Saturday, January 20, 2018

To be convinced of one's weakness and inability ...

It just seems so impossible to attain - or better, to remain there.

Maybe that is wrong too?

To allow all self love to be consumed?  To allow? 

To reach this point - or discover oneself there? 

"Poor souls who are so scorned by others despise themselves just as much as the others do.  All they do, all they suffer seems as trifling and despicable to them as it does to others.  There is nothing impressive about them.  Everything is very ordinary.  They are spiritually and mentally troubled, and their everyday lives are full of disappointments.  They are often unwell and need many attentions and comforts, the very opposite of the austere poverty so much admired in the saints.  In them we can see no burning zeal, no achievement of great enterprises, no overwhelming charity and no heroic austerity.  Though united by faith and love to God, they find nothing but confusion in themselves...

The soul in the state of abandonment can abstain from justifying itself by word or deed. The divine action justifies it.
This order of the divine will is the solid and firm rock on which the submissive soul reposes, sheltered from change and tempest. It is continually present under the veil of crosses; and of the most ordinary actions. Behind this veil the hand of God is hidden to sustain and to support those who abandon themselves entirely to Him.
From the time that a soul becomes firmly established in abandonment, it will be protected from the opposition of talkers, for it need not ever say or do anything in self-defense. Since the work is of God, justification must never be sought elsewhere. Its effects and its consequences are justification enough. There is nothing but to let it develop "Dies diei eructat verbum"; "Day to day uttereth speech" (Ps xviii. 3). When one is no longer guided by reflection, words must no longer be used in self-defense. Our words can only express our thoughts; where no ideas are supposed to exist, words cannot be used. Of what use would they be? To give a satisfactory explanation of our conduct? But we cannot explain that of which we know nothing for it is hidden in the principle of our actions, and we have experienced nothing but an impression, and that in an ineffable manner. We must, therefore, let the results justify their principles.
All the links of this divine chain remain firm and solid, and the reason of that which precedes as cause is seen in that which follows as effect. It is no longer a life of dreams, a life of imaginations, a life of a multiplicity of words. The soul is no longer occupied with these things, nor nourished and maintained in this way; they are no longer of any avail, and afford no support.
The soul no longer sees where it is going, nor foresees where it will go; reflections no longer help it to gain courage to endure fatigue, and to sustain the hardships of the way. All this is swept aside by an interior conviction of weakness. The road widens as it advances; it has started, and goes on without hesitation. Being perfectly simple and straightforward, it follows the path of God's commandments quietly, relying on God Himself whom it finds at every step, and God, whom it seeks above all things, takes upon Himself to manifest His presence in such a way as to avenge it on its unjust detractors. - Abandonment to Divine Providence

A day in the life of the Church

Pope Francis prays before the Virgin
of the Gate or La Puerta

The Pope is in Peru, it is the feast day of Our Lady of the Miracle, and the feast of St. Sebastian ...

I've been following the Holy Father on television - I love seeing him interact with people.  I noted a photo of one of the Mass celebration which appeared to be sparsely attended - I'm not sure if it was an aerial view after the event, before, or during.  From chatter online I believe it was meant to demonstrate that the Holy Father is not 'popular'.  It doesn't matter at all to me, nor to those who are following the Pope - they seem overjoyed to meet him.

Liturgically today is the feast of St. Sebastian and the first reading today is about the death of Saul and Johnathan, and the love expressed by David for Johnathan when he said, "... more precious have I held love for you than love for women."  Both the cult of S. Sebastian and the friendship of David and Johnathan have been embraced by gay people as signifying same sex love and eroticism.  Which makes today a sort of gay feast day, I suppose.  I'm against it.  It's revisionist.

Nevertheless, the friendship of David and Johnathan, loyal and true, is a good, healthy model of friendship.  It is edifying.  Devotion to S. Sebastian is an example of courage and faith, in the face of martyrdom.  As legend has it, he was martyred 'twice' - first left for dead after shot with arrows.  Second, after being nursed to health, he continued his witness and was bludgeoned to death.  To be devoted to him based upon how he is depicted in art has nothing to do with his heroic witness and virtue, and is simply vain and fleeting.  Just as much as the sentimentalizing of the friendship of David and Johnathan.  Today we limit ourselves by such self indulgent interpretations, and we tie up all these loose threads into a tapestry of knots.

Which brings me to Our Lady of the Miracle - Our Lady of Light.

