Friday, December 18, 2015

The Ghosts of Christmas.

My old friend.

I see dead people.

In the upper Midwest if you don't have snow it just doesn't feel like Christmas - in Minneapolis we've had very little snow, and that can be depressing for some.  This morning there were flurries, so a little spark of joy was felt in my Scrooge'd-up heart.  I'm not really a Scrooge, am I?  Who wants to be a Scrooge - unless you can get to see ghosts ...

The other day, I discovered a quaint little shop in the neighborhood and asked them if they'd be neighborly and accept some of my piled up artwork to sell in the shop.  I mentioned I wasn't interested in making a profit - I just didn't want my work to rot away ...

The owner was delighted, asked if I could bring in the paintings right away, and so I returned home, packed up a couple dozen items and returned.  I presented them, and she was thrilled with the work.  As I was leaving, she immediately began to set out the little gems all around her shop.  I walked by late that night and spotted a few pieces hanging on the wall, "They mixed well, I thought ..."

The next day I came to photo some of the work I had not yet catalogued.  I looked at the pieces and noted the pricing was barely a third of what I have sold items for in the past - even privately, that is outside gallery representation and retail markup.  As I looked more closely at my 'collection' with daylights fresh eyes, it seemed to be broken up - the individual pieces disappeared and no longer related to the 'continuum' I imagined they had, or what I felt made them a collection.  I suddenly felt ... anxiety.


I discussed my situation with a friend, only to be scolded.  "You're always like this.  You are too precipitous.  You jump into things without thinking them through."  The worst was, "This is why you are not a successful artist."  I begged him not to torture me with what I already knew.  I already knew that I sell myself short ... always have ... and I live in a dream world of rabbits and hermits and sprites and lights and in that world every little brush stroke means something.  Every little highlight becomes a golden thread in the strange tapestry which cloaks a naked, ignorant, little homeless kid - a ghost of Christmas past.

Interestingly, my critical friend told me I was seeing what my 'stuff'  (I know! 'stuff' - he's seen Devil Wears Prada - he should know better!) will be worth after I'm dead.  It will end up in an antique shop or junk shop, at bargain prices, to be sold just for the frames or to recycle a used canvas.  He said he was simply being the ghost of Christmas future, and telling me the truth.  I was afraid of that - which may help explain why I'm this eccentric guy painting crazy stuff for imaginary galleries and museums to exhibit after I'm dead.

The shop owner is so nice and so kind - she's the one doing me a favor.**

I guess I have to let go of my ego, my possessiveness, and go out and buy a Christmas goose for the Cratchit's before Timmy dies.


What do you want on your tombstone?

Song for this post here.

**(And at the end of the day - today - the prices ended up to be just right!  It's a Christmas miracle!)

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Little Altar Boy

Altar boy begging statue in Merchants Street
in Valletta, Malta*

The song.

I always thought of it as a drunk's song.  It's a sinner's prayer actually.  A guy asking a little altar boy to pray for him.  Recognizing his sinfulness, feeling like a failure, he sees the innocence and devotion of a young kid - he recalls how he himself was once so pure, so innocent, so sincere, so devout ...

Little altar boy, I wonder could you pray for me?
Little altar boy, for I have gone astray
What must I do to be holy like you?
Little altar boy, oh, let me hear you pray

Little altar boy, I wonder could you ask our Lord
Ask him, altar boy, to take my sins away
What must I do to be holy like you?
Little altar boy, oh, let me hear you pray

Lift up your voice and send a pray above
Help me rejoice and fill that prayer with love
Now I know my life has been all wrong
Lift up your your voice and help a sinner be strong

Little altar boy, I wonder could you pray for me?
Could you tell our Lord I'm going to change my ways today?
What must I do to be holy like you?
Little altar boy, oh, let me hear you pray
Little altar boy please let me hear you pray!

Patron of altar boys.

*The story of Merchants Street abbati starts around 60 years ago with a society called Pro Sacerdotibus Christi, which had an office in this same house, and was tasked with praying for more young men to join the priestly vocation, as well as the more practical work of raising funds to aid poorer seminarians financially in their journey to the priesthood. The society purchased three identical statues from Spain, and in fact, on a recent visit to Spain, my uncle happened upon a long lost sibling of his own abbati in a quiet chapel somewhere in Western Spain.

