Saturday, February 21, 2015

The New Holy Martyrs of the Coptic Church

“The blood of our Christian brothers is a witness that cries out. If they are Catholic, Orthodox, Copts, Lutherans, it is not important: They are Christians. The blood is the same: It is the blood which confesses Christ.” - Pope Francis

The Coptic Orthodox Church has announced that the murder of the 21 Egyptian Christians killed by the so-called Islamic State in Libya will be commemorated in its Church calendar.  Pope Tawadros II announced that the names of the martyrs will be inserted into the Coptic Synaxarium, the Oriental Church’s equivalent to the Roman Martyrology. This procedure is also equivalent to canonization in the Latin Church. - Vatican Radio

Below, a beautiful litany composed in memory of the new martyrs by Elizabeth Scalia:
+Holy Martyr Milad Makeen Zaky, pray for us, and for the whole world,
+Holy Martyr Abanub Ayad Atiya, pray for your ISIS murderers,
+Holy Martyr Maged Solaimain Shehata, pray for their salvation,
+Holy Martyr Yusuf Shukry Yunan, pray for the release of their all their captives,
+Holy Martyr Kirollos Shokry Fawzy, pray for all in the path of ISIS,
+Holy Martyr Bishoy Astafanus Kamel, pray for the displaced, for those made refugees by ISIS,
+Holy Martyr Somaily Astafanus Kamel, pray for the protection of our Holy Lands and our history,
+Holy Martyr Malak Ibrahim Sinweet, pray for those who act now in resistance against ISIS,
+Holy Martyr Tawadros Yusuf Tawadros, pray for those in immediate danger from forces of evil,
+Holy Martyr Girgis Milad Sinweet, pray for those infected with the virus of hatred and extremism,
+Holy Martyr Mina Fayez Aziz, pray for families being challenged, throughtout the world, by ISIS,
+Holy Martyr Hany Abdelmesih Salib, pray aid workers may draw together, unmolested, to give assistance,
+Holy Martyr Bishoy Adel Khalaf, pray for the targeted clergy and religious of the Near East churches,
+Holy Martyr Samuel Alham Wilson, pray for all people of good will, in every religion, every nation,
+Holy Martyr Whose name we do not know — you “Worker from Awr village” — pray for those in leadership, whose names we know all too well, that their motives may be purified of political intrigue, and for their salvation,
+Holy Martyr Ezat Bishri Naseef, pray for Jews, throughout the world, chosen of God and so despised,
+Holy Martyr Loqa Nagaty, pray for the “two lungs” of Christianity, East and West, to breath together,
+Holy Martyr Gaber Munir Adly, pray for the illumination of that which is All-Good,
+Holy Martyr Esam Badir Samir, pray that in beholding it, we will wish to serve it,
+Holy Martyr Malak Farag Abram, pray for the generation in power, that their egos may be put aside and their hearts might be opened to the Way, the Truth and the Life,
+Holy Martyr Sameh Salah Faruq, pray for the generations to come.

O New Martyrs, through a malevolent force as old as Eden you now number among the ancient holy ones; keep us particularly in your prayers, as once again we are focused on the mysterious lands where humanity first came into being, and into knowing, and where all will finally be revealed. Pray that we may put aside all that is irrelevant to the moment and, looking forever to the East, prepare our spirits for the engagements into which we may be called, whether we live amid these places of ancient roads and portals, or in the most modern of dwellings.
Mary, the God-bearer, pray for us,
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us,
Saint John the Forerunner, pray for us,
All Holy Men and Women, pray for us.
Amen, Amen.


Is the Pope Catholic? Yes. He. Is.

Is he the successor of Peter and Benedict XVI?  Yes.  He.  Is.

"The design of the Creator is written in nature."

