Saturday, December 31, 2022

Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI

Benedict’s death, at the age of 95, was announced in Rome on Dec. 31. His body will lie in state in St. Peter’s Basilica from the morning of Monday, Jan. 2, 2023.

In a written statement on the morning of Dec. 31, Bruni said: “With sorrow I inform you that the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, passed away today at 9:34 in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican.”

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

St. Toribio Romo Gonzalez


St. Toribio Romo Gonzalez. Acrylic on panel. 16" x 20"

I finished my painting of the saint.  The photos are not the best, but I wanted to share the work - I spent Advent painting him.

Short biography of St. Toribio.

Born in Santa Ana de Guadalupe, which belongs to the parish of Jalostotitlán, Jal. (Diocese of San Juan de los Lagos), 16 April 1900. Vicar functions pastor in Tequila, Jalisco., (Archdiocese of Guadalajara). Priest sensitive heart, assiduous prayer. Passionate about the Eucharist asked many times: "Lord, let me not a single day of my life without saying Mass without Communion hold in'. In a First Communion, to take the Sacred Host in his hands, said: "And would accept my blood, Lord, I offer you the peace of the Church? 'While in Aguascalientes, a location near Tequila that served as refuge and center of his ministry, he wanted to acquaint the parish. Worked on Friday all day and all night. At five in the morning of Saturday February 25, 1928, wanted to celebrate the Eucharist but, feeling very tired and sleepy preferred to celebrate a little sleep better. He had hardly fallen asleep when a group of agrarians and soldiers entered the room and when one of them pointed, saying, "That's the priest, kill him"Father Toribio woke up scared, stood up and received a discharge. Wounded and walked a little hesitant, a new download, in the back, cut the life of the martyr and his generous blood that reddened the land of Jalisco Canyon. - Vatican website


Holy Father, you who sent your Son to proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven to us, and He, obedient to your will, carried out the mission you gave Him to do, we pray that through the intercession of St. Toribio:
You care for and guide members of our families that have had to leave their homes for distant lands to improve their lives and those of their families. Keep them safe from harm and help them to stay firm in their Faith so that they can soon return to their homes strengthened in soul and body.
Through Christ our Lord, Amen
(St. Toribio Romo Shrine)

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Merry Christmas!

Il presepe di Cuciniello - Museo della Certosa di San Martino a Napoli.
FMR Magazine, Dicembre 1982. Photo by Massimo Listri

Wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas!  

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Surprising News About Mr. Pavone

The Fourth Sunday of Advent

Today is also the old calendar feast of the Expectation of the Parturition of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  It strikes me as ironic that the champion of the unborn, Fr. Frank Pavone has been dismissed from the priesthood, apparently for his blasphemous display of an aborted fetus upon an altar used for Mass, in the manner of a Eucharistic consecration, along with disobedience to his bishop, would become public knowledge on this day.  Indeed, Pavone went to extremes, especially in his zeal for MAGA and campaigning for Trump.  To be laicized as a result comes as a total shock.

It's sobering, actually.  To think when there is a shortage of vocations and in a time when not a few priests fall away, an apparently zealous, faithful, observant Catholic priest is dismissed from the priesthood.  People on Twitter are protesting, 'what about Fr. Martin? What about the German Synod participants?'  What they are saying is what about liberal bishops and priests who endorse same sex marriage, homosexuality, divorced and remarried couple access to the sacraments.  What about Biden and Pelosi - why aren't they excommunicated as well?

I don't know.  To be honest, it's not up to me.  No one asked me - ever.  I never voted for abortion or gay marriage.  I have no control over the decisions made by the Vatican.  Perhaps I'm affected by them, but I have no say.  

It seems to me when Pope Francis became Pope, and he began to teach and promulgate the merciful love of God and the meaning and practice of mercy, many rebelled against his teaching.  Not a few good priests insisted it was wrong to not include the demands of God's justice - that mercy was inauthentic without certain conditions.  They condemned 'the church of nice'.  Many priests online opposed the Pope on this point - although the Holy Father never denied any doctrine nor the aspect of God's justice.  Indeed, only recently he spoke about how repentance and conversion is necessary for all of us.  I'm not sure how Pavone responded to the Pope, but he certainly desired to impose sanctions and even excommunication upon pro-choice politicians and Catholics, beginning with withholding absolution and communion from them.