The Pro Sacerdotibus Christi society is long gone now, however, coin donations still trickle through from the arms of the abbati, and the money still goes to the same purpose. - Source

Pray for little altar boys that they can
become holy priests.

Really old song for this post here.

"The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to My mercy." - Source

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


"The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to My mercy." - Source

Surprised by Mercy ... What does true repentance consist of? Got perfect contrition?

"Some say that I am too good. But if you come and kneel before me, 
isn't this a sufficient proof that you want to have God's pardon?
 God's mercy is beyond all expectation."

One priest online had this to say: 
It is not simply feeling bad or guilty or ashamed or afraid we’ll get caught. The church calls this “imperfect contrition”
It’s okay, but it’s not good enough “Perfect contrition” is the realization that we have not reached God’s glory for us. It is the deep understanding that we have failed God and his love and that we have “done what we ought not to have done and left undone those things we ought to have done and there is no health in us.”
Once we truly repent we can truly receive mercy. - Fr. L
Imperfect contrition not good enough?

Yes it is.  To be fair, I don't think Fr. L was saying it wasn't - it just read like that to me.  When a person is struggling with habitual sin and making frequent confessions, the fear of only having imperfect contrition can discourage one from seeking reconciliation and continuing to struggle, with the help of sacramental grace, to overcome a particular sin.

Imperfect contrition, or attrition is certainly 'enough' to receive mercy, the forgiveness of sins.  To gain a plenary indulgence, one must be free of any attachment to venial and mortal sin, and truly repentant. Therefore, it is necessary to make Sacramental Confession.  Imperfect contrition is enough to receive absolution and the complete forgiveness of sin in confession.  That is what happens in the Sacrament of Penance, reconciliation, confession - the priest in persona Christi absolves the penitent from sin.  The confessional is the 'tribunal of mercy'.

Go and understand the meaning of mercy.

I think a lot of things will be said during the Jubilee Year of Mercy which could have the potential of keeping some souls from even trying to be reconciled or making an effort to receive the Jubilee Indulgence.  In trying to understand 'the meaning of mercy' one can get tangled up in the theological strings attached to it - the formal, technical conditions and dispositions attached by the Apostolic Penitentiary to obtain the gift of Indulgences for the Jubilee.  Ordinary people can be easily discouraged because they do not understand Catholic teaching.

To gain the Jubilee Indulgence, one must be free of any attachment to venial and mortal sin, and truly repentant. I tell people to not let that deter them because imperfect contrition can be perfected in and through the sacrament of penance.  Likewise, one may have the 'will' to be free of attachment.  It is better not to get too scrupulous over it. We need to trust in what the Church teaches and especially place all of our trust in the Divine Mercy remembering God's mercy is inscrutable.  In other words - do not let anything stop you from running to the Divine Mercy with confidence and love. The Holy Year has been proclaimed to attract the greatest sinners, and even the not so great - the lukewarm, the fallen away, the sanctimonious, the cino, the poor, the rich. Trust is the key. One does not have to be perfect - far from it.  Don't wait to 'feel' perfect contrition - just go to confession.  As alcoholics like to say - let go and let God.

Don't waste your time on my pious musings, rather check the Catechism.  These matters are explained there for the ordinary person.  Even if you approach the confessional with imperfect contrition - the Lord, in his mercy, imparts the forgiveness of sins, and he himself imparts perfect contrition.  Our actions may never be enough to satisfy - because we have no merits of our own to plead our cause - but the merits of Jesus Christ are infinitely efficacious and supply for all that we lack.

The Catechism on Contrition
1451 Among the penitent's acts contrition occupies first place. Contrition is "sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again."50
1452 When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called "perfect" (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible.51
1453 The contrition called "imperfect" (or "attrition") is also a gift of God, a prompting of the Holy Spirit. It is born of the consideration of sin's ugliness or the fear of eternal damnation and the other penalties threatening the sinner (contrition of fear). Such a stirring of conscience can initiate an interior process which, under the prompting of grace, will be brought to completion by sacramental absolution. By itself however, imperfect contrition cannot obtain the forgiveness of grave sins, but it disposes one to obtain forgiveness in the sacrament of Penance.52

"The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to My mercy." - Source

The Solemn Novena for Christmas begins today.

