Saturday, May 31, 2014

FYI on the Visitation: Do not be haughty but associate with the lowly; do not be wise in your own estimation.



Pondering Our Lady's prayer when she visited her aging cousin St. Elizabeth ...

Our Lady, Mother of God, went in haste to visit and attend to St. Elizabeth.  She, the tabernacle of God, carried her Lord in charity and meekness - and through her the Baptist was sanctified in his mother's womb.  Mary is the model of the active contemplative, she has been the inspiration and example of evangelization from the beginning.  The Religious of the Visitation, founded by St.s Francis de Sales and Jane-Frances de Chantal were named for this very mystery.  Yet the realization of what the saints originally intended was more or less best expressed, or fulfilled - but not limited to, the work of Bl. Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity.

In the work of evangelization - or charity - the readings for the feast lay out a pattern of conduct, exemplified by the Blessed Virgin.

Let love be sincere;
hate what is evil,
hold on to what is good;
love one another with mutual affection;
anticipate one another in showing honor.
Do not grow slack in zeal,
be fervent in spirit,
serve the Lord.
Rejoice in hope,
endure in affliction,
persevere in prayer.
Contribute to the needs of the holy ones,
exercise hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you,
bless and do not curse them.
Rejoice with those who rejoice,
weep with those who weep.
Have the same regard for one another;
do not be haughty but associate with the lowly;
do not be wise in your own estimation.  - Romans 12: 9-16

Do not be haughty, do not be wise in your own estimation.

Lately I've noticed the attacks upon the Holy Father and many of the Bishops in communion with him are getting much worse.  Even some priests have been making derisive and divisive comments, which seem to fuel the contempt growing among a few outspoken lay evangelists online.  

It strikes me they are convinced, often in their own opinion, that they are faithful insofar as they "hate what is evil, hold on to what is good"  and say what they say out of charity - harsh though it may be.  Instead of showing one another honor, they demean and belittle those who contradict them, while defending their own honor and expertise by boasting of their education and academic degrees, as well as their experience in evangelization, and many years writing online, and so on.  

Instead of "anticipating one another in showing honor", they find something to tear down the rival who contradicts them.  They are convinced their spirit of zeal is approved by God, that the fervor they exhibit is full of grace and truth, that indeed, they are serving the Lord.  Yet it seems to me they lack humility and meekness.  The Blessed Virgin is humble and meek, her Son, Jesus, is meek and humble of heart.  When we lack humility, we need to examine ourselves, we need to ask, Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like yours.

Instead of boasting about ones achievements and record as defender of the faith - remember Henry VIII bore that title - as Christians, as Catholics we need to strive for the higher gifts.  As St. Paul exhorts us, and Our Lady exemplified for us:
Bless those who persecute you,
bless and do not curse them.
Rejoice with those who rejoice,
weep with those who weep.
Have the same regard for one another;
do not be haughty but associate with the lowly;
do not be wise in your own estimation.

Do not be wise in your own estimation.

There are consequence to that.  As the Holy Spirit proclaimed in Our Lady's prayer of praise:

He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty. - Luke 1: 39-56
He has confused the proud in their conceit.

I've failed - sinned - in the same way. On this blog, in the com boxes of others.  Even more so when I was younger - believing myself to be fervent and right about everything the Catechism teaches.  I once wrote a letter to a former Archbishop.  A letter not unlike some of the things I read online at Catholic blogs.  The Archbishop sent me a letter of sharp rebuke and reprimanded me.  It caused me to repent, to understand my error and presumption, my very grave self-righteousness.  I imagined because I was faithful and lived according to Church teaching I somehow had the duty to correct others - without understanding what sort of pastoral care might be taking place privately ...

Without going into details of the circumstances, let me just share with you what the former Archbishop said in his reply to me:
I found your letter to be insulting ... most judgmental ... you have condemned your Archbishop.  You need a letter on Christian charity and a reflection on the evil of sarcasm. 
The Archbishop graciously closed his letter, writing:  "I ask the Lord to bless you with an awareness of your own judgmental and sarcastic attitude toward others which is unchristian, to say the least."