Above is shown a commemorative holy card of the Madonna of the Miracle in the basilica of San Andrea del Fratte in Rome.The Madonna is depicted in the manner she appeared to Alphonse Ratisbonne, an athiest Jew who was converted by the vision of Our Lady, after wearing the Miraculous Medal given to him by a friend, who also prayed for his conversion. (Ratisbonne agreed to wear it to prove to his friend such things were superstitious, although he also agreed to recite the Memorare each day as well, he did not believe.) Within minutes, during the apparition he instantly understood all the truths of the Catholic faith. "Our Lady presented to him the glories of the Faith and instantly educated him in its sacred truths. Ratisbonne stated:
"It is well known that I never opened a religious book and had never read a page of the Bible, and that the dogma of Original Sin, which it is either denied or forgotten by modern Jews, had never for a single moment occupied my thoughts—indeed, I doubt I had ever heard its name. How did I arrive at a knowledge of it? I know not. All I know is that when I entered that church I was profoundly ignorant of everything, and that when I came out I saw everything clearly and distinctly."

On my very first trip to Rome, as soon as I dropped my bags in my room, I wandered alone, a block away from the hotel, and entered S. Andrea through the exact same entrance Ratisbonne used, and entering, I saw the magnificent portrait of Our Lady, splendidly lighted, and I knelt in prayer. It was almost like experiencing a vision myself. Then Mass began, and I was able to receive Communion - my first night in Rome.

Today is Our Lady's feast day. Be sure to wear her medal and cling to her devoutly. She not only teaches us everything, she corrects our conscience, she sees to our every need, untying every knot, removing every obstacle to our salvation. She never refuses to come to the aid of those who ask her - she is a Mother who never ceases to help all of her children, because she is always moved by the loving kindness burning in her Immaculate Heart.

St. Sebastian, pray for us.

Friday, January 19, 2018

In our day there is a crisis of refugees and immigrants ...

"Look! Don’t you see many roads, paths and fields full of people crying of hunger, not having anything to eat? And the Holy Father in a Church praying next to the Heart of Mary?"
- St. Jacinta Marto

I keep thinking of this aspect of the Third Secret and wonder why and how so many are missing it?  If Jacinta's voice could be heard today, perhaps she would exclaim to all of us: "Look! Don't you see? It is happening now!"

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Scribes and Pharisees and teachers of the law are all upset about marriage again ...

Pope Francis marries flight attendants Carlos Ciuffardi, left, and Paola Podest, center,
during a flight from Santiago, Chile, to Iquique, Chile, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018.
Pope Francis celebrated the first-ever airborne papal wedding,
marrying these two flight attendants from Chile’s flagship airline during the flight.
(Credit: L’Osservatore Romano Vatican Media/Pool Photo via AP.)

Indeed, the grace of the sacrament of marriage is intended before all else “to perfect the couple’s love". - Amoris Laetitia

Fr. Z read at Crux that the Holy Father married (witnessed the marriage) of a steward and stewardess on the papal airplane – during the flight.  Questions ... questions ...

And then Canon Peters shares his thoughts on the mid-air marriage.

This what the groom had to say:
“What he said to us is very important: ‘This is the sacrament the world needs, the sacrament of marriage. Hopefully, this will motivate couples around the world to get married’,” Ciufardi said.
The couple have been civilly married for 8 years, yet Peters and Zulsdorf wonder if they were properly prepared.  It's no wonder couples avoid getting married in a church.

(The comments on Facebook are ridiculous.)

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

So, kindness is not the same as love ...

"Our Lord does not want sin. 
But on the other hand, what kindness!"
Papa Luciani

Monsignor Pope attempts to clear things up.

I think this is at least the second post on kindness not being the same as love, that Monsignor Pope has published.  Evidently people are really, really confused about the subject.  Being kind to one another is somehow a problem? 

I wanted to leave a comment on Monsignor's post but there were a few hoops to get through and evidently I took too long filling things in and my comment was rejected.  All I wanted to say was this:
“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.” “The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.” - St. Teresa of Calcutta
I am not aware of people abusing the virtue of charity by being kind.  I'm not sure Christians are all that confused about the virtue of charity and the common courtesy of kindness towards others.  M. Teresa said, Be the living example of God's kindness.  What is so difficult to understand?  Monsignor Pope tries to explain:
The good eclipses the best. Herein lies the danger in reducing love to kindness: In simply seeking to alleviate the suffering of the moment or to give people what they want, many deeper issues go unresolved and can even be worsened. 
Welfare has engendered a slavish dependence in some people in our country—and it is not just the urban poor to whom I refer. There are many other entitlements that some feel they cannot do without. There are numerous corporate subsidies as well that fall into this category. Kindness in not the same as love

"I prefer you to make mistakes in kindness than to work a miracle in unkindness," - Mother Teresa

I met a Missionary Of Charity once who explained to someone that 'charity has no strings' - if someone asks you for something, give it, without questioning.  Be kind in the moment.  There is nothing wrong with being kind to one another.  I think a lot of Christians and especially Catholics think you have to preface everything with 'your life is in the toilet, go to confession, then we'll talk.'  They are suspicious of Franciscan 'mercy'.  Going out to the peripheries without a catechism to bang over someone's head. 