The most appropriate prayer for the novena is the prayer of the Church - the liturgical prayer of the Church: Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours. Today the entire Church unites in prayerful preparation for the Nativity of Our Lord.
... Let the clouds rain down the Just One, and the earth bring forth a Savior.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Ward, I'm worried about the Vortex.

I didn't know Michael Voris said something bad about Pope Benedict.

I guess he suggested Benedict called in sick and stayed home from the papacy.  He suggested it was a sham and that it might even be sinful.  Someone mentioned it in a post about someone mentioning it in their post.  Is that gossip?

Dante did that.  He put Celestine in hell because he too resigned his office, as Fr. Z noted:  Dante calls him “the shade of him who in his cowardice made the great refusal”.   Just think.  Voris is a Renaissance man.  He may be the new Dante.  Or the new Michelangelo.  Michelangelo is said to have painted some well known prelates among the damned in the Sistine Chapel Last Judgement.  Voris is going after Dolan again - in a big way.  I'm betting he won't get press credentials for any NY Archdiocesan function again.

The Vortex may be losing credibility, in addition to creating and feeding controversy.

A former employee for Church Militant explains why it was all too much to contend with in his premiere blog post, Why I Left CM.  Acts of the Apostasy introduced the new blog by the former CM employee.  It is a good read, and a great reminder to be careful of such vigilante fringe-news sources who flame those in the hierarchy and politicians with sensational news stories, highlighting their shortcomings and failures, accusing them of crimes and misconduct, cover up and conspiracies.

It happened in the Renaissance and throughout the history of the Church, and was noted by many famous and infamous personages ... who took their chances with their own salvation.  Detraction ... calumny ... sarcasm ... defamation of character ... vengeance in retaliation for censure and insult - that kind of stuff.

L’Étranger ...

Just by chance ...

I found out last night, that my uncle, my dad's brother, my godfather, died earlier this year  ...

He was very kind to me.

May the souls

... of the faithful departed

through the mercy

... of God

rest in peace.


Monday, December 14, 2015

This is nuts: Jesse Hughes of the Eagles of Death Metal is a Reverend.

An Anglican Catholic Franciscan priest?

I say it's nuts because it just seems so New Age dysfunctional ... or something almost anti-Christ ...  I'm not being sarcastic either.  It's so like having the form of religion without any substance.

Hughes describes himself as being “unabashedly devout in his Christianity.” His mother was a Catholic who took him away from his abusive “Rock-and-Roll” father. Hughes believes that his father's disobedience to God, “abandonment of faith” and “disobedience to God” did not serve him well at all. This became what Hughes describes as a “model for the left” for him. He explains “the left” as “anyone who doesn't love Ronald Reagan and doesn't accept (without a doubt) the 2nd Amendment.” And, to anyone who does not agree, he threatens actual physical violence.
In the year 2012, Hughes was ordained as a reverend by the Order of Saint Francis. From his living room in Atwater Village, Hughes bashes Obama and praises Ronald Reagan, as he sermonizes on his Internet radio show, all while surrounded by sex, drinks, Elvis, Satan, and of course, the Bible. Hughes refers to these as his “tokens of warring, driving influences.” Hughes is passionate in his dedication to religion, rock and roll, and personal freedoms. He supports gun ownership in America and feels that the solution for America's problems and issues is that everyone needs to go back to church, like NOW. Hughes had plans to pursue political goals before his music career took of late in his life. - Source

In the last days ...

Once again - Fr. Z at his best: Advice to a sinner tempted to give up ...

The penitent St. Jerome.

Don’t give up hope. Don’t strive for mediocrity. Striving for mediocrity is a subtle way of telling God that you don’t believe in His gifts of grace or in his plan for you. Whatever your past may have been, you were created for holiness. You were made by God to become a saint. Don’t let the naysayers get you down. Strive for the holiness to which you were called at the moment of your baptism. It takes effort. It’s not easy. - Read the whole thing here.
It is perhaps cliche, but 'a saint is a sinner who keeps trying'.  A holy Carmelite told me that years ago.

