A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Catholic Carnival XXXII -Table of Plenty

This week's Catholic Carnival - a collection of posts from various Catholic blogs - is online at DeoOmnisGloria.com.

The Feast of the Visitation

And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.

And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she spake out with a loud voice, and said,

Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
And whence is this to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For, lo,

as soon as the voice of thy salutation
sounded in mine ears,
the babe leaped in my womb for joy.
And blessed is she that believed:

for there shall be
a performance of those things
which were told her from the Lord.

And Mary said,

My soul doth magnify the Lord,
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded

the low estate of his handmaiden:
for, behold,
from henceforth all generations
shall call me blessed.

For he that is mighty

hath done to me great things;
and holy is his name.

And his mercy is on them that fear him

from generation to generation.

He hath shewed strength with his arm;

he hath scattered the proud
in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seats,

and exalted them of low degree.
He hath filled the hungry with good things;

and the rich he hath sent empty away.

He hath holpen his servant Israel,

in remembrance of his mercy;
As he spake to our fathers,

to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.
Luke 1:39-56

Joyful visitation

In today’s Gospel (Lk. 1:39-56) we have the familiar scene of the Visitation, as Mary visits Elizabeth right after receiving the Annunciation by the Archangel Gabriel.

It is a truly joyful event: even the child in Elizabeth’s womb (who will be known as John the Baptist) leaps for joy.

But not everyone may receive all parts of this Gospel passage with joy, especially where Mary says the following:

He hath put down the mighty from their seats….
and the rich he hath sent empty away.

It may seem, therefore, that this might not be a joyful visitation for those entrusted with positions of authority or blessed with earthly wealth.

Then again, perhaps it should not be so joyful for the unborn John the Baptist, because after the unborn child now in Mary’s womb begins his public ministry, John will lose both his own superstar status and his head.

What would be an "unjoyful" visitation? A verse later in Luke’s Gospel (19:44) alludes to this, when our Lord foretells all kinds of catastrophes for his listeners “because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.”

On the other hand, Peter and the Apostles are later chastised and physically beaten, but go forth “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name” – the name of Jesus (Acts 5:41b).

Peter and the Apostles recognized in the humiliation and brutality they suffered a time of visitation: an opportunity for manifesting the salvific will of God at work in their lives and in the world.

In times of divine visitation, when God becomes involved in our lives, he shakes things up: he scatters the pride of our own imagination and he puts down the might we may think we have in our selves, but he exalts those acknowledge their lowliness before him.

Mary and Elizabeth, as well as Peter and the Apostles, recognized the time of visitation: they saw God at work in their lives and rejoiced in it - no matter what - because their focus was on God’s will and God’s glory and not on their own.

May we acknowledge our own lowliness before God, may we always be seeking not our own will and glory but God’s will and glory, and thus may we recognize with overwhelming joy the times of our visitation: our loving God at work in us.

Monday, May 30, 2005

"Our family is a large one...

"...with no shortage of personalities!

"From our older sisters we seek encouragement, and admire the wisdom they have gained from years of prayer and experience. With our peers we share the bonds made in the novitiate, and with many other sisters we have common experiences from shared mission life and apostolate. There are also our “little sisters” who look to us for support, encouragement and good example. They in turn share with us a newfound sense of zeal and energy. All of the family dynamics are present, but with the help of grace and the power of a love that does not count the cost and seeks Christ above all things."
from the website of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecelia
(The Nashville Dominicans)

Memorial Day

This is a U.S. holiday, but a good opportunity to remember all who have died in war.

Abraham Lincoln gave perhaps the greatest of Memorial Day speeches not given on Memorial Day (at a cemetery dedication on November 19, 1863).

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

"Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met here on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of it as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

"But in a larger sense we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled, here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract.

"The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but can never forget what they did here.

"It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they have, thus far, so nobly carried on.

"It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

They will respect my son

Coming the day after the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, this line from the familiar parable of the tenant farmers in today’s Gospel (Mk 12:1-12) gains additional resonance.

In some circles, especially in the past, reverence for the Eucharist and consciousness of unworthiness have been taken to an extreme that imposed unjust barriers to God’s grace.

In recent decades, however, in many places, the opposite extreme has been the more likely danger.

It is easy (but not terribly helpful) to talk about the horror stories (“pizza and beer…”). It is also easy (and very helpful) to review the points made by the recent document Redemptionis Sacramentum ("The Sacrament of Redemption - an Instruction "On certain matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist")

But perhaps the most challenging approach to this issue is to confront our own attitude toward our Lord in the Eucharist.

As St. Paul says,
Whoever, therefore,
eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord
in an unworthy manner
will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.
Let a man examine himself,
and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.

1 Corinthians 11:27:28

Do I respect God’s son?

Do I disrespect him?

Do I disrespect him
  • by not preparing for Mass with appropriate fasting and prayer?
  • by declining his invitation to repentance, forgiveness, and reception?
  • by my inattentive attitude, posture, and gestures during Mass?
  • by my excessive attention to people I deem impious during Mass?

Heed me, and you shall eat well,
you shall delight in rich fare.
Come to me heedfully,
that you may have life.

Isaiah 55:2b-3a

Miserere mei, Domine

Sunday, May 29, 2005


In today’s first reading from Deuteronomy 8, Moses tells the people this about the Lord:

He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger,
and then fed you with manna,
a food unknown to you and your fathers,
in order to show you

that not by bread alone does man live,
but by every word

that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD.

This verse finds its perfect fulfillment in Christ, the eternal Word of God, who in today’s Gospel (Jn. 6:51-58) identifies himself as “the living bread which came down from heaven….”

This is that bread which came down from heaven:
not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead:
he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

People can sometimes be blasé about Holy Communion. We may forget how unlooked-for and precious a gift it is: “a food unknown to you and your fathers.”

We may also have numbed ourselves to the spiritual hunger that only Christ can satisfy.

It would be good for us to take this special opportunity, this Solemnity of the Body and the Blood of Christ during this Year of the Eucharist, to be more aware of the deepest hunger with which we are afflicted and of the precious gift that the Lord gives us in his very flesh and blood.

Pange, lingua, gloriosi
Corporis mysterium
Sanguinisque pretiosi...

Pange, lingua, gloriosi

Corporis mysterium
Sanguinisque pretiosi,
Quem in mundi pretium,
Fructus ventris generosi,
Rex effudit gentium.

Nobis datus, nobis natus,
Ex intacta Virgine,
Et in mundo conversatus,
Sparso verbi semine
Sui moras incolatus
Miro clausit ordine.

In supremae nocte coenae
Recumbens cum fratribus,
Observata lege plene
Cibis in legalibus,
Cibum turbae duodenae
Se dat suis manibus

Verbum caro panem verum
Verbo carnem efficit;
Fit sanguis Christi merum.
Et si sensus deficit,
Ad firmandum cor sincerum
Sola fides sufficit.

Tantum ergo sacramentum
Venereumur cernui.
Et antiquum documentum
Novo cedat ritui.
Praestet fides supplementum
Sensuum defectui.

Genitori genitoque
Laus et jubilatio,
Salus, honor, virtus quoque
Sit et benedictio.
Procedenti ab utroque
Compar sit laudatio.

S. Thomas Aquinas

Acclaim, O tongue, the mystery
Of the glorious Body
And of the precious Blood
That in ransom for the world,
Fruit of a generous womb,
The King of nations shed.

To us given, for us born
From a Virgin pure,
And, brought into the world
To spread the seed of the Word,
He ended His stay
In a wondrous way.

On the night of the Last Supper,
Reclining with his brothers,
Observing the Law fully,
The food prescribed by Law,
This food to the Twelve
He gave with His own hands.