I'm sorry for Pavone.  The priesthood is a gift from God - an amazing mystical gift.  To lose that is very disturbing.  We have seen it happen to offenders against the 6th commandment - rarely do we see it happen to one who has abused his priesthood in this manner.  No matter the case, laicization is a cause for repentance, not joy.  It is more than sad, it strikes at the heart of deepest sorrow.  I can't express in words what it means.  

A severe mercy, perhaps.  Nevertheless, it reminds me of something St. Therese said to a sister in her monastery whose spirituality was focused solely upon the justice of God.  St. Therese had to contend with those who criticized her little way and especially her confidence in the merciful love of God. Therese, reluctant to debate or argue a point, once explained to one of the nuns who opposed her 'doctrine' that was just fine, "Sister, if you want divine justice, you will get divine justice. The soul gets exactly what it expects of God."  Perhaps this illustrates what happened in Pavone's case?  Especially since he was so eager to see the pro-aborts excommunicated?  I don't know and I refuse to judge or condemn.

Instead, I repent of my sins, my pride, my rash judgement and condemnation of others, and all the sins of my life.  I pray for Frank Pavone.


No priest would ever be dismissed from the clerical state for being TOO pro-life. If you think that's the issue with Mr. Frank Pavone, I'd invite you look at his long history of disobedience to his bishop, vulgarity, misuse of human remains, etc.

Saturday, December 17, 2022

The Meaning of Advent


Shaken and Stirred

I will reprint something from Alfred Delp, S.J.  For me it explains everything.  The war, the atrocities, the ideological madness, the schism, the apostasy, the civil unrest, the suicides and murders - even the Pope and his 'make a mess' call to conversion.  I found this on Tumblr.

The Shaking Reality of Advent:

"There is perhaps nothing we modern people need more than to be genuinely shaken up. Where life is firm we need to sense its firmness; and where it is unstable and uncertain and has no basis, no foundation, we need to know this too and endure it.

We may ask why God has sent us into this time, why he has sent this whirlwind over the earth, why he keeps us in this chaos where all appears hopeless and dark and why there seems to be no end to this in sight. The answer to this question is perhaps that we were living on earth in an utterly false and counterfelt security. And now God strikes the earth 'til it resounds, now he shakes and shatters; not to pound us with fear, but to teach us one thing-the spirit's innermost moving and being moved.

Many of the things that are happening today would never have happened if we had been living in that movement and disquiet of heart which results when we are faced with God, the Lord, and when we look clearly at things as they really are. If we had done this, God would have withheld his hand from many things that have stirred up and shaken and crushed our lives. We would have seen and judged the limits of our own competence.

But we have stood on this earth in false pathos, in false security; in our spiritual insanity we really believed we could, with the power of our own hand and arm, bring the stars down from heaven and kindle flames of eternity in the world. We believed that with our own forces we could avert the dangers and banish night, switch off and halt the internal quaking of the universe. We believed we could harness everything and fit it into a final order that would stand.

Here is the message of Advent: faced with him who is the Last, the world will begin to shake. Only when we do not cling to false securities will our eyes be able to see this Last One and get to the bottom of things. Only then will we be able to guard our life from the frights and terrors into which God the Lord has let the world sink to teach us, so that we may awaken from sleep, as Paul says, and see that it is time to repent, time to change things. It is time to say, "All right, it was night; but let that be over and let us be ready for the day." We must do this with a decision that comes out of these very horrors we have experienced, and all that is connected with them; and because of this our decision will be unshakable even in uncertainty.

If we want to transform life again, if Advent is truly to come again-the Advent of home and of hearts, the Advent of the people and the nations, a coming of the Lord in all this-the great Advent question for us is whether we come out of these convulsion with this determination: yes, arise! It is time to awaken from sleep. It is time for a waking up to begin somewhere. It is time to put things back where God the Lord put them. It is time for each of us to go to work, with the same unshakable sureness that the Lord will come, to set our life in God's order wherever we can. Where God's word is heard, he will not cheat our life of the message; where our life rebels before our own eyes he will reprimand it.

