Saturday, May 06, 2017

St. Dominic Savio

May 6

Among other things, St. Dominic is patron of the falsely accused.

Once two boys stuffed a school heating stove with snow and rubbish. The boys were known troublemakers and were likely to face expulsion if caught, so they blamed Dominic for the misdeed. Dominic did not deny the accusation and he was scolded before the class. However, a day later the teacher learned the truth. He asked Dominic why he did not defend himself while being scolded for something he did not do. Dominic mentioned he was imitating Jesus who remained silent when unjustly accused. - source

I've done that - kind of.  But it is so nothing 'heroic' on my part, since I have a whole list of other sins I could always be accused of.  I also think defending one self is similar to complaining - it is oftentimes useless - and Christ didn't do that either ...

St Gerard Majella was falsely accused of a sexual sin, and though innocent, he also remained silent - he never even defended himself before St. Alphonsus Liguori, his superior.

St. Margaret of Cortona was a former sinner with a bad reputation who suffered false accusations as well.  Her feast day is coming up soon (May 16, Franciscan calendar).  I can identify with her better.  Her reputation was shot anyway, so why bother with the self defense.  That's what I tell the curious ones.

Body of St. Margaret of Cortona.

Sometimes the Pope inadvertently stiffens the neck of the very, very rigid.

How did I miss this?

The Pope spoke about those who "'use rigidity in order to cover over weakness, sin, personality problems; and they use rigidity' to build themselves up at the expense of others."

It is very true.  The Pope is right.  There are those who do that.  In fact, been there, done that.

Not necessarily intentionally - to expressly live a double life - but I did.  I know others who have done so, or still do so.  People like that know the rules and make sure others know them too, albeit careful to hide, and/or deny their own slip-ups, often doubling down even more rigidly upon themselves - and others - after every fall.  The dishonesty is often not seen because the rigid decorum, or the severe preachiness of their attitude, distracts them from their real sin.  Sometimes their big sins distract these types from their root sins.  It may be an affection for a particular sin, and they try to purge its effects by rigidity - believing it their one and only sin. As the Pope points out, some of these, like Saul, are 'sincere' but rigid.

God doesn't give up on us.

I am sure this was what Pope John Paul the First meant when he spoke about why our Lord sometimes permits mortal sin:
   "I will limit myself to recommending one virtue so dear to the Lord: He said, 'Learn from me who am meek and humble of heart." I risk saying an error, but I am saying it: the Lord loves humility so much that, sometimes, he permits grave sins. Why? So that those who have committed these sins, afterwards, having repented, may remain humble. One is not tempted to believe oneself half–saint or half–angel, when one knows that one has committed grave faults. The Lord so much recommended: be humble." John Paul I

Then there are rigid people living a double life ...

This is hard for me to explain but I know it from experience.  Pope Francis is very candid about it, very frank, because he must have witnessed it over and over in the priests, religious and laity he directed over the years.  He knows.  His homilies are precious for opening our eyes to our own hypocrisy, helping us to see the log in our eye which prevents us from seeing our own sins and faults.  The rigid are convinced of their righteousness and look down on the sins of others - even though they say they love the sinner but hate the sin.

Speaking of Saul from today's first reading, the Holy Father explains:
“They are rigid people living a double life: They make themselves look good, sincere, but when no one sees them, they do ugly things. On the other hand, this young man was honest. He believed that. I think, when I say this, of the many young people in the Church today who have fallen into the temptation of rigidity. Some are sincere, they are good. We have to pray that the Lord might help them to grow along the path of meekness.”
It is so clear that the Holy Father is not condemning anyone - and especially not the sincere, but rather warning them against the trap of rigidity and hypocrisy.

I have known priests and religious and laity who were/are very orthodox - some very rigid indeed.  When they wanted to be, they could be indulgent, even sparing in their judgement - travelling to the ends of the earth, so to speak, to make one convert only to turn them into something worse than themselves.  Some of these types are in, or have been put in jail.  One priest I know killed himself.  Others left religious life, and some just retreated more deeply into some sort of ritual horarium.  I recall one really very strict priest who was arrested at a gay cruising site - he's the type the Holy Father speaks of.