His prayer was efficacious, because after I received such an unexpected reply, I was cut to the heart, repented, wrote a letter of apology and thanked him, and I went to confession.  The Archbishop graciously accepted my apology.  To this day I regret the insult, and subsequent criticisms.  As the Psalm says, "I was stupid and did not understand - no better than a brute beast."  Why?  Because as Christ said, "We do not know of what spirit we are."  "If we say we have no sin we are liars."  We can't even judge ourselves, whether we are in the state of grace or not, how do we know the hidden judgments of God?  We judge as human beings - we do not know the mind of the Lord.

Unfortunately, I continue to fail, but I try to make amends - the unfortunate episode confronting the Archbishop often comes to mind when I catch myself falling into the critical spirit, or notice others falling into the trap of assuming the role of reformer and inquisitor.

I have this beam in my eye which is really difficult to remove - but I keep trying.

Please pray for me.




The Mystery of the Visitation

May this song make your name for ever remembered.
May the peoples praise you from age to age.

In thanksgiving.

Who am I that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?  Blessed are you who believed what was spoken to you by the Lord would come to pass.  O Mary!  Blessed is the fruit of your womb, JESUS!  You are all fair O Mary!  And the original stain is not in you!  O Mary, by your holy and immaculate conception, make my body pure and my spirit holy.  You are the refuge of sinners O Mary!  Pray for us, now - and at the hour of our death.  Amen.



Art: Zeffirelli, Jesus of Nazareth.  Part of Zeffirelli's genius is how he framed every major scene in the style of the great Italian master painters.  He did the same thing in Romeo and Juliet and Brother Son, Sister Moon.

Friday, May 30, 2014

In Thanksgiving for Favors Granted! God takes care of little ones and fools!

My heart pours forth a goodly theme
and tells the deeds of the King.
May this song make your name for ever remembered.
May the peoples praise you from age to age.

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O sing to the Lord, make music to his name;
make a highway for him who rides on the clouds.
Rejoice in the Lord, exult at his presence.



Father of the orphan, defender of the widow,
such is God in his holy place.
God gives the lonely a home to live in;
he leads the prisoners forth into freedom!



The chariots of God are thousands upon thousands.
The Lord has come from Sinai to the holy place.
You have gone up on high; you have taken captives,
receiving men and women in tribute, O God,
even those who rebel, into your dwelling, O Lord.



May the Lord be blessed day after day.
He bears our burdens, God our savior;
this God of ours is a God who saves. - Ps. 68




Thank you little Jesus.



Thanks you St. Joseph of the Child Jesus.

Thank you St. Benedict Joseph Labre.

Thank you St. Paschal.

Thank you Little St. Therese.



Thank you Blessed Rolando.

Thank you Fr. Solanus.


Thank you Ven. Matt Talbot.

Thank you Nicola D'Onofrio.


Praise God in His angels and in his saints!
God gives the lonely a home to dwell in,
He leads prisoners into freedom.

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Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.
-St. Teresa of Jesus



The Pope and the Charismatic Convocation in Rome



Pope Francis will be in attendance and will inaugurate the conference in Rome this weekend.

That. Is. Unprecedented.

That. Is. Awesome.

For the first time in history, a pope will visit the Rome Olympic Stadium for an international charismatic renewal convocation, the Vatican has announced.
This Sunday, Pope Francis will attend and meet members of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement in its 37th National Assembly. The June 1-2 gathering is expected to draw some 50,000 people from over 50 countries.
The theme of the event, comprising prayer, testimonies, and dialogue, is “Repent! Believe! Receive the Holy Spirit!”. The Holy Father is expected to arrive at 5 p.m. - Zenit




"The world and religious communities are seeking novelties in devotions, and they are neglecting true devotion to the Paraclete. That is why there is error and disunion, and why there is no peace or light. They do not invoke light as it should be invoked, and it is this light that gives knowledge of truth. It is neglected even in seminaries . . . .  Every person in the world that will invoke the Holy Spirit and have devotion to Him will not die in error." - Bl. Mary of Jesus Crucified, o.c.d.



"Pentecost is not over. In fact it is continually going on in every time and in every place, because the Holy Spirit desired to give himself to all men and all who want him can always receive him, so we do not have to envy the apostles and the first believers; we only have to dispose ourselves like them to receive him well, and He will come to us as he did to them." - Blessed Elena Guerra

Compunction ...


Merciful Father and God of all consolation,
you have shown yourself
to be wonderful in the glorious Virgin Mary,
Mother of Christ, and have given her to us
as the Mother of Mercy.
May all of us who venerate her with devotion,
always experience her powerful intercession,
and enjoy Your immense mercy.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.