The Word Made Flesh made true bread
Become flesh at His word,
Made wine the Blood of Christ.
And if our senses fail
To strengthen a sincere heart
Faith alone will suffice.

So great a sacrament, therefore,
Let us venerate on our knees
And the old ritual
To the new Rite yield.
May faith supply
What our senses lack.

To the Father and to the Begotten
Praise and jubilation,
Salvation, honor and power
And blessing be;
And to the One who proceeds from Both
Equally be praise.


The Feast of Corpus Christi

I am the living bread
which came down from heaven:
if any man eat of this bread,
he shall live for ever:
and the bread that I will give
is my flesh,
which I will give for the life of the world.

The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying,
How can this man give us his flesh to eat?

Then Jesus said unto them,
Verily, verily, I say unto you,
Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man,
and drink his blood,
ye have no life in you.

Whoso eateth my flesh,
and drinketh my blood,
hath eternal life;
and I will raise him up at the last day.

For my flesh is meat indeed,
and my blood is drink indeed.

He that eateth my flesh,
and drinketh my blood,
dwelleth in me,
and I in him.

As the living Father hath sent me,
and I live by the Father:
so he that eateth me,
even he shall live by me.

This is that bread which came down from heaven:
not as your fathers did eat manna,
and are dead:
he that eateth of this bread
shall live for ever.
John 6:51-68

Saturday, May 28, 2005


This week's Catholic Carnival - a collection of posts from various Catholic blogs - went online this morning at LivingCatholicism.com.

This week's Christian Carnival - an ecumenical collection of posts from various blogs - is online at Technogypsy.

Knowing the answer

In today’s Gospel (Mk. 11:27-33), our Lord does not explain the source of his authority when asked by those who cynically profess uncertainty about the origin of John the Baptist’s authority.

Real knowledge of God – who is the source of that authority and thus the answer to the question – is not abstract: it requires commitment, fidelity, and action.

How well do we really know God?

Friday, May 27, 2005

What kind of tree are you?

Today’s Gospel (Mk. 11:11-26) encompasses several different things, but much of it centers on a fig tree that bears no fruit and withers under the curse of Christ.

Are we bearing fruit?

Miserere mei, Domine.

He did what the Pope could not

He was not a missionary, he was the Pope, but there was a missionary endeavor that called to his heart.

He was not a missionary, he was a monk, but when the Pope chose him to lead this missionary endeavor in his place, he could not refuse.

In the end, after many adventures and challenges, the missionary effort was successful and this monk became the first bishop of what would become a one of the world’s most famous archbishoprics.

St. Augustine of Canterbury, sent by Pope St. Gregory the Great to be Apostle of England, died fourteen hundred years ago yesterday and his memory is celebrated on this day.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Corpus Christi (pro multis)

Today is the traditional day to celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi - the Body and Blood of Christ. (Many will celebrate it this coming Sunday).

O sacrum convivium,
in quo Christus sumitur:
recolitur memoria passionis eius;
mens impletur gratia
et futurae gloriae
nobis pignus datur.

O sacred banquet,
in which Christ is received,
the memory of His Passion is renewed,
the mind is filled with grace,
and a pledge of future glory
given to us.

Vocation Trust Prayer

"Here I am Lord...
at the crossroads of my life.

"The time has come
for me to choose the road that leads to you.

"I hesitate
for fear of what lies ahead of me,
for I am much afraid of the unknown.

"Take my hand in Yours
and walk with me,
for the road is long,
and there are no short cuts.

"I place myself into your hands.
You know the way,
You are the way.

from the Vocations website

Catching up on news

Earlier this week, Catholic News Service reported that "Father David Gaffny recently concelebrated Mass for the first time in more than 35 years.... (After the) father of three, grandfather of six and former Maryknoll priest, lost his wife of 31 years in July 2001, he began to discern what to do with the rest of his life. It was natural for him to return to the full exercise of priestly ministry. After returning to seminary studies for a brief period, he was accepted as a priest for the Nashville Diocese. While he always retained the 'indelible mark' of holy orders, Father Gaffny had not acted as a priest since 1969, the year he sought laicization to marry..."

In other news earlier this week, Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation (for undisclosed ailments) of Bishop Raymond J. Boland of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo. He is succeeded by his coadjutor, Bishop Robert W. Finn.

The Holy Father also named Msgr. Peter Doyle, a priest of the diocese of Portsmouth, as bishop of Northampton, U.K.

Shut up -- not!

In today’s Gospel (Mk. 10: 46-52), a blind man refuses to let other people keep him quiet and he subsequently receives the healing grace of Christ.

Do we let other people keep us quiet or are we persistent in speaking about Jesus?

He came with no money

Still a teenager, Philip had left his family, his job, and a promising future and arrived in the big city empty-handed. He got a position as a tutor, which gave him room and board. Otherwise, he spent his time praying, reading, and sharing his faith with people on the street.

Many of those he met on the street would also dedicate themselves to the service of God. Some stayed with him, others entered religious orders. Philip sometimes thought about becoming a missionary or a hermit, but he was convinced that the city itself would be for him both mission territory and a hermitage.

In time, he became a priest and gathered a religious community around him that focused on prayer, preaching, and music. His community was known as the Congregation of the Oratory and would be associated with a form of musical presentation known as the “oratorio.”

St. Philip Neri died in Rome 410 years ago tomorrow and his memory is celebrated on this day. Congregations of the Oratory can be found in many places, from Pittsburgh to South Africa and most famously the Oratory that Cardinal John Henry Newman founded at Birmingham, England.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Do you want to be great?

In today’s Gospel (Mk. 10:32-45), our Lord tells us how:

Whoever wishes to be great among you
will be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you
will be the slave of all.

For the Son of Man
did not come to be served
but to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many.

How much do we really put ourselves at the service of others?

Thus wrote the humble monk

"From the time of my admission to the priesthood to my present fifty-ninth year, I have endeavored for my own use and that of my brethren, to make brief notes upon the holy Scripture, either out of the works of the venerable Fathers or in conformity with their meaning and interpretation."

Thus wrote the humble monk, who spent the whole of his life within the same monastery. A few years after he wrote these words, he died – on this very day.

This humble monk who made “brief notes” would be recognized as the most learned man of his day and one of the Church’s greatest historians.

Not long after his death, he was known as “the Venerable” and in 1899, more than a thousand years after his death (in 735), Bede the Venerable would be declared a Doctor of the Church.

What you get in this life

Many times we hear that we will be more than compensated in the next life for the privations of this life.

In yesterday’s Gospel (Mk.10:28-31), however, our Lord promised a more immediate return on our spiritual investments.

There is no man
that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters,
or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands,
for my sake, and the gospel's,
But he shall receive an hundredfold
now in this time,
houses, and brethren, and sisters,
and mothers, and children, and lands,
with persecutions;
and in the world to come eternal life.

(Sounds great, we think, except for that “persecutions” part.)

One clear way in which this promise is fulfilled is through our inclusion in the Body of Christ – in the Church – for it is there that we truly receive innumerable siblings, parents, and children in Christ; it is also as Christians that we have innumerable houses and places - indeed, the entire universe - where we can worship God.

And yet it is also as members of the Body of Christ that we may (and often do) receive persecutions: from anti-Christian social pressures to outright martyrdom.

Yet even the persecutions – subtle or bloody – give the opportunity for our faith to shine forth and prepare us even more for the still greater rewards of heaven.

If by the grace of Christ we are faithful and give ourselves wholly to him, we will indeed receive: through our family which is the Body of Christ and through the eternity of joy that Christ prepares for us in the world to come.

Well, I'm back

I had little or no Internet access for the last day or so.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Bishop turnover

This morning the Holy Father accepted the retirement of Bishop James McLoughlin, Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh (Ireland) and appointed Bishop Martin Drennan, Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin, in his place.