To be sure, everyone who keeps the commandments and loves tradition and lives a devout life is not rigid.  Carthusians and Discalced Carmelite Nuns, though living a very strict life, are not rigid.  They can't be - because they will break.  However, in the end, even if they break, that too is a grace, since they are able to repent, to become meek and humble.

The Pope is not condemning people, but calling us to conversion.  He knows what it is to be rigid and closed ...
“This is the path of the Christian: to go forward along the path marked out by Jesus: the path of preaching, the path of suffering, the path of the Cross, the path of the resurrection. Today, in a special way, let us pray to Saul for those in the Church who are rigid: for the rigid who are sincere, as he was, who have zeal, but are mistaken. And for the rigid who are hypocrites, those who live a double life, those of whom Jesus said, ‘Do what they say, but not what they do.’ Let us pray today for the rigid.” - Source

 In conclusion, if we stand accused, there is something else from Pope John Paul I to give us hope:
[...]No human sin —however serious—can prevail over or limit mercy. After serving for several years as the Bishop of Vittorio Veneto, Albino Luciani held some training exercises for parish priests, and when commenting on the parable of the Prodigal Son once said this about the Father: “He waits. Always. And it is never too late. That’s what he’s like, that’s how he is . . . he’s a father. A father waiting at the doorway, who sees us when we are still far off, who is moved, and who comes running toward us, embraces us, and kisses us tenderly . . . Our sin is like a jewel that we present to him to obtain the consolation of forgiveness . . . Giving a gift of jewels is a noble thing to do, and it is not a defeat but a joyous victory to let God win!””

Friday, May 05, 2017

This is truly beautiful ...

A trip to Gammarelli began with a glimpse 
of this beautiful hand embroidered vestment.

Fr. Z is back in Rome again ...

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Mid-Century Saints

Bl. Solanus is holding the broom.

The 20th Century has given many saints to the Church.

I'm so happy the beatification of Ven. Solanus Casey has been confirmed today:
Ven. Solanus Casey (1870-1957), the Capuchin Franciscan friar who ministered in Detroit
I've known several of his promoters - ordinary people who distributed 3rd class relics and prayer cards to spread devotion to him.  I also knew a couple of holy people deeply devoted to Fr. Solanus.  If I remember correctly, I think Fr. Groeschel witnessed Fr. Solanus in ecstasy once.  Fr. Solanus is from around here, at one point he was a prison guard in Stillwater, MN I think.  I liked him because he seemed to me to be one of the last Friars Minor Capuchin of what I would call the 'strict observance', and of course, because his spirituality was so much like that of the lay brother saints of old.  He was ordained a simplex priest because studies were difficult for him.  He could say Mass but wasn't allowed to preach or hear confessions.  As porter, he welcomed everyone, and touched many who struggled and strayed.  I think his lack of 'intellectuality' helped to keep him untainted by clericalism and allowed him to remain close to the ordinary people who came to him.

He led a deeply mystical life while actively ministering to the faithful who came to the monastery for help and advice.  His devotion to Our Lady was edifying and authentic - it is said he read the Life of the Blessed Virgin as told by Ven. Maria Agreda on his knees.  I may be mistaken, but I think he also recited the Little Office of the BVM along with his regular Office (Liturgy of the Hours).

For some unknown reason to me, the announcement of the beatification(s) today, brings with it the grace of compunction and hope.  It is good to know we are surrounded by this 'cloud of witnesses' and to realize anew that the traditional way of sanctity remains the sure way to heaven.  That our Lord has raised up these witnesses to show us the way and to help us - to rouse us.

One person declared venerable today is an Italian laywoman - Edvige Carboni.  An extraordinary mystic, marked by the stigmata, she was a victim soul who died in Rome in 1952.  Here story is here.  May she pray for us - especially me - to renew my fervor and devotion and faith.  I sometimes make light of victim souls like Ven. Edvige, yet these souls are chosen by Christ and deserve our deepest respect and veneration.  May they pray for us when they pray for the conversion of sinners and those most in need of mercy.  