There is nothing sweeter.
What grace.

Draw near to Our Lady
and never let her go.

Cling to her with love
and She will free you.

Angels ascend and descend
on the ladder of Her Holy Rosary...

St. Joan of Arc


Why St. Joan dressed in men's armor in prison...
Heresy was a capital crime only for a repeat offense. Joan agreed to wear feminine clothing when she abjured. This created a problem. According to the later descriptions of some of the tribunal members, she had previously been wearing male (i.e. military) clothing in prison because it gave her the ability to fasten her hosen and tunic together into one piece, which deterred rape by making it difficult to pull her hosen off.  A woman's dress offered no such protection. A few days after adopting a dress, she told a tribunal member that "a great English lord had entered her prison and tried to take her by force. [i.e. rape her]"  She resumed male attire either as a defense against molestation or, in the testimony of Jean Massieu, because her dress had been taken by the guards and she was left with nothing else to wear. 
Her resumption of male military clothing was labeled a relapse into heresy, although this would later be disputed by the inquisitor who presided over the appeals court which examined the case after the war. Medieval Catholic doctrine held that cross-dressing should be evaluated based on context, as stated in the "Summa Theologica" by St. Thomas Aquinas, which says that necessity would be a permissible reason for cross-dressing. This would include the use of clothing as protection against rape if the clothing would offer protection. In terms of doctrine, she had been justified in disguising herself as a pageboy during her journey through enemy territory and she was justified in wearing armor during battle and protective clothing in camp and then in prison. The Chronique de la Pucelle states that it deterred molestation while she was camped in the field. When her soldiers' clothing wasn't needed while on campaign, she was said to have gone back to wearing a dress.  Clergy who later testified at the posthumous appellate trial affirmed that she continued to wear male clothing in prison to deter molestation and rape. 
She referred the court to the Poitiers inquiry when questioned on the matter. The Poitiers record no longer survives but circumstances indicate the Poitiers clerics had approved her practice.  She also kept her hair cut short through her military campaigns and while in prison. Her supporters, such as the theologian Jean Gerson, defended her hairstyle for practical reasons, as did Inquisitor Brehal later during the appellate trial.  Nonetheless, at the trial in 1431 she was condemned and sentenced to die. - Source
Art: Eugene Thirion, 1876, Jeanne d' Arc
Chatou, Church Our-Lady 



The technical reason for her execution had been a Biblical clothing law.  The nullification trial reversed the conviction in part because the condemnation proceeding had failed to consider the doctrinal exceptions to that stricture. The appellate court declared her innocent on 7 July 1456. - Source

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Watch out Suor Cristina Scuccia ...




You may have competition.

[Sr. Cristina's had the time of her life.]

The wisdom of RuPaul

What?


Forget an outside threat, the “Gay Movement” will eat itself from the inside out #OrwellAnimalFarm

RuPaul shamed critics who lambasted her-him for using terms they consider derogatory towards LGBTQ people, calling them “fringe people who are looking for story lines to strengthen their identity as victims.” - Story here.

Works for me.

Song for this post here.

I had a dream I quit blogging ...

Apotheosis of Catholic Bloggers


But I can't remember it... and other thoughts.

I watched the Edward Snowden interview last night.

One of the things I think he has done is break through the regular programming of the American strategy for success and a 'nice life'.  The kid dropped out of high school and knows more than the average Stepford college grads currently on plan.   That was the very first mind boggling discovery about the guy the NSA ran up against.  

This morning I read some curious thoughts on Pope Francis which suggested to me higher education may have been wasted on some of the grads from Catholic colleges and universities ...

What would ever cause someone to write something like this:  
"Pope Francis and his cabal of heterodox prelates and their machinations to undermine Catholic life and thought ..." Or this: "This pope is a danger to Catholicism, and if you don’t see it, you’re either being fooled or you’re willfully ignoring the obvious."

Keep the faith - keep your kids out of Steubenville.

Bonus:

Oh!  Oh! Questions to consider ... Are you a celebrity priest?  From Catholic Answers:
How open is he to criticism? Does your favorite celebrity priest respond well to concerns raised about what he is teaching the masses?

Does he have "regular duties"? If a priest is not regularly offering Mass and the other sacraments, praying his breviary, and caring for souls in the ordinary manner of his calling as either a diocesan or religious priest, then something is bound to be wrong. 
Is he under the oversight of a bishop or religious superior?

