Saturday, November 25, 2017

Something big ...

Never ever experienced that after Communion.

That 'existential dread' ...

Churches ought to provide free services.

Malta donation box:
"Help me become a priest."

No wonder so many priests don't like the Pope.

The other day commenting on the money changers in the Temple, the Holy Father said:
Churches "cannot be run as a business, with a price list for sacraments. Money is needed for the buildings? Give gratuitousness and God will do the rest” - Read the rest here.
Alas, so many are operating like businesses.

I've seen 'price lists'. I've seen recommended dollar amounts for 'stole fees' and other services as well.  Catholics have always made offering and made the recommended stipend for Mass or the sacraments, but it was always a free-will offering.  Of course things are slightly different these days, when even 'spiritual direction' has turned into a counselling business.  For laity who put out a shingle, that's pretty much to be expected, but I'm not sure it's a priestly thing to expect payment.  A gratuitous donation is certainly appreciated, but ...

Online I've seen priests with their donate apps, increasing their suggested monthly donation rate, one guy recently upped his from $5- to $10-.  Lately I've been barraged with professional marketing gimmicks, filling up my mail box with expensive mailings from Catholic Basilica's, religious orders, and other charities.  They send booklets, assorted gifts of note papers and personalized address labels, as well as rosaries and medals - all slickly packaged with pleas for donations. Some even follow up with a 'how did you like your gift?' letter, asking for a minimal donation to cover the expense of mailing the calendar and note pads, etc.. It was unsolicited in the first place - someone probably sold my name to them or their agency doing the marketing for them. 

This is the work of Catholic marketing groups - working 'for the Church' using secular marketing strategies - paid for by the charity or institution - with the promise of prayers for your donation. Strangely enough - in some cases, the donation may just cover expenses. They send out junk, unwanted kitsch. It's money changers business - figuratively in the 'temple precincts'. I see online marketers advertising to improve church fundraising with these nuisance strategies which guilt and manipulate people into giving.  

I prefer the Pope's vision for the Church. A poor Church supported by the devout and grateful who give out of love, devotion and thanksgiving.  Church support will be there - going commercial is not the way to get it.

Friday, November 24, 2017

How lovely ... to dwell abject upon the threshold of the House of God ...

A place of encounter with God 
This littleness has a special place in the Franciscan’s relationship with God, which must be humble and confident, like that of a child; but also aware of one’s sinfulness like the publican in the Gospel. One particular aspect of this relationship is the “spirituality of restitution” to God. We must recognize that every good we receive comes from God, the supreme Good, and that all good things must be restored to Him; and “we do this through praise and we do this when we live according to the evangelical logic of the gift, that leads us to go out of ourselves to encounter others and welcome them into our lives.” - Pope Francis

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Eating at the pet's table ...

It's a good thing.

Happy Thanksgiving!

A friend told me she was asked to bring the sweet potatoes tomorrow and I suggested she just bring a bag of fresh ones - uncooked.  Wouldn't that be funny?  Something fun to talk about at the table.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple

I look to the Orthodox to help us understand this sacred feast of the Blessed Virgin.

