Saturday, May 25, 2013

Viva il papa! Our simple Pope.

"So we ask the Lord that all those who come to the Church
 find the doors open, find the doors open,
 open to meet this love of Jesus." - Francis I

Every day I love Francis more and more.

What did the disciples say to Jesus?  "Finally you are speaking to us in words we can understand." [John 16:29]  The Holy Father speaks to all in this way.  Perhaps it explains why the wise and learned were all discombobulated when he spoke about atheists doing good, and in that goodness, the Christian and the atheist have something in common.  That glimmer of charity - if I remember correctly, Pope Benedict said similar things at one time or another, and people got all nervous.  For example, in the book, Light of the World: Pope Benedict made a statement indicating that a male prostitute's use of a condom to avoid the risk of STD's could, on some level, be seen as a step toward moral responsibility - even charity.  People went a little crazy, and admittedly I too was confused for a bit.  This past week, several online apologists were needed to explain what Pope Francis really said about atheists and the redemption of 'many'.

A priest friend told me once that numerous Catholics now have degrees in theology, and religious studies/education, and many are catechized today better than before, so too are they knowledgeable about liturgy and rubrics and all things only priests once knew.  He said that isn't a bad thing, yet what more than a few now lack is devotion.  I also believe many lack meekness and charity.  I think many must not pray and meditate things through, perhaps being self assured by what they know.  It seems many prefer to instruct and correct, calling that evangelization - unwilling to endure annoyance by the misfit or less decorous, afraid to go through discomfort or confusion, dismissing the simple and ordinary, those who are not catechized properly, or do not dress appropriately or perform the necessary 'ablutions' correctly, those who just don't fit in with the parish 'community'.

The Pope knows better.
"The faith of the People of God – observes the Pope - is a simple faith, a faith that is perhaps without much theology, but it has an inward theology that is not wrong, because the Spirit is behind it."

And to explain this theological formulation he adds: "If you want to know who Mary is go to the theologian and he will tell you exactly who Mary is. But if you want to know how to love Mary go to the People of God who teach it better. " The people of God - continued the Pope - "are always asking for something closer to Jesus, they are sometimes a bit 'insistent in this. But it is the insistence of those who believe ":

"I remember once, coming out of the city of Salta, on the patronal feast, there was a humble lady who asked for a priest's blessing. The priest said, 'All right, but you were at the Mass' and explained the whole theology of blessing in the church. You did well: 'Ah, thank you father, yes father,' said the woman. When the priest had gone, the woman turned to another priest: 'Give me your blessing!'. All these words did not register with her, because she had another necessity: the need to be touched by the Lord. That is the faith that we always look for , this is the faith that brings the Holy Spirit. We must facilitate it, make it grow, help it grow. "

The Pope also mentioned the story of the blind man of Jericho, who was rebuked by the disciples because he cried to the Lord, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"

"The Gospel says that they didn’t want him to shout, they wanted him not to shout but he wanted to shout more, why? Because he had faith in Jesus! The Holy Spirit had put faith in his heart. And they said, 'No, you cannot do this! You don’t shout to the Lord. Protocol does not allow it. And 'the second Person of the Trinity! Look what you do... 'as if they were saying that, right? ".

And think about the attitude of many Christians:

"Think of the good Christians, with good will, we think about the parish secretary, a secretary of the parish ... 'Good evening, good morning, the two of us - boyfriend and girlfriend - we want to get married'. And instead of saying, 'That's great!'. They say, 'Oh, well, have a seat. If you want the Mass, it costs a lot ... '. This, instead of receiving a good welcome- It is a good thing to get married! '- But instead they get this response:' Do you have the certificate of baptism, all right ... '. And they find a closed door. When this Christian and that Christian has the ability to open a door, thanking God for this fact of a new marriage ... We are many times controllers of faith, instead of becoming facilitators of the faith of the people. "

And 'there is always a temptation - said the Pope - "try and take possession of the Lord." And he tells another story:

"Think about a single mother who goes to church, in the parish and to the secretary she says: 'I want my child baptized'. And then this Christian, this Christian says: 'No, you cannot because you're not married!'. But look, this girl who had the courage to carry her pregnancy and not to return her son to the sender, what is it? A closed door! This is not zeal! It is far from the Lord! It does not open doors! And so when we are on this street, have this attitude, we do not do good to people, the people, the People of God, but Jesus instituted the seven sacraments with this attitude and we are establishing the eighth: the sacrament of pastoral customs! ".