Today’s Gospel (Mk. 10:17-27) has the familiar, heartbreaking encounter between our Lord and a man who obeys the Commandments:

"Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth."

Jesus, looking at him,
loved him
and said to him,
"You are lacking in one thing.
Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor
and you will have treasure in heaven;

then come, follow me."

At that statement, his face fell,
and he went away sad,
for he had many possessions.

Our Lord then goes on to exclaim how hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.

But this encounter is not a warning to the rich alone.

Even someone who is economically impoverished might place material possessions (as few as these possessions might be) above God and the same can be true for those of us who live materially comfortable lives.

Even the ascetic monk who forsakes all material possessions may still cling tightly to other possessions, such as pride.

Our hearts must be undividedly set on Christ. We may have things in our lives, but Christ must always be first.

We must pray for the grace of appropriate detachment, so that we may never turn away sad from the Lord, but that we may always follow Christ unreservedly with undivided and unbroken hearts.

From Tolkien fan to...

"Interwoven in the foundation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s literary works is the mystery of death: 'the divine paradox, that which ends life, and demands the surrender of all, and yet...take(s) on that complexion of reality, of eternal endurance, which every man’s heart desires.'

"A better application for me cannot be found for one’s Solemn Profession (as a Poor Clare Nun of Perpetual Adoration).

"The eight years of formation are coming to an end. Eight years of surrender, of death to one’s very strong will — an interminable battle, of struggling against the illusions of self and the shadows of the world are encompassed at the very same time by the reception of so much Light and Mercy and Love. These in comparison to what one has striven to give up are beyond all imagination and comprehension.

"'Ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem' (from unreality to Reality) Cardinal Newman wrote for his memorial tablet. What truth! Christ is the Reality. And this life for every soul is but a journey from shadow to Light. We die daily, little deaths that pierce the darkness to allow Our Lord into our hearts. The pain of these daily trials brings about an awakening to eternity. Amidst the grief, however minute or serious, there is a realization that Our Lord is using whatever it may be to draw us closer to Him. The sharing of His Cross strips away so much of the dross to reveal what really matters: Our Lord and His tremendous love.

"Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati puts it best, 'In my present struggle I cannot but thank God Who has willed, in His Infinite Mercy, to grant to my heart this pain, so that by means of these thorns I might return to a life which is more interior, more spiritual.'

"In his sub-created world Tolkien explored the conceptual idea that death, before the fall of man, was originally a gift from God to men — the means of bringing men more fully to Himself. But because of sin, the world and men were wounded. Fear entered the hearts of men, and death became an adversary to life. Hope was lost.

"But Our Lord (in Tolkien's words) 'will not suffer Himself to be deprived of His own, not by an Enemy, not even by ourselves.' He would enter the world as the Haeland, the Healer, to 'heal Men and all the Marring from beginning to end.'" He would use His death to accomplish the restoration of man to God, replacing fear with love, restoring our hope in Him.

"Solemn Profession is a participation in the Death of Our Lord. A victorious Death that won for us at great cost the precious gift of eternal life. Solemn Profession is a foreshadowing of this entrance into life on High with the Beloved King."

"'Praise Him With Great Praise'"

Sister Marie St. Paul of the Holy Spirit
Our Lady of the Angels Monastery
Hanceville, Alabama

But to the penitent

he provides a way back,
he encourages those who are losing hope!

Return to the LORD and give up sin,
pray to him and make your offenses few.

Turn again to the Most High and away from sin,
hate intensely what he loathes.

Sirach 17:19-21

Sunday, May 22, 2005


Most of us have grown up hearing about the Trinity: that there are three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – in one God, and that it is an ineffable mystery.

For some, the doctrine of the Trinity is a bit dry and obscure: not terribly meaningful to one’s daily life.

Today’s first reading, from the Old Testament (Exodus 34), does not mention the Trinity at all, and yet it powerfully conveys to us a sense of what the doctrine of the Trinity means to us and to our relationship with God.

Having come down in a cloud,
the LORD stood with Moses there
and proclaimed his name, "LORD."

Thus the LORD passed before him and cried out,
"The LORD, the LORD, a merciful and gracious God,
slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity."

Moses at once bowed down to the ground in worship.
Then he said, "If I find favor with you, O LORD,
do come along in our company.

Moses has a moment of intimate closeness with Infinity and Omnipotence Itself. God not only stands beside Moses, he tells Moses his Name.

This Name is no mere label: it is a revelation of who God is.

The ancient people of Israel were so awed by this revelation that they treated that Name with exceeding reverence. Even today most translations of the Bible will only print “the LORD” rather than use the Name of God that he himself shared with Moses.

The revelation of the Trinity is even more awesome, for it is a revelation that is even deeper and more intimate, because it tells us something – however mysterious and unfathomable - of God’s inner self and because it is revealed in and through Christ – the incarnate Son of God, God with us.

How much does God love us! How deeply does he share with us!

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ
and the love of God
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

I arise today

Saint Patrick (click for hymn tune)
Through a mighty strength,
the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength

of Christ's birth and His baptism,
Through the strength

of His crucifixion and His burial,
Through the strength

of His resurrection and His ascension,
Through the strength

of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In preachings of the apostles,
In faiths of confessors,
In innocence of virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun, Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning, Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea, Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me;
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's hosts to save me
From snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who desires me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a mulitude.

I summon today all these powers

between me and evil,
Against every cruel merciless power

that opposes my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells

of women and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge

that corrupts man's body and soul.
Christ shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that reward may come to me in abundance.

Christ with me,

Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me,

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,

Christ when I sit down,

in the heart of every man who thinks of me,

in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength,

the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation
(St. Patrick's Breastplate)

Saturday, May 21, 2005


In today's Gospel (Mk. 10:13-16), we have this familiar scene:

People were bringing children to Jesus that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them.

When Jesus saw this

he became indignant and said to them,
"Let the children come to me;

do not prevent them,
for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

"Amen, I say to you,
whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child
will not enter it."

When we look to God, are we self-important or are we childlike?

He was a good priest

He said Mass, heard confessions, and taught seminarians.

For that, the federal government threw him in front of a firing squad 82 years ago this coming Wednesday.

21 other priests and three laymen were executed as part of that same "crackdown" by the Mexican government.

Father Christopher Magallanes and companions were canonized in the year 2000 and their memory is celebrated on this day.

Friday, May 20, 2005

A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter

he who finds one finds a treasure.

A faithful friend is beyond price,
no sum can balance his worth.

A faithful friend is a life-saving remedy,
such as he who fears God finds;

For he who fears God behaves accordingly,
and his friend will be like himself.
Sirach 6:14-17

30,000 gathered to hear him speak

Without a microphone.

He traveled all around the country to preach.

On foot.

Bernadine of Siena, the most powerful preacher of the century, literally wore himself out in the service of God: dropping to the ground and dying on this very day in 1444 (the vigil of the Ascension that year). He was canonized six years later.


In today’s Gospel (Mk. 10:1-12), our Lord speaks strongly against divorce.

“From the beginning of creation, `God made them male and female.'

”’For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two but one flesh.

“What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder."

And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter.

And he said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery."

Some Christians (and even some ministers of the Gospel) shy away from this teaching.

Other Christians pound people over the head with it.

We need to be compassionate to people in difficult circumstances.

We need to show God's love to people who have made bad choices (without our forgetting our obligations to truth and justice).

All of us – no matter where we may be in life or what we have done – need to do the best we can with what we have and where we are.

We are all sinners (miserere mei, Domine): needing the grace of Christ, striving to grow in that grace and to be channels of that grace.

But we must never obscure the truth.

Watering down ideals helps no one.

