Sunday, December 27, 2020

Third Day of Christmas


Feast of the Holy Family.

"Jesus, Mary and Joseph, living in exile in Egypt to escape the fury of an evil king, are, for all times and all places, the models and protectors of every migrant, alien and refugee of whatever kind who, whether compelled by fear of persecution or by want, is forced to leave his native land, his beloved parents and relatives, his close friends, and to seek a foreign soil." - (From Pope Pius XII, in his apostolic constitution “Exsul Familia”)

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Second Day of Christmas

Good King Wenceslas

The Feast of Stephen.

I should write something - especially after the last post.  I don't know what to write however.  I also don't feel like it.

At one point I stopped really preparing for Christmas.  I sent out some cards, but didn't finish.  I think a lot of people didn't send cards.  Word must have gotten around that Darold died, because he didn't receive any cards.  A couple of his friends were my friends too, and they never even acknowledged his death when I sent them notice, much less responded with a Christmas card.  That was a good lesson for me - I believed they were my friends - but they were simply being polite.  The Imitation of Christ has some things to say about that - which helped me very much.  It is better for me.  It's a lesson I always need repeating - those who flatter you deceive you.  Likewise, it's could to have people recognize our faults and failings, As St. Philip Neri admonished: "He who cannot put up with the loss of his honour, can never make any advance in spiritual things." 

There you have it, and I'm quite content to accept my outcast state.

When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,

I all alone beweep my outcast state,

And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,

And look upon myself and curse my fate,

Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,

Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,

Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope,

With what I most enjoy contented least;

Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,

Haply I think on thee, and then my state,

(Like to the lark at break of day arising

From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven’s gate;

For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings

That then I scorn to change my state with kings. - Sonnet 29

In conclusion, one excellent gift has been the reconnecting with my family, especially my sister and nieces and relatives.  For much of my life I thought of friends - many of whom are no longer in touch with me - as family.  While my real family felt alienated without understanding why.  Our Lady Undoer of Knots took care of that!

Happy Christmas!


Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Christmas 2020

This year's creche.  Spanish Colonial figures in a Shinto shrine.

This is my first Christmas alone since I was a 'pilgrim' living in Boston.  This time it is different of course.

Years ago - many years ago, I spent Christmas kind of alone.  The year I turned eighteen, I had already left home and was living on my own.  Months later, I moved in with my boss, David.  He was the display director at the store, and I was certain I had fallen in love with him.

That first Christmas together was anticipated with parties, a department/office party, a party with designers in the apartment complex we lived, and finally a party with his closest gay friends in his apartment.  That year, I bought David an expensive gold cigarette lighter, he bought me a Tiffany key chain with my initials engraved on it.  I was so touched, because he used the unique initials I always used on my artwork.  A monogram with the stem of the T acting as the vertical bar of the N - a lot of people felt the script appeared as TV.  Ha!  I liked it, and it was the most romantic thing ever.  Trouble was, I didn't know how to act in front of his friends, I was so scared to be around older gay men and professional adults - I had no social skills at all.  (David was twelve years older.)

He was from Duluth originally, and went home for the holidays - if his mother came to Minneapolis, I had to clear out; whenever he went home, I was alone.  All the parties and gift exchange happened before he left.

Dog rolling in snow
on Beacon Hill.

As I mentioned, the next time I spent Christmas alone would have been while I lived in Boston.  After Mass on Christmas Eve, I wandered Beacon Hill, looking into the windows as I passed by apartments and townhomes, admiring the wonderful decorations and families celebrating.  It was like a movie.

This year, it's entirely different - perhaps the most contemplative of my life.  I know, due to the pandemic, many are alone this year as well - so I have nothing to complain about.  Actually, 'symptoms of loneliness and heartache' have never been strange for me - I've learned how to live with such things. 

This morning I came across something consoling from Medjugorje.  I'm not a follower of the apparitions, but neither am I so concerned about them as many others seem to be.  If the Holy See isn't worried, neither am I.  That said, and early message is comforting for me this Christmas.

December 21, 2020

Pray a Holy Soul home for Christmas

• Not everyone will be be able to enjoy this Christmas at home with loved ones because of travel restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus infection. However, on a more positive note the Medjugorje seer Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo said in 1983 Our Lady had informed her that many souls are released from Purgatory on All Saints Day, but most souls are taken into Heaven on Christmas Day.
Anyway, that's a consoling thought.  Some people find consolation in the alignment of planets and call it the Christmas star.  Whatever works.

This was the MPLS apartment complex I
lived in with David.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

O Maternal Refuge, Queen of the universe, Mediatrix of men to God, Refuge of all our hopes, have mercy on us.

“Come, and I will show thee the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 

 I was going to write on the issues of the day and the past week, but decided it is unnecessary for me to do so.

Instead I will share something from The Mystical City of God, by Ven M. Maria Agreda, on Our Lady, our refuge - read it quietly and your heart will burn within you.