"Jesus is indignant when he sees these things" - said the Pope - because those who suffer are "his faithful people, the people that he loves so much"

"We think today of Jesus, who always wants us all to be closer to Him, we think of the Holy People of God, a simple people, who want to get closer to Jesus and we think of so many Christians of goodwill who are wrong and that instead of opening a door they close the door of goodwill ... So we ask the Lord that all those who come to the Church find the doors open, find the doors open, open to meet this love of Jesus. We ask this grace. " - Vatican Radio
Still confused?  Stop and think.  The Pope isn't the problem - so maybe it's you. 

Endure with patience, overcome with love...

To pray for enemies, for those who make us suffer, the Pope continued, “is not easy.” But we are “defeated Christians” if we do not forgive enemies, and if we do not pray for them. And “we find so many sad, discouraged Christians,” he exclaimed, because “they did not have this grace of enduring with patience and overcoming with love”:

“Therefore, we ask Our Lady to give us the grace to endure with patience and overcome with love. How many people – so many old men and women - have taken this path! And it is beautiful to see them: they have that beautiful countenance, that serene happiness. They do not say much, but have a patient heart, a heart filled with love. They know what forgiveness of enemies is, they know what it is to pray for enemies. So many Christians are like that!” - Vatican Radio

Friday, May 24, 2013

Steve Gershom and 'coming out' - as a human.

I think I link to Gershom - he identifies as a 'gay' Catholic only for convenience - or to make things easier to comprehend - but he's really ssa.  Not that it matters to me.

Gershom seems to be a popular spokesperson for ssa Catholics in Catholic social media, radio, and the parish lecture circuit.  He's young and committed to Catholic teaching and spiritual life, something not exactly common amongst young gay men.  Therefore, he is an important voice in Catholic life - or, the 'new' evangelization.  (That term is getting old with me.)

Gershom wrote a rather intelligent response to some things a priest, Fr. Meier, had to say on HuffPo.  A piece that would have been a 'click-by' for me, Gershom took the time to read, and I liked very much what he had to say in his response: (If you want context, go here - I have to get back to work.)
The truly Christian point of view is not that none of us are sinful, diseased, or damaged, but that all of us are. We are called to love damaged people — that is to say, everyone — not by pretending that disease is health, but by recognizing that the damaged person is not identified with his damage.

So we love people who commit adultery, but we don’t call their adultery “one of the infinite ways God’s love can be manifested in our world,” and we don’t stop at identifying them as Adulterers. We love people who are chronically tempted to abuse alcohol, but we don’t tell them that their alcoholism is “a life-giving gift,” and we don’t stop at identifying them as Alcoholics.

The last time I called myself a homosexual, my spiritual director asked me: Are you in a romantic or sexual relationship with another man? Do you visit gay bars or bathhouses? Do you habitually view gay pornography? Do you purposely indulge in gay fantasies? Since the answer to every question was “No,” he replied: “Then I’m sorry to tell you, Steve — as a homosexual, you’re a terrible failure.”

I hope Father Meier is a terrible failure as a homosexual, too. I hope he honors his vow of chastity, even if he has ceased to honor the Magisterium. I hope he has people in his life who love him enough that they will not permit him to reduce his identity to a set of urges.

And I hope he learns one day that to be damaged, whether by homosexuality or alcoholism or depression or any other disorder, is not to be diminished in dignity. It is to be human. - Source

All I can say to that is - Awesome!  Steve Gershom is blessed with wisdom beyond his years.  Lord grant him the grace to grow in wisdom, grace and knowledge, and to persevere in doing God's will.  God bless him.

Our Lady Help of Christians

Auxilium Christianorum
Virgin of Lepanto.*

May 24 is the feast of Our Lady Help of Christians. The prayer Ave Maris Stella is a very powerful prayer to Our Lady which obtains her protection promptly and powerfully.  I pray it every morning.
Ava Maris Stella
Hail, thou Star of ocean,
Portal of the sky !
Ever Virgin Mother
Of the Lord most high !

Oh ! by Gabriel's Ave,
Uttered long ago,
Eva's name reversing,
Stablish peace below.

Break the captive's fetters ;
Light on blindness pour ;
All our ills expelling,
Every bliss implore.

Show thyself a Mother ;
Offer Him our sighs,
Who for us Incarnate
Did not thee despise.