We all fall short of perfection, yet in Christ's love and grace and kindness we still strive to help each other toward the perfection to which he calls us.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Watch what you say

Many of us are sometimes a bit loose with our words and our actions (Miserere mei, Domine), straying - if only a little - from the perfection to which Christ calls us.

Sometimes this hurts not only our own relationship with God: sometimes our poor witness causes others to go astray.

Our Lord’s warning in today’s Gospel (Mk. 9:41-50) should give us pause.

Whoever causes
one of these little ones who believe in me
to sin,
it would be better for him
if a great millstone were hung round his neck
and he were thrown into the sea.

We should seek always the grace to be conscientious in all our words and all our actions, so as to deepen our relationship with Christ and enhance our witness to others.

"Lord, make me a better person...

"...more considerate towards others,
more honest with myself,
more faithful to You.

"Make me generous enough to want sincerely
to do your will whatever it may be.

"Help me to find my future vocation in life
and grant that through it

I bring happiness to others
and find happiness myself.

"Grant, Lord, that those whom You call

to enter the Priesthood or the Religious Life
may have the generosity to answer Your call,
so that those who need Your help
may always find it.

"We ask through Christ Our Lord, Amen."

A Prayer for Vocations
to the Priesthood and Religious Life for England and Wales
from the website

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Terri Schiavo's parents & the Pope

Terri Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, met briefly this morning with Pope Benedict XVI (on what would have been the great Pope John Paul's 85th birthday).

Christian Carnival LXX

Long Day's Journey Out of Night


Night - Evil and Temptation versus Faith

In Unspeakable Sin and the Goodness of God, Dr. Ray Pritchard wrestles with a perennial issue ripped from today's headlines: "After a father was arrested for murdering his daughter and her best friend in a community not far from where I live, I received an email from a young father who wonders how to reconcile this sort of evil with the goodness of God. Here is my attempt to deal with this age-old question."

In Child Murder & What It Means To Be Human, The Marshian Chronicles says that calling despicable child murderers "not human" is not only untrue - "it's a deadly spiritual trap. This first post in a new series explores what it really means to be human."

In The Chthonic Unmentionable, Cerulean Sanctum relates that "C.S. Lewis said there are two errors regarding demons: paying too much attention to them and paying too little. In Evangelical churches today, the trend in error is distinctly toward the latter. In an age of dereliction of truth, this is to our peril."

In God's sovereignty over natural disasters, and its practical importance, A Physicist's Perspective says that "In response to a commenter who suggests that God abdicates authority, so that some events which come to pass (like natural disasters and the acts of the wicked) are against his will, I argue from the Bible that God is so sovereign that he controls even natural disasters, and works even the actions of the wicked to accomplish his eternal purposes. This has tremendous practical application, for if it were not the case, we could not trust his promises to us."

In Fruit of the Self, Seek Truth's "entry is a simple one based on Galatians 5:16-26. It is a call to compare our lives to the standards Paul has laid out for us in this scripture and to work on the parts that don't measure up. Instead of focusing on the fruit of the Spirit, the post focuses on the things Paul says come from following our sinful nature, the'fruit of the Self', and asks that we each look for evidence of this fruit in our lives as places to make improvement."

In Dealing with envy, all kinds of time... shares "a brief look at my experience with envy."

In Covetousness, Sharing Spirit observes that "when God provides so abundantly for us, especially in the US, we still want more. The season of our discontent. The funny thing is, the blessings flow abundantly through our contentment and confidence when we trust in the Lord and His word."

In The Brickyard Calls To Us, rev-ed at Attention Span reflects about longings to be "somewhere else. It happens to us often, whether it's the call of God in our lives, the call of temptation, or even the call of a favorite place. For rev-ed, it's the Indianapolis Motor Speedway."

In Shame, Shame, Shame, Apprehension reflects on "how shame and guilt are different, but (that) Jesus suffered and died for both." (Apprehension is the new blog of Douglas Bass who used to blog at Belief Seeking Understanding, but had to retire it due to "technical difficulties.")

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

In Kwame Brown, Sun and Shield muses "about what appears to be a failed career as a pro basketball player."

In What is Your Life? It is Even a Vapor…, a ticking time blog tells how "this past Friday, I got a fresh reminder of the truth that our lives are like a wisp of steam that appear for a short time and then vanish."



In When the Day of Pentecost had come, the blog dokeo kago grapho soi kratistos Theophilos (editor's note: cf. Lk 1:3) offers "reflections on Pentecost and the inclusive mission to the nations."

In Circles for Pentecost, Notes provides a "Java applet for Pentecost Sunday."

In Pentecost - birth of a missionary community, Under the Acacias "reflects that with the coming of the Holy Spirit comes a missionary appointing" and that "from 1st-century Israel to 21st-century West Africa, Pentecost is still flowing."


Christianity and Society

In Perspective, Vessel of Mercy "tells of how God shows her when to look at situations with a different perspective and how God will give us His heart for the poor and the oppressed."

In Conversation Starter: The Death Penalty, "visitors to the Evangelical Diablog - the blogosphere's new site for thoughtful and respectful dialog - discuss whether or not Christians should support the death penalty. Stop by and share your thoughts."

In The Gathering Storm, The Doctor Is In takes "a look at the threat of 'theocracy' hyperbole."

In Dogs, Fleas, and Conservative Politics, Another Man's Meat has "some lessons for conservative Christians in all the political hullabaloo in Washington these days."

In Why Catholicism is Good for Society, Deo Omnis Gloria gives "a quick overview of the benefits of a society immersing itself in Catholic moral teachings."

In Relativism, Leadership, and Pope John Paul II, Vita ab Alto has reflections "concerning God and religion in general and the late Pope John Paul in particular."

In Catholic protestors barred from Communion, Boxing Alcibiades "...explains why this decision on the part of Church officials was correct and justified."

In Intra Christian Branding, Blogotional offers "the middle post of a three post interlinked series examining the marketing concept of branding and how it is affecting the church and Christianity in politics."

In Bible Illiteracy, Dadmanly relates that "the Bible Literacy Project report makes clear that young Americans know very little about the Bible.... At a time when secular minded activists think it appropriate to eradicate any Biblical references from educational settings, this inattentiveness to core American values is very troubling."


In Naturally Supernatural, The Gad(d)about reflects on a method of evangelizing.

In Vox Apologia - The Trilemma, the Northern'burbs blog (following up on a discussion at Vox Apologia) gives "an analysis of the usefulness of the 'Trilemma' in apologetics."

In Confessions of an introvert, CallmeTeem shares "some thoughts about being introverted and ministry."

In Preaching to Believers or Nonbelievers?, the blog Crossroads ponders a "question circulating around the Christian blogosphere recently": Should our churches preach to believers or nonbelievers or both?"

In Shaking the Foundations of a Fragile Faith, PlaidBerry reflects on "skepticism and the need for a solid intellectual understanding of Christianity as a prerequisite for a strong faith."


Different Perspectives on Christian Formation

In Firefighter Parables #2 - Firefighting Regulations from Team Hammer's Musings "the relationship of firefighters to their regulations and emergency procedures is used to highlight a way to help determine who, in the culture of freedom of the US, is a Christian and who is merely claiming to be one."

In OCS: Obsessive-Compulsive Spirituality, Eternal Perspectives reflects on a time in his own spiritual journey: "Probably because it fit with my personality at the time, I confused obsessing about God with being filled with the Spirit and abiding in Christ."

In We can rebuild Him..., The Online Pilgrim offers "thoughts on the effects of holiness theology after finishing up four years at a Wesleyan School."

In The Weeds in My Garden, the Christian Carnival's faithful guardian (Dory) at Wittenberg Gate "compares the sins in our lives to weeds in her garden. They need to be attended to quickly and carefully."