(Now he is.)

So anyway.  I wonder what my dream was about?



Possible sign of delusion:  When someone with a blog claims to be able to see the truth amidst a pack of lies. 


Disclaimer: I may be wrong. ;)

On the charity of the Holy Father(s)



A brother said to a hermit, "If I see a monk about whom I have heard that he is guilty of a sin, I cannot make myself invite him into my cell. But if I see a good monk, I bring him in gladly."

The hermit said, "If you do good to a good brother it is nothing to him, but to the other give double charity, for he is sick."





The presbyter of a church used to come to a hermit to consecrate the Eucharist for him so that he could receive it. But someone else visited the hermit and said evil things about that presbyter.

The next time the presbyter came to consecrate as usual, the hermit was horrified and would not let him in. The presbyter saw it and went away.

Then the hermit heard a voice saying, "Men have taken my judgment into their own hands."

He saw a vision of a well of gold and a bucket of gold, and a rope of gold, and plenty of drinking water. He saw a leper emptying and refilling the bucket and wanted to drink but did not because it was a leper who had poured the water out.

Then a voice came and second time to him and said, "Why don't you drink this water? What does it matter who draws it? For, he only draws it and pours it out again."

Then the hermit came to himself, and understood what the vision had meant. He called the presbyter and made him consecrate the offering as before.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

In Memoriam: Maya Angelou

+ 1928-2014 +


"At 50, I began to know who I was. It was like waking up to myself." - Maya Angelou

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Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and may the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.

Is everybody gay?



Sometimes it seems that way.


I love that line from the film "In and Out" when Joan Cusack's character leaves the bar in her wedding dress and yells "Is everybody gay!" in frustration when it seems as if everybody really is.

Obviously not a few bloggers wonder the same thing.  One British blogger writes scathing criticism of the recent film, The Third Way, accusing the producers of pretty much watering down Catholic teaching on homosexuality.  Another blogger in the States pans the film because it uses the wrong language - one presenter said 'homophobia'.  On the other hand, speaking of media in general very good writers such as Austin Ruse have pointed out that media is saturated with gay hype and propaganda, introducing his essay with this:
A gay guy gets up in the morning, does something, and nobody writes about it. Now that would be news.
Will we ever see that day when we as a culture do not stare slack-jawed and unblinking—so as not to miss a single thing—at all things gay? - A Manly Voice on Matters Gay and Christian, Crisis
At least he has a sense of humor - though some readers may not appreciate it.  The fact that all types are writing and responding to the gay media blitz is an obvious signal the issue is a major battle on the front lines of the culture wars.  Personally, I think it is especially important for Christians to confront these issues because doctrinal errors are presented as truth - despite the criticism one receives in response.  As Letters to Christopher author, Dan Mattson pointed out to a person commenting on his blog regarding discussions on these matters:
Certainly, anyone has the freedom to choose how they will live their lives, but if they are public about it, and promote that choice as a positive and healthy option for others, it seems to be an obligation for those who have concerns about such a path to speak just as publicly about the potential problems with that choice, right? It would be a strange Church where no comment or no challenge was made towards such a novel approach as a “gay celibate relationship.” - D.C. Mattson
Exactly right.  Dan Mattson is one of the very best writers online on these issues - his theology is solidly Catholic.


SSA or Gay - are they equal?

I've wanted to say some things about that debate.  Once again, Dan Mattson has written excellent posts on why the term SSA - same sex attraction - is preferred.  I agree, but I think in general discussions it can sound a little disingenuous.  It takes a lot of effort to attempt to control the language of others, especially when it comes to popular usage.

When people such as myself take an honest inventory of our lives and review the choices we have made, I sometimes wonder how authentic it is to always be going back and forth with these terms - trying to be faithful to a somewhat clinical 'definition' can be difficult and in the end it remains a sort of label most people immediately equate with 'gay'.  As one commenter on Spiritual Friendship replied to a person who prefers to use SSA instead of gay:
This sort of semantic dishonesty and obfuscation and distancing is where I think most of the concern over “SSA” comes from. Not that it can’t be someone’s preferred label, but that they think by some mental gymnastics that preferring a different label somehow means they can opt out of experiential affinity with the group in question. - Patty Keith
I get that because that is the conventional theory - even though I bemoan it.  These issues are very troubling, no doubt about it.  I've often struggled with the identity issue as well.  Someone who worked for me once asked, "Why don't you want people to know you live with someone?"  I answered, "Because I don't want people to think I'm gay."  He understood - but many people wouldn't.  Today most people think two same sex persons living together are in a relationship, and not just friends.