We do not have to worry about merit or accomplishments to attract the merciful love of God. This is what St. Therese teaches and demonstrates in her little way of confidence and love. It is our misery which attracts the divine mercy. It is our sins and our faults which so attracts God that he sent his only Son to be crucified for our sins. Therefore, who cannot trust in merciful love when one is vulnerable enough, humble enough, to be embraced by it? The mystery is so deep, so wide, I can't express it.  It seems to me the person who wrote to Fr. Z must be very pleasing to the Sacred Heart - to be so aware of his imperfections, and yet thirsting for holiness ...

“Do not be afraid of holiness, of letting yourself be loved and purified by God. … Let us allow God's holiness be transmitted to us. Every Christian is called to holiness; and holiness does not consist, first and foremost, in doing extraordinary things, but rather in letting God act. It is the encounter between our weakness and the strength of His grace”. - Pope Francis

For the Feast of St. John of the Cross

 O Lord, my God, who will seek you with simple and pure love, 
and not find that you are all one can desire, 
for you show yourself first 
and go out to meet those who seek you? 
- Sayings of Light and Love

Sunday, December 13, 2015

If you really listen to Pope Francis when he speaks of Mercy ... he sounds very much like St. Therese ...

Merciful love - as we hope in Him so shall we receive.

I won't take the time to compare notes - instead I'll post a few quotes from Little Therese and those who knew her ...

'We can never have too much confidence in the Good God, He is so mighty, so merciful. 
As we hope in Him so shall we receive.' - St. Therese

Confidence and love.
 "It is to recognize our nothingness, to expect everything from God as a little child expects everything from its father; it is to be disquieted about nothing, and not to be set on gaming our living. ... To be little is not attributing to oneself the virtues that one practices. ... It is not to become discouraged over one's faults, for children stumble and fall often, but they are too little to hurt themselves very much."  - St. Therese

 St. Therese of Lisieux "expected as much from God's justice as she did from his mercy.  'How nice it is to think that God is just!' she said.  'It means he takes our weakness into account and knows full well how frail we are by nature.'  She also said that she would prefer to live without consolation, because in that way she could give God greater proof of her trust in him." - Mother Agnes of Jesus

"Even if I had committed all possible crimes, I would still have the same confidence; I would feel that this multitude of offenses would be like a drop of water thrown into the flaming furnace of God's love." - St. Therese 
Jesus repairs - makes reparation for us.  As Therese wrote in her Morning Offering:  "And I wish to make reparation for my sins by casting them into the furnace of his merciful love."

"A notion which is not widespread and which, nevertheless, is very important is that Jesus, when we ask him with confidence, repairs not only the evil we have done in ourselves, but also the evil we have done around us.
Indeed, he has made all things right in me, but what about the evil I have done to others?  The bad example I have set, the scandal I have given, the good I would have been able to do and did not do, the injustice I committed?  I am set aright myself, but what about the others?
Say then, 'Jesus, from this evil also which I have wrought around me, draw forth good.  Even, I dare to ask you, draw a greater good from it than if I had not done the evil... Jesus, make reparation in me and around me.'" - I Believe In Love, Pere Jean du Coeur de Jesus D'Elbee

 Jesus, repair what I have done badly.

Guadete ...
The perfect joy of the saints ...
It's a wonderful life!

"Therese believed that God frequently allows us to experience in ourselves the same weaknesses which we deplore in others,,,  [Thus] when we see ourselves fallen into those faults we are then more prompt to excuse them in others." - My Sister St. Therese, Sister Genevieve of the Holy Face

"'Sometimes it happens,' she went on, 'that despite their best efforts, some souls remain imperfect because it would be to their spiritual detriment to believe they are virtuous or to have others agree that they are.'" - Ibid 

“A true legacy of the Second Vatican Council is being fulfilled in the person and pontificate of Pope Francis.” And that, my friendly traditionalist Catholics, is your problem.

The rejection of the Novus Ordo and Vatican II.

Several recent articles from legitimate Catholic news sites, as well as a few of the fringe sites really reminded me of that fact.  It has been going on since Vatican II - the Remnant, descendant from the Wanderer offers documentation in that regard.  The subtle rejection of Vatican II is the thread running through the 'faithful' Catholic traditionalists.  The rejection of the Novus Ordo is what underlies the current rejection of Pope Francis and the bishops in communion with him.

