I was convinced I only had a family of three, who lived in a Beatrix Potter cottage.  I had to do something however.  So I deport them to a beautiful nature reserve, far outside their greatest home range. 

I have to accept the fact that I can't feed the rabbits any more.

I trusted them.  I thought, 'if I feed them, they will not eat the bark off of my hedges.'   I imagined I was St. Martin De Porres, I guess,  I convinced myself they would listen to me and be obedient.  I never realized they needed the roughage of the bark, and since I feed them berries, raisins, apples, and nuts, they needed to clean their teeth with the bark afterwards.

What was I thinking?

Likewise, I was seeking myself in feeding them.  I enjoyed watching them.  I pretty much tamed them enough to come up to me as I laid out the food - I derived a great deal of gratification from that.  I was blinded by my selfish self-seeking for affection...  I felt 'needed' - trusted and appreciated...  But I can't be trusted.


So anyway, as the fox explained to the Little Prince:  "You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed."  Therefore, I took my little bunnies, one by one, to a better place, a beautiful nature preserve surrounded by a huge park.  I hope they don't run into the fox though.

You can't get angry with rabbits, because they need the roughage.

Judas was a sycophant...

That's what Pope Benedict said.

"[...] a sycophant who bows down before the anonymous power of changing moods and current fashion."  Not a 'master of evil' or some scary, demoniacal figure. 

I think Judas was nice, as I pointed out yesterday; 'his speech softer than butter, his words smoother than oil...'

When he complained about the expensive aromatic nard Mary anointed the feet of Jesus with, proposing that it should have been sold, and the money given for the poor, Scripture tells us Judas said that because he was a thief and helped himself to the contributions...

I believe Judas was certainly duplicitous, as well as a thief - but I think his criticism of the anointing might have been motivated by envy and jealousy as well.  He may have been jealous, envious of Mary's devotion, her great love which attracted the trust and intimacy of Jesus... which he really wanted for himself.  He wanted to be the greatest in Jesus' eyes... he was ambitious.

I wrote that last night... yet didn't trust my personal meditation enough to publish it.

This morning I read Jean Vanier's understanding of Judas:
"Perhaps he is jealous of any intimate relationship Jesus has that does not include him.  This jealousy and revolt against a gentle, loving Jesus pave the way for the devil to enter his heart.  Satan then can take over and inspire Judas to betray Jesus and hand him over." - Jean Vanier
What is perhaps more terrifying - as in terrible - is that Judas probably convinced himself his intentions were righteous, and necessary... and that somehow Jesus even approved.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Was Judas nice?

I think he probably was...
He was a close companion,
an intimate friend...
How close was the friendship between us.
We walked together in harmony
in the house of God.
His speech was softer than butter...
His words smoother than oil...
Yet he broke his word,
harbored war in his heart...
his words taunt 
- they are naked swords.
- Psalm 55


"Making oneself a brother, not a benefactor."

That may be part of the misunderstanding.

"They" say St. Francis dedicated himself to service to the poor...

St. Francis' encounter of service to lepers was “the point that changed his life, not giving up his property.”
Almost.  Nevertheless, he did give up property and embraced a life of voluntary poverty - in imitation of Christ. 

From the Diary of Dorothy Day:
"Last night Pere [Rene Voillaume talked at Holy Souls convent and stressed the need of friendship to the most abandoned.  Making oneself a brother, not a benefactor." - March 11, 1959
A brother, not a benefactor. 

Obama Family Vacation

I'm just so happy they can get away and be a family.  Family is so important.

Monthly vacations keep the family healthy and stable - it's a good thing.

Of course this time Sasha and Malia Obama are quietly vacationing at the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas, working with the poor.

Pope Francesco: Holed up in a hotel.

The Papal apartments too big for one person?

From Whispers...
Not that it's terribly a surprise, but now it's official – Pope Francis has chosen not to live in the Papal Apartment of the Apostolic Palace, opting instead to remain in the simpler, more communitarian atmosphere of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Vatican "hotel."
Less than two weeks since the pontiff's election, the latest move in Papa Bergoglio's Vatican "revolution" was announced by the Holy See's lead spokesman, Jesuit Fr Federico Lombardi, confirming a report in today's La Nación, the Argentine daily of record. Francis himself spoke of the decision at today's morning Mass in the Domus chapel – which, continuing his now-daily custom, was celebrated with guests: in today's case, the permanent community in residence at the Domus.

Having reportedly remarked that the official living quarters "can fit 300 people" on his first tour of it (above), the Pope will continue to use the suite on the Palace's top floor as an office where he'll receive official visitors and handle other daytime work. - Whispers in the Loggia

And I thought Cardinal Dolan would have degraded the papacy if he had been elected.  LOL!

