Saturday, March 24, 2018

The darker the night ...

Christ couldn't wait - he climbs the cross.
"To make it possible for us to climb to this perfection,
Christ actually made for us a staircase of his body!" 
- Catherine of Siena

"And if you ask, 'What is the way?'  I will tell you it is the way Christ chose, the way of disgrace ..." - S. Catherine

While reading the Passion narratives, and especially the Gospel for Passion week, one can very much understand what Christ suffered from those around him.  Soon to be thrust into the hands of sinful men, in the words of the psalmist his suffering from the chaos and confusion is revealed:

Many bulls have surrounded me,
fierce bulls of Bashan close me in.
Against me they open wide their jaws,
like lions, rending and roaring. 
But I am a worm and no man,
scorned by men, despised by the people.
All who see me deride me.
They curl their lips, they toss their heads.
"He trusted in the Lord, let him save him;
let him release him if this is his friend." - Ps. 22

It is a great grace to share - even in the smallest way - in this darkness Christ endured.  To share his shame as Paul wrote in Hebrews.  To go to him outside the camp, to sit alone and ponder his sacred Passion.  We hear the scorn of men, we know what it is to be despised and derided and mocked for our confidence.  What an unimaginable grace that is.  What perfect joy, as St. Francis would say.  All of the saints, but especially the martyred, the abused, those who counted for nothing.  They shared in the passion of Christ - they even rejoiced.  In times of strife, confusion and chaos, remember that Christ is there - he is within us even in the deepest darkness.  No pit is so deep, that his love is not deeper still.  Betsy ten Boom said that in the concentration camp.  

The darker the night, the greater the light...
... even darkness is not dark for you
and the night is as clear as the day. - Ps. 139
In the Passion narratives, with the plots against Jesus, and the taunts against him, it is very easy to see the parallels in our day: the attacks against Christians, the real persecutions and martyrs, as well as all the dissent among Catholics.  Christ continues to suffer in us.  He loves us so much, he cannot deprive us even just a little share in his sacred Passion.

I trusted, even when I said:
"I am sorely afflicted,"
and when I said in my alarm:
"No man can be trusted."
How can I repay the Lord
for his goodness to me?
The cup of salvation I will raise;
I will call on the Lord's name. - Ps. 116

Friday, March 23, 2018

Veiling for Passiontide

Not just for women either - men do it too.

Veiling for Passiontide: A sort of Catholic 'shiva'. It seems to me there may be similarities to the venerable Jewish custom of veiling the mirrors in the 'house of mourning'. It is called 'shiva' - mourners sit shiva - a sort of seven day wake in the house of the deceased.

"Shiva is a week that is given over to mourning the deceased. We do not work during that week; we do not indulge in luxuries. We reflect on the merits and deeds of the person who died. What we are mourning is not the externalities of the person, the way the person looked, the way the person dressed but the essential person. We miss the distinct personality characteristics of this person, how he/she acted and how he/she related to us. We recall the special qualities that the deceased had and of our relationship with him/her. When we sit shiva we try to concentrate on the inner person who is no longer with us not on the external appearance of the deceased." - Nachum Mohl
Of course the veiling during Passiontide is not a wake, per se, but there is a bit of a parallel one might discuss at your parish soup supper tonight.  What?

Shiva - Hebrew for seven - seven days.
Joseph mourned the death of his father, Jacob for seven days.
For more information go here.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

A “vile attack” on Pope Francis.

Yes Sire!

Some good news at last...

“Following the press articles reporting the name of the author of the book “The Dictator Pope” the Grand Magistry of the Order of Malta has taken the decision to suspend Henry Sire, author of the book and member of the Order of Malta. The provisional suspension from membership has immediate effect and an investigation is being launched.” - Source

Frankly I was surprised Sire had so much support since he too is from the despised 'Baby-boomer' generation.   Not surprisingly, Church Militant is claiming the suspension is illegal. 

"If a man shall have given all that he possesses, he will despise it as nothing." - Song of Songs 8.7

Death of St. Benedict Joseph Labre

My friend Larry died.

Many thanks for all your prayers.  Larry died in peace surrounded by his family.  He has a good size family, I understand his daughter is a Lutheran minister.  The sons are active in ministry as well - from what I understand.