Pope Francis has strongly criticized modern theories that consider people's gender identities to exist along a spectrum, saying such theories do not "recognize the order of creation." 
Speaking of gender theory in an interview in a new book released in Italy, the pope even compares such theories to genetic manipulation and nuclear weapons. 
(H)e then says that every historical period has "Herods" that "destroy, that plot designs of death, that disfigure the face of man and woman, destroying creation." 
"Let's think of the nuclear arms, of the possibility to annihilate in a few instants a very high number of human beings," he continues. "Let's think also of genetic manipulation, of the manipulation of life, or of the gender theory, that does not recognize the order of creation." 
"With this attitude, man commits a new sin, that against God the Creator," the pope says. 
"The true custody of creation does not have anything to do with the ideologies that consider man like an accident, like a problem to eliminate." 
"God has placed man and woman and the summit of creation and has entrusted them with the earth," Francis says. "The design of the Creator is written in nature." - NCR

Works for me! 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Brother Paul O’Donnell, Franciscan Brothers of Peace, RIP

I was just informed Franciscan Br. Paul O'Donnell died suddenly today.  Br. Paul was the Guardian of the Franciscan Brothers of Peace, a diocesan community of friars in St. Paul, Minnesota.

I found this tribute at National Right to Life:

One of the sweetest, kindest men I have ever known passed away today. I can’t imagine that it was his time but God knows these things, not me. Brother Paul was only 55 years old. He was the Superior at the Franciscan Brothers of Peace, a stalwart advocate for life throughout its spectrum, and he was my friend – for well over 25 years. He was also one of my heroes. 
Brother Paul was a founder of the Pro-Life Action Ministries and served with them still. He was a board member of the Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network, and a valiant spokesperson for life. - Jacki Ragan, NRLNews

May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.

Is there something wrong with priestly formation in St. Paul/Minneapolis?

I thought it was almost perfect.

Seriously, I did.  Then I came across this from Fr. James Martin, S.J. - with caveats that this is one former seminarian's experience and not all formation programs are like this, so on and so on.  Fr. Martin's post led me to the Commonweal article by the former seminarian, Paul Blaschko.  To be sure, there is no scandal involved, but perhaps an odd response to all the scandals has made for an unusual approach in formation?

I don't know - I assumed, along with many others in the archdiocese that we had the best seminary in the country.  I know what my own reactions have been in leaving novitiate for religious life, as well as some jobs: I sometimes focused upon the negative culture of the place I was quitting in order to justify my decision to move on.  An unconscious attempt for self-affirmation can incline one to view everything as negative and even creepy, and to judge problems as being far worse than they were.  Oftentimes that attitude describes 'disgruntled'.  If that is the case with Blaschko's account, that's too bad.  But I wonder?

What he writes about sounds believable enough - and it doesn't come off as having been written by a disgruntled former seminarian.  As Fr. Martin wrote on his Facebook page:
But I also want to say that I have heard stories from several seminarians around the country who describe their own formation around sexuality in the way that the author describes--closed, fearful, and, frankly, unhealthy. Yes, celibacy is not the cause of sexual abuse. (More abuse happens in families.) But poor and even twisted education and formation around sexuality will inevitably lead to serious problems for the priest or religious, for his community and for those with whom he ministers. So even if this kind of formation is happening in one seminary, it is a big problem. - Fr. Martin
After recent scandals in the archdiocese, things are still far from normal.  At least everything 'feels' fairly dysfunctional at the moment, albeit under autocratic leadership.  I've never heard concerns voiced over formation at the seminary.

Inside the Seminary: Is there reason to be worried about formation? 