Virgin of all virgins !
To thy shelter take us :
Gentlest of the gentle !
Chaste and gentle make us.

Still, as on we journey,
Help our weak endeavor ;
Till with thee and Jesus
We rejoice forever.

Through the highest heaven,
To the Almighty Three,
Father, Son, and Spirit,
One same glory be. Amen.

*I love this image of the Blessed Virgin dressed in battle array - her very image inspires courage and hope.
Many times, defeat seems inevitable, and the temptation is to say: “She promised, but it has not happened. To the contrary, everything became worse.” Real heroism is to trust even in the worst of conditions. It is to refuse to cede to the temptation, and to reply: “The worse it becomes, the closer we are to her intervention, because Our Lady does not lie, and I know that this voice that speaks within myself is hers.” - On Our Lady, Help of Christians

Pray the Rosary every day.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Strange Gods by Elizabeth Scalia

"At first I thought, 'the cover is the best thing about it!'"

My name was on the publisher's list...

Rather, my name was on Mrs. Scalia's list of those to whom she would like to send copies of her book.  The publisher, Ave Maria Press sent me the book with a press kit.  I suppose I could follow the suggested interview questions and interview the author, but I know she is busy - she didn't answer my last email, and I'm sure she's doing a book tour and posing for photographs and getting ready for Charlie Rose and maybe The View. 

An urban anchorite's room with a view...

The Anchoress

Seriously, I must admit I was honored to have received a copy of the book. I'm a fan of Scalia's writing, attracted to her initially by the title of her blog, The Anchoress.  So monastic and medieval sounding, I expected a modern day anchoress writing ascetical-mystical romances on living alone in an urban flat, with her bedroom window facing the Catholic parish church next door, twelve stories lower than her little austere, yet lovely in its simplicity, apartment.  Not so.  Elizabeth Scalia is a wife, mother, and Benedictine Oblate - and rather normal.  I need normal.  She's also a very good, insightful writer.

Love the cover!

I did a quick read, or overview of the book.   I wasn't real excited, thinking the cover was probably the best thing about it.  Fr. Barron called it a 'must read' and to be honest, I couldn't go that far.  Scalia is online and one has access to her thoughts and point of view, but... I thought, 'It's not a bad book - but it seems to be just another theme book.'   I wondered if Ave Maria might have invited Elizabeth to write a book because she is so well known online and has a good following in new media.  Always the skeptic, I am - my apologies.  I'm always suspicious of online personalities and apologists, pretty much writing, about the obvious and publishing their latest work.  Not unlike friends of mine who teach, and had to have so many published works in order to get tenure.  But I digress.  Obviously I'm not the best person to review your work - just a heads up.

That being said, I wondered, what am I going to say about this book?  A book that others have already acclaimed and praised and even tied in with what the Holy Father said recently about idolatry and the Golden Calf worship of money ...
We have created new idols. The worship of the golden calf of old (cf. Ex 32:15-34) has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal. - P. Francis

The Pope and the Anchoress - great publicity, huh?  Had he received an advanced copy of Elizabeth's book?  Or was Elizabeth simply stating the obvious and reaffirming Judeo-Christian teaching?  I had to search the pages of Strange Gods to find out.

The Introduction grabbed me.

I sometimes skip introductions.  I'm not sure why.  Perhaps I assume I already know what the book is about and why the author wrote it, and because I just don't want to read more than I have to.  Although I will often go back and read the intro after I finish the book.  The introduction to Strange Gods is what changed my attitude towards the book.  Elizabeth really has something important - and new - to say, and a book was necessary to make a statement.  The book is necessary to point out the obvious that has been obscured by our own personal idols.  In my case, self-opinion and pride - and more than I care to mention right now.  Although I will be referring to the book in future posts.

