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...

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Statement of the Schindler Family

(Posted at Blogs for Terri)

"As you are aware, Terri is now with God and she has been released from all earthly burdens. After these recent years of neglect at the hands of those who were supposed to protect and care for her, she is finally at peace with God for eternity. We are speaking on behalf of our entire family this evening as we share some thoughts and messages to the world regarding our sister and the courageous battle that was waged to save her life from starvation and dehydration.

"We have a message for the volunteers that have helped our family:

"Thank you for all that you’ve done for our family. Thank you to the hundreds of doctors who volunteered to help Terri. Thank you to the fifty doctors who provided statements under oath to help Terri. Thank you to the lawyers who stood for Terri’s life in the courtrooms of our nation. From running our family’s website, to driving us around, to making meals, to serving in so many ways—thank you to all of the volunteers who have been so kind to our family through all of this.

"We have a message for the supporters and people praying worldwide:

"Please continue to pray that God gives grace to our family as we go through this very difficult time. We know that many of you never had the privilege to personally know our wonderful sister, Terri, but we assure you that you can be proud of this remarkable woman who has captured the attention of the world. Following the example of the Lord Jesus, our family abhors any violence or any threats of violence. Threatening words dishonor our faith, our family, and our sister, Terri. We would ask that all those who support our family be completely kind in their words and deeds toward others.

"We have a message to the media:

"We appreciate your taking Terri’s case to the nation. Please afford our family privacy to grieve at this time.The patience and graciousness of the on-site media here at hospice has been deeply appreciated by our family.

"We have a message to the many government officials who tried to help Terri:

"Thank you for all that you’ve done. Our family will be forever grateful to all of the outstanding public servants who have tried to save Terri.

"We have a message to all of the religious leaders who tried to help Terri:

"Thank you to all people of faith who demonstrated love for Terri and strength of conviction to defend the sacredness of all human life as a precious gift from God.

"Our family is highly honored that the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, would speak out so boldly on behalf of our sister, Terri.

"We have a message of forgiveness:

"Throughout this ordeal, we are reminded of the words of Jesus on the cross: 'Father forgive them for they know not what they do.' Our family seeks forgiveness for anything that we have done in standing for Terri’s life that has not demonstrated the love and compassion required of us by our faith.

"We have a message to parents worldwide:

"Our family would encourage parents to spend time with their children and to cherish each and every moment of each and every day with them as a precious gift from God.

"We have a message to Terri from her family:

"As a member of our family unable to speak for yourself, you spoke loudly. As a member of our family unable to stand under your own power, you stood with a grace and a dignity that made your family proud. Terri, we love you dearly, but we know that God loves you more than we do. We must accept your untimely death as God’s will.

"Terri, your life and legacy will continue to live on, as the nation is now awakened to the plight of thousands of voiceless people with disabilities that were previously unnoticed. Your family intends to stand up for the other 'Terri’s' around this nation and we will do all that we can to change the law so others won’t face the same fate that has befallen you.

"We have a final thought to share:

"Our family had hoped this day would never come, but as it has now arrived, we ask ourselves a question in these incredibly sad circumstances: What would the Lord Jesus ask us to do in a moment like this? In John’s Gospel, Jesus responded to the questions of the rabbis, who asked why a man had been born blind. He said: 'it is so that the works of God might be made manifest through him.'

"God’s plan for Terri is unfolding before our eyes. Our prayer at this time is that our Nation will remember the plight of persons with disabilities and commit within our hearts to defend their lives and their dignity for many generations to come."

Papal health update

From the Associated Press:

"'The Holy Father today was struck by a high-fever caused by a confirmed infection of the urinary tract,' (Vatican) spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls told The Associated Press by telephone.

"The pope was receiving antibiotics at the Vatican, Navarro-Valls said.

"A urinary infection can produce fever and a drop in blood pressure as reported in the pope, said Dr. Marc Siegel, a specialist in internal medicine at the New York University Medical Center.

"The pope's risk of such an infection is heightened because he is elderly which suggests his prostate is probably enlarged debilitated and run down from the illness that recently sent him to the hospital, Siegel said.

"Urinary infections tend to respond well to antibiotics, given either as pills or intravenously, and 'I would suspect there's a very good chance he's going to recover well,' Siegel said."