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

I like this too: The pope stressed that the criteria for selecting novices is that "they be normal"

This informal meeting with Salesian novices is candid, frank and especially endearing ...

The Pope says the candidates to religious life must be normal.  Warning of those who wish to enter seminary because they feel that they are unable to handle themselves in the real world.

The Holy Father's suggestions for discernment of candidates ...
“I think that the criteria is that… they be normal. Beware of those youths with the face of a ‘little saint,’ to those I don’t even ask to recite the Our Father!”  They should be “joyous, athletic and normal,” the pope added. 
“During the journey there are a lot of surprises from God and even not from God. We should be careful in trying to help them look these surprises in the face. If there are difficulties, look them straight in the face,” Pope Francis said. “And we must help them to remove any form of hypocrisy. That is a plague: hypocrisy within the Church.” 
The pope did not only address the corruption within the Church, but also warned of the “hypocrisy of mediocrity, of those who wish to enter seminary because they feel that they are unable to handle themselves in the real world. 
“If you find one who is too diplomatic, beware. If you find one who lies, invite him to go back home,” the pope said.
“The religious must be hot-blooded!”
The pope went on to say that this is not a time for words but for witnesses, and recalled the example of St. John Bosco, the founder of the Salesians, who approached young people on the streets and called them to Mass. - Crux

Works for me.

Sometimes the Holy Father says things so honestly, some people can be offended.  But I know what he means, I know what he is talking about here.  "Hypocrisy of mediocrity" - unable to handle themselves in the real world can also be related to the defect of being unwilling or unable to take responsibility.  Being too diplomatic can be equated with being manipulative ...  and that leads to lying.  ("He who praises you deceives you.")  Pretending to fit in, an inordinate desire for approval, craving affirmation and praise, and so on.  That is hypocritical.  External piety, rigid adherence to religious decorum to either fit in or avoid duty ... it too can be a form of lying.  Lying can become a habit, pretending to be what you think you want to be, or should be - when you are not - is an act.  As an actor in a play - one is playing a role - it's a lie.

These things need to be purged through mortification and penance, with the help of the sacraments and prayer and spiritual direction - but I don't think religious life is the place to do that.  Frequently the determination of youth blinds one to these defects.  We need solid discernment from good directors to recognize these inclinations, as well as to promote an integrated spiritual life, purified of pious delusions.  Or, as St. John of the Cross would say, the dark night, and/or purgatory will purify us these faults.  If they result in serious sin, one needs to go to confession.

"If a good man reproves me, it is kindness."

I love the pope and these little corrections he offers.

It is a great grace to be sent away from religious life, or the seminary.  It is so much better than leaving after ordination 'When your secret's all found out'.

Yeah.  Not a good fit.

See, that's what I think too ...

Fr. Scalia said he doesn't like the term 'conservative'.

I don’t like the term conservative. That’s a political category. I guess you could say traditional, but then every Catholic is traditional, or ought to be, because we have to be rooted in the tradition of the Church. So I don’t like those categories, because it sounds like tradition is an option. It feeds into stereotypes. The fact of the matter is that if you’re adhering to the Church’s teachings, there’s always going to be someone who thinks you are too traditional or not traditional enough. - Fr. Scalia

I like Fr. Scalia. 

Tuesday, May 02, 2017


I like what the Holy Father said today on what causes suffering in the Church today.

“'This causes suffering in the Church. The closed hearts, the hearts of stone, the hearts which do not want to be open, do not want to hear, the hearts which only know the language of condemnation. They know how to condemn, they do not know how to say ‘Explain it to me, why do you say this? Why this? Explain it to me.’ No, they are closed. That’s all they know. They have no need of explanations,' said Pope Francis." - Source

Matt Talbot's Birthday

+2 May 1856 – 7 June 1925+

Lord, in your servant, Matt Talbot you 
have given us a wonderful example of 
triumph over addiction, of devotion to 
duty, and of lifelong reverence for the 
Holy Sacrament. May his life of 
prayer and penance give us courage 
to take up our crosses and follow in the 
footsteps of Our Lord and Saviour, 
Jesus Christ. 