Books, Movies and Television

In Book Discussion: The Wizard, Pseudo-Polymath has "just finished reading a pair of books from the fantasy genre." He says that "these books were both intensely mythopoetic, reminiscent of Lewis or MacDonald" and he attempts "to compare and reconcile the Creation myth contained in the story with the Christian account."

In From the qualitative to the quantitative, Off the top offers "Part VII of a review of The Abolition of Man by C. S. Lewis. In reducing himself to mere 'Nature,' Man in fact conquers (subjects) himself along with the Nature he attempts to conquer for his own benefit."

In book review: Bad Ground, promptings says "Dale Cramer's second novel is as good as his first."

In Struggling to Matter, Randomness shares "thoughts provoked by a science fiction series... on unconditionality in relationships and leaving a legacy."

In Why I Cried Watching a Lifetime Movie, Ragged Edges discusses how the surprising "messages about abstinence and adoption conveyed by the movie 'Mom at Sixteen' - and the personal lessons I took from it - were more than worth the price in pride."

In Movie Review: 'Kingdom of Heaven' on LawReligionCultureReview, "Richard J. Radcliffe reviews the current movie, 'Kingdom of Heaven,' about the crusades, starring Orlando Bloom."

Building up the Christian blogosphere

Christian Carnival Founder Nick Queen offers the Return of the Out of the Wilderness Showcase!

In Calling All Intellectuelles, Marla Swoffer announces a "contest to win a spot on a new team blog of intellectual evangelical women that I'm starting with another blogger."

In Humility, The Blogosphere, And The Family Of God, the blog Beyond The Rim... offers excellent "thoughts on how the Internet and the blogosphere exposes us to so many remarkable Christians that it in some ways prefigures the Kingdom with the result that the only possible response is increasing humility."


Living the Scriptures

In Internals, the blog Beneath The Dirty Hood muses on Proverbs 11:2 and "that little tug-of-war that goes on inside you dozens of times a day."

In The Great IM, beginning with Isaiah 58:9, Listen In reflects on how "God speaks to us in a variety of ways and in a variety of settings" and "compares talking to God to modern messaging.

In Cheeseburger in Paradisio, the blog Questions and Answers elaborates (with references to Genesis) on this question and answer: "Do you ever think and dream and dare I say fantasize about what heaven will be like? I want a Cheeseburger in Paradiso!"

In E.T. No Phone Home, Weapon of Mass Distraction has a podcast "interview with Guy Malone, missionary to Roswell, New Mexico. We discuss the Genesis 6 paradigm and the parallels between the 21st century and "the days of Noah".

In Pointing to the Lamb, the blog Christianity is Jewish, "going back to Genesis," reflects on "God's consistency in pointing us to His Son as a special way to come to Him."

In Chronology in I Samuel 16:1-18:5, Parableman notes that "many scholars question the integrity of I Samuel on the grounds that the chronology of the events surrounding David's appearance on the scene seems contradictory. This post defends two ways of looking at this section of the book: one involving a thematic organization of material that isn't chronological and a second that defends the order of presentation in Samuel as chronological."

In Exclusive interview opportunity with the ESV Translation Committee, Adrian Warnock's UK Evangelical Blog is "delighted to announce that I have been honored with an exclusive "interview" with the Translation Oversight Committee of the English Standard Version of the Bible. I will be asking them ten questions, which they promise to answer!"

In Renovaré Spiritual Formation Bible, Kevin at Collected Miscellany says that "Fans of Dallas Willard and Richard Foster, or who are interested in Christian spiritual formation, will want to check out the Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible released this week by Harper San Francisco."

In Woes of A Love Letter, The Bible Archive ponders the question "What happens when someone reads a love letter like we read the Bible?"

In What happens when a loser finds a friend, the blog ...in the Outer... offers "a meditation on Luke 19: 1-10, the story of the despised chief of tax collectors who found a Friend in Jesus. May the insights of this story inform our lives, our churches and our mission today."

In N T Wright on Justification and Righteousness in Paul, World of Sven offers an extensive reflection: "N T Wright's rethinking of the doctrine of righteousness and justification in Paul's writings has caused a stir lately. Here's a detailed summary of his arguments on righteousness. Not all Reformed folk will agree with him, but he makes some very important points."

In 1 Corinthians 13 for the Bible translator, Better Bibles Blog paraphrases "the beautiful love chapter of the Bible... to remind myself and other Bible translators that no matter how well we try to translate the Bible, if we do not love others, our efforts are worth nothing. As we translate the Bible, we need to translate the Bible into action, through a life of love."

Walking with each other in Christ

In Let the competition begin!, A Penitent Blogger (yours truly) reflects on a competition to which Christ is calling us.

In the post Sufficient in Christ, Mr. Standfast shares "just a bit of spiritual encouragement based on Colossians 2:10."

In A Gift to be Cherished, Bear Witness shares "thoughts about putting God's gift of salvation to use rather than leaving it wrapped up on a shelf."

In It's Not Just You and Me (Part Two), Gladmanly continues a reflection on the Gospel according to Luke, talking "about yielding to God, and how we can become vessels of God’s love."


The night is far spent, the day is at hand:
let us therefore cast off the works of darkness,
and let us put on the armour of light.
Romans 13:12

About those other people...

In today’s Gospel (Mk. 9:38-40), our Lord rebukes the rebukers.

“Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he was not following us.”

But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him; for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me.

“For he that is not against us is for us.”

As we all strive toward perfection, we should always remember to encourage what is good in others.

He was not of the bishop's flock

But the tyrant thought the bishop would be a good choice for a particular diplomatic mission.

When the bishop arrived at his assigned destination, he was greeted with reverent enthusiasm by people at the very highest levels. The bishop returned the favor by giving strong affirmation to his host and, consistent with his mission and his conscience, passed on a message of peace and kindness (while still upholding truth).

After the bishop returned from his mission, the tyrant went into a rage, threw the bishop into prison, and deprived him of food and water.

John, the first Bishop of Rome to use that name, died there on this very day in the year 526.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Let the competition begin!

We have many disputes among us. Society, churches, local congregations, and even the Christian blogosphere can sometimes be very competitive environments

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ invites us to a different competition.

In today’s Gospel (Mk. 9:30-37), having overheard a dispute among his disciples, our Lord says,

“If any man desire to be first,
the same shall be last of all,
and servant of all.”

Our Lord thus calls us to a competition of mutual service.

St. Paul puts it this way:

Love one another with brotherly affection;
outdo one another in showing honor.

Romans 12:10

Let the competition begin!

New bishops

This morning the Holy Father named Father Clarence Silva, 55, a priest of the Diocese of Oakland, as the new bishop of Honolulu, Hawaii. Bishop-elect Silva was raised in California but had actually been born in Honolulu!

This morning the Holy Father also named Monsignor Kevin W. Vann, 54, a priest of the Diocese of Springfield Illinois, as the Coadjutor Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas.

"If thou come to serve the Lord...

"prepare thy soul for temptation.
Set thy heart aright and constantly endure
and make not haste in time of trouble.

"Cleave unto him, and depart not away,
that thou mayest be increased at thy last end.

"Whatsoever is brought upon thee take cheerfully,
and be patient when thou art changed to a low estate.

"For gold is tried in the fire,
and acceptable men in the furnace of adversity.

"Believe in him, and he will help thee;
order thy way aright, and trust in him.

"Ye that fear the Lord, wait for his mercy;
and go not aside, lest ye fall.

"Ye that fear the Lord, believe him;
and your reward shall not fail.

"Ye that fear the Lord, hope for good,
and for everlasting joy and mercy.

"Look at the generations of old, and see;
did ever any trust in the Lord, and was confounded?
or did any abide in his fear, and was forsaken?
or whom did he ever despise, that called upon him?