The world today needs people who have been shaken by ultimate calamities and emerged from them with the knowledge and awareness that those who look to the Lord will still be preserved by him, even if they are hounded from the earth.

The Advent message comes out of an encounter of man with the absolute, the final, the gospel. It is thus the message that shakes-so that in the end the world shall be shaken. The fact that then the Son of man shall come is more than a historic prophecy; it is also a decree, that God's coming and the shaking up of humanity are somehow connected. If we are inwardly unshaken, inwardly incapable of being genuinely shaken, if we become obstinate and hard and superficial and cheap, then God will himself intervene in world events and teach us what it means to be placed in this agitation and be stirred inwardly. Then the great question to us is whether we are still capable of being truly shocked or whether it is to remain so that we see thousands of things and know that they should not be and must not be, and that we get hardened to them. How many things have we become used to in the course of the years, of the weeks and months, so that we stand unshocked, unstirred, inwardly unmoved.

Advent is time when we ought to be shaken and brought to a realization of ourselves. The necessary condition for the fulfillment of Advent is the renunciation of the presumptuous attitudes and alluring dreams in which and by means of which we always build ourselves imaginary worlds. In this way we force reality to take us to itself by force-by force, in much pain and suffering.

The shocked awakening is definitely part of experiencing Advent. But at the same time there is much more that belongs to it. Advent is blessed with God's promises, which constitute the hidden happiness of this time. These promises kindle the inner light in our hearts. Being shattered, being awakened-only with these is life made capable of Advent. In the bitterness of awakening, in the helplessness of "coming to," in the wretchedness of realizing our limitations, the golden threads that pass between heaven and earth in the times reach us. These golden threads give the world a taste of the abundance it can have.

We must not shy away from Advent thoughts of this kind. We must let our inner eye see and let our hearts range far. We will encounter the earnestness of Advent and the blessing of Advent in a different way. We will see characters, completed and whole personalities, that belong to these days and to all days-characters in whom the Advent message and the Advent blessing simply exist and live, calling out to us and touching us to cheer and shake us, to console and to uplift us."

(Fr. Alfred Delp, S.J.)

Friday, December 16, 2022

Just a thought


Anticipating heaven.

Pray, pray, pray.  However you know how, wherever you are.  Never give up prayer, no matter what state you are in.  The rosary is a sure way of ceaseless prayer.  The morning offering ensures that everything we do is a prayer and a sacrifice throughout the day, as the Catechism states:  "He "prays without ceasing" who unites prayer to works and good works to prayer. Only in this way can we consider as realizable the principle of praying without ceasing."  And, "It is possible to offer fervent prayer even while walking in public or strolling alone, or seated in your shop, . . . while buying or selling, . . . or even while cooking."

I would suggest that frequent spiritual communion throughout the day sustains us in the presence of God and teaches us how to be recollected in our occupations.  These things I recommend to those who do not go to daily Mass, and even those who may be caught in the habit of sin. "Prayer is the trap door out of sin."  Never give up prayer.

Artists like to quote Dostoevsky, or is it Solzhenitsyn, who wrote, "beauty will save the world".  What few realize is that the true beauty, the essential beauty, or the 'love of beauty' is what the monastic fathers called prayer.  As the Catechism affirms: "Still others exalt sensuality and comfort as the criteria of the true, the good, and the beautiful; whereas prayer, the "love of beauty" (philokalia), is caught up in the glory of the living and true God. Finally, some see prayer as a flight from the world in reaction against activism; but in fact, Christian prayer is neither an escape from reality nor a divorce from life."

Prayer is our heaven on earth.

Thursday, December 01, 2022

Everything is different

I woke up thinking that - thanking God for this new day, praying immediately for an online acquaintance who is most likely dying.  

Everything must change, expectations of how things must be, or should be must be allowed to crumble.  