Elizabeth has a lot to say in this little book.  She articulates things I may know, but sometimes have difficulty articulating.  She writes:
"I look at our modern mania for educational credentials as a kind of idol - a thing so burnished and glittery that sometimes the perfect candidate for a position is never seen because the required credential is hovering between him and HR; and the idol - the thing that reflects our self image back to us - must be served."
Yes!  I wanted to say that - but Elizabeth Scalia said it better than I could.  Have I been 'envious' that Scalia has a book and I don't?  That she writes about something I wish I had written?  Is that why I wasn't able to 'get into' her book right away?  I don't know.  I doubt it.  Yet these are the sort of questions, self-examen type questions, Scalia's book elucidates as I go through it.  Again, Elizabeth points out:
"We dismiss the golden calf story and its lessons at our peril.  It is true we are no longer flinging our precious metals into a crucible and buffing up stolid beasts of burden to worship.  In some ways matters are worse, for we do not know the idols we bow down to.  Our present day idols are much less obvious, but they are also less distant and more ingrained within us.  Idols begin with ideas.  From there we shape them in the psyche, grow them in the ego, and then engage with them intimately, throughout our lives, in out families, our culture, our entertainments, and our political discourse.  We create idols of our own norms of behavior, our material possessions, and social status.  We even create them out of our faith.
"We are so comfortable with our idols and so convinced that they are built on entirely correct ideas that we have stopped wondering at anything and therefore are comprehending almost nothing."
Yeah but...

I know!  So doesn't Scalia have any idols - I mean - she's practically enslaved to the Internet and the blogosphere, right?  Yup - and she pretty much admits it - "we can barely clear out an old idol before we erect a brand-spanking-new one in its place..."  The book is written from experience... she says, "my expertise is grounded in my experience, for I am a great idolater and have been all my life." 

It is not a holier than thou, self-righteous self-help book by any means. 


I like it.  I really like it.  I even have to agree with Fr. Barron, it really is a must read - for people like me at least - I still have idols clinging to me and around the house.  Me, the Catholic, who performs daily devotions at my home lararium - my laptop...  Mrs. Scalia writes about her devotion in the Conclusion to her book...  

One's work, being online, can keep us from prayer and even Mass.  It can happen.

Read the book.

BTW: It's available on Amazon.

Disclaimer - I never do promotions or ads on my blog - I made an exception in this case because Elizabeth was kind enough to have a copy of her book sent to me.   

That Muslim guy in London who killed the soldier...

Speaking to the camera, the terrorist warned:
 "We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you."

He just wanted to start a riot.  Asked by the woman who courageously rushed to help the downed soldier, why he killed the man, the crazed Muslim pretty much explained he was avenging the deaths of Muslims killed by British troops elsewhere - particularly Afghanistan.

The soldier was beheaded.

The Crescat posted the story and shared her thoughts on it here.

Since I can't comment on Patheos sites, my link is my comment.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Pope Francis on doing good...

"Let us go to him then, outside the gate, to bear his shame..."

I write that from memory - I think it is Hebrews 13.  I thought of that verse after reading the Holy Father's homily today.  The Pope said, "We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”  On a personal level, I understood it to mean even 'outside the gate' - hence my reflection upon the verse from Hebrews.

The good we do must be good however.
"The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us. ‘But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.’ Yes, he can. He must. Not can: must! Because he has this commandment within him. Instead, this ‘closing off’ that imagines that those outside, everyone, cannot do good is a wall that leads to war and also to what some people throughout history have conceived of: killing in the name of God. That we can kill in the name of God. And that, simply, is blasphemy. To say that you can kill in the name of God is blasphemy.” - Finish reading here.
Sadly, I'm reminded of Obama asking God's blessing upon Planned Parenthood... something George Weigel said "is nothing short of blasphemy".

Blasphemy is a grave sin - be careful never to take the Name of God in vain.  The commandment is not simply limited to banning the Holy Name as a swear word.

Protests planned for Courage 'Sports Camp' in Philadelphia...


[Ed. note: Follow up to my post here.]

Comment from NewsWorks Philadelphia:
#protest tomorrowEd2013-05-22 11:19
We will be holding a protest at the location (City Ave. and E. Wynnewood Rd., Lower Merion, PA) from 4-6 PM tomorrow. All are welcome to join us!
Gay hate crimes?  Sounds a bit extreme, right?  But here's a headline of major distortion (it starts like this):
Catholic Priest Hosting "Gay Sports" Camp to Convert Homosexuals Through Athletics"
After figuring out that electroshock therapy and gay conversion therapy didn’t really work, a Catholic seminary in Wynnewood, PA has come up with yet another suggestion on how to force grown men into changing their sexuality. You know, because they chose it in the first place. - "Queerty"
Really?  C'mon - that's just BS... narrow minded, bigotted, uppity, snobby, BS.