"For the Lord is full of compassion and mercy,
longsuffering, and very pitiful, and forgiveth sins,
and saveth in time of affliction."
Sirach 2:1-11

Catholic Carnival

This week's Catholic Carnival - a collection of posts from various Catholic blogs - is online at Veritas.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Whoa, it’s NOT magic

In today’s Gospel (Mark 9:14-29), the Twelve fail to drive out an unclean spirit, even though our Lord had previously given them the power to do so (Mark 6:7).

After our Lord successfully frees the boy, the disciples privately ask him,

Why could not we cast him out?
And he said unto them,
This kind can come forth
by nothing but by prayer and fasting.

(The expression “and fasting” does not appear in all manuscripts and translations.)

In saying this, our Lord is not providing additional instructions for performing particular kinds of miracles (indeed, the Gospel account doesn't show prayer or fasting as an explicit part of this exorcism).

Rather, our Lord is reminding the Twelve of a critical aspect of ministry and discipleship.

On some levels, some things work automatically - you just do it and it is done: pray in the name of Jesus and God provides; give an order ex officio and subordinates obey; perform a Sacrament validly and the grace is given ex opere operato; sit down to write a blog and people are awed by your brilliance (I’m not writing about myself here).

But on some levels and with most things in the Christian life, something will be lacking in what we say and what we do if these words and deeds are not supported by a personal, vibrant, and ever-deepening relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (miserere mei, Domine).

This relationship is made possible by grace and is manifested and continuously strengthened by prayer and by focusing on God through our bodies (e.g., by use of appropriate disciplines such as fasting).

It is very easy for us to loose touch with this critical reality. It is easy to do things automatically – invoke the Name, give orders, celebrate Sacraments, write off the top of one’s head – but if we want to live and act according to Christ, it is critical that we remain most attentive to our lives of prayer and our lives of focus on Christ.

If the things we do and say are rooted firmly in a deep spiritual life through Christ, our words and deeds will become more and more translucent with Christ’s own light and channels of grace will be multiplied and deepened throughout every moment of our lives.

Christian life and ministry is not magic: it is far more wonderful and powerful.

Don’t “just do it.” Don’t just say words.

Every day, every hour, as we speak and as we live, we need more and more to be focused on Christ and to pray.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Feel it

Today’s first reading (Acts 2:1-11) has the familiar account of the Holy Spirit’s spectacular descent on the day of Pentecost

And suddenly there came from the sky
a noise like a strong driving wind,
and it filled the entire house in which they were.
Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,
which parted and came to rest on each one of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit...

Then, in the Gospel (John 20:19-23), we have this:

And when (Jesus) had said this,
he breathed on them
and said to them,
"Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained."

These are not conflicting accounts about the time and place in which the Holy Spirit was bestowed upon the Church. As St. Paul says in the second reading (from 1 Corinthians 12)

Now there are diversities of gifts,
but the same Spirit.
And there are differences of administrations,
but the same Lord.
And there are diversities of operations,
but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

The Spirit is given on Pentecost, the Spirit is given immediately after the resurrection, and the Spirit is given at other important moments: with purposes that may be particular to each moment – and yet it is always the same Spirit.

One of the many beautiful and powerful aspects of the giving of the Holy Spirit in today’s Gospel account is the way Christ does it: by breathing on them.

The meaning is unmistakable: the Holy Spirit as the breath of God – a theme that flows throughout both the Old and the New Testament.

Our experience of the Holy Spirit
may not often be the dramatic spectacular of Pentecost,
but by his grace
we may always enjoy
the empowering consolation of the Spirit
in truly recognizing ourselves
as being filled with the breath of God:
God’s life force, God’s Holy Spirit,
an infinitely "strong driving wind"
that billows within every part of us
and that moves us forward to accomplish his will.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.

Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created
And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray. O God, who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant us in the same Spirit to be truly wise, and ever rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Veni, Sancte Spiritus, reple tuorum corda fidelium, et tui amoris in eis accende.

Emitte Spiritum tuum et creabuntur;
Et renovabis faciem terrae.

Oremus. Deus, qui corda fidelium Sancti Spiritus illustratione docuisti. Da nobis in eodem Spiritu recta sapere, et de eius semper consolatione gaudere. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Come, Creator, Spirit

Veni Creator Spiritus,
Mentes tuorum visita,
Imple superna gratia,
Quae tu creasti, pectora.

Qui diceris Paraclitus,
Altissimi donum Dei,
Fons vivus, ignis, caritas,
Et spiritalis unctio.

Tu septiformis munere,
Digitus Paternae dexterae,
Tu rite promissum Patris,
Sermone ditans guttura.

Accende lumen sensibus,
Infunde amorem cordibus,
Infirma nostri corpis
Virtute firmans perpeti.

Hostem repellas longius,
Pacemque dones protinus;
Ductore sic te praevio,
Vitemus omne noxium.

Per te sciamus da Patrem
Noscamus atque Filium;
Teque utri usque Spiritum
Credamus omni tempore.

Deo Patri sit gloria,
Et Filio, qui a mortuis
Surrexit, ac Paraclito
In sacculorum saecula.

Come, Creator, Spirit,
Visit the minds that are Yours.
Fill with heavenly grace
The hearts You created.

You who are called the Paraclete,
Gift of God Most High,
Living Spring, Fire, Love,
And Spiritual Anointing.

You sevenfold gifts give,
Finger of God's right hand;
You, clear promise of the Father,
The tongue empower.

Kindle a light in our minds.
Pour love in our hearts.
Our weak bodies
Make firm with Your unfailing strength.

Drive our foe far away.
And give us peace always
Lead in such a way that
We may avoid all things despicable.

Through You, may we know the Father
And know also the Son,
And You, the Spirit of them both
May we believe at all times.

To God the Father be glory
And to the Son, who from death
Rose, and to the Paraclete
For Ages of Ages.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

A vocation is a free gift from God

"Contemplative nuns,

"Hidden with Christ in God,

"Radiating His love through their presence

"In the heart of the world,

"Silently pleading with God for mercy, and

"Telling the whole world of His immeasurable love.

"We are Cloistered Contemplatives.

"We are called to a life of praise and adoration of God especially in His Eucharistic Presence. We foster a joyful community of charity, prayer, penance and work..."

from the website of Maria Regina Mater Monastery
(Poor Clare Colletines)
in Kokomo, Indiana (USA)

Stepping Up

In today’s first reading from the first chapter of Acts, we have the election of St. Matthias to take the place of Judas as one of the Twelve.

It is a fascinating moment, taking place against the backdrop of a period of emptiness, after the Ascension but before Pentecost: a time of transition.

Yet even within those strange days, having lost the physical presence of Jesus and having not yet received the full outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles were not idle. They saw the need to fill the space left empty by Judas and they stepped up to the task.

For his part, Matthias – who had always been a background figure – stepped up to the responsibility of apostleship when the lot fell on him.

Our own lives often seem full of times of transition, of emptiness, and of uncertainty.

We need to ask the Lord Jesus always to give us the wisdom and the courage to step up to the task - to the work he sets before us - for the honor and glory of his name.

He was not one of the important people

He was not in the inner circle, and that was fine with him: he was thrilled to be involved in any way he could.

Then came the most frightening, confusing, and exhilarating three days of his life.

It wasn’t until weeks later that they realized they needed to fill an opening in the inner circle.

And he was chosen.

Matthias, one of the lesser disciples of Jesus, was selected to replace Judas as one of the Twelve Apostles. His feast is celebrated on this day.

Friday, May 13, 2005

American gets Pope's old job

This morning Pope Benedict XVI named Archbishop William Joseph Levada, Archbishop of San Francisco (USA), as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (the position held by the Holy Father prior to his election).