O my God!  I thank you for Pope Francis who has overturned the tables of our idolatry and ideology.  He has lifted burdens too hard to carry and called down the Holy Spirit to stir up the love of God in the hearts of the faithful, though our sins impede the grace of mercy which so longs to save us - the Lord comes to our help with his mighty strength.

Thank you Lord.  Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving!

Christmas Minneapolis Dayton's 1967.

For years I lied to people - Darold did too - telling them we were going to my sister's for Thanksgiving. People just couldn't bear the idea two guys wouldn't be with family for Thanksgiving.

This year I really will be going to my sister's for Thanksgiving.
Being alone for the holidays was never a big deal for me, and here is why.
My reputation for hating the holidays was not true. My withdrawal at from social affairs over Thanksgiving and Christmastime was a result of my work at Dayton’s and had nothing to do with the family or hating the season. For weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, it was constant work getting store interiors and windows done for Christmas – lots of overtime and some all-nighters - the night before Thanksgiving could be a nightmare. Animated windows, synched with the auditorium could make things miserable - it was like a Broadway opening. (Darold did the same work, when we first met he never liked Christmas because of it.)
Thanksgiving was a day to sleep-in since we often worked all night. Likewise in Senior year, my 1st Christmas was watchman for animated windows and getting backgrounds for Spring done. I worked until Midnight through Christmas.
Later, after entering the monastery, Christmas became a more spiritual, solitary event. Then when I worked at the Cancer Home, I worked weekends and holidays so people with families could have those days off – for nearly 16 years. Mid-week I did my artwork. Long story short, not being around was never about avoiding family or a rejection of family. To be sure, sometimes I avoided my parents on the holidays because they were trouble makers – but they never caused me to hate Christmas.
Together, Darold and I reinvented our holiday observance. It began on S. Nicholas Eve and went through Christmas, Russian Christmas and 12th Night. His mom and dad were our 'immediate family' and they loved all the celebration and food and being together. It was magical and unrepeatable.
This year I'm grateful to spend Thanksgiving with my sister and her awesome family, and Christmas with my little brother.
Happy Thanksgiving - and remember those who serve and protect.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Just some thoughts about that.

I spend too much time online.

Now that family follows me on FB, along with others who actually know me, I can no longer be quite as candid as I used to be - which was always too much.

If I say something about what I'm feeling, reflecting upon what that means to me - I get reactions I was never expecting nor looking for.  If I mention heath concerns I get offers to help - which again, wasn't what I was looking for.  Then I get post links - whatever you call being flagged in a post and I don't know how to respond, but if I don't, I'm afraid the other person will be offended.  (This is not a complaint - I'm simply reflecting on how my experience online has changed.)

I scroll looking for something funny or distracting to post as a diversion, only to run out of stuff that interests me or even make me laugh.  In the meantime I keep scrolling by people I follow or link to and sooner or later I see how mundane everything is - and sometimes downright insane.  The crazy things people post - it dawned on me, that is how I must look to others online.

The negativity and cynicism - not to mention the gossip and disparagement of others, be it political or ecclesial really is toxic.  It's contagious.  I never understood that more clearly than when I engaged in discussions - commenting with personal anecdotes regarding a couple of contemplative religious foundations.  In part I believed I was contributing positively as well a supporting some directives from the Vatican.  Long story short, I saw my good intentions were no better than a former religious' intention in exposing the problems associated with the founder and foundation of a Carmelite group out west.  I was so taken aback by the accuser's inclusion of anecdotes, videos and photos, from her former community, apparently using them to establish her credibility and provide evidence to support her report. I had to examine my own part in the brew and realized it was not good.  

I went through my archives as well as posts on Church Militant and removed all my commentary - quite ashamed I had engaged myself so imprudently and without being asked to do so.  I very much doubt my commentary made any difference and was simply anecdotal and personal opinion - yet my involvement amounted to gossip and meddling - something I've censured others for - especially in the case of the former nun in the interview.  I so want to avoid doing things like that, from now on.  