She was to be the secret refuge: protection and defense of all men, wherein they would find all the security of a city of refuge and of a strong fortress against their enemies.

“267. The angel spoke to the Evangelist saying: “Come, and I will show thee the bride, the wife of the Lamb,” etc. The angel declares in this passage, that the holy city of Jerusalem, which he showed to him, is the espoused wife of the Lamb, referring by this metaphor (as I have already said No. 248) to the most holy Mary, whom St. John saw both as a Mother, or Woman, and as a Spouse of the Lamb, that is Christ. The Queen held and fulfilled in divine manner both offices.

“She was the Spouse of the Divinity, the only One (Cant. 6, 8) and incomparable on account of the unequalled faith and love, with which the espousals were entered into and accomplished; and She was the Mother of the same Lord incarnate, giving Him his mortal substance and flesh, nourishing and sustaining Him in his existence as man, which He derived from Her. In order to see and understand such high mysteries the Evangelist was exalted in spirit to a great height of sanctity and light; for without going out of himself and being raised above human weakness, he could not understand them; just as we, imperfect, earthly and abject creatures, cannot encompass them for the same reason.

“Then elevated thus high, he says: “He showed me the holy city of Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven,” for Mary was built up and formed, not on earth, where She was like a pilgrim and a stranger, but in heaven, where the common, earthly material was excluded. For though the material of her being was taken from the earth, it was at the same time so elevated in heavenly perfection as to be fit for the building up of that mystical City in a celestial and angelic, yet divine manner, effulgent with the Divinity. 268. Therefore he adds: “Having the glory of God,” for the most holy soul of Mary was favored with such a participation of the Divinity and of its attributes and perfections, that if it were possible to see Her in her own essence, She would appear as if illumined with the eternal splendor of God Himself.

“Great and glorious things are said in the Catholic church of this City of God, and of the splendor, which She has received from that same Lord; but all of it is insignificant, and all human words fall short of the truth."


“Above all We shall give to Her dominion and power over the dragon, our enemy, and over all his allied demons. Let them fear her presence and her name and in it, let their deceits be crushed and annihilated. Let all the mortals that fly to this City of refuge, find in it a sure and certain protection, free from all the dread of the demons and their snares.” . . .

“The blessed Trinity made known to Her that before his most just tribunal nothing would ever be denied to Her; that She should command the devil and that She should have power, by virtue of her commands, to keep him away from souls, since She would have at her disposal the arm of the Almighty.

“In saying that this City was surrounded by a great and high wall St. John refers to this God-given prerogative of his Mother, that She was to be the secret refuge: protection and defense of all men, wherein they would find all the security of a city of refuge and of a strong fortress against their enemies.

“He says that the walls are very high, for the power of the most pure Mary to overcome the demon and to raise the souls to grace is so great that it is inferior only to that of God himself. So well armed for all this and so well defended and secure for Herself and for all those, who seek her protection, is this City, that not all the forces created by God outside of Her can overthrow or surmount its walls.

“I desire to mention that the measure of the dignity, the merits and graces of most holy Mary, was none other than the humanity of her most blessed Son, united to the divine Word.

“The Evangelist calls the humanity of Christ a “reed” because He assumed the frailty of our weak and carnal nature, and “of gold,” on account of his Divinity. In accordance with the dignity of the true God-man, Christ, and correspondingly with the gifts and merits of the incarnate God.

“280. From all this can be estimated the greatness of that City of God, the most holy Mary."

Monday, September 28, 2020

How screwed up.

Everything is screwed up.

Yesterday, I ran into a woman I know at a local grocery store.  She's the mother-in-law of a guy I used to work with.  They are rather well off, they have a place in Cape Cod, where they recently vacationed - during the 'scamdemic'!  She kept pulling down her mask to talk to me and kept edging closer and closer, to let me in on her information concerning the state of the city and the hoax, that is COVID-19. Explaining that it's all a scam and we are being controlled and lied to by CDC, Fauci, and health departments everywhere - oh - and the media.  She boasted she only wears the mask because stores require it. 

She and her family are Traditionalists, exclusively attending the EF Form of Mass.  She and her family, especially her son-in-law are very well educated, studied at the Gregorian, and so on.  I got the impression from the mom that she would very much agree with a local priest, Fr. Altier, and his take on the pandemic and the agenda of Globalists to control and suppress*. She started talking about all the stuff going on in Minneapolis after Gearge Floyd's death, insisting there is 'no racism here - never has been' - blaming 'them' for 'taking advantage of our tolerance'.  She's a nice lady, totally unaware of how loaded with 'benevolent elitism' were her comments. 

Later, last evening I checked her son-in-law's FB page and some of her other contacts - they all appear to agree with her. They are nice people. Some of their friends, whom I know as well, were 'birthers' before Trump was elected. They believed Obama wasn't a citizen. Not only do they seem to ascribe to the Fr. Altier* narrative, I expect they agree with Archbishop Vigano's conspiracy theories** as well. Like I said, they are really nice people, very good people. Well educated, well to do, attend the Extraordinary Form of Mass, homeschool, and so on. So you know they are special, and not at all like the rest of the ordinary form of humanity who live in Minneapolis, believe the science/doctors who contradict the Trump administrations claims that the virus isn't a threat, and guidelines that the shutdowns and mandates to wear a mask and socially distance are a hoax.