"Archbishop William Joseph Levada is a fourth-generation Californian, born in Long Beach on June 15, 1936. Except for a three-year interval when his family lived in Texas, he attended elementary and high schools in Long Beach, followed by four years of seminary college in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

"In 1958, he was sent to pursue his seminary formation in Rome at the North American College, and took his graduate theological studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University, receiving a doctorate in sacred theology magna cum laude.

"Following ordination to the priesthood in St. Peter's Basilica on December 20, 1961, he spent five years in parish work in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, including part-time high school teaching and college campus ministry. After receiving his doctorate, he taught theology at St. John's Seminary School of Theology, located at Camarillo in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. During these six years he also served as the first Director of Continuing Education for the Clergy in the Archdiocese.

"In 1976, he was appointed an Official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Vatican. During his six years of service, he continued teaching theology part-time as an Instructor at the Pontifical Gregorian University.

"In 1982, he was assigned to be Executive Director of the California Catholic Conference of Bishops in Sacramento, the public policy arm of the Church in California. During his two years there, he was named Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles, and was ordained with the title Titular Bishop of Capri on May 12, 1983. Returning to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 1984, he served as Episcopal Vicar for Santa Barbara County until his 1986 appointment as Chancellor and Moderator of the Curia.

"On July 1, 1986, he was appointed eighth Archbishop of Portland, Oregon, and was installed on September 21. During his nine years in Portland, Archbishop Levada was able to devote time to the recruitment of priestly vocations and enhancement of the seminary at Mt. Angel, where he taught Ecclesiology.

"Appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of San Francisco on August 17, 1995, Archbishop Levada was installed on October 24 that year, and succeeded Archbishop John Quinn, as seventh Archbishop of San Francisco on December 27, 1995.

"Since his ordination as a Bishop, he has been active on many committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, as well as on the governing boards of the Catholic University of America, the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and the National Catholic Bioethics Center.

"From 1986 to 1993 he served as the only American bishop on the Editorial Committee of the Vatican Commission for a Catechism of the Catholic Church; he authored the Catechism's Glossary, which was published in the English-language second edition of the Catechism.

"In 1997, he participated in the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for America, and was subsequently named to its post-Synodal Council. From July, 1999, to May, 2000, he was assigned additional duties as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Santa Rosa. During 2000, he was designated Bishop Co-Chair of the Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue in the United States (ARC-USA). In November the Vatican announced his appointment as a Member of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.

"In 2003, he organized the sesquicentennial celebration of the 150 years of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, which culminated in a July 27 Jubilee Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral. In November, 2003, he began a 3-year term as Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Doctrine. He also serves as Grand Prior of the Northwest Lieutenancy (USA) of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, and as Conventual Chaplain for the Western Association (USA) of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta. He currently serves on the USCCB Delegation to the Mixed Commission for the Charter and Essential Norms for the Protection of Children and Young People, and on the Task Force on Catholics in Political Life."
(from Vatican Information Service)

John Paul II Waiting Period Waived

Pope Benedict XVI announced today at a gathering with the clergy of Rome that he had waived the usual five-year post mortem waiting period and that the process for the beatification and canonization of Pope John Paul II may begin.

...dispensavit a tempore quinque annorum exspectationis post mortem Servi Dei Ioannis Pauli II (Caroli Wojtyla), Summi Pontificis, ita ut causa Beatificationis et Canonizationis eiusdem Servi Dei statim incipi posset.

Do you love me?

Peter never forgot that question: the question we hear in today's Gospel (John 21:15-19). He would hear Jesus asking it again and again... and he would never stop answering.

Yes, Lord, he thought on the day of Pentecost, you know that I love you.

And then Peter, the fisherman from Galilee, stood in front of thousands of people and brought them to accept Christ.

Do you love me?

Yes, Lord, Peter thought, you know that I love you.

And then Peter left his homeland forever so that he might preach Christ to other lands.

Do you love me?

Yes, Lord, Peter smiled, you know that I love you.

And then Peter stretched out his arms and was hung upside down on a cross.

They both knew

Most of the world had not heard of him before he became Pope.

When she was a little girl, she was known and respected around the world.

Then one day, when thousands of hands were waving and reaching out to the Pope, one man reached out to him with death and the Pope fell.

But the Pope didn’t die that day and he knew why.

On that very day, many years before, the little girl had been outside the village with her sister and brother and there they had met a beautiful woman who spoke to them about her son, about love, and about prayer.

She was Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

By the time the Pope was attacked, the little girl was a very old, venerable nun, but after he recovered, he went to meet with her.

And so, the great Pope John Paul and the famous Sister Lucy sat together and spoke of what they knew of God’s providence in Christ and about Christ’s mother Mary, whom Sister Lucy had met at a place called Fatima.

The first appearance of our Lady of Fatima took place 88 years ago today.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Auxiliary transitions

The Holy Father this morning named two new Auxiliary Bishops for the Archdiocese of Seattle: Father Joseph J. Tyson, a priest of the Archdiocese and pastor of three parishes in Seattle, and Father Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S, Pastor of a parish in Bothell, Washington.

The Holy Father also accepted the retirement of the Most Rev. Joseph M. Sullivan, Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn.

That they may be one

In today’s Gospel (Jn. 17:20-26), our Lord prays for unity:

"I pray not only for these,
but also for those
who will believe in me through their word,
so that they may all be one,
as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
that they also may be in us,
that the world may believe that you sent me.
And I have given them the glory you gave me,
so that they may be one, as we are one,
I in them and you in me,
that they may be brought to perfection as one,
that the world may know that you sent me,
and that you loved them even as you loved me.”

What have we done to promote unity lately?

Many were killed in that place

There were two men. They had been soldiers – and not just any soldiers: they had been among the elite, standing guard in the highest corridors of power, close by the most powerful man in the world.

But then they heard about Jesus and they walked away from the man of power to follow the Son of God.

For that, they were killed.

There was also a boy, 14 years old, who was an orphan. He had just come to the city and had embraced Christ.

They killed him too.

Yet they would all be remembered by the Christians of that place, the city of Rome, and their victory through Christ celebrated.

The feast of Nereus, Achilleus, and Pancras is celebrated on this day.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Priesthood Class of 2005

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has posted information about the hundreds being ordained to the Priesthood in the United States this year. These are just a few of them.
Piotr Gnoinski (Archdiocese of Chicago) Jeffrey Bacon (Archdiocese of Cincinnati) Diego Ospina (Diocese of Rockford) Barg Anderson (Diocese of Superior)
Peter O’Brien (Diocese of Portland in Oregon) Thienan Tran (Diocese of Syracuse) Charles Nnabuife (Diocese of Baker) Christopher J. Weldon (Diocese of Lafayette in Indiana)

And from the blogosphere...

The USCCB site identifies Dana Christensen (Diocese of Sioux Falls)
as author of the blog
The Meandering Mind of a Seminarian

Unlocking the pigeonhole

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops yesterday announced the launch of an immigration reform campaign.

Some of the ideas and the proposals put forward as part of this campaign might be judged by some as being more consistent with the left or progressive side of the U.S. political spectrum.

Some on the left might therefore be quick to applaud the bishops’ campaign as “enlightened” and “progressive” without bothering to understand fully what the Church teaches in this area (e.g., CCC 2241, etc.).

Likewise, some on the right may be quick to dismiss the bishops’ campaign as “misguided” and “liberal” without bothering to understand fully what the Church teaches in this area (e.g., CCC 2241, etc.).

Too often people pigeonhole bishops’ teaching based on sound bites or specific proposals and stop there.

That is true not only on this issue or only for U.S. bishops – it is a challenge for the People of God throughout the world.

Devising practical solutions is inherently a matter of prudence and may also require various amounts and kinds of technical expertise. Human prudence, of course, is never infallible - neither for clergy nor for laity - and bishops rarely possess technical expertise in fields of purely human endeavor. Thus no one’s specific concrete proposals should be taken as absolutely definitive (as if any practical plan proposed by church leaders or by committees of scientific experts or by anyone on this earth can be embraced as guaranteed to work perfectly).