According to Holy Tradition, the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple took place in the following manner. The parents of the Virgin Mary, Saints Joachim and Anna, praying for an end to their childlessness, vowed that if a child were born to them, they would dedicate it to the service of God.
When the Most Holy Virgin reached the age of three, the holy parents decided to fulfill their vow. They gathered together their relatives and acquaintances, and dressed the All-Pure Virgin in Her finest clothes. Singing sacred songs and with lighted candles in their hands, virgins escorted Her to the Temple (Ps. 44/45:14-15). There the High Priest and several priests met the handmaiden of God. In the Temple, fifteen high steps led to the sanctuary, which only the priests and High Priest could enter. (Because they recited a Psalm on each step, Psalms 119/120-133/134 are called “Psalms of Ascent.”) The child Mary, so it seemed, could not make it up this stairway. But just as they placed Her on the first step, strengthened by the power of God, She quickly went up the remaining steps and ascended to the highest one. Then the High Priest, through inspiration from above, led the Most Holy Virgin into the Holy of Holies, where only the High Priest entered once a year to offer a purifying sacrifice of blood. Therefore, all those present in the Temple were astonished at this most unusual occurrence.
After entrusting their child to the Heavenly Father, Joachim and Anna returned home. The All-Holy Virgin remained in the quarters for virgins near the Temple. According to the testimony of Holy Scripture (Exodus 38; 1 Kings 1: 28; Luke 2: 37), and also the historian Josephus Flavius, there were many living quarters around the Temple, in which those who were dedicated to the service of God dwelt.
The earthly life of the Most Holy Theotokos from Her infancy until She was taken up to Heaven is shrouded in deep mystery. Her life at the Jerusalem Temple was also a secret. “If anyone were to ask me,” said Saint Jerome, “how the Most Holy Virgin spent the time of Her youth, I would answer that that is known to God Himself and the Archangel Gabriel, Her constant guardian.” - Finish reading here.
Troparion — Tone 4
Today is the prelude of the good will of God, / of the preaching of the salvation of mankind. / The Virgin appears in the temple of God, / in anticipation proclaiming Christ to all. / Let us rejoice / and sing to her: / "Rejoice, O Fulfillment of the Creator's dispensation."
Kontakion — Tone 4
The most pure Temple of the Savior; / the precious Chamber and Virgin; / the sacred Treasure of the glory of God, / is presented today to the house of the Lord. / She brings with her the grace of the Spirit, / therefore, the angels of God praise her: / “Truly this woman is the abode of heaven.”

"Women only have the rights men allow them to have."

A former Dominican priest who had a blog used to say, "Women only have the rights men allow them to have." I think that is changing big time today. The sexual abuse claims made by women against men, who happen to be falling like dominoes, from very high places BTW - is a huge sea change. This may turn out to be a major cultural change if heads keep falling.

Looks like the ERA will finally get ratified.

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Durrells in Corfu


I watched the last episode of Season II last night - I'll watch it again midweek.  I love the story - it's very funny at times.  There were scenes and situations which made me wonder if John Fowles might have been influenced by the Trilogy written by Gerald Durrell.  At any rate, I was reminded of the Fowles masterpiece, The Magus.

One scene of a fool, a sort of fawn, playing a flute while trapping songbirds in the woods was particularly enchanting to watch.  The meaning is to be found in the Tarot of course, the card of the Fool.  Yet it also brought to mind the Orthodox Fool for Christ.  All very Greek and mythological and sacred.  The meaning of the scene is deciphered in and through the Tarot card - but it is all about freedom - something essential in the story of The Magus, as well.  Yet it is even more evident in the Holy Fool - that freedom of spirit which comes from the Holy Spirit.  Too much to discuss here, but I found the scene enchanting.

I believe in 'foolishness' - freedom of spirit.  It is often experienced in the sacrament of penance - when many attachments and constraints caused by sin are released, and negative thoughts are dispersed.

Anyway ... I like the innocence and simplicity of the fool.  To be free of every encumbrance of sin which clings to me - that's the journey.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Armed and dangerous...

Priests and guns.*

'She could never be a saint, but she thought she could be a martyr if they killed her quick.' - Flannery O'Connor

Some seem to think that being armed 'practically assures that they are never going to be the victims of a mass shooting that takes place at church'.

Martyrdom was once considered the highest form of witness and confession.  Indeed, monks and nuns went out to the desert to embrace the solitary ascetic life because the persecution of Christians stopped.  I have known enclosed contemplatives who longed for martyrdom, in a sense, it is the Carmelite's deepest desire - to prove her love for her crucified spouse.

At times I've wondered, what if a Christian has a gun, and what if he or she was called to martyrdom - but instead he used the gun against an assailant and killed him?  He not only missed the opportunity to die a martyr, but he killed another person.  He killed another, rather than lay down his life?

Just a thought.

Some trust in chariots or horses,
but we in the name of the Lord. - Ps. 21

What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? - Matthew 16: 26

Ryan Erickson
Armed and more dangerous.

*Image credit: Gravyboats