So here's the deal.  No one is 'ordered to attend' nor 'sent' to Courage, much less a Sports Camp.  Courage conferences, meetings and/or activities are not interventions or a 'getting straight' camp.  Courage is a faithful Catholic apostolate which offers spiritual support to men and women who experience unwanted same sex attraction.  These men and women have chosen to attend voluntarily - because they want to. 
Repeat:  Men and women join a Courage group because they want to.   
They choose to do so.  They are not bound or compelled to do so.  There is no one, no authority, no bishop or priest in the Church ordering men and women with same sex attraction to join a group, or to become straight.  There is no document or teaching in the Church commanding men and women with same sex attraction to be straight, get married, and have kids.  The Church calls men and women to follow Christ, to become holy.

I think it is obvious many gay people are scared that someone is going to come along and say - "You must be straight!"  They are afraid their unique, special, wonderland of Queer is going to be trounced upon and taken away from them, and they are especially resentful that some people want to leave the lifestyle, and indeed, do so.

Gay activists are amongst the most intolerant people on earth, easily matched by fringe groups - such as the Westboro Baptists.

Thanks to DB for the NewsWorks piece.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Oklahoma tornado...

"Everything is gone!"

I watched one news report and all those interviewed kept saying the same thing, "Everything is gone!" - I thought of Fr. Z.

Fr. Z always seems to encourage 'preparedness' - because everything we have could be taken in an instant.  Even more importantly, he encourages us to be spiritually prepared... go to confession...
Now and then I post here about the need to have a plan for when or if something really bad happens. I am especially concerned that parents of small children have some sort of plans in place for some different scenarios. Obviously you can’t cover every possibility, but some basic steps could make a difference. Having clean drinking water and food for 72 hours, warm clothing, a way to communicate, means of self-defense and so forth.
Please develop the good practice of examining your conscience every day and going to confession regularly. Please teach your children to examine their consciences and take them to confession, teaching them what to do and why. - WDTPRS 

This is Fr. Z at his finest.

United in prayer for the victims of natural disaster, terrorism, and war.   

A subitanea et improvisa morte… From a sudden and unprovided death, spare us O Lord.”


Monday, May 20, 2013

Love this story: "Sports Camp" for Men With Same-Sex Attraction...

"You vill play sports and like it!"

Ed. note:  How I wish I could display my favorite episode from "Will and Grace" when Jack and Karen go to an ex-gay meeting headed by Neil Patrick Harris - it is LOL funny.  Anyway, I can't, because it has been removed from YouTube probably by whatever controls the licensing for the reruns.  I think of that show every time I come across controversial stories concerning Courage, claiming the organization attempts to make SSA men heterosexual.   So dumb.  SSA men are heterosexual, sheesh!

"Let's hit the showers!" - That's what Jack said to Neil Patrick Harris' character.

Courage is shipping SSA men to sports camp?!  It sounds so Nazi-ish.  But here's the deal:

Former Marine, Father Paul Check says his sports camp helps men strive towards chastity and friendship, but Ed Coffin with Peace Advocacy Network, says he is troubled by the anti-gay mission of the camp.    
Sounds way too butch already, you say?  Ed Coffin alleges:
"It's very clear what this organization does is focus on turning people who are homosexual--basically trying to change them into heterosexuals or at least get them to live a completely chaste lifestyle--which requires them to not act on any of their homosexual inclinations," Coffin said. "It falls under the broader realm of conversion therapy. We do feel that this is very detrimental, that's it's psychologically damaging."


Because Fr. Check says:
"The men who attend Sports Camp have the opportunity to have some fun," Check said, "to be at ease with one another in a peaceful surrounding and to develop, I think, a little bit more a sense of confidence that they can have fun in a way that is very enjoyable: outside, outdoors, running around, working up a little bit of a sweat, I suppose."
Check said he's puzzled by the protesters because the men at Sports Camp show up voluntarily to enjoy sports and have fun. He says participants say they appreciated the spirit of camaraderie and fellowship, but he's not aware of any who have regretted attending. 
Father Paul Check said the camp helps men resist those attractions and strive towards chastity, fellowship, and friendship. "We're all struggling against different human weaknesses that we have and confusion about who we think we might be and being in good company helps us to clarify some of that and, where necessary, try to make a few adjustments; and we learn some things that help us to go out and perhaps be a little bit more confident that we can do the right thing." - Source
Now what is wrong with that?  Nothing.  No-thing!  Nothing.  