Father, if it be your will that your 
beloved servant should be glorified by 
your Church, make known by your 
heavenly favours the power he enjoys in 
your sight. We ask this through the 
same Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Your Sunday Sermon Notes ...

Facing the people ... Communion in the hand too.  What?

The first Novus Ordo Mass ...

Yesterday's Gospel told the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus.  I think it was the first time I heard it presented as a direct analogy to the Mass as we celebrate it today.  Of course I've heard homilies similar to that, especially emphasizing that it was in the Eucharist that the disciples recognized Christ present -  in the breaking of the bread.  Yet the emphasis on the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist was never brought out so well in my hearing as it was this past weekend.  I also came across the notion in a couple of meditations I read elsewhere online and in Magnificat.

Very simply, Christ opens the disciple's minds to the Scriptures, and they recognize him in the breaking of the bread.  The first Novus Ordo Sunday Mass.  How cool is that?  (No one used the term Novus Ordo - I added that.)

The Patronage of St. Joseph

MOST POWERFUL Patriarch St. Joseph, 
Patron of the Universal Church, 
which has always invoked thee in anxiety and trouble, 
from the exalted seat of thy glory 
cast a loving glance upon the whole Catholic world. 
Let thy fatherly heart be touched at the sight of the 
Mystical Spouse and the Vicar of Christ 
overwhelmed with sorrow and persecuted by powerful enemies. 
Oh, by the bitter anguish thou didst experience upon earth, 
dry the tears of the venerable Pontiff, 
defend him, comfort him, 
intercede for him with the Giver of peace and charity, 
that, all adversity being removed and all error dissipated, 
the entire Church may serve God in perfect liberty. Amen. 

Well, today is another day ...


Sunday, April 30, 2017

When saints stop by ...

Blessed Rolando Rivi
"I belong to Jesus."
7 January 1931 – 13 April 1945
To learn more, go here.

Did you ever hear people say, "We don't choose saints, they choose us"?

They are usually talking about choosing a special patron, finding ourselves extraordinarily attracted to a particular saint, or even given a name in religion or at baptism-confirmation.  It is God who gives them to us, or sends them to us.  Or sometimes, in their mission to do good on earth after their death, they simply grasp us because they see a weakness which could sidetrack us?  Little Therese did that with me - as did St. Francis.  As I got older, others came along, Benedict Joseph Labre and so on.  I didn't quite understand all of this back then - I thought I chose them.

But now this kid, Bl. Rolando Rivi has come back.  It almost makes an old man cry.  This little seminarian, martyred in WWII by Italian Communists for the faith.  They made fun of him for wearing the cassock and saturno.  They beat him and killed him to prevent another priest being ordained, and displayed his cassock on the door of a barn, to mock him.

Not too long ago a priest asked me to paint Bl. Rolando for him.  I did.  Blessed Rolando went away, and as with all of my work, the painting - or he - left me to go on a mission.  I can't hold onto them.  Perhaps Bl. Rolando hasn't been noticed by more people yet?  Perhaps his message hasn't been conveyed sufficiently?  Which might explain why another priest asked a second time, if I would paint him?  I thought to myself, I don't take commissions, but it looks as if Rolando wants me to do it.  How do I know that?  My heart was burning within me ... that kind of thing.  God in his mercy has given me a new project, and a saint who seems to really like me.

It amazes me.  This kid really likes me.

Blessed Rolando, pray for us.

Siena is a city in Italy ... Sienna is a pigment - it's also a minivan.

St. Catherine of SIENA

St. Catherine Benincassa is a canonized laywoman from S-I-E-N-A, Italy.

Bonus - something she said:

Even if [the Pope an incarnate devil], we ought not to raise up our heads against him, but calmly lie down to rest on his bosom... He who rebels against our Father is condemned to death, for that which we do to him we do to Christ: we honor Christ if we honor the Pope; we dishonor Christ if we dishonor the Pope. - St. Catherine of Siena

Oh - and the Sienese School of painting flourished in Siena, Italy.

That's all.