The Trump administration is largely responsible for the claims of fake new, fake stats, and much of the fear mongering.  The followers of Burke, Vigano and other important, albeit retired religious figures are responsible for the epic disrespect and mistrust of the Holy Father and the bishops in communion with him. Certain priests and religious are responsible for promoting distortions of private revelations and so-called locutions by dubious mystics to support conspiracy theories which have come back with a vengeance.   I can't help recall the words of Our Lord regarding such widespread deception, A lot of people will be led astray - 'even the elect, if that were possible.'  Although, those convinced of their own righteousness while despising everyone else, may be a tad more vulnerable.  Just saying.

Here is an excellent prayer in these times:

“Holy Spirit, inspire me. Love of God consume me. Along the true road, lead me. Mary, my good mother, look down upon me. With Jesus, bless me. From all evil, all illusion, all danger, preserve me.”- St. Mary of Jesus Crucified, OCD


Letter includes MN Health Department refutation, resources on ethical vaccination development
Priests should not use homilies to “present medical or scientific speculation,” Archbishop Bernard Hebda wrote in a Sept. 22 letter to Catholics in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, responding to a homily Father Robert Altier gave at St. Raphael in Crystal Sept. 6.

**Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò said the 2020 presidential election presents Americans with a “biblical” challenge “against the demonic forces of the deep state and against the New World Order.”

UPDATE:  Fr. Altier was interviewed here:  LifesiteNews Bishop Rebukes Priest.  Even a couple of experts defending him say Fr. A got some things wrong, and there is a subtle criticism that Hebda consulted the Minnesota Health Department, because some of their policies contradict Catholic teaching.  What can I say?

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Virgen de la Merced or Virgen de las Mercedes

Hail you Star of ocean!
Break the captive's fetters;
Light on blindness pour;
All our ills expelling,
Every bliss implore.


Our Lady of Ransom

I first became acquainted with the devotion to OL of Ransom in 5th grade.  My dad ran into some difficulties and was in trouble a lot.  I understood Our Lady of Ransom was the patroness of those imprisoned, and had recourse to her.  My devotion to her has remained constant, praying in our day for help against Islamic radicals, and so on.  

Today, I look to her to delivery the souls in purgatory, especially those closest to me.  In fact, the Carthusian cycle of Gregorian Masses for my friend Darold, begins today - her feast day.  I may be mistaken, but after the Conventual Mass, the Fathers say their private Mass, and it is usually a Mass of the BVM.  The cycle of Masses ends on the feast of OL of Comfort.  I'm consoled to think my friend is in the arms of Our Lady.  

A brief history of Our Lady of Ransom

To my knowledge, this is the only title of the Virgin or devotion to Our Lady directly related to Islam:

The Blessed Virgin appeared to Saint Peter Nolassco, to his confessor, Raymond of Pennafort, and to the king, and through these three men established a work of the redemption of captives. She desired the establishment of the Mercedarian religious order. (derives from the Spanish word for mercy - merced) Its members would seek to free Christian captives from the Moors and offer themselves, if necessary, as an exchange. The complete name of this order is: Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the Ransom of Captives (OdeM).*
The Order was legally constituted at Barcelona by King James of Aragon was established in Spain and later approved by Gregory IX under the name of Our Lady of Mercy. St. Peter was the first superior, with the title of Commander-General; he also filled the office of Ransomer, a title given to the monk sent into the lands subject to the Moors to arrange for the ransom of prisoners.

Requests of Our Lady to St. Peter Nolasco - August 1, 1218:.
The Blessed Virgin Mary:

“Find for Me other men like yourself, an army of brave, generous, unselfish men, and send them into the lands where the children of the Faith are suffering.”
St. Peter Nolasco:

"Who am I that God should honor me like this? And who are you, who knows so well, the secrets of my heart?'
The Blessed Virgin Mary:

"I am Mary, the Mother of God. My son, the Redeemer of the world,
who came to give liberty to the captive, has many people bound in captivity, and wishes the order to be established." - Source

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Pope Francis and the change in attitude toward LGBTQ persons and their families.

Pope Francis arrives in the St. Damaso courtyard 
on the occasion of his weekly general audience at the Vatican, 
Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020. (Credit: Gregorio Borgia/AP.)

Facing reality.

Some people were upset that the Holy Father met with a group of Italian parents of gay/LGBTQ children.  Pope Francis assured them, “God loves your children as they are” and “the church loves your children as they are because they are children of God.”

Why would anyone be upset with that?  Because the encounter triggered memories of another encounter, when Pope Francis spoke privately with Juan Carlos Cruz, assuring him he is accepted just as he is, that God made him that way...