Sports isn't conversion therapy.  I have a feeling Ed Coffin may not have been picked for the team - but Courage isn't forcing anyone to participate in their meetings, much less the 'sports camp'.  So what is Coffin's problem?  Dykes have been big softball enthusiasts forever, and don't forget about the 'Gay Games'.  Courage has every right to organize a 'sports camp'.  I think Mr. Coffin is just being intolerant.  Isn't that like a cardinal sin in the gay catechism?

Sports is not conversion therapy.

Is the Pope an intellectual?

Pope Francis when Cardinal Bergoglio at Shrine of N.S. Lujan.*

Is Pope Francis an intellectual?

I saw that question asked somewhere online.  We esteem intellectuals and academics - we give no credence to those without degrees and initials after their names.  A person has a great conversion - they write about it, get a book deal, a lecture gig, and they finish their studies and work on getting their degree(s) - as many as they can.  Well read, well documented recovering sinners can make it big on the lecture circuit, scoring book deals, even without an academic pedigree - they can take their place at the table - so long as they don't offend anyone. 

There is nothing wrong with that, BTW.  I'm not anti-intellectual - but some people are big snobs about it.  They esteem, compete and measure others based upon their academic standards and achievements.  It is a badge of superiority and status for many.

Anyway - that is my take on the concern some have over Pope Francis.  Is he intellectual enough?  Is he liturgically traditional enough?  People say, 'So far he's very low-brow and low-church' and so on.  My goodness - the Pope is a Jesuit - of course he is brilliant, what do they want?

"This is the one whom I approve: the lowly and afflicted man who trembles at my word." - Isaiah 66: 2

Today the Holy Father speaks of prayer.  As simply as the saints speak of prayer, as simply as an old monk might speak... Not about prayer, the stages, the degrees, nor the mystical-theological dimension of it - but of pure, simple prayer - an ordinary person's prayer.

"But why this disbelief? I believe that it is [when] the heart will not open, when the heart is closed, when the heart wants to have everything under control".
The Holy Father told the story of a young child in Argentina who at only 7 years of age fell ill and was given only a few hours to live by doctors. Her father, an electrician, a "man of faith," started “acting like madmen - said the Pope - and in that state of madness “took a bus to the Marian Shrine of Lujan, 70 km away”.
"He finally arrived after 9 pm, when everything was closed. And he began to pray to Our Lady, with his hands gripping the iron fence. And he prayed, and prayed, and wept, and prayed ... and that’s the way he remained all night long. But this man was struggling: he was struggling with God, he struggled with God Himself to heal his daughter. Then, at 6 in the morning, he went to the bus station, took the bus and arrived home, in the hospital at 9 am, more or less. And he found his wife weeping. And he thought the worst. “What’s happened? I do not understand, I do not understand! What has happened? '. 'Well, the doctors came and they told me that the fever is gone, she is breathing well, that there is nothing! They will leave her for two days more, but I do not understand what happened! This still happens, eh? Miracles do happen”. 
But we need to pray with our hearts concluded the Pope:
"A courageous prayer, that struggles to achieve a miracle, not prayers of courtesy, 'Ah, I will pray for you,' I say an Our Father, a Hail Mary and then I forget. No: a courageous prayer, like that of Abraham, who struggled with the Lord to save the city, like that of Moses who held his hands high and tired himself out, praying to the Lord, like that of many people, so many people who have faith and pray with faith. Prayer works wonders, but we have to believe! I think we can make a beautiful prayer ... and tell Him today, all day long, 'Lord, I believe, help my unbelief' ... and when people ask ask us to pray for the many people who suffer in wars, all refugees, all of these dramas that exist right now, pray, but with your heart to the Lord: 'Do it!', but tell Him: 'Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief 'that is also in my prayers. Let us do this today. " - Vatican Radio

Years ago as a pilgrim, I encountered many students and professors in Europe, almost all wanted to know where I went to university - it was usually their first question.  I understand their interest, since most were over there for studies.  However, on one memorable occasion, one academic asked me at the dinner table, "How many degrees do you have?"  And then he told me how many he had and where he obtained them.  It was about status and 'riches' for him - for others, it can be about what school and what you have published.

"In aridity and emptiness the soul becomes humble. Former pride disappears when a man no longer finds in himself anything that might cause him to look down on others." - Science of the Cross 
 *Freak out alert:  The cardinal is wearing blue vestments!  Oh! My!  Gosh!  (The Spanish do that BTW.)

Ordinary Time and the story of Pope Paul the VI weeping...