What to say?

I've deliberately kept my life private.  I've also concluded it's a waste of time trying to redeem language at every step.  It confuses things and seems to me to be a distraction.  Language usage gets stuck as it were, and can be constrained by limitations over what is PC or non-PC, and in many cases, sets people up for passing judgement on others. The fact is, the term in general usage has turned out to be "gay".  The pope says it, the cardinals and bishops use it in unofficial documents and interviews, priests, lay people gay people and normal people use the term.  It also seems to be common usage in Catholic schools as well as many Catholic parishes.

Sometimes it comes off as if those who use ssa exclusively and insist on its exclusive use are being a little holier than thou about it.   As the cliche sums it up, 'been there, done that'.  Its use is not a litmus test for orthodoxy or fidelity to Catholic teaching by any means.  In some cases - it may be used interchangeably, even by those whose intentions are not all that 'disinterested'.  I know of a religious who when introduced to someone with ssa, one of the first things he said in his reply was, "I'm ssa too!"  My response, using another cliche, 'so gay!'

The Church calls all men and women to chastity, and single people to celibacy.  It's not a curse to be lamented.  It's a grace.  People with homosexual inclination are called to chastity.  As a reading at Mass a few days ago put it: "It is the decision of the Holy Spirit - not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities, namely to abstain etc., etc., ... and from unlawful marriage.  If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right".  That's one take on this discussion.

A lot of gay people do not, or cannot make that leap to "I'm not really gay - I just have temptations or I have ssa."  The Church does not ask that a person change an inclination or attraction or pretend they don't have it.  Nor does the Church forbid the use of particular terms to describe their experience of themselves, but rather to be faithful to the Gospel, the Commandments, and to embrace a life of chastity in order to grow in holiness.  Chastity is a virtue, one grows in virtue as ones spiritual life deepens.

The preference for the term ssa over gay may be meaningful for many of us - but I doubt it is a pre-condition for the reception of the sacraments.  Promoting gay as a good and a third way of sexuality, as an alternative lifestyle equal to heterosexuality, or even as a specific spirituality, is indeed an error.  I'm just not sure people who use the descriptive 'gay' are participating in such political activity.

On chaste friendships.

Two former lovers change their lives, accept Catholic teaching, go to confession and are admitted to the reception of the Eucharist.  They have lived together for many years, the sexual interest may or may not have waned, yet they are determined to help one another live faithful lives in obedience to Catholic teaching.  They continue to live together as friends.  It is not the same situation as a divorced and remarried couple living as brother and sister.  The situation may not be ideal, nor would it be a model of a blessed partnership - as if that is even a possibility.  It's an accommodation.  Call it continence, it allows for and leads to a chaste lifestyle, a wholesome friendship.  It is the first step towards perfect chastity.

At the beginning of the 'relationship change' all of that may not be perfectly understood.  It may not just suddenly happen that everything falls in order, as it were.  There may remain a certain emotional attachment, a habitual possessiveness, even a sense that continence is an end in itself.  I'd liken it to a religious, who by religious profession enters into what theologians call the 'state of perfection' although the religious may be far from perfect.  Likewise, the same sex friends who choose to live as chaste friends in obedience to the Commandments, the Gospel and Catholic teaching, may not in the beginning understand all that the virtue of chastity entails.  The soul grows in virtue, just as one's conversion is always a work in progress.

I like very much what Dan Mattson has to say on friendship:
For those who live with an attraction to the same sex, the integration and blossoming of chastity is found only in friendship, not in “partnerships,” or in anything resembling romantic love. We can give of ourselves, like Christ, disinterestedly, “who has chosen us as his friends, who has given himself totally to us and allows us to participate in his divine estate.” - Thoughts on "Celibate 'gay-partnerships'"
That is quite profound.

As I said, it may not be every ones ideal, but it may be a remedy for many to accept Catholic teaching with the support of that level of disinterested friendship.  It may be rare - or much more common than most people realize, or are even able to articulate.  The Holy Father likens the Church these days to a field hospital for the wounded, the analogy may fit in these cases.  With confession, spiritual direction, people can scale any wall, as the psalmist says.