However, practical solutions do have intrinsic moral aspects: in their goals, in their means, and in their results. It is in addressing these moral aspects that the competence of bishops grows strongest.

Indeed, one does not need scientific expertise to know that some goals, means, and results are immoral. Nor does one need to be perfectly saintly in all things to say that some things are wrong.

When they are at their best, Church leaders begin by articulating fundamental moral principles directly tied to natural law (as well as revelation): principles that are perilous to ignore.

Church leaders may then endeavor to apply these principles concretely through specific proposals. These proposals are best understood as serious efforts to apply critical moral principles to specific problems: proposals to be analyzed thoughtfully.

Not everyone may agree that certain practical proposals are the most appropriate, effective or prudent, but everyone should endeavor – each in his or her own way - to help society (inside and outside government) to devise effective solutions to problems in accordance with the critical moral principles that come from the teaching of the Church.

The Heretic Within

In today’s first reading (Acts 20:28-38), St. Paul gives the following warning:

I know that after my departure
fierce wolves will come in among you,
not sparing the flock;
and from among your own selves
will arise men speaking perverse things,
to draw away the disciples after them.
Therefore be alert...

St. Paul says this to those identified as “elders” and “overseers” of the Church. The Greek words used here would in other contexts be translated respectively as “presbyters” (the technical term for ordained priests) and “bishops.”

This passage could therefore be seen as a prophecy about heretical priests and bishops leading people astray. “Therefore be alert…”

But it would be foolish to assume that the dangers of heresy come only from priests and bishops. St. Paul says the danger will come from “your own selves.”

We should not just be on the alert about them, we should be on alert among “our own selves” as well – and not just our fellow bloggers or fellow parishioners, but our individual selves.

Indeed, St. Paul doesn’t exempt even himself from the possibility of going astray.

But even if we,
or an angel from heaven,
should preach to you a gospel
contrary to that which we preached to you,
let him be accursed.

Galatians 1:8

The point here is not so much that we are to be engaged in a never-ending heresy hunt, but that each of us must be vigilant in fidelity to the truth.

Even as we strive to present the Gospel as effectively as possible within different cultures and different situations, we must take care that we do not distort that Gospel. The Gospel is for today’s world, but not of today’s world.

What brings eternal life is not the Gospel of the world, nor is it the Gospel of political conservatives or progressives, nor is it your Gospel or my Gospel. What brings us salvation is the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Christian Carnival

This week's Christian Carnival - an ecumenical collection of posts from various Christian blogs - is online at Semicolon.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Called to go wherever...

"We are an international religious community of women dedicated to prayer, education, and sacrifice....

"The goal of all our ministry is to make Christ known and loved throughout the world. Through education we try to form Christ in the hearts and minds of those we serve as teachers in the elementary and secondary schools, and in college; as catechists and trainers of catechists; as teachers of prayer, leaders for retreats, prayer groups and youth groups; and in offering opportunities for lay volunteers to join us in mission work.

"Teresian Sisters now serve in 23 countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, and in the Americas. In the United States, we work in inner city, suburban, and rural areas of Texas, Florida, and Louisiana. Especially mindful of the needs of the poor, we are called to go wherever the interests of Jesus are most in danger, wherever God’s word needs to be spoken."

from the website of the Teresian Sisters

Going down the scary tunnel

“So, who wants to go down the creepy tunnel first?”

That is a line from a movie advertisement currently on U.S. television. The “creepy tunnel,” of course, is just a collection of sets and special effects. It’s only a movie, after all.

In today’s first reading (Acts 20:17-27), St. Paul is looking down a metaphorical tunnel that is much more real and much more frightening:

And now, behold,
I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem,
not knowing the things that shall befall me there:
Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city,
saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.

St. Paul is not afraid. He willingly and even joyfully goes down that scary tunnel because he knows that it is the path God has set out for him.

We too may have scary tunnels in our own lives. Sometimes it is a particularly difficult illness. Sometimes it involves taking upon ourselves a heavy responsibility that will have to bear for a long time. Sometimes it involves explicitly answering a vocation from God to dedicate one’s life completely to his service.

We need to pray always for God’s grace, that we may remain faithful to him and to his path for us, no matter how scary that path might appear.

But none of these things move me,
neither count I my life dear unto myself,
so that I might finish
my course with joy,
and the ministry,
which I have received of the Lord Jesus,
to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

Disgusting and very contagious

That is what people used to think about those who had that disease (and probably some still do). Many thought it best that these sick people be kept locked up or isolated on some island in the middle of the ocean.

A young priest volunteered to minister to these outcasts. It soon became his fulltime ministry and he cared for the people with great compassion and determination.

After a decade of this service, Father Damien contracted leprosy himself and died five years later during Holy Week (107 years ago last month) at the leper colony on the island of Molokai, Hawaii.

He was beatified in 1995. His memory is celebrated on this day, the anniversary of his arrival at the leper colony.

Mother Marianne Cope, who took over part of Blessed Damien’s work upon his death, will be beatified this Saturday.

Bishops coming and going

Pope Benedict XVI today has named Monsignor Denis James Madden, adjunct secretary general of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association of New York, as auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Baltimore.

In other news, shortly after the death of the great Pope John Paul II, word came that the Holy Father had accepted the retirement of Bishop David E. Foley of Birmingham, Alabama. It turned out that there had been a "misunderstanding" and that Bishop Foley was still in charge.

This time, it's official.

The Vatican announced today that Pope Benedict XVI has officially accepted Bishop Foley's retirement. An Administrator will now be selected.

Catholic Carnival XXIX

This week's Catholic Carnival - a collection of posts from various Catholic blogs - is now online at LivingCatholicism.com.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Mom Against the World

The New Testament frequently refers to the world’s antagonism toward Christ and his followers.

This conflict may be described in many terms: peer pressure, culture war, political conflict, systematic persecution, martyrdom, and even Armageddon.

It may also be manifested and described in terms such as the following:

Young single
Your life
My so-called life”

The conflict between Christians and “the world” does not occur only on the level of social movements or apocalyptic battles: it also occurs on the level of our everyday lives.

In today’s Gospel (Jn.16:29-33), our Lord warns his disciples of challenges that await them.

In the world ye shall have tribulation.

The “tribulation” or “trouble” to which our Lord refers is not just apocalyptic: all of us have tribulations and troubles in our daily lives - things that sometimes threaten to overwhelm us.

A little earlier in this same passage our Lord says this:

Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come,
that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own,
and shall leave me alone...

This was fulfilled shortly thereafter when our Lord was arrested and the disciples fled, but it also resonates with our daily experience.

As Christians, we want to have Christ-centered lives, but the forces and events of daily life push upon us and try to scatter us.

We find ourselves immersed in this and that, our attention pulled in many directions at once (although it would be a bit dramatic to depict “multitasking” as the new Moloch).

In the midst of the world’s chaos, we may feel overwhelmed and even lost.

Our Lord speaks words of comfort to us

These things I have spoken unto you
that in me

ye might have peace.

In the world

ye shall have tribulation:
but be of good cheer;
I have overcome the world.

You and I are finite, fragile human beings: we cannot handle everything, nor can we endure everything, but Christ can – indeed, he is already victorious!

All we have to do is recognize that the victory is Christ’s and remain firmly tethered to him.

We remain tethered to Christ by his grace through our fidelity to him – in thought, word, and deed – developing the habit of taking moments of prayer whenever we can, the habit of keeping thoughts about Christ continually in our mind, and the habit of being open at every moment to his will rather than our own.

It isn’t always easy – the world sometimes seems to be against us.

But be of good cheer,”
says our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
I have overcome the world.”