Supposedly the Holy Father overlooked the fact he permitted the suppression of the Octave of Pentecost as a consequence of the liturgical reform, and he wept on Whit Monday when a sacristan explained why the vestments for Mass were green instead of red.

The story makes the rounds on the Monday after Pentecost.  Watch for it today.

Reminds me of the story of how John XXIII supposedly wept after he read the Third Secret.  Other sources say he didn't - he simply passed it off and remarked it did not apply to "Our times".

Back to Ordinary Time for the Ordinary Form.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Is the Pope ...

Pope Francis for the Feast of Pentecost with New Movements.
Homily here.


Charismatic is sort of a dirty word for traditionalists - they usually associate the Charismatic Movement with liberalism and modernism, indifferentism and liturgical novelty and abuse.  Nevertheless, the Church has had Her eye on the movement since its 'revival' in the late 1960's, and it has been praised by the Popes as well.  So, is Pope Francis 'charismatic'?  Hmmm.  I think it more appropriate to say... the Pope is Catholic.

Very shortly after my conversion I encountered friends in the Renewal - I went to prayer meetings with them.  My spirituality was more contemplative, Eucharistic and Marian - at the time, Charismatics were not so centered in that respect - Eucharistic devotion was centered around the Mass, the rosary and Marian devotion was present, but not prominent.  Prayer meetings were more or less comprised of praise, prophecy (mostly scriptural witnessing) and healing.  I always felt inwardly strengthened, but preferred solitary, quiet adoration to communal prayer meetings.  Did I see abuses?  Of course, but I saw abuses anywhere I cared to look in the Church.  In my opinion the movement changed, or matured under John Paul II and most especially after Medjugorje began.  Charismatics were very much attracted to Medjugorje, and it was around that time that Marian devotion became a focus in the movement.  (M. Angelica was instrumental in promoting Marian devotion in the Charismatic Movement as well.)

That's my brief experience on the Charismatic Movement, along with my opinion.  I see nothing wrong with it, as with any spirituality, it simply needs the guidance of the Church.  That said, Catholic World Report has an interesting article regarding the Pope(s) and the Movement - especially it's Catholic roots.  Who knew Pope Leo XIII initiated it?
 First, Pope Francis.
When the newly elected Pope Francis appeared at the window before the cheering crowd in St Peter’s Square, and promptly bowed down asking the people to pray for him, most of the public at large was charmed, but puzzled. Pope Benedict too had asked the people to pray for him from the outset, but without the bowed head. To some spectators, however—including the members of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal and their counterparts in the Protestant and Orthodox worlds—the gesture came as something surprisingly familiar. In the “charismatic” galaxy, prayer is offered and asked for in this way by people of all levels—specifically, prayer for a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Pope Francis’ frequent mentions of the Holy Spirit—whom he has described as someone who “annoys us”and “moves us, makes us walk, pushes the Church to move forward”—as well as his unprecedentedly frequent references to the devil (rather than to a generic“evil”), indicate his affinity for the Charismatic Renewal. The election of such a back-to-basics man as Supreme Pontiff provides us with an opportunity to look at the road traveled by the Charismatic Renewal and to “hold on to what is good” (1 Thess 5:21). 
Before Francis, Pope Leo XIII 
January 1, 1901, Pope Leo XIII ushered in the new century by solemnly invoking the Holy Spirit over all of Christendom.
One of the chief ends that Pope Leo had explicitly dedicated his long pontificate to was the reunion of all Christians. Now, he was asking the Holy Spirit to bring his work to maturity and to bear fruit, with a renewed outpouring of his gifts not just over Catholics, but over all the disciples of Christ. Very few in the Protestant and Orthodox worlds—indeed, not even many Catholics—are aware of this historical fact. But to believers who attach such specific meaning and tangible effects to the invocation of the Holy Spirit, it can be no small matter. 
It all started with a nun in Lucca, Italy, Elena Guerra (1835-1914), the founder of the Oblate Sisters of the Holy Spirit, whom Pope John XXIII was to beatify and give the title “Apostle of the Holy Spirit “in 1959.
Over a period of eight years, around the turn of the last century, Blessed Elena Guerra wrote 13 letters to the Holy Father, Pope Leo XIII, urging him to establish an institutional devotion to the Holy Spirit. Leo was thus prompted to call the faithful to a novena in preparation for Pentecost 1895, in an apostolic letter entitled Provida Matris Charitate, in which he called particular attention to one of the fruits of the Paraclete, “the unity and unanimity” described in Acts 4:32: “The whole group of believers were united, heart and soul.” Two years later, he wrote his short encyclical on the Holy Spirit, Divinum Illud Munus, (“He is the substantial, eternal, and first Love, and there is nothing more lovable than love”), explaining the Spirit’s unity with the Father and the Son in the Trinity and making the novena to the Holy Spirit public and permanent. - Read more here.