I may be wrong and I am not promoting an alternative lifestyle by any means, however, I do want people to know that no situation is impossible for God.  We need courage to do God's will.  Nothing is impossible for God.  Nothing.
This obedience is not always easy. As a result of that mysterious original sin, committed at the prompting of Satan, the one who is "a liar and the father of lies" (Jn 8:44), man is constantly tempted to turn his gaze away from the living and true God in order to direct it towards idols (cf. 1 Thes 1:9), exchanging "the truth about God for a lie" (Rom 1:25). Man's capacity to know the truth is also darkened, and his will to submit to it is weakened. Thus, giving himself over to relativism and scepticism (cf. Jn 18:38), he goes off in search of an illusory freedom apart from truth itself. - Veritatis Splendor

I like to think of the rich young man from the Gospel in relation to these discussions.  The rich young man wanted more - he knew keeping the commandments - which he had done faithfully - wasn't enough, as it were.  He wanted to be holy, he longed for perfection - and that is the call of the Gospel, that is God's will - our sanctification.  The young man asked Christ what more he needed to do.  Jesus looked at him with great love and deep respect:  He said, if you wish to be perfect ... give up all you possess, deny your very self, and come after me.

Don't go away.  Don't go away sad.

And if you have - come back.  Jesus continues to call, his Sacred Heart exposed and wounded:  Come to me, all of you who are weary and find life burdensome - come to me.


A quote I like.


Many people today like to justify disagreement with the Pope or other legitimate Church authority by appealing to the fact that St. Catherine, in her time, challenged the Pope to return to Rome from the decades-old “exile” in Avignon, France; but they (conveniently?) forget that St. Catherine was much holier than they, that she was entirely motivated by charity, and that she also spoke of the Pope as the “Sweet Christ on Earth”. - Fr. Jerabek's Blog

I might add, she also kept the communications private and did not publish them or spread discontent. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I feel as if I'm in some strange Catholic vortex ...



Or the Catholic Twilight Zone.

So what else is new?  When I returned to the Church and the Sacraments so many years ago, I returned to pretty much the same divisive atmosphere which exists today.  At that time nearly everyone seemed to be against the Pope.  Progressive Catholics rejected Humanae Vitae, while Marian mystics claimed a real pope couldn't do and say the things Paul VI was doing and saying, and allowing - therefore the idea that he had been replaced by an impostor was propagated.  Dumb as it sounds, it captured the imagination of many devout people.  The same people - and/or their kids - are driven by the same fears today.  When St. John Paul II came along, it seemed it was mostly the so-called 'liberals' who bad mouthed the pope - although those who were against Vatican II had their doubts as to why he didn't do more to cleanse the temple of modernists.  Then Benedict XVI came along, the very traditional were more favorable - but not without reservation.  Predictably, the liberal-progressive anti-papists completely misread him - until Pope Francis came along.  Now everyone seems to misread Francis.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  

The Pope in the Holy Land and what he said on the way home.



I think the Pope knows very well what people say about him... and who says it.

His reception by Catholics in the Holy Land suggests to me that the critical voices online and in very 'conservative' circles of Catholics are way off.  The enthusiasm for the Holy Father's visit was very evident.  I was edified.  I am grateful the pilgrimage was safe.

Speaking to journalists on the way home, Pope Francis gave every indication that he knows what critics of the Church - within and without - are saying these days.  Especially about the hot button issues.  In my opinion, the Holy Father demonstrates his pastoral balance, his discernment and open-hearted obedience to God's will.

I especially appreciate how he addressed the issues related to the upcoming synods on the family:
The Pontiff also spoke about the two upcoming Synods of Bishops on the family. “The Pope lamented what he characterized as an overemphasis, by members of the clergy among others, on the question of when divorced and civilly remarried Catholics may receive Communion,” according to a Catholic News Service report. “He emphasized the synods would consider the pastoral care of the family in its totality.” - Source
I think many Catholics worry too much about things that haven't even happened yet - they project their fears onto imagined events in the future, suggesting all sorts of disasters and changes - yet nothing has changed.  Not one dogma, not one iota of the law can be or will be done away with.   It strikes me that today many Catholics are convinced they are more Catholic than the pope, while looking down on everyone else who hasn't arrived at the state of perfection they seem to believe they are in.
   