The past couple of days, others I follow online, whom conservatives call 'leftist-Catholics' have taken issue with the elections of a new President and Chairmen of the USCCB.  I looked up some of the concerns they expressed, one or two statements made by the Bishop-elect seemed just fine to me.  Yet other points the critics made - that the election was a clear message of rejection to Pope Francis, if true, is simply very discouraging.  

I don't usually follow the 'politics' of the USCCB and I'm not a bishop-watcher.  From the early days of my conversion until now, the bishops have always simply been on the periphery of my spiritual life.  I've know a couple personally, did some painting for one or two, but that's about it.  I've lived through Bernadine, Roach and others - and none of that threatened my faith or devotion.  If the pendulum has swung the other way, I'll live through this as well.  It's just sad that Catholics are so divided and that so many appear to reject the Holy Father - of course others before them have as well.  So many lay-Catholics regard the Church as a political entity and seem to take sides in the same way they do in American politics.  Taking sides and fighting and defending ones' cause to the point of detraction and calumny is a great evil.  That certainly comes out in com-boxes across social media platforms.

I hope I can learn from my mistakes and the mistakes I discover in others - which only mirror my own - especially if I want to correct or report on them.  Discretion and discernment must be my companion and teacher.


Wednesday, November 09, 2022

In the Father's Hands

Machado de Castro National Museum, Coimbra Photo: Manuel Mira Godinho (2014).*

When I feel quite lost and alone, I remember that I am not out of the Father's hands.  This image reminded me of paintings of the Father holding the dead Christ, and today it suddenly became for me my assurance and my peace.  Although all seems lost and things seem to be collapsing around me and I feel utterly alone, this image reminds me that I - we - are held (together) in the Father's embrace.  "...and the gates of the nether world shall not prevail against it." (Mt 16:18)

God is our refuge and our strength,

an ever present help in distress, 

Therefore, we fear not, though the earth be shaken

and mountains plunge into the depths of the sea. - Ps 46

*The image is actually a detail of a Pieta - the Mother of Sorrows holding her Son. When I first viewed this particular image, my mind immediately went to the image of the Father receiving the Body of Jesus which is often portrayed in images of the Blessed Trinity. 

Monday, November 07, 2022

This is the best.

 This is such an important message.  I've seen unforgiveness online among Catholics, some who have even left the Church - we all need to forgive.  Over and over if need be - just as much as we all need to ask for forgiveness, especially in the sacrament of Penance - over and over and over.


Believing in the Power of Forgiveness

When I forgive somebody, one of the things that allows me to forgive is faith.

God can convert something good even out of evil. Let’s say I’ve lived through an evil; I have suffered, I was wounded, but I believe that God is powerful enough to bring goodness out of everything, even the evil committed against me. In the Gospel reading for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the angel tells Mary that nothing is impossible for God. If we have faith that God can convert a good thing out of evil—an evil that we’ve suffered through—then God can heal our wounds, and forgiveness is easier. In the world today we have a hard time forgiving, and one of the reasons is our lack of faith. We are convinced that our wounds are definitive and will never be healed; we think there is no remedy for evil.

Forgiveness is also an act of hope. When I don’t forgive, I’m condemning someone. That means that I’m identifying the person with the evil he or she has ­committed. I see the person as guilty and bad. I don’t want to forgive him or her. I have no hope for the person; I don’t think he or she can change. On the contrary, forgiving someone is a very beautiful act of hope. This person did something bad, he or she committed a wrong act, but I don’t want to identify the person with the bad action because God still loves this person who has done something bad. God is working in that person’s heart. Perhaps the person will convert. The person I’m judging and condemning will perhaps one day be a great saint. When we look at the lives of the saints, there are assassins, adulterers, criminals—but grace changed their hearts….

When we forgive someone, we set that person free of revenge or judgment. But it’s not only the other person we set free; it’s also ourselves. Every time that I forgive somebody, I set myself free…. Be encouraged to ask for the grace of forgiveness and practice it.

Father Jacques Philippe

Father Philippe is a French priest, a member of the Community of the Beatitudes, and a renowned spiritual director. / From Real Mercy: Mary, Forgiveness, and Trust, Maria Masterson, Tr. © 2016, Father Jacques Philippe, Scepter Publishers, Inc., New York, NY. Used with permission.