I don't really care where the Holy Father chooses to live - he obviously takes St. Paul's admonition to "associate with the lowly" seriously, so God bless him. 

He really is very much a parish priest... with a decided Vatican II je ne sais quoi.  Non?

Religious men and women who profess poverty must be scrambling to explain themselves...

News link here.

H/T James

Monday, March 25, 2013

Yesterday Paris, Tomorrow Washington: "Say non to gay marriage!"

The French have such style.

It's not just a Catholic thing ...
The movement against gay marriage has given France a new celebrity in the form of its public face, Virginie Tellenne, a Parisian socialite who goes by the name of Frigide Barjot.

Her assumed name - a play on the name of French film star Brigitte Bardot, a sex symbol in the 1960s - translates as Frigid Loony.
"We want the president to deal with the economy and leave the family alone," Ms Tellenne said Sunday.

"We will not give up anything. We came to defend the fact that a father and a mother is better for children," said Marie, a 30-year-old protestor.
Somewhere between 340,000 and 800,000 demonstrators had flooded into the capital for an anti-gay marriage march in January.

A campaign orchestrated by the Catholic Church and belatedly backed by the mainstream centre-right opposition has steadily gathered momentum. - Source
Tomorrow:  The March for marriage in Washington, D.C. ...
On March 26th the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Perry case, which will determine if Proposition 8 – the citizens initiative approved by the people of California in 2008 to protect marriage – is constitutional or not. More importantly, the question of same-sex “marriage” and the right of Americans to protect marriage will be decided. We believe it is imperative that political leaders, the media, and the culture see that we care about protecting marriage enough to stand up and march for it.
The March is being organized by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) alongside a broad coalition of pro-family organizations, state partners, African-American, Latino, Catholic and Protestant leaders. Please check the Sponsors page for an up-to-date list of co-sponsoring organizations and the Speakers page for a list of confirmed speakers. - More here.

H/T  Thomas Peters for the movement.
Here's a thought:

"Those of us who favor preserving the traditional understanding of marriage do not do so because we want people who experience attraction to their same sex to suffer. We recognize and respect the equal human dignity of everyone. Everyone should be treated equally, but it is not discrimination to treat differently things that are different. Marriage really is unique for a reason." - Archbishop Cordileone

Music for this post here.

The Little Flowers of Franciscan Apologists: How "The usual image of Francis and poverty is skewed."

Poverty of spirit seems to be completely
misunderstood by the learned and the clever.

"While many associate the 13th century saint with poverty, he wrote little about it and when he did, he was pointing to the humility of the Incarnation and the death of Christ."

Indeed, St. Francis wrote very little about anything.  Nevertheless, he lived a life of radical, voluntary poverty - he embraced it, renouncing the world, he shared, 'took on' the life of the most destitute.  Contemporary men and women, brought up in comfort and luxury with access to every commodity they desire, cannot fathom the concept of absolute poverty.  They will donate to the poor, serve the poor in soup kitchens, volunteer at shelters, even work side by side with the poor - but most of us go home to our comfortable lives.  Even in religious communities attached to nursing homes and other facilities for the poor - the religious can retreat to their 'cloister', get days off, take vacations, go on retreats, and so on.  I'm not casting aspersions, believe me.  I'm just positing a possible explanation why most religious bend over backwards to construct theological arguments on the true meaning of poverty...  'Glossing' over the real poverty of St. Francis and St. Clare, and their first followers.

From the last testament and will of St. Francis.
And when God gave me brothers, no one showed me what I should do, but the Most high revealed to me that I should live according to the form of the holy gospel. I had it written in few words and simply, and the lord pope confirmed it for me. And those who came to receive life gave all that they had to the poor and were content with one tunic patched inside and out, with a cord and trousers. And we did not wish to have more.
The brothers must be careful not to accept any churches, poor dwellings, or anything else constructed for them unless these buildings reflect the holy poverty promised by us in the rule. We should always live in these places as strangers and pilgrims. I firmly command all the brothers, by the obedience they owe me, that wherever they are they should not dare to ask either directly or through an intermediary for any letter from the Roman court to secure a church or any other place, to protect their preaching, or to prevent persecution of their bodies; but wherever they are not received, they should flee into another land and do penance with God's blessing.
And I firmly forbid my brothers, both clerics and laymen, to place glosses on the rule or say, "This is what it means." But just as the Lord gave me the power to compose and write both the rule and these words simply and purely, so you must understand them simply and without gloss and observe them by holy action until the end. - Last Will and Testament
From the Rule of St. Clare:

Shortly before his death he once more wrote his last will for us that we--or those, as
well, who would come after us--would never turn aside from the holy poverty we had
embraced. He said: "I, little brother Francis, wish to follow the life and poverty of our
most high Lord Jesus Christ and of His holy Mother and to persevere in this until the
end; and I ask and counsel you, my ladies, to live always in this most holy life and
poverty. And keep most careful watch that you never depart from this by reason of
the teaching or advice of anyone."
Just as I, together with my sisters, have ever been solicitous to safeguard the holy
poverty which we have promised the Lord God and Blessed Francis, so, too, the
Abbesses who shall succeed me in office and all the sisters are bound to observe it
inviolably to the end: that is to say, by not receiving or having possession or ownership
either of themselves or through an intermediary, or even anything that might reasonably
be called property, except as much land as necessity requires for the integrity and
proper seclusion of the monastery, and this land may not be cultivated except as a garden
for the needs of the sisters.
Let the sisters not appropriate anything, neither a house nor a place nor anything at
all; instead, as pilgrims and strangers in this world who serve the Lord in poverty and
humility, let them confidently send for alms. Nor should they be ashamed, since the
Lord made Himself poor in this world for us. This is that summit of the highest poverty
which has established you, my dearest sisters, heiresses and queens of the kingdom
of heaven; it has made you poor in the things [of this world] but exalted you in virtue.
Let this be your portion which leads into the land of the living (cf. Psalm 141:6).
Clinging totally to this, my most beloved sisters, do not wish to have anything else forever under heaven for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and His most holy Mother. - Holy Rule


If people choose to gloss over the poverty of Francis and Clare, or consign it to a particular way of life peculiar to medieval culture, or an exaggeration of hagiographers, so be it.  In our day, thank God, there are lay people, and perhaps more obviously, consecrated religious who embrace voluntary, radical poverty.  The Little Sisters and Brothers of Jesus for one, as well as the more visible Missionaries of Charity of Blessed Mother Teresa. They really are poor - crazy poor - like crazy St. Francis and other 'fools for Christ' sake.

Remember - the Missionaries of Charity do not even engage in fund-raising.

From an interview with Mother Nirmala, M.C.:
Q: What about financial means: food, medicines, material goods?

Sister Nirmala: Absolutely nothing is lacking. God provides-- everywhere in India as well as abroad. You know, that is the promise of God for us. When Mother started the society and Mother was called, she did not start on her own, Jesus called her to start this congregation. He wanted her to be poor and the poorest of the poor. He wanted her to be empty-handed and serve the poorest of the poor free. It is such a paradox, isn't? He said: I will provide. That was Mother did, and that is what we are continuing to do: trusting in God's Providence, serving the poorest of the poor, free. And God does it. His promise is fulfilled every day. All we need to do is to keep being faithful to our commitments, to answer the call of God, everything else follows.

Q: But Sister, what would you tell those people who are so afraid of lacking the "indispensable?
things every day, or those who want to possess more material things?

Sister Nirmala: Trust in the Lord and do your best. Let the kingdom of God in your lives and he will provide everything.

Q: How does the Order cope with all the financial and economical demands?

Sister Nirmala: By trusting in God, and he is providing. We never ask for things. People just come and give. Everywhere they want to carry out fundraising activities, we say: "Please don't
fund-raise; we don't want to use Mother's name. No."
We want people acting on their own. We want their spontaneous collaboration. But if somebody is going around fundraising in Mother's name, we don't accept it. We want to depend on God's providence--only. - Source
In order to accomplish his work, Christ emptied himself, having no place to lay his head, he embraced poverty.  The saints continue to follow him, clinging to him alone, in love.  Dependent upon and confident in God's providence.  "The poverty of Christ is a footstep to follow,” explained one Capuchin Franciscan. 

Evangelical poverty has many varied expressions in religious life and the life of Christians - I'm not advocating that to be authentic one has to be homeless or destitute.  I'm just trying to point out that Francis and many of his first followers, as well as reformers of the Franciscans throughout history, lived lives of radical poverty and extreme humility - and found it indispensible to their way of life.  Indeed, many if not all the efforts to reform the Franciscan Order over the centuries were initiated by those who sought to be more faithful to the observance of poverty. 

Then of course, there is
Dorothy Day, poverty wasn't
exactly a sentimental journey
for her either.

Reminder: Benedictines take a vow of stability, and depending upon the monastic, can pretty much manipulate that to mean whatever they want/need it mean, just as some religious do with their vows of poverty. God love them.


The Annunciation... A moveable feast this year.

Because it falls during Holy Week, the Solemnity is transferred to April 8.