Juan Carlos Cruz, the man who said that Pope Francis told him during a recent private meeting that God made him gay and that God loves him the way he is, says that his meeting with the pope is a model of how church leaders should welcome L.G.B.T. Catholics, even if he believes church teaching on homosexuality should change. “He said, ‘Look Juan Carlos, the pope loves you this way. God made you like this and he loves you,’” - America, 05/22/2018

That statement contradicted a lifetime of twisting and squirming on my part - trying to explain how I couldn't be born gay, while attempting to conform to rules regarding language and friendship.  Go over my blog archives, and you can read for yourself.  So why would the Pope say this - rather than reciting CDF rules and CCC teaching on the unknown genesis of homosexual inclination, while pointing out how disordered and sinful homosexual acts are?  Because these parents, along with gay  men like Juan Carlos Cruz, as well as Diego Neria Lejarraga, the Spanish transsexual man and his wife, who were received in a private audience with the Pope - have been regarded as outcasts, dissenters, heretics and therefore rejected and condemned - unless they repent. In an interview, the Holy Father - who is against gender ideology and teaching it in schools, explained the encounter with Lejarraga and his wife:

Diego "got married, he changed his civil identity, got married and wrote me a letter saying that for him it would be a consolation to come with his wife, he who was she, but him! I received them: they were happy and in the neighborhood where he lived there was an elderly priest in his 80s, an elderly pastor who left the parish and helped the sisters in the parish. And there was the new (priest). When the new one he would yell from the sidewalk: 'you'll go to hell!' When he (CNA suggests this refers to the new priest but CNS and NCR suggest it refers to the woman) came across the old one, he would say: 'How long has it been since you confessed? Come, come, let's to so that I can confess you and you can receive communion.' Understood? 
Life is life and things must be taken as they come. Sin is sin. And tendencies or hormonal imbalances have many problems and we must be careful not to say that everything is the same." - Source

The Holy Father accepts people where they are at, in the moment, in the reality they live.  At the end of his interview, discussing the encounter with Diego and his wife, Pope Francis assures the interviewer:

"Life is life and things must be taken as they come. Sin is sin. And tendencies or hormonal imbalances have many problems and we must be careful not to say that everything is the same. Let's go party. No, that no, but in every case I accept it, I accompany it, I study it, I discern it and I integrate it. This is what Jesus would do today! Please don't say: 'the Pope sanctifies transgenders.' Please, eh! Because I see the covers of the papers. Is there any doubt as to what I said? I want to be clear! It's moral problem. It's a human problem and it must be resolved always can be with the mercy of God. - Source

“The Church must always be like God, always going out."

I'm so grateful to the Holy Father, for making the Church more accessible, especially to those who have been told over and over, they aren't welcome.  Those who have been told by Catholics, that although we love the sinner, we hate the sin, and you can't be Catholic if you identify as this or that.  

Just today, 20 September, the Holy Father continued to speak on going out, to invite, to welcome the outsider, like the landowner in Today's Gospel (who represents God) "who calls everyone and calls always.”

“This means being open to horizons that offer hope to those stationed on the existential peripheries,” the Pope said, people “who have not yet experienced, or who have lost, the strength and light that comes with meeting Christ.” 
He added, “The Church must always be like God, always going out. And when the Church is not going out, she gets sick.” Pope Francis said it is better for the Church to be “going out” announcing the Gospel, despite the dangers, than to grow sick by remaining closed in on herself. “God always goes out, because He’s a Father Who loves – and the Church always needs to do the same thing, always going out.” - Pope at Angelus

This is what the Pope does.  "This way of acting, said Pope Francis, “is more than just, in the sense that it goes beyond justice and is manifested in Grace.”  Adding, "Those who rely on their own merits “find themselves last,” the Pope explained, while “those who humbly entrust themselves to the Father’s mercy, from being last, find themselves first.”"

The Holy Father is not changing Catholic teaching - rather, I think he is making it more accessible and understandable rather than forbidding and intimidating.

“For gay people, we’ve always told ourselves that when the AIDS epidemic was over we’d be fine. Then it was, when we can get married we’ll be fine. Now it’s, when the bullying stops we’ll be fine. We keep waiting for the moment when we feel like we’re not different from other people. But the fact is, we are different. It’s about time we accept that and work with it.” - The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness


 LGBTQ persons are different. 

Having said all of that, this post is too long.  I intended the above only as a preface to another point, discussing an article I came across, The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness, by Michael Hobbs.  It was an eyeopener. to read  Although not surprising, I found it very helpful as it applies to this discussion on the subject of 'born that way', or 'God made you that way.'  Personally, I can accept born that way better. God created us - yet after the fall, though redeemed by Christ, sons by adoption through Baptism, there remain defects - leading to the question of nature or nurture?  That can be discerned perhaps - when we understand the reality of our 'fallen nature and fallen nurture.'