When considering God's kindness, I so often think of the saints, especially dedicated priest-confessors like the humble Capuchin, St. Leopold Mandic.  I came across something from the 'Smiling Pope' who exemplified kindness toward all.  Pope John Paul I knew St. Leopold, and wrote about him.  What a tribute to God's kindness!
Like Jesus the Redeemer 
On one hand, Jesus fights against sin as a “victim of expiation for sins,” on the other hand, he does not fight with, but meets with sinners. Open the pages of the Gospel: he fights against sin, says John the Baptist: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away sins.” Read St. Paul: “He died for our sins.” Listen carefully to the words of Jesus in the Mass: “The Cup of My blood, poured out in remission of sins.” No sins! Our Lord does not want sin. But on the other hand, what kindness! How much mercy toward sinners! I am moved when I think that yes, Paul VI beatified Fr. Leopold, but the first person canonized, the first man proclaimed a saint before the whole people, was a thief. On the cross Jesus said: “This very day you will be with me in paradise.” To a thief! And what kindness, as I said, to sinners! When they brought the adulterous woman to him: “Woman, has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir.” “Woman, neither do I condemn you. Go in peace and try not to do it again.” The good shepherd said clearly: go in search of the lost sheep. “There is greater rejoicing in heaven over one penitent sheep in Paradise than for ninety-nine just ones who have no need to repent!” - Papa Luciani

Let the priests and the theologians and their students debate such things as the difference between kindness and love, or let others repeat the old and very stupid maxim: 'Jesus was not nice.'  Leave God's judgement to God, and be kind to one another.  St. Paul urged as much in Ephesians: "And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ."

I do recognize Monsignor's concern, how misplaced kindness leads to such things as alleviating the suffering and pain of patients in and through euthanasia, and so on.  Of course we distinguish authentic love and kindness in such situations.  I'm not disputing that at all, it's just that sometimes - oftentimes - especially online, Catholics are most unkind.  And they want you to know how much they hate the sin, but love the sinner, and they are not afraid to beat up those who call them out for their self-righteous invective and contempt for those who disagree with them.  They have the law and the prophets on their side and they are willing to call down fire from heaven to prove it.  Or worse, contemptuously cite examples and sayings from Pope Francis which 'scandalize' them.

That said, I'd like to share something Pope John Paul I wrote about St. Leopold's devotion and fidelity to the Pope.

[St. Leopold] had great respect and especially for the Pope. One time he said: “Peter has spoken, that’s it; everything is settled.” And his brothers say that he never named the Pope without lifting his skullcap as a sign of respect. And these are the saints, these are the examples to imitate. I cannot say to you who are in the world: “Hear confessions like he did.” But I will try to hear your confession. If you were priests, I would say: “Hear confessions with greater zeal, with greater patience. Then there are priests who do not believe so much in confession and say, “It’s enough for you to come once or twice a year!” What are they doing! Without frequent confessions, how can we become good? We always have faults and we must always be purified. Do mothers change their babies every two or three days? And the soul is like that too: not once or twice a year, but confess often if you can.
And then the Pope and then the Church, whom the saints loved; they were humble. Today on the other hand, people say: “Oh! The Pope!” No. If you are Catholic you must be with the Pope as Blessed Leopold was, as all the great saints were. The Pope is the representative of Christ. Anyone who feels with the Church, who feels with the saints, who feels with blessed Leopold, must feel with the Pope. - Papa Luciani

If Papa Luciani would have lived, I am sure he would have faced the same opposition of sinners Pope Francis faces - he was just too kind and merciful to be believed at the time - but we are all sinners, in need of God's kindness and merciful love.

Lord Jesus, Son of God, be merciful to me, a sinner.  Grant me your love, your kindness, and make reparation in me for all I have hurt throughout my life.

S. Leopold Mandic,
pray for us.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Menswear for 2018

This is actually last year.

This too, is so last year.

How to describe a Palomo Spain show? It is, altogether, highly intimate—akin to the largely lost practice of salon presentations—utterly mad, fearlessly proud, and, foremost, emotional. A young man who walked—wearing a periwinkle bouclé jacket with bunched Bermuda shorts and knee-high, heeled boots—evinced as much, as tears dappled his makeup during the finale.  Alejandro Gómez Palomo’s label caught the American market’s eye when the designer brought it to New York last February. - Palomo Spain- Spring 2018 Menswear.  Vogue

Works for me!  LOL!