From 2008 through 2010, I was a seminarian in St. Paul, Minneapolis, an archdiocese now entrenched in its own abuse scandal. My experience there led me to believe that the problem of priestly sexual abuse is due, at least in part, to the failure of seminaries to provide adequate human and sexual formation to men studying for the priesthood. More specifically, my seminary formation failed to confront the questions surrounding sexual abuse in a candid and psychologically sophisticated way. I realize that my experience is limited, and that it would be unwise to generalize about seminary education from the the operations and culture of one institution. Nonetheless, I feel compelled to tell my story in the hope of calling attention to what might very well be more widespread problems.
But just a few weeks into my time at the seminary, my confidence began to waver. I recall the day when the first-year seminarians, or “new men” as we were called, gathered in the seminary’s spacious basement to attend a workshop on sexual ethics titled “Freedom and Victory.” The workshop was run by a psychologist from something called the Theology of the Body Training and Healing Center, together with a blind priest who, we were told during his introduction, had witnessed at least one Eucharistic miracle and had had extensive experience with exorcisms. The breakout sessions had titles like “Masturbation: Is it Healthy? Is it Holy?” (you can guess the answer to both questions); and at various points throughout the workshop we were invited to approach the microphone and share stories of sexual pain and healing—“if you feel called by the spirit to do so”—with the sixty or so priests and other seminarians in the room.
The whole thing felt more than a little strange to me, and for the most part I kept my head down, pretending to take notes in the workbook that had been provided. The strangeness culminated with a workshop session devoted to reenacting the “spiritual warfare” that goes on when a young man watches pornography. Each of us was given a nametag with the name of a demon on it. These demons, we were told, were the principalities most closely associated with sexual temptation. We were then gathered around the chosen man and told to hiss and curse at him, trying to entice him to “watch pornography” and “masturbate.” Afterwards, the priest came around with a coffee tin, collecting the nametags—he had to burn them, he told us, while reciting prayers of exorcism. Demonic influence wasn’t something to take lightly.
After the session, I caught up with one of the priests on staff and hesitantly expressed my doubts about the workshop. He reassured me that the formation staff knew exactly what they were doing, and encouraged me to defer to the authority of the workshop leader. - Finish reading at Commonweal

It sounds weird, doesn't it?  But maybe it's because we weren't there or don't know the program used, or ...  as one commenter asked:

I wonder how much the overworked directors of the seminary were drawn in by the credentials of the experts from the Theology of the Body Training and Healing Center, who offered to solve their problem even though their methods and agenda undermined the mission of the seminary. 
As a related question, I wonder how much overworked pastors are being drawn into pre packaged programs for youth, for couples, for men… that may not fit the parish's mission. - Steve McCluskey February 19, 2015 - 10:30pm

Discernment is a difficult process for all concerned - I doubt there is such a thing as a perfect system. 

Is smoking dope a sin?

Fr Matthew P. Schneider, LC has joined the discussion.

So first I read Fr. Z's post.  Then I read Fr. Schneider's post.

They were both informative.

I haven't smoked in years and years and years.  I liked it though.  Do I miss it?  Not really.  But I must admit I like the drugs administered whenever I've had surgery and invasive exams, and in that state I can be reminded of weed - marijuana - and I might reminisce, thinking, it might be nice if it wasn't a sin.  That's so far from perfection BTW - to be willing to do something if it wasn't a sin.

Very seriously, I don't miss it.  Would I take a hit if offered?  I don't think so.

So anyway...

The conversation about marijuana use is important and needful - especially since it is fast becoming legal for medical use as well as recreational use.  The thing about dope today is that it is so much more potent than it was way back when it was always and everywhere illegal - and therefore immoral for recreational use.

Today it is very much more potent - or so I'm told.  One hit (puff, drag, toke on a joint) just might equal a half a joint of the old stuff.  Like I said, I don't know that for sure.  The last time someone gave me a joint I hid it away for the Zombie apocalypse and never found it again.  Now that's wasted.  Back on topic: one hit might have a lot more bang for the buck - so maybe even one hit would be excessive? There is a lot we who do not use it do not know.  (Medical use is not the same as recreational use of course.  I would think it is morally acceptable, just as sedatives and pain killers when prescribed and used accordingly.)

Waiting to exhale?

I appreciate Fr. Schneider's take better than how it was discussed at Fr. Z's - not that I disagree with Fr. Z - but I'll quote Fr. Schneider instead, because his answer is more direct.