It has been said progressives have rejected the hermeneutic of continuity, yet it is the traditionalist who promote the hermeneutic of rupture in their outright rejection of Vatican II, including the liturgical reforms, or the Novus Ordo, and most significantly, the documents which include Nostra aetate.  I won't spend time discussing this - others more knowledgeable can do that - but ordinary Catholics should be aware of what is going on with these people.  It has been like this since Paul VI.

A comment from Father Paulo Anto Pulikkan to Catholic News Agency reminded me of that:
“A true legacy of the Second Vatican Council is being fulfilled in the person and pontificate of Pope Francis."
As someone who routinely calls for justice and care for those who are poor and marginalized, the Pope and his plea for “a poor Church for the poor” is a concrete fulfillment of what the bishops of the Second Vatican Council asked for, Fr. Pulikkan said.
The underprivileged “was the theme of the council, but this has been recently very clearly stressed by Francis.” 
Fr. Pulikkan, director of the Chair for Christian studies at the University of Calicut in the Indian state of Kerala, was one of the speakers at a Dec. 9-11 conference in Rome on the protagonists of the Second Vatican Council as seen through the archives.
The conference was organized by the Pontifical Committee for Historic Sciences as well as the Pontifical Lateran University's Center for Research and Studies on the Second Vatican Council.
The council, he told CNA, “is the council for the poor,” which can be particularly seen in the pastoral constitution “Gaudium et Spes,” dedicated to the Church in the Modern World.
In the initial draft, “the concern for the poor was neglected,” he said noting that the same held true for the council's fourth session in 1965.
Despite the fact that the session took place right after the 1964 Eucharistic Congress in Bombay, which focused heavily on solidarity with the poor and was attended by many of the councils protagonists, concern for the poor was “totally neglected.” - CNA

How the Pope is following in the footsteps of his predecessors.

I'm not defending the Pope, as I said last week, he doesn't need me to do that.  Nevertheless, the papacy is one of the reason I stay Catholic.  The main reason I'm Catholic is my faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the sacraments, and the Blessed Virgin Mary, then Pope and the Magisterium.  It's not the particular pope, but the guarantee of the Petrine office.

That said, an article at NCRegister helps demonstrate - for me at least - how the Holy Father is faithfully following in the footsteps of his predecessors.
Safeguarding the environment has been mentioned to some degree in all recent social encyclicals, but successive popes have increasingly waded into the scientific minutiae of the effects of human activity on ecosystems.
1. The environment first took on a more prominent role when Blessed Paul VI warned in his 1971 apostolic letter Octogesima Adveniens of the “tragic consequence” of unchecked human activity and an “ill-considered exploitation of nature.” He later predicted an “ecological catastrophe” caused by the explosive growth of industrial civilization and stressed the urgent need for “a radical change in the conduct of humanity.”
2. Pope St. John Paul was the first pope to call for an ecological conversion and introduced the theme of human ecology. In his first encyclical,Redemptor Hominis, he warned that human beings frequently seem “to see no other meaning in their natural environment than what serves for immediate use and consumption.” He would then go on to address the issue in additional detail in his 1990 World Day of Peace Message, “Peace With God the Creator, Peace With All of Creation.”
3. Benedict XVI expanded further on ecology, introducing an ecology of peace and social ecology. “The book of nature is one and indivisible,” he wrote in his 2009 social encyclical Caritas in Veritate, adding that it encompasses the environment, life, sexuality, the family and social relations. “The deterioration of nature is closely connected to the culture which shapes human coexistence,” he said.
But most significantly, Benedict was the first pope to refer to climate change, mentioning it on seven occasions during his pontificate, the first time in2007. He also became the first pope to wade into the particulars of safeguarding the environment, trumpeting the “immense potential” of solar energy (installing it at the Vatican and signing a U.N. protocol), preserving water systems, “whose stability could be seriously jeopardized by climate change,” and implementing “appropriate policies for the management of forests.” - Pentin, NCRegister
Pentin loses me when he quotes Sirico of the Acton Institute. Yet this part of the article supports my notion, and therefore works for me.

I might be wrong of course.

Ed. note:  I already know what those who disagree with me want to say.  It goes something like this:
Thank you for revealing your dispositions. It's clear you have no clue what's happening in the Church, and that your arguments (such as they are) are ultramontanist papalotry.  I'm sure Pope Francis appreciates your blind (and dumb) loyalty.
 We love you family.