Perhaps today we could piously consider as the Pre-Annunciation.  According to the apocryphal Protoevangelion of James, the Blessed Virgin first heard the greeting of the Angel while she was fetching water from the well, frightened, she returned home.  The scene is often depicted in iconography depicting scenes from the life of the Virgin.
In the Protoevangelion of James, there is first a “pre-annunciation” scene, in which Mary goes to the well to fetch water. There she hears a voice saying: “Greetings, favoured one. The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women.” Mary looks around but does not see anyone. Frightened, she goes back inside and, “taking up the purple, she sat down in her house and began to spin.”

The angel then appears visually to her, telling her initially not to be afraid: “You have found favour in the sight of the Lord of all.”

The Annunciation story then continues along the same narrative outline found in the Gospels according to Saint Matthew and Saint Luke until the author returns to the story of Mary’s role in weaving the temple veil: “And she finished the purple and the scarlet and took them up to the high priest.” - continue reading here.
At the moment when the the Angel of the Annunciation revealed himself, the Virgin is depicted weaving the veil of the Temple - in purple and red - the liturgical colors for Lent and Holy Week.
This is the Annunciation scene that appears on the “royal doors” of the iconostasis of almost every Orthodox church.

Mary is depicted either standing or sitting, with purple or red skeins falling from her fingers. The threads Mary is holding reveal that she wove the Temple veil that later was rent from top to bottom when Christ died on the cross. Her acceptance of God’s will in this and in all things is represented by her upraised and open hand or, in some cases, by placing her hand upon her heart.

Saint Andrew of Crete, in his Great Canon, sang to her: “As from purple silk, O undefiled Virgin, the spiritual robe of Emmanuel, His flesh, was woven in thy womb. Therefore, we honour thee as Theotokos in very truth.” - ibid


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Good morning children. Today we will learn about myths... There is no Santa Claus and the stories you hear about St. Francis are sentimental rubbish.

"St Francis, who preached to the birdies and hugged trees and kissed lepers..."

I'm really disappointed in the take down of St Francis across the net. All these experts, so critical of the 'fioretti' of his life - without any noticeable awareness or understanding the spiritual reality such stories convey to simple souls. Many of the examples in the legends* - i.e. story-lessons on the life of St. Francis, serve to illustrate and teach a variety of lessons on the virtues, as well as different levels of spirituality and mystical theology, otherwise unknown to ordinary, simple souls. Poor Br Juniper would not even recognize the Francis these people attempt to describe and rehabilitate for academic credibility.

Poverty of spirit seems to be completely misunderstood by the learned and the clever.  I think someone famous once said something to that effect.  They do the same to St. Therese and the doctrine of the 'little way' as well.
"In my little way there are only very ordinary things; it is essential that little souls should be able to do everthing I do." - Therese of Lisieux
 Art: Icons and paintings representing scenes from the life of the saints, documenting physical and spiritual realities, as well as the saint's teaching and witness to the Gospel, stand alone, not only as objects of devotion and veneration, but as teaching tools.  Likewise modern artists work in their particular medium to illustrate and re-present the lives of the saints, often taking poetic and artistic licence to do so.  A fine example of such work was accomplished by film makers in the mid 20th century:  The Italian maestros, Roberto Rossellini and Federico Fellini, in the film, The Little Flowers of St. Francis, and two decades later, by the maestro of set design and costume for La Scala, film director Franco Zeffirelli, literally bringing to life some of the best iconography of the Italian Medieval period, to portray the life of St. Francis for the youth of the late '60's, early '70's in his film, "Brother Son, Sister Moon".  Similarly, the so called Peace Prayer of St. Francis** is a poetic lesson inspired by Franciscan spirituality, composed in the first part of the 20th century.  These creative expressions serve to inspire, edify and introduce the saint(s) to each generation and those unfamiliar with hagiography and Catholic veneration of the saints. 

BTW:  Poverty is not complicated - it's really very simple - and there is nothing to get sentimental about.

*Middle English, from Old French legende, from Medieval Latin (lcti) legenda, (lesson) to be read, from Latin, feminine gerundive of legere, to read; see leg- in Indo-European roots.]
Usage Note: Legend comes from the Latin adjective legenda, "for reading, to be read," which referred only to written stories, not to traditional stories transmitted orally from generation to generation. This restriction also applied to the English word legend when it was first used in the late 14th century in reference to written accounts of saints' lives, but ever since the 15th century legend has been used to refer to traditional stories as well.

**The Peace Prayer was later adopted by Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, as well as many other organizations and individuals dedicated to living with and serving the poor.  Incidently, the Missionaries of Charity do not engage in fund raising work.


Mass Chat: Pope Francis...

Nothing new to tell...

Everyone is getting too analytical as regards his every move, what he reads, how he appears, what he says.  The experts are taking over, making it clear to ordinary Catholics just what the new Pope is all about and what he will do, what he really means, and so on.  My childish enthusiasm has quelled.