Friday, November 04, 2022

Antisemitism is here.


Francisco Camilo - The desecration of the Crucifix, 
or “The Christ of Injuries”.

I was scrolling through Tumblr and came across a painting from the Prado, "The Desecration of the Crucifix or The Christ of the Insults".  I didn't understand what it depicted and searched online.  It turns out the painting depicts one of the episodes in the story of desecration and offense to a crucifix, this time by a family of Portuguese Jews in Madrid in 1630.  Researching the story, I believe it to be a hysterical invention to slander New Christians or Conversos at the time, memorialized in art.  Much like 'blood libel' cases of Jews killing children and drinking their blood - a trope resurrected today by QAnon conspirators and several of their MAGA followers: E.g. "QAnon followers claim the drug adrenochrome is harvested from the blood of children by Hollywood elites."  Dig deeper and links to the Jews as perpetrators is claimed.  It's an old lie, with Christian roots.

("Kanye West's recent statements draw on longstanding anti-Semitic tropes and conspiracy theories about Jewish people. Ye’s comments also reflect beliefs espoused by fringe anti-Semitic religious groups, including extremist sects of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement and the Nation of Islam." - read more at ADL: Kanye West - What you need to know.)

The Lisbon Massacre

The painting which caught my attention is not related to the 1506 Lisbon Massacre, since what is depicted took place at later date in Madrid.  Yet I believe it is part of the continuum of circumstances precipitated the Lisbon Massacre of 1506.  I will copy and paste, with links to another site wherein I found a good history and commentary.

A German woodcut depicting the massacre,
one of the few woodcuts that survived the 1755
Lisbon earthquake and the fire at Torre do Tombo

The Lisbon Massacre, alternatively known as the Lisbon Pogrom or the 1506 Easter Slaughter was an incident in April, 1506, in which a crowd of Catholics, as well as foreign sailors who were anchored in the Tagus, persecuted, tortured, killed, and burnt at the stake hundreds of people who were accused of being Jews and, thus, guilty of deicide and heresy. This incident took place thirty years before the establishment of the Inquisition in Portugal and nine years after the Jews were forced to convert to Roman Catholicism in 1497, during the reign of King Manuel I. Because the victims were Marranos or Conversos (Jews who had become Catholics), it was somewhat unique among incidents of anti-Semitic violence. It is also known as the Easter Massacre. It is estimated to have resulted in the violent deaths of anywhere between 1,000 to 4,000 men, women and children.
The massacre began at Convent of Saint Dominic, on Sunday, April 19, 1506, when the believers were praying for the end of the drought and plague that ravaged Portugal, and someone claimed to have seen the face of Christ lit at the church altar – a phenomenon that was interpreted as a miracle by the Catholics present.
A New Christian who also attended the mass tried to explain that this miracle was only the reflection of a light, but the crowd would not listen to him and beat him to death. As from there onwards, the Jews who were already viewed with suspicion became the scapegoat of drought, hunger and plague. - Richard Harvey, Messianic Jewish teacher in UK


Antisemitism, specifically anti-Judaism - exists on the left and the right.

Could it happen again?  It is happening  today, right now.  What it might become may be seen elsewhere around the globe - not always against Jews at first, but certainly against Christians.  E.g. The massacres and burning of churches in Africa.  The invasion of Ukraine by Russia to save the country from Satanists and neo-Nazis, are just two examples of genocidal crimes with 'religious' motivation.  In the United States, the anti-Semitic rhetoric and activities by the extreme rightwing is growing, while anti-Zionism/anti-Israel sentiments can likewise be found on the left.  It is too complicated for me to discuss here, to be sure.  However it seems to me we may be on the precipice of suffering the same kind of violence we witness in other places, Africa, Middle East, Ukraine, just to name a few.

I'm no expert or historian of course, but I believe we are on the precipice, as the Pope mentioned today in Bahrain, warning "...we continue to find ourselves on the brink of a delicate precipice and we do not want to fall."