The Holy Father in Chile

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, 
Patroness of Chile

"How much the heart of the Chilean people knows about rebuilding and starting anew! How much you know about getting up again after so many falls! That is the heart to which Jesus speaks; that is the heart for which the Beatitudes are meant!
Jesus, in proclaiming blessed the poor, the grieving, the afflicted, the patient, the merciful… comes to cast out the inertia which paralyzes those who no longer have faith in the transforming power of God our Father and in their brothers and sisters, especially the most vulnerable and outcast. Jesus, in proclaiming the Beatitudes, shakes us out of that negativity, that sense of resignation that makes us think we can have a better life if we escape from our problems, shun others, hide within our comfortable existence, dulling our senses with consumerism (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 2). The sense of resignation that tends to isolate us from others, to divide and separate us, to blind us to life around us and to the suffering of others. 
The Beatitudes are that new day for all those who look to the future, who continue to dream, who allow themselves to be touched and sent forth by the Spirit of God." - P. Francis

Papal Mass in Chile
Saints pictured flanking the altar:
Bl. Laura Vicuna
St. Alberto Hurtado
St. Teresa of the Andes
the last, I'm only guessing,
Bl. Zepherin Namuncura.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Fr. William Baer

Father William Baer, 60, pastor of Transfiguration in Oakdale, died early Jan. 14.

I'm so sorry to hear that Fr. Baer died.  He was a very holy priest, a gifted man, a truly humble man - no guile, no ambition - just enthusiasm for Christ and the Gospel - and great kindness and consideration towards ordinary people.  

May he rest in peace.

Soul searching.


The inclination to hiddenness is a quiet mark of holiness. It corresponds to the secrecy of relations between a soul and God. For it seems to be God’s consistent habit with souls to conceal himself even when they are close to him. We can surmise that the saints came to know well this divine preference for concealment. It added intensity to their seeking after God in his many disguises. Rather than frustrating them, the divine hiding provoked them with intense longings. And it aroused in them a desire for their own concealment, not from God, but from the eyes of others, so that they might remain among the unknown and the recognized. If we want to find holiness, the first place to search is in the shadows and corners. - Fr. Donald Haggerty, Contemplative Provocations

Pope Francis on his way ...

Apostolic visit to Chile and Peru. 
As he boarded the plane for Chile on Monday, Pope Francis spoke of his fears in the face of threats of nuclear war. Talking to journalists on the papal plane, he also commented on the image of a young Japanese boy carrying the body of his baby brother on his back as he waited in line at a crematorium in the city of Nagasaki. - Vatican News
"Presumption is the crime of idolatry." - Today's first reading, Samuel 15: 16-23 

No one ever listens to popes when they attempt to broker peace.  Paul VI was ignored when he cried, "No more war!" at the United Nations.  John Paul II was ignored in his many please for peace as well.  From the beginning of his Pontificate he worked for peace.  In his address to the United Nations in 1982 he made his plea for disarmament:
The teaching of the Catholic Church in this area has been clear and consistent. It has deplored the arms race, called nonetheless for mutual progressive and verifiable reduction of armaments as well as greater safeguards against possible misuse of these weapons. It has done so while urging that the independence, freedom and legitimate security of each and every nation be respected. 
I wish to reassure you that the constant concern and consistent efforts of the Catholic Church will not cease until there is a general verifiable disarmament, until the hearts of all are won over to those ethical choices which will guarantee a lasting peace.
[My Predecessor, Pius XII, as early as 1946, referred to "the might of new instruments of destruction" which "brought the problems of disarmament into the center of international discussions under completely new aspects" (Address to the College of Cardinals, December 24, 1946).] - Vatican

Perhaps prophetically, Pope Benedict XVI, when explaining the reason for his name choice said:
In taking this name, I wanted to evoke both the Patron Saint of Europe, who inspired a civilization of peace on the whole continent, and Pope Benedict XV .... planning to acquire them— agree to change their course by clear and firm decisions, and strive for a progressive and concerted nuclear disarmament. - Holy See
It's maybe good to remember that in 1916-1917 Europe rejected the Papal Peace Plan of P. Benedict XV.  Catholics and Protestants alike seemed insulted that a Pope would attempt to broker peace.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

World Day of Migrants and Refugees

“You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, 
and you shall love him as yourself, 
for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God” 
(Leviticus 19:34).

From Pope Francis.
It is not easy to enter into another culture, to put oneself in the shoes of people so different from us, to understand their thoughts and their experiences. As a result we often refuse to encounter the other and raise barriers to defend ourselves. Local communities are sometimes afraid that the newly arrived will disturb the established order, will ‘steal’ something they have long laboured to build up. And the newly arrived also have fears: they are afraid of confrontation, judgment, discrimination, failure. These fears are legitimate, based on doubts that are fully comprehensible from a human point of view. Having doubts and fears is not a sin. The sin is to allow these fears to determine our responses, to limit our choices, to compromise respect and generosity, to feed hostility and rejection. The sin is to refuse to encounter the other, the different, the neighbour, when this is in fact a privileged opportunity to encounter the Lord. - P. Francis Homily