After Larry left seminary, we pretty much lost contact, except for certain occasions.  We went our separate ways.  I left - or fled - the 'neighborhood' and the 'group' and only got back together with them after Larry had married and moved away.  So Larry had another life for more than forty years.  I didn't know him as a married man, widower, father, teacher, and so on.  I was, I suppose, a sort of 'prodigal friend' - he didn't know me either.

When he moved back to the metro area he eventually socialized with most of my old friends, those  with whom I lost contact after they married and raised a family.  Being a 'single man' I lived apart.  My life has always been more or less that of an outsider, although I maintained contact with one or two friends, who knew both my family and friends and me.

As a single man, more or less alone, my boyhood friendships remained a thing of the heart.  I suppose it's a symptom of arrested development, or 'friendship interrupted'.  Yet it really is very much a memory that grew and developed, albeit somewhat sentimentally.  I never realized, or took the time to consider how my friend evolved, how he matured and how the responsibilities of wife and family, home, career and avocation, absorbed and consumed him.  I found that out, watching and praying for Larry from a distance, my only contact with cards and messages left on the CaringBridge site his children updated.  Reading the messages of others who know him revealed more about Larry than I ever knew.  He was a beloved teacher for one thing.

That's how I came to understand he was at the very least an estranged friend - or more appropriately, I was the estranged one.  In other words, the stranger.  It's wonderfully existential to realize that, BTW.

In the end, I need to admit my deepest concern was to pray for his 'happy death', his eternal salvation.  I was always concerned that Larry became Lutheran after seminary - I couldn't understand that.  Call me old fashioned - because I am.  Which is why I turned to the Divine Mercy devotion and many rosaries as well as appeals to Our Lady Undoer of Knots.  I so often recall stories of deathbed conversions when a priest could visit, as well as those stories when the dying person refused a priest.  Everything today is different.  We affirm people in their good faith.  That's our reality today - so I leave it at that.  I do not want to start a discussion on that point.  Our Lord can do infinitely more than we ask or imagine and Our Lady can remove any obstacle to our salvation.

My friend was certainly a devout, faithful Lutheran, as are his children.  They live better lives than I do.  It may even explain why Larry didn't invite me into his social circle as he did my other friends.  (Perhaps my former lifestyle was too much a scandal?)  Although, no one ever said anything about that.  Nevertheless, who am I to judge his state of soul at death?  What dare I say if he was a good Lutheran, a man faithful to the duties of his state in life?  He was an honorable man.

I only present all of these thoughts because my genuine interest and concern is for the salvation of his soul and the souls of my family and friends.  That is my greatest concern.  That is why I asked for prayers and have Masses said for others.  No other concern interferes with that - none.

I pray daily for a happy death for myself (and those I love) - not to die without the sacraments and to be fully disposed to accept the death God has willed for me from all eternity.  As Catholics there is no greater consolation at death than the sacraments.

In conclusion, please pray for my childhood friend Larry - he was a wonderful man who did so much good.  Thank you.

Eternal rest, grant unto him O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Jesus I trust in you!

If the sacrifice of worldly honours, goods, friends, and life be required of such a one,
 he makes it with joy, saying with the Royal Prophet, 
"What have I desired in heaven or on earth, besides thee, O God! 
Thou art my portion for ever." Ps. 73.25

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Dante placed Pope Celestine in Hell.

Dante was wrong.

Just a reminder to those who have turned on Pope Benedict and condemn him and Pope Francis.  The commentary at 1P5 and sympathetic sites is wicked and scandalous.

If it happens that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, 
it is required for validity that the resignation is 
made freely and properly manifested 
but not that it is accepted by anyone. - Canon 332, 2

There is a new Catholic blog in support of the Papacy called
check it out.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Prayer to St. Joseph for those in their last agony.

“We turn to you, St. Joseph, patron of the dying. Recalling how at the hour of death, you were lovingly accompanied by Jesus and Mary; therefore we confidently ask you to be present, to watch over and assist our friend Larry in the sufferings of his last agony. We pray that he may, by your sure protection be delivered from the snares of the devil and from eternal death, and may attain everlasting joy. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.”