So, it seems that if it’s legal, very small amounts of marijuana would probably be morally acceptable – the side effects are similar to two beers and three cigarettes. That isn’t something I’d recommend, but it isn’t something I’d denounce someone for. However, there are two caveats. I wonder how many pot-smokers only smoke one joint. And we always need to seek what is best and not as bare minimum morality. - Fr. Schneider

Quite seriously, I don't think legalization is a good idea, except for prescribed medical use, but I don't think recreational use is an appropriate  'buzz'.  I used to mix - drink and smoke and then chain smoked regular cigarettes - and that's intense.  Fr. Schneider is correct, smokers usually smoke more than just one joint - or, as I used to do, mix substances.  The potential for more serious abuse is always there.  Likewise, habitual smoking of weed becomes another issue.  I've known people who smoked every day and were buzzed all of the time - even at work.  Most would regard that as chemical dependency or addiction.

Remember, Teresa of Avila always said, "Prayer and self-indulgence do not mix."  I say, living a devout life and dope do not mix.  You will either despise one and love the other - you can't serve God and marijuana.  You can maybe have a rock star type of holiness - you know how they always thank God at the Grammy's, but you know they're buzzed, while their private lives are not all that edifying?  I just don't think true devotion includes getting stoned.

True devotion - a holy, prayerful life - is the Christian life.  Getting 'wrecked' wrecks it.  If John of the Cross discourages seeking visions, consolations, and other mystical experiences, he would surely discourage getting high, hallucinating, and arriving at some sort of stoned-soul prayer of quiet.  It's not exactly the narrow way.

But who am I to judge?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Lawsuits and threats of lawsuits ...

You can criticize but maybe have documentation if you go around accusing people of stuff ...

If you are writing about real people online, especially when accusing Church people of heresy and subversive activities - make sure you have all your facts straight.  Have backup, links, exact quotes, footnotes, and so on.  In other words, have documentation, be able to identify your sources - and get it in writing.  Especially if you name names or call people out as this or that.  Religious people can be very litigious.  Calumny and detraction, defamation and slander, are also sins.  I may wrong, but there are canonical channels - especially for accusations of heresy and conspiracy.  The case has to be heard, reviewed and adjudicated by the appropriate canonical authority.  Good luck with that, though.

If you do get sued, you can maybe do what dioceses around the country do - just declare bankruptcy.  Kidding.

That said, it seems to me the Catholic blogosphere is turning into a sewer.

What goes around comes around.

UPDATE:  Fr. Geiger has posted on a different defamation case that has been circulating online, noting the "habitual refusal to accept personal accountability for the damaging information that has been released" on the part of bloggers:
The first point to be made is that the sources for recent the “reports,” are not responsible news outlets but bloggers, all of them, except one, are pseudonymous or anonymous. They have provided no evidence, that is, they have made purely hearsay allegations, or otherwise claimed to have “evidence” from which they have quoted excerpts without producing the document or its context. All the sources for these reports are clearly biased against the Commissioner and the Holy See and the bloggers in question are working in concert (Rorate Caeli and Correspondenza Romana, for example, regularly repeat and support each other’s reports). 
Again, no reputable news outlet has taken responsibility for such “reports.” As far as I know—at least in the English-speaking world—no responsible news outlet has even repeated these stories emerging from the blogosphere. Please consider that when real journalists publish information from anonymous sources, the reporter takes personal responsibility with his real name, and the organization attempts to confirm the information by evidential reporting of independent sources. Nothing like this has ever been attempted by these bloggers. On the contrary, as already mentioned, there is an incestuous relationship between the various bloggers and their sources, and there has also been the habitual refusal to accept personal accountability for the damaging information that has been released. - Fr. Angelo

"Brothers and Sisters, this is the state of the Catholic Internet. It is a disgrace and a scandal to the world." - Fr. Angelo

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Jeannine Gramick and a group of laity from the United States were on the list of guests at the Papal Audience.

Not a big deal.

They think it was, some in the media think it was, but it was simply an ordinary audience and their 'identity' was not acknowledged.  It was not a coup de grace for the GLBTQ movement or New Ways Ministry.  All may be welcome, but all do not get papal endorsements - although I think they can get a blessing on parchment for a small offering.