Immediately, many raise objections to the thought of born this way, citing all the Church documents and so many scholarly and clinical studies pointing to how that can't be.  There is no gay gene, and so on.  Contrast that with the experience and self awareness of most of the gay people I have ever met.  I'm not here to solve that problem, I just want to point out that human beings are born with all sorts of conditions, physical and mental - so it isn't that far out to assume someone could be gay since birth - or at least have the disposition or temperament to develop same sex attraction.  So many people I've known said they can't remember a time when they didn't feel gay - albeit at such an early age they didn't know there was a term for it.  Admitting that doesn't mean one is seeking to change Catholic teaching or sanction/sanctify homosexual acts.

On the other hand, many people believe conversion therapy is the answer, to change an unwanted sexual attraction.   That may work for some who choose that route, if they are willing to put in the hard work, the psychological testing and so on.  Yet conversion therapy is pretty much there to tell the subject they  were not born this way.  Reparative therapy is there to convince people they can be straight, normal - heal that 'father wound' and all that good stuff.  Maybe for some?  Not for me.  (I have no problem with Catholic teaching - it works for me.)

"My grace is sufficient for you." 

That is what Christ told St. Paul.  He also told him, “Take courage."  I am convinced the Church and the sacraments are sufficient to heal, sanctify and save all who approach in humility and faith.  The monastic notion of repentance and conversion of manners is a great remedy.  Rather than relegating gay people to therapy to change their sexuality, or insisting they join this group or that group, to use this term or that term of identification, I think the sort of acceptance and love the Holy Father is talking about is more 'holistic' and healing, opening the door to Christ.  

I still would like to discuss 'The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness', especially since, despite all the gains and acceptance LGBTQ persons have experienced, many continue to feel that sense of being an 'outsider'.  Which suggests to me, that gay people may be born with 'something' which makes us feel so different.  Maybe I can discuss that in my writing - because writing helps me think.

“The defining feature of gay men used to be the loneliness of the closet. But now you’ve got millions of gay men who have come out of the closet and they still feel the same isolation.” - The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness


Sunday, September 13, 2020

On This Day In 1917


“From the pale but cloudless sky there came a shower of white petals, 
resembling snowflakes, but melting before they touched the ground, 
or the bodies of the astounded people.” - Marvels

"The hue of the atmosphere surrounding the place of the apparitions changed to a yellowish gold."

The description of the day at Fatima in 1917, made me think of how the skies on the West Coast are glowing because of the fires, so widespread at this time.  No, I'm not connecting the fires to the Fatima apparitions, or the message of Fatima.  Many photos and videos simply remind me of supernatural events.  For instance, the fire tornadoes remind me of the Book of Exodus and the pillar of fire.  Our minds are 'programmed' to see 'signs' which remind us of biblical phenomena.  I'm not sure if there is another name for it, but it is similar to pareidolia.

Pareidolia is the tendency for incorrect perception of a stimulus as an object, pattern or meaning known to the observer, such as seeing shapes in clouds, seeing faces in inanimate objects or abstract patterns, or hearing hidden messages in music. - Google

 September 13, 1917

One month before the great miracle, Our Lady of the Rosary seemed to grant 'signal graces' to those who were at the Cova that day.
“The sun suddenly lost its splendor. The hue of the surrounding atmosphere changed to a yellowish gold. Then a delightful cry went up from the multitude: ‘She comes! Look! There!! There! How beautiful!’” 
“A small luminous global cloud was recognized immediately as the footstool of the invisible Lady. It moved in from the East toward the West slowly and majestically. Slowly it descended to rest, hovering above the holm oak, the tree of wonders.” 
Something similar happened on August 13 when the children were whisked off to jail while up to 18,000 people waited in the Cova for them. Learning the children were imprisoned, the crowd grew angry but were quickly calmed by heaven. Many described hearing what they thought was an explosion or thunder coming from the cloudless blue sky, and after it, a flash of brilliant light. Then the “sun paled,” the atmosphere turned “a yellowish gold, and a small cloud, most beautiful in its ethereal form, came and hovered over the forlorn looking holm oak…’Look! Look! It is a sign from Our Lady’” the August crowd shouted. Now they again saw the phenomenon. 
On September 13, present again, “The kneeling, ecstatic figures of the children were transfigured in a light that seemed to change the spot into a Holy of Holies, filled with the majesty of God.” 
Of course, only the three children saw Our Lady. - Joseph Pronechen

The September message:
Continue to pray the Rosary in order to obtain the end of the war. In October Our Lord will come, as well as Our Lady of Dolors [Sorrows] and Our Lady of Carmel. Saint Joseph will appear with the Child Jesus to bless the world.” - OL of Fatima.  Read more here.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Reminiscences ...


Prince Friedrich Alfred of the Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen
Dom Marianus Marck, O. Cart.

Fr. Marianus Marck.

I first met Fr. Marinus when I stayed at the Charterhouse in Vermont for a month in the Spring of 1976.  I was there as an observer, hoping to enter.  I've mentioned before that the Prior Raphael Diamond explained to me that a certain tendency in my temperament would be unsuitable for the solitary life.  I was kindly told I couldn't enter.  Afterwards, I continued my pilgrimage and went to Rome, like my patron, St. Benedict Joseph Labre.  I wasn't exactly suited to the life of a mendicant either.