St. Melangell of Wales



Her feastday is May 27.

She once saved a rabbit from the huntsman and his hounds.
"Her legend relates that she was the daughter of an Irish monarch, who had determined to marry her to a nobleman of his court. The princess had vowed celibacy. She fled from her father's dominions and took refuge in this place, where she lived fifteen years without seeing the face of a man. Brochwel Yscythrog, Prince of Powys, being one day a hare hunting, pursued his game till he came to a great thicket; when he was amazed to find a virgin of surpassing beauty, engaged in deep devotion, with the hare he had been pursuing under her robe, boldly facing the dogs, who retired to a distance howling, notwithstanding all the efforts of the sportsmen to make them seize their prey. Even when the huntsman blew his horn, it stuck to his lips. Brochwel heard her story, and gave to God and her a parcel of lands, to be a sanctuary to all that fled there. He desired her to found an abbey on the spot. She did so, and died abbess at a good old age. She was buried in the neighbouring church, called Pennant, and from, her distinguished by the addition of Melangell. Her hard bed is shown in the cleft of a neighbouring rock. Her tomb was in a little chapel, or oratory, adjoining to the church, and now used as a vestry room. This room is still called ' Cell-y-bedd.' or the Cell of the Grave. Her reliques as well as her image have been long since removed; but 1 think the last is still to be seen in the churchyard. The legend is perpetuated by some rude wooden carving of the Saint, with numbers of hares scuttling to her for protection. She properly became their Patroness. They were called 'Oen Melangell' (St. Monacella's Lambs.)" - Source
Evidently she still saves rabbits.  Since learning about her I decided to leave mine alone... despite the ongoing deforestation of my yard.

H/T Spike is Best.

Monday, May 26, 2014

St. Philip Neri and ordinary life...



A virtuous life consists in mortifying vices, sins, bad thoughts, and evil affections, and in exercising ourselves in the acquisition of holy virtues. - St. Philip Neri

The new/old evangelization.

Philip Neri worked the streets - he went to the 'existential peripheries' before existentialism was invented, ministering to prostitutes and other outcasts of the day.  Every age has its saints who step outside the boundaries, the limitations of the past...

What I like very much about St. Philip is his spirituality.
[H]is genius was entirely unmonastic and unmedieval; he was the active promoter of vernacular services, frequent and popular preaching, unconventional prayer, and unsystematized, albeit fervent, private devotion.

Neri was not a reformer, save in the sense that in the active discharge of pastoral work he labored to reform individuals. He had no difficulties in respect of the teaching and practice of his church, being in truth an ardent Ultramontane in doctrine, as was all but inevitable in his time and circumstances, and his great merit was the instinctive tact which showed him that the system of monasticism could never be the leaven of secular life, but that something more homely, simple, and everyday in character was needed for the new time. - Source
I think some people do better by not trying to live like a monk or a nun, but rather living an ordinary life with extraordinary love of God and neighbor, within their own parish, city, neighborhood, home, etc..

Today is the feast of St. Philip Neri.

The call - and doing too much.



When Our Lord spoke to St. Francis he told him, "Rebuild my Church."  Francis took it literally, and began to rebuild local churches which had fallen into ruin.  It was a good work and gave Francis something to do during his initial conversion process.  (I'm being purposely simple here.)

St. John of the Cross uses the example from the life of St. Francis to show how easily inspirations and locutions can be misunderstood or even fail in so far as we interpret them according to our own experience, understanding: "what is received is received according to the mode of the receiver."

So we get mixed up sometimes.

Sometimes we even take on too much, or try to do too much.  A meditation from Magnificat a few days ago, by an unknown writer to Traces magazine brought that point home for me:
Within Christ's embrace, which gives me incredible strength, I have been able to see all my weaknesses clearly.
I have seen  the incumbent risk to busying ourselves doing things for Christ - in good faith - only to discover that we have lost ourselves because we never had time for him. - Letter to editor of Traces magazine. 
We need to be careful.  Remember St. Francis always retired for prayer and solitude, and though poor, he never neglected the duties of his state in life, the times of prayer, the obligation of Mass, and so on.