I've been getting emails alerting me to this 'expected' development.  (It had been announced beforehand by the 'pilgrims'.)  I will repeat here what I wrote to one friend:
As you probably know, Cordileone recently received them as well and they talked - I think I mentioned it in a post. [Here]  I suspect he may have gotten them on the invite list as well.  They weren't personally received by the Pope - yet - at least not today.  Being listed at the audience as a group of laity accompanied by a sister doesn't mean he accepted them or acknowledged their 'cause'. They are the ones promoting their agenda with this latest publicity. It adds to the confusion of course.

Don't worry about Francis though - he won't be fooled. He knows the score.

That was my 'off the cuff' email response.  Another friend sent me a link to Joanna Bogle's take on the deal:

Snub for homosexual lobbying group... Rome today. They had wanted to be welcomed publicly and give themselves a cheer - standard procedure for any group visiting St Peter's and crowding in to one of the big Papal audiences in the vast Paul VI Hall. Instead, the nearest the group got was a mention of their geographical area - which may have meant them and may not - while at the gathering in St Peter's Square where the Pope greets pilgrims, they got no mention at all. 
Anyone can go to the gatherings in the Paul VI Hall and it's not hard to get seats near the front if you persevere. An official reads out the names of groups, and it's traditional to stand and get some applause - maybe even sing a song or call out a rousing greeting. 
Failure to get a mention is a snub - not a particularly cruel one, just evidence of a prudent concern by the papal bureaucracy to ensure that loopy groups are, as far as possible, gently avoided. 
Embarrassed, the organisers of the group contacted the media, and posed in St Peter's Square, announcing that they were greeted at the Vatican - untrue - and claiming that the Church's teaching on the wrongfulness of homosexual activity will change, which it won't.

All are welcome in the Church, lobby groups and all. But they need to be truthful: if they get invited in for tea it won't mean that Church teaching can change. As it happens, they weren't. And it won't because it can't. - Joanna Bogle - H/T Jackie

Story links: They were identified on the list of attendees only as a “group of lay people accompanied by a Sister of Loreto.”

From CNN: New Ways Ministry was recognized simply as a lay group of Catholics, not one that speaks for the LGBT community. The Vatican didn't grant members' request for a special private audience with Francis, nor did anyone acknowledge their calling out to him that "we are gay and lesbian Catholics," DeBernardo said.

So my friends - don't be upset.  Clear up misunderstandings as they arise, but 'be not afraid'.  Catholic teaching can't change.  All are welcome - all are not endorsed.  Maybe Fr. Z could have a mug struck with that?  He doesn't have to pay any royalties for it either - it's copyright free.

UPDATE: As might be expected, Deacon Kandra has the scoop here.
Archbishop Georg Ganswein, head of the papal household and the top aide to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, responded to New Ways’ request for a papal meet-and-greet by reserving tickets for the group at Francis’ weekly public audience in St. Peter’s Square. It’s not a private meeting — which is tough for anyone to get — but it’s not nothing. - DK

Going back to the beginning.

"Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return..."

Ash Wednesday reminds us of the curse which fell upon our first parents.  This was made clear this past week from the readings taken from the Book of Genesis for Mass, which preceded Ash Wednesday this year.
“Cursed be the ground because of you!
In toil shall you eat its yield
all the days of your life.
Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to you,
as you eat of the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your face
shall you get bread to eat,
Until you return to the ground,
from which you were taken;
For you are dirt,
and to dirt you shall return.” - Genesis 3

I think we need to get back to the beginning to understand the evils of the day, to understand our need for repentance and conversion.  We need to know what happened then, and what caused us to be like this now.  We need to recognize how the serpent tricked the woman - and how he continues to trick us, convincing us we can be like gods, deciding for ourselves what is good and evil.  Therein lies our original sin, a sin which always calls God a liar.
The woman answered the serpent:
“We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden;
it is only about the fruit of the tree
in the middle of the garden that God said,
‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die.’”
But the serpent said to the woman:
“You certainly will not die!
No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it
your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods
who know what is good and what is evil.” - Genesis

As I read these passages it seemed to me that if in our fasting from food, we 'chew on' or 'ruminate' these verses, the Holy Spirit will remove our confusion regarding gender, sexuality, marriage and family - and vocation.