Those who read me know I had a relapse into an old way of life, and left Boston, thinking I would be safe from temptation back in Minneapolis.  Then I met my friend Darold.  Many know the story now, how I couldn't live in a sexual friendship and still receive the sacraments.  My friend Darold said he would rather live celibately - separate beds, no sex, etc., than live alone.  

I prayed to St. Joseph for a remedy, and things worked out.  That is not to say things were easy, and I kept thinking I could still leave and enter a monastery and Darold would be free.  The sadness my restlessness must have caused Darold had to have been painful, if not annoying, yet he never said very much.  He allowed me space - what he put up with though - the only thing he would tell me is not to lay my guilt on him, as well as pointing out there was nothing wrong with our friendship.  (He really helped me.)  

I mention this because I believed the Carthusians would accept me after I had 'successfully' lived two years, chaste and celibate, albeit with Darold.  (I was so clueless - after all, it was Darold's support and stability which allowed me to grow up, to live chastely and celibately, and return to the prayer and the sacraments.  Together we were able to help others.)  That said, I came upon the final rejection letter today while going through papers, which I'll post here, along with the Facebook piece I did in remembrance of Fr. Marianus.  (I was surprised to learn, only a week or so ago, that he had died, and even more surprised to find out he was a German Prince.)

Back to Fr. Marianus.

As I mentioned, my stay was in the mid-1970's. A few weeks ago I scheduled a set of Gregorian Masses to be celebrated by the Carthusians for Darold. Not long after that I received a box of booklets from the Prior. One contained the biography of Dom Raphael Diamond (RIP) who was Prior when I was there. Included in the book is a photo of Dom Marianus, the German priest who was Novice Master when I spent my month there. I was fortunate to be with him daily and receive spiritual direction from him. I also worked in his garden with him. The box of booklets was unexpected, since I had sent Mass requests with a donation, not expecting anything in return.
Anyway, I was surprised to find out that Dom Marianus Marck (RIP), before entering was Prince Friedrich Alfred of the Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen, a high born aristocrat, who happened to be on the list of possible candidates to wed the British Princess Elizabeth - now reigning as queen. The only condition being he would have to become Protestant. He he refused, and entered the Carthusians. Isn't that amazing? His sister Regina Helene Elizabeth Margarete Prinzessin von Sachsen-Meiningen, was married to Otto von Habsburg, the son of Blessed Charles, the last Austro-Hungarian Emperor.

Friedrich Alfred von Sachsen-Meiningen (Erbprinz von Sachsen-Meiningen), Prinz
Also Known As: "Alfredo"
Birthdate: April 05, 1921
Birthplace: Jena, Thuringia, Germany
Death: September 18, 1997 (76)
Charterhouse of the Transfiguration, Mt. Equinox, Vermont, United States
Immediate Family:
Son of Georg III Af von Sachsen-Meiningen, Herzog and Klara-Marie Agnes Johanna Huberta Gabriele Josepha Elisabeth von Korff genannt Schmising-Kerssenbrock, Herzogin zu Sachsen-Meiningen
Brother of Anton-Ulrich von Sachsen-Meiningen, Prinz; Maria Gabriele von Sachsen-Meiningen, Prinzessin and Prinzessin Regina von Sachsen-Meiningen, Crown Princess of Austria, Hungary and Bohemia
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated: May 23, 2018

Fr. Marianus, pray for us.


From time to time, around the feast of St. Bruno, I lament that I was not able to enter the Carthusians.  I would even try to blame 'them' for not admitting me.  I would try to fault them.  Over time, and more recently, I discerned that my criticism of monastics and monastic observance, as well as new groups attempting to establish a religious life, was the result of envy.  I was envious of those who were able to live a religious life.  A section from a letter of St. Bruno always caused me sorrow, little did I know - as I applied it to myself - that it fed the envy and resentment I tried to suppress.  I was in denial and went to extremes to justify the critical spirit I harbored when assessing the religious life of monastics.  I genuinely think Fr. Marianus' prayers have finally freed me from that vice - at least I hope so.

"Many wish to come into this port, and many make great efforts to do so, yet do not achieve it. Indeed many, after reaching it, have been thrust out, since it was not granted to them from above.

Therefore, my brothers, you should consider it certain and well established that whoever partakes of this desirable good, should he in any way lose it, will grieve to his death, if he has any concern for the salvation of his soul." -Letters of St. Bruno. Office of Readings.

Feast of the Holy Name of Mary and The Battle of Vienna


For those unfamiliar with Roman Catholic tradition and devotion...