Fascinating stuff, huh?  That's why I try not to criticise - and never condemn - the new movements in the Church, and wait - and allow - the Magisterium to rule upon them.  The Holy Spirit moves where He will, when He will, and how He will.
It is the Paraclete Spirit, the “Comforter”, who grants us the courage to take to the streets of the world, bringing the Gospel! The Holy Spirit makes us look to the horizon and drive us to the very outskirts of existence in order to proclaim life in Jesus Christ. Let us ask ourselves: do we tend to stay closed in on ourselves, on our group, or do we let the Holy Spirit open us to mission? - Pope Francis, Pentecost Homily, 5/19/13

The Pope is so Catholic.

 Update, just discovered late Sunday night:  As usual, Fr. Angelo covered the subject better than I could.  Read his post from May 10, Pope Francis the Charismatic.  It's excellent.

Things I don't get...



 Cardinal Dolan bending over backwards to explain that Governor Cuomo is not a 'bad Catholic'.
NEW YORK, May 16, 2013 ( – After New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan appeared to suggest during a radio interview this week that he may not view pro-abortion Governor Andrew Cuomo as a Catholic “in good standing,” the archdiocese has issued a statement saying that this is not the case, and that Dolan's remark was misunderstood.  
“Cardinal Dolan would not, and did not, suggest the governor might not be a Catholic in good standing going forward,” archdiocesan spokesman Joseph Zwilling said in a statement originally sent to the New York Times, and forwarded to LifeSiteNews. - Read the rest here.

Cardinal Dolan is a Roman Catholic Archbishop, acting in the name of the Church, he is responsible for faith and morals and ecclesiastical discipline.  I'm not criticizing the Cardinal - but I don't get it.


2) Catholics condemning the tactics of an anti-abortion activist, Lila Rose and the organization she heads, Live Action.  Rose is under fire for 'lying' because Live Action tactics include undercover sting operations at abortion clinics, and her critics are saying the 'undercover work is deceptive to the degree that it cannot be justified.'

What strikes me as strange is that people have become so worked up over this.  Lila Rose is Catholic, but Live Action is not a Catholic organization.  It is a private, non-profit and Lila Rose is a lay person - she does not represent the Catholic Church.  It's her conscience - but at least she and her organization is working vigorously to expose the atrocities and illegal activities of abortionists and to bring an end to abortion.

Here's the deal - Catholic politicians get away with supporting abortion and expanding access to it, while many Catholic leaders look the other way when they approach the Communion rail, but a Catholic laywoman, a private citizen, acting upon her own initiative to do everything in her power to end the abortion holocaust, is pilloried as a public sinner.

I'm not trying to vilify or justify anyone here - I just don't get it.  Sorry.


The acquisition of the Holy Spirit

"Acquiring the Spirit of God is the true aim of our Christian life, while prayer, fasting, almsgiving and other good works done for Christ's sake are merely means for acquiring the Spirit of God." - St. Seraphim

Like the traveler pitching his tent in the desert, the Holy Spirit takes possession of souls as their most sweet guest. But unlike the traveler, who folds his tent as morning breaks, the eternal guest stays on. The tent he pitches in the soil of our barrenness is something divine – a sketch, a reflection, of our heavenly home. In it dwells grace that divinizes the soul, divine charity, the supernatural image of the Spirit who pours Himself into our hearts, and all the virtues and gifts. These are the conditions of His indwelling, so that He may begin His work of sanctification, and direct us with the strong, gentle influence of love.

His ideal is to reproduce Jesus in us, and through Jesus and with Jesus, to take us to the bosom of the Trinity and glorify the Father with the supreme glorification of Jesus. Through the shadows of faith, we … try to get a glimpse of this divine work, to see how, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, souls are purified, illuminated, and enkindled until they are transformed into Jesus, who is the ultimate ideal of God’s love and of the aspirations of the soul, the glorious summit of the mystical ascent where we find peace and happiness – where we find God. -
True Devotion to the Holy Spirit, Archbishop Luis M. Martinez