We are stardust, we are golden, we are caught in the devil's bargain,
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.
- Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
- kinda/sorta. ;)

Well! I'll be! Looks like the Patheos Catholic channel got themselves another ____ on the blogroll.

Song for this post here.  (No dancing on Ash Wednesday.)

Seriously:  Congratulations Larry!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Screenshots: "Brought me to tears..."

“Oh, that today you would hear his voice: ‘Harden not your hearts.’” - Hebrews 3

One site highlighted/linked to a post by Michael Sean Winters discussing the Holy Father's homily this past weekend.  I commented on the homily/Angelus address yesterday calling it The Perfect Joy of Pope Francis.  Winters said he was moved to tears by the Holy Father's words - I had been as well - I just didn't say it because it seems to me people are crying online all the time.  Usually because they don't like the Pope and what he says or does.  Though Winters reads the Pope's words as a sign of hope for some new direction for the upcoming Synod, he nonetheless was deeply moved by what the Holy Father calls us to.
"Pope Francis is asking us how we interact with the lepers of our time, the marginalized. Do we even know them? Do we love them?" - Winters

I don't really read the NCR but once again I find myself agreeing with a writer who is roundly criticized by 'conservatives' online.  Michael Sean Winters writes from a more liberal POV than most writers I do read, agenda driven - or not - many bloggers I do read, write from a more traditional POV .  I don't think I fit well into any category of liberal, trad, conservative, what have you.  Others may want to box me in a given category - but I know I can't fit in - I can't be faithful to the expectations of others.

That said, it seems to me, a group of people may have unwittingly hardened their hearts against the Holy Father.  I say that because not a few appear prepared to not only question but have become so suspicious as to actually reject everything he says or does.  A mind set has been 'set' - the Holy Father refers to it as a fearful, narrow and prejudiced mentality.   It is in effect, a hardening of the heart.  Commenting on today's Gospel the Holy Father warned:
He warned: "This is evil and we all have this ability to destroy". As Lent begins, the Church “invites us to reflect on this”. Pointing to today's Gospel where Jesus rebukes the disciples who are arguing among themselves about having forgotten to bring bread. The Lord tells them to “watch out,guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod". He gives the example of two people: Herod who "is bad, a murderer, and the Pharisees who are hypocrites." In doing so, Jesus reminds them of when he broke the five loaves and urges them to think of the Salvation, of what God has done for all of us. Pope Francis went on to note that "they did not understand, because their hearts were hardened by this passion, by this evil need to argue among each other and see who was guilty of having forgotten the bread". - Vatican Radio

"they did not understand, because their hearts were hardened ..."

That is scary.

The same site which linked to the NCR Winter's article linked to  an article criticizing the Pope for referring to the martyrdom of the 21 Coptic Christians beheaded on the Libyan beach as "the ecumenism of blood."  Clearly meaning that the martyrs belong to all Christians: "The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out to be heard. It makes no difference whether they be Catholics, Orthodox, Copts or Protestants. They are Christians! Their blood is one and the same. Their blood confesses Christ."
"I would now like to turn to my native tongue to express feelings of profound sorrow. Today I read about the execution of those twenty-one or twenty-two Coptic Christians. Their only words were: 'Jesus, help me!' They were killed simply for the fact that they were Christians. You, my brother, in your words referred to what is happening in the land of Jesus. The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out to be heard. It makes no difference whether they be Catholics, Orthodox, Copts or Protestants. They are Christians! Their blood is one and the same. Their blood confesses Christ. As we recall these brothers and sisters who died only because they confessed Christ, I ask that we encourage each another to go forward with this ecumenism which is giving us strength, the ecumenism of blood. The martyrs belong to all Christians." ~ Pope Francis
The author contemns the Holy Father's words claiming he is using the martyrdom of these men to promote an agenda - ecumenism:
I agree with anyone who calls these valiant men martyrs for Jesus Christ. However, I do not think that the heroic deaths of these Coptic Christians, who died with the name of Jesus on their lips, should be exploited by anyone for any agenda whatsoever. It is wrong to shamelessly advance in the name of your own projects men's real sacrifices to further your agenda, namely, in this case - ecumenism. - Bones

The author's readers agree with him.  It is such a ridiculous accusation, I'm practically speechless.