A feast originally celebrated on the first Sunday after the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, commemorating the triumph of the Holy Rosary over militant Islam.
Permission to celebrate the feast was given to various religious orders in a prudent manner as has been the custom throughout Church history regarding feast-days, their dates, offices, liturgical expression, etc. However, this Feast of the Holy Name of Mary would one day be joyfully extended to the Universal Church, and this on account of rather dramatic circumstances involving one of Poland's great military heroes, John Sobieski [1629-1696].
While acting as field-marshal under King John Casimir, Sobieski had raised a force of 8,000 men and enough provisions to withstand a siege of Cossacks and Tartars, who were forced to retire unsuccessfully and at a loss. In 1672, under the reign of Michael Wisniowiecki, Sobieski engaged and defeated the Turkish army, who lost 20,000 men at Chocim.
'When King Michael died, Sobieski, a beloved hero at that point, was crowned King of Poland. But, even before his coronation could take place, he would again engage and drive back the Turkish hordes in separate battles including the raising of the siege at Trembowla. Once crowned, he advanced to the Ruthenian provinces, where, having too few soldiers to attack the Turks, who outnumbered his men ten to one, he literally wore out the enemy, garrisoning his troops at Zurawno. Because of this heroic effort, he was able to regain, by treaty, a good portion of the Ukraine.
With both Turks and Poles weary from battle, peace reigned for a time . . . until the Turks set their sights on Austria, setting out through Hungary with an army of approximately 300,000 men. Fleeing from Austria, Emperor Leopold asked for Sobieski's assistance, a plea which was seconded by the Papal Nuncio. In July 1683, the Grand Vizier Kara Mustapha had reached Vienna and laid siege to the city, which was being defended by only 15,000 men. Sobieski set out for Vienna in August, his forces marching behind the banner of the Blessed Virgin. Passing by the Sanctuary of Mary in Czestochowa, they implored Our Lady's help and blessing. Writing centuries later to the bishops of Poland, Pope Pius XII recalled the supplications of Sobieski to Mary at the Sanctuary on Jasna Gora [i.e., "Bright Hill"], the site of the Shrine.
Battle was engaged before the walls of Vienna on September 12, 1683, with Sobieski seemingly put to flight by "the fierce Turkish forces. However, this retreat was a minor setback only. The Hussars renewed their assault and charged the Turks, this time sending the enemy into a retreat. The combat raged on, until Sobieski finally stormed the enemy camp. The Turkish forces were routed, Vienna was saved, and Sobieski sent the "Standard of the Prophet" to Pope Innocent XI along with the good news. In a letter to the Pontiff, Sobieski summed up his victory in these words: Veni, vidi, Deus vicit -----"I came, I saw, God conquered!" To commemorate this glorious victory, and render thanksgiving to God and honor to Our Lady for their solicitude in the struggle, Pope Innocent XI extended "The Feast of the Holy Name of Mary" to the Universal Church. Although the feast was originally celebrated on the Sunday after the Nativity of Mary, Pope St. Pius X [+1914] decreed that it be celebrated on September 12, in honor of the victory of the Catholic forces under John Sobieski.

The history of this feast reminds us in some ways of that of "Our Lady of the Rosary," which was instituted to celebrate and commemorate the victory of the Catholic forces over the Turkish navy at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571: "And thus Christ's faithful warriors, prepared to sacrifice their life and blood for the welfare of their Faith and their country, proceeded undauntedly to meet their foe near the Gulf of Corinth; while those who were unable to join them formed a band of pious supplicants, who called on Mary and, as one, saluted Her again and again in the words of the Rosary, imploring Her to grant victory to their companions engaged in battle. Our sovereign Lady did grant Her aid." [Pope Leo XIII, Supremi Apostolatus, 1883] - Source
Interestingly, Blessed Pope John Paul II restored the feast of the Holy Name of Mary one year after the events of 9/11 in 2002.  
Pray the Rosary every day ... Our Lady of Fatima

Monday, September 07, 2020

Our Lady's Eve


Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

You, O little Mary, Maria Bambina, are the Cause of our Joy! Your appearance in the arms of your mother announces that the Word of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, will soon appear in your arms. And you have but one desire, one joy: to give us your Son, to draw us to Him, that your joy might be ours and that our joy might be fulfilled. Amen

I am all thine, and all that I have is thine, O most loving Jesus,
through Mary Thy most holy and Immaculate Mother.

Sunday, September 06, 2020

Commemoration of St. Michael Archangel and the Miracle at Chonae


In Phrygia, not far from the city of Hieropolis, 
in a place called Cheretopos, 
there was a church named for the Archangel Michael, 
built over a miraculous spring.

September 6: Archangel Michael's miracle at Chonae.