I think some have lost the grace of God, the initial fervor of their conversion by doing too much and loosing themselves in their work ...
The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit. - Matthew 13:22

Memorial Day


Heavenly Father,
On this Memorial Day, we pray for those who courageously laid down their lives for the cause of freedom.  May the examples of their sacrifice inspire in us the selfless love of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Bless the families of our fallen troops, and fill their homes and their lives with Your strength and peace.
In union with people of goodwill of every nation, embolden us to answer the call to work for peace and justice, and thus, seek an end to violence and conflict around the globe.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.


Memorial Day: Remembering two best friends, two soldiers.

“You will go into harm’s way. The sacrifice, 
[which] you have learned by now, 
is part of the job description.”

Travis L. Manion and Brendan Looney

The beautiful story of their friendship - in life and for eternity - was published in the Sunday news magazine Parade today.  It's a beautiful story of genuine friendship.  Friendship today can be so distorted and often superficial - especially when we consider the online version of friending and unfriending people we do not even know.
When best friends Travis Manion and Brendan Looney died defending their country, their families honored their unbreakable bond in the most profound of ways: by laying them to rest side by side at Arlington National Cemetery. This week, Parade tells their story. - Parade
Both friends came from Catholic families. Their friendship is an inspiration.
The duo didn’t gush about their friendship. “Alpha males don’t talk about how close they are,” says classmate Brian Stann. But they gave nonverbal cues—like the way they’d break into simultaneous laughter even if no one had said anything funny. - Parade


For me, their friendship exemplifies - validates and affirms - those blessed, manly friendships of history:  Such as Blessed Cardinal Newman and Ambrose St. John, St.'s Sergius and Bacchus, King David and Johnathan.  Honorable, pure, unadulterated friendship.

Brotherhood. Sacrifice. Love of God and country.

These men represent all the men and women who have given their lives in service to our Nation and society - all of those who have laid down their lives for their friends.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Source of mysterious Windsor, Ontario hum revealed ... right across the Detroit River ...



I know!

Story here.

The Holy Father on Pilgrimage

Mural for Pope Francis in Bethlehem.


The Mass in Bethlehem was beautiful.  Bl. Mary of Jesus Crucified was there in a special way - did you Carmelites see her?  The Mass was in Latin too.

I suppose for some Catholic bloggers it's the right time - just the wrong Pope.  Too bad.

I received a comment from an unstable character suggesting the Pope is a Jew and that the Jesuits were financed by Jews.   Jesus was Jewish too.

Strange people online today.



Who am I that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?

    WEDDASSE MARIAM

(Hymn of Praise of the Virgin Mariam)

(A) First Day of The Week - Sunday

1. Thou was named “Beloved Woman”, O Blessed among

woman. You are the chamber, in that you were called

“Holiest of Holies” and in it were the Ten Words which were

written by the fingers of God. He (i.e. the Father) made

known this to us first of all by “Yawta” (i.e. Iota), which is the

first letter of the Name of our Redeemer Eeyesus Kristos,

who became incarnate of thee without change, and became

the Mediator of the New Covenant and by the Shedding of 

His Holy Blood, He purified the believers and the people who

were pure. And because of this we all magnify thee, 

O Our Lady Thou ever pure God-bearer. 

We beseech thee and lift our eyes to thee, so that we may

find mercy and compassion with the lover of men. 

O HOLY VIRGIN MARIAM PRAY FOR US.



Since the Ethiopians have come ...

Each Sunday since Mercy Sunday the Ethiopians have been using the church across the street from me.  They arrive at dawn and remain past noon.  During their Mass I make my prayer facing the church.  It's a great grace.  I thank Our Lady, whose scapular and medals I buried on the property asking that the church would become Catholic.  What a grace to have such an ancient rite celebrated across the street from my house.  The Ethiopian Church in Ethiopia claims to have the Ark of the Covenant - and of course, mystically the Holy Virgin is the Ark, and She accompanies them everywhere they go.  She loves them because they gave the Holy Family shelter in their flight to Egypt.

"Prince shall come from Egypt, envoys from Ethiopia."

Africa again sends missionaries throughout the world - if only these would be able to bring African Americans back to Christ and the Catholic Church - away from those independent denominations which reject Catholicism, and those who are drawn to Islam.  The Ethiopian Church preserves Her traditions and keeps the ancient faith.

Mandylion of Edessa
+
Arise O Lord
and let your enemies be scattered,
and let those that hate you,
flee before your Holy Face.

Painting: The Choir of the Capuchin Church in Rome.


I have a feeling things are quite different today.

At Mass I wondered if the Church will ever return to such decorum?