Another American blogger takes down the Holy Father's homily Winters wrote about in an attempt to correct the Pope's scriptural commentary:
In his homily to his see, he portrays Jesus as walking around healing 'nearly everyone' He came upon. 
"That com-passion which made him draw near to every person in pain!"

He most certainly did not. - Crusader

Amazing, huh?  Who would dare limit the mercy of God?  Our Lord cured everyone who came to him: "He drove out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick..." - Matt. 8:16   "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power ... he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him." - Acts 10:38 .

"There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written." - John 21:25

BTW - The only reason comment moderation is on is that I'm getting spam from China and the Middle East.  Not sure how it gets published.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Perfect Joy of Pope Francis

"No pit is so deep that his love is not deeper still." - Betsy Ten Boom

I love what the Holy Father said in his homilies and at the Angelus yesterday.  It reminds me of so many sayings of the saints when speaking of the tender mercies of Our Lord.  I have experienced it myself - that 'deep calling unto deep' - how Christ meets us in the very depths of our misery.  It is the mystery of the falls he experienced along the road to Calvary.  I have sensed it within my soul.  When I have fallen into the depths and mire of the worst sin - at times there was a sense in my soul that Jesus was there, that he looked at me with love.  As if he was waiting for me.  Though fallen and trampled in the dust under the weight of the cross, his teeth filled with gravel, he looked at me in my fallen state, and his look touched my soul ... He was there already, sharing my shame.

It seems to me this is the message Pope Francis is conveying - even though some may reject it - and while he himself is denounced and shut out, much in the same way as Francis of Assisi represented in his parable of Perfect Joy.  It seems clear to me the Holy Father rejoices in this 'outcast state' - sharing in the cross of Christ, despising its shame, much as St. Paul wrote to the Hebrews ...
Therefore, Jesus also suffered outside the gate, to consecrate the people by his own blood.
Let us then go to him outside the camp, bearing the reproach that he bore. - Hebrews 13:13

It seems to me this is what the Holy Father is teaching.  I want to excerpt a couple of things from his allocution yesterday to document and hopefully keep in mind.

God's mercy overcomes every barrier, and Jesus' hand touches the leper. He does not keep a safe distance and does not act by proxy, but rather He directly exposes Himself to contagion by our malady; and it is precisely our malady that becomes the locus of contact: He, Jesus, takes our ailing humanity from us and we take His healthy, restorative humanity from Him. This happens every time that we receive a Sacrament with faith: the Lord Jesus 'touches' us and gives us His grace. In his case, we think especially of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which cures us from the leprosy of sin”.

“Once again the Gospel shows us what God does when faced with our sickness: God does not come to 'give a lecture' on pain; neither does He come to eliminate suffering and death from the world; rather, He comes to take upon Himself the burden of our human condition, to bear it unto the end, to free us in a radical and definitive way. Thus Christ vanquishes the ills and sufferings of the world: by taking them upon Himself and defeating them with the strength of God's mercy”.

Today, the Gospel passage of the healing of the leper tells us that if we wish to be “true disciples of Christ, we are required to become, joined with Him, instruments of His merciful love, setting aside every type of marginalisation. To be 'imitators of Christ' before the poor or sick, we must not be afraid to look them in the eye and to draw closer with tenderness and compassion, to touch and embrace them”, explained the Pope, adding that he often asks those who help others to do so “looking them in the eye, without being afraid to touch them, so that the gesture of aid may also be a gesture of communication”.

“We too need to be accepted by them”, he continued, “A gesture of tenderness, a gesture of compassion. … If evil is contagious, so is good. Therefore, good must increasingly abound in us. Let us be 'infected' by good, and spread good to others!”. - Angelus: Good is contagious.

" is precisely our malady that becomes the locus of contact."