This is an Orthodox Commemoration - I have not seen it in the Roman Martyrology, which lists two feast day for St. Michael: 8 May, the apparition on Monte Gargano, and 29 September, dedication of the Church on Mt. Gargano.
I love the apparition at Colossae (Paul's letter to the Colossians helps locate the area. As does the Book of Revelation.) The miracle itself parallels - for me - an eschatological episode from Revelation, specifically Chapter 12:
When the dragon saw that it had been thrown down to the earth, it pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.
But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle,* so that she could fly to her place in the desert, where, far from the serpent, she was taken care of for a year, two years, and a half-year.
The serpent,* however, spewed a torrent of water out of his mouth after the woman to sweep her away with the current.
But the earth helped the woman and opened its mouth and swallowed the flood that the dragon spewed out of its mouth.
Then the dragon became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus." - USCCB


The iconography of the miracle at Chonae reminds me of that particular passage from Revelation, as does the literal narrative of the miracle. I'll reprint a section from the Orthodox Church in America site:
"In Phrygia, not far from the city of Hieropolis, in a place called Cheretopos, there was a church named for the Archangel Michael, built over a miraculous spring.
At this church of the holy Chief Commander Michael, a certain pious man by the name of Archippus served for sixty years as church custodian. By his preaching and by the example of his saintly life he brought many pagans to faith in Christ. With the general malice of that time towards Christians, and especially against Archippus, the pagans thought to destroy the church in order to prevent people from coming to that holy place of healing, and at the same time kill Archippus.
Toward this end they made a confluence of the Lykokaperos and Kufos Rivers and directed its combined flow against the church. Saint Archippus prayed fervently to the Chief Commander Michael to ward off the danger. Through his prayer the Archangel Michael appeared at the temple, and with a blow of his staff, opened a wide fissure in a rock and commanded the rushing torrents of water to flow into it. The temple remained unharmed. Seeing such an awesome miracle, the pagans fled in terror. Archippus and the Christians gathered in church glorified God and gave thanks to the holy Archangel Michael for the help. The place where the rivers plunged into the fissure received the name “Chonae”, which means “plunging.” - OCA


Devotion to St. Michael Archangel is very important for all Christians.

Tlaxcala, Mexico 

Another marvelous apparition, somewhat similar to the Apparition at Chonae, occurred in Mexico in 1631.

On April 25, 1631, St. Michael the Archangel appeared in Tlaxcala, Mexico to a 17-year-old named Diego Lázaro de San Francisco who was married to Francisca Castillian Xuchitl.  The apparition occurred as everyone was processing in celebration of a previous apparition of St. Michael to St. Gregory the Great (April 25, 590 A.D) during a great plague which St. Michael ended.  - Story here.

Prayer to St. Michael.

Oh, most noble Prince of the Angelic Hierarchies, valorous warrior of Almighty God, and zealous lover of His glory, terror of the rebellious angels, and love and delight of all the just, my beloved Archangel Saint Michael, desiring to be numbered among your devoted servants, I, today offer and consecrate myself to you, and place myself, my family, and all I possess under your most powerful protection.

I entreat you not to look at how little I, as your servant have to offer, being only a wretched sinner, but to gaze, rather, with favorable eye at the heartfelt affection with which this offering is made, and remember that if from this day onward I am under your patronage, you must during all my life assist me, and procure for me the pardon of my many grievous offenses and sins, the grace to love with all my heart my God, my dear Savior Jesus, and my Sweet Mother Mary, and to obtain for me all the help necessary to arrive to my crown of glory.

Defend me always from my spiritual enemies, particularly in the last moments of my life.

Come then, oh Glorious Prince and succor me in my last struggle, and with your powerful weapon cast far from me into the infernal abysses that prevaricator and proud angel that one day you prostrated in the celestial battle.

Accompany me then to the throne of God to sing with you, Archangel Saint Michael and all the angels, praise, honor and glory to the One who reigns for all eternity. AMEN. 


Monday, August 31, 2020

Helps and models in the darkness of faith.

 Remembering Corrie.

A friend of mine posted a story of how she was attracted back to the Church, in and through the example of Corrie ten Boom, the 'tramp for the Lord' as she referred to herself.  Corrie and Betsy ten Boom are special patron saints of mine, albeit they were not Catholic - they are united to the Church in and through a sort of “ecumenism of blood” - in my humble opinion.

After reading a couple of unsatisfactory books by Catholics, the author of the blog post  Inspired by Corrie ten Boom, shares how Corrie's book became for her an inspiration to deepen her faith as 'she returned to the Church'.  I'll let her tell it:

"I also came across the books of Corrie ten Boom, a Dutch woman who had been active in the resistance during World War II. She belonged to the Christian Reformed church but I was intrigued by the blurb on her book, The Hiding Place, as I was very interested in the experiences of those who had lived through the war, especially in Holland. 
I read the entire book by the former Catholic priest. I was not impressed with his story and his abandonment of his vows. I read part of the book by the other Catholic author, whose name I am purposely withholding. Even with my lack of Catholic knowledge and experience, I could recognize the falsehoods he was perpetrating. I was disgusted.

The book by Corrie ten Boom was the complete opposite. It completely captivated me in my search for truth. She wrote about Jesus like he was her personal friend, which he was. He led her in her daily decisions and how she treated people. The bible was not a list of optional suggestions and platitudes, it was her life. She lived and breathed the word of God. I could trust her. She kept her eyes on Jesus, I needed to do the same." - Read the rest here.