More Coptic Martyrs

Even if before men, indeed, they be punished, yet is their hope full of immortality. - Common for Martyrs

CAIRO (AP) — A video purporting to show the mass beheading of Coptic Christian hostages was released Sunday by militants in Libya affiliated with the Islamic State group. 
The killings raise the possibility that the Islamic militant group — which controls about a third of Syria and Iraq in a self-declared caliphate — has established a direct affiliate less than 500 miles (800 kilometers) from the southern tip of Italy. One of the militants in the video makes direct reference to that possibility, saying the group now plans to "conquer Rome." - Story

Whoever loses his life for my sake, will find it in eternity, says the Lord. - Common for Martyrs

Do not sell your birthright for all the world.  No matter what compromise, what alternative lifestyle is offered you, do not surrender your soul.  Keep the faith.  Put no trust in princes, in riches, in comfort, developed doctrine, or false peace.  Pray.  Pray.  Pray.

Queen of Martyrs!  Pray for us!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Canonization approved for Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified, OCD

“Holy Spirit, inspire me. 
Love of God consume me. 
Along the true road, lead me. 
Mary, my good mother, look down upon me. 
With Jesus, bless me. 
From all evil, 
all illusion, 
all danger, 
preserve me.”

Great news from the Consistory.

Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified Baouardy was born Maria Baouardy in Abellin, a village in Upper Galilee, near Nazareth, in 1846 of Arab parents. She was baptized in the Melchite Greek Catholic Church. From early youth she experienced many sufferings together with extraordinary mystic phenomena. In France, she entered the Carmel of Pau. She was sent to India to found new Carmels, and then to Bethlehem, where she died in 1878. She was beatified by St John Paul II in 1983. - Vatican Radio

Every time I'm tempted to doubt - heaven provides a sign!  This is joyous news.  Bl. Miriam, aka 'the Little Arab' is a wondrous saint - a wonder worker.  Her history is the stuff of medieval hagiography - her life itself was miraculous.  She is a sign from heaven in our times of crisis.

An excerpt from a biography of her life:

Little Mariam Baouardy, now known as Sister Mary of Jesus Crucified, was professed on 21 November 1871 as a Carmelite Religious. Prior to that action she was subjected to severe supernatural adversities. One of the most terrible was diabolic possession for a period of 40 days. She persevered in her simple child-like faith in God the Son and His Holy Mother Mary. Her rewards were those reserved for the most privileged of humans. She was fixed with the stigmata of her crucified Savior, experienced levitations, transverberations of the heart, knowledge of hearts, prophecies, possession by the Good Angel, and facial radiance. Again and again she would say, “Everything passes here on earth. What are we? Nothing but dust, nothingness, and God is so great, so beautiful, so lovable and He is not loved.”
Sister Mariam of Jesus Crucified had an intense devotion to the Holy Spirit, Possessor of the Truth without error or division. Through the Melkite Patriarch Gregory II Sayour, she sent a message to Pope Pius IX that the Church, even in seminaries, is neglecting true devotion to the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete. Her prayer to that great Unknown was: “Holy Spirit, inspire me. Love of God consume me. Along the true road, lead me. Mary, my good mother, look down upon me. With Jesus, bless me. From all evil, all illusion, all danger, preserve me.” This simple prayer has gone around the world. - Finish reading here.

There you go ~n from San Francisco ...

Fr. Z just posted a milestone - so what's the big deal?  Ask him.

I noted a week or so ago that Fr. Z has a lot of hits - because his site meter was clicking a new reader every second - or less.  And someone got mad at me.  I wasn't being at all critical of Fr. Z - simply remarking on how incredibly popular he is and he has no one sponsoring/promoting him.  His blog is a totally independent entity.

Today Father noted a new milestone.  Congratulations.

BTW - the other day I was reading something at his site and once again noted the site meter whirling.  I watched it for a minute or so - guess which were the most popular posts readers were searching/clicking on?  Mostly Ash Wednesday stuff, such as: "Can lay people distribute ashes?"  "Should infants get ashes?"  "Can my cat get ashes?"  I made the last one up.

So anyway - Fr. Z has to be the most influential Catholic priest blogger in the world... He's the go-to priest for rubrics!