Welcome home

Come unto me,
all ye that labour and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28

Florida Archbishop statement

"God in His mercy has taken Terri Schiavo to Himself. May she enjoy the peace with Him forever.

"May God have mercy on those responsible for her death by starvation and may God reinvigorate all who respect life to continue to stand courageously for this justice issue.

"In the months and years ahead those who are sincere about respecting life will have a chance to demonstrate that by enacting laws to prevent the starvation of any disadvantaged person in the future. Laws should protect life from conception in the womb to natural death, without exception.

"All of us should carefully arrange to have a living will so as to prevent confusion in the future. A living will, however, must not contain anything that is contrary to life. Artificial means is never required morally to sustain life. Food and hydration, regardless of the tube, is not considered artificial except when it worsens the individual’s medical condition or when death is imminent. Morally we may not ask in the living will to have water and food denied to us since this is starvation, a deliberate mutilation of the body.

"We continue to pray that our great country will responsibly address the many legal and moral-ethical issues prompted by Terri Schiavo’s care. And may we be determined in cases of uncertainty, scientifically and/or medically, to choose the safer course on behalf of life."
Archbishop John C. Favalora, Archbishop of Miami

Cardinal Keeler statement

"We mourn the tragic death of Terri Schindler Schiavo, who died today from dehydration and starvation.

"Terri Schiavo's plight brought to light a critical question: To be a society that is truly human, how should we care for those most helpless patients who cannot speak for themselves?

"A year ago Pope John Paul II answered this question, when he reaffirmed that 'the administration of food and water, even when provided by artificial means,' should be considered 'morally obligatory' as long as it provides nourishment and alleviates suffering for such patients.

"'Any man's death diminishes me,' said the poet John Donne, 'because I am involved in mankind.' We are all diminished by this woman's death, a death that speaks to the moral confusion we face today. Ours is a culture in which human life is increasingly devalued and violated, especially where that life is most weak and fragile.

"We pray this human tragedy will lead our nation to a greater commitment to protect helpless patients and all the weakest among us. 'Yes, every man is his "brother's keeper,"' as the Holy Father teaches 'because God entrusts us to one another' (Evangelium vitae, 19).

"May the soul of Theresa Marie Schindler Schiavo rest in the peace and mercy of God. And may God have mercy on our society which failed to protect this innocent human life."

Statement by Cardinal William H. Keeler, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life Activities, on the death of Terri Schiavo.

What now?

Now that Terri Schiavo has died (requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei), I humbly submit that we should focus on prayer and on practical steps to save people like her in the future and that we should refrain from any internecine or other activity that would hinder those efforts.

We must pray for Terri, her parents, and those who cry for her: that the Lord may be good to them in his mercy.

We should pray for those who sought her death: that they may have true repentance and contrition (appropriate investigations must continue, of course).

We must focus our energies to help people like Terri in the future through
  • Serious public education and evangelization
  • Doing what we can to coordinate private and public resources so that people in Terri’s condition can always receive care
  • Lobbying for appropriate legislation on state and federal levels
  • Electing legislators at all levels who will work effectively for a true “culture of life”
  • Working for the selection or election of local judges who in such cases are diligent in their finding of fact and faithful in their interpretation of law.

Theresa Marie Schiavo - Requiescat in pace

May the angels lead you into paradise.
May the martyrs receive you at your coming
and take you to the holy city, Jerusalem.

In paradisum deducant te Angeli,
in tuo adventu suscipiant te Martyres,
et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Jerusalem.

Will you take up the challenge?

"Two thousand years ago Jesus Christ instituted the Catholic priesthood to continue his ministry here on earth. Since then the Church has ordained men to serve God and his people, recognising that some roles within the Christian community can only be performed by a priest.

"The priesthood is a sacrament and a ministry that is vital and irreplaceable. It is also a vocation - a calling Christ gives to those he wants to follow him in a life of love expressed in service...."

"Pope John Paul II wrote of the priesthood as a 'gift and mystery'. Prayer, Marian devotion, retreats and spiritual reading, sacramental and pastoral ministry, all contribute to a priest's awareness of the divine origin of his vocation.

"There is an element of mystery, sacredness and holiness that characterizes the priest who is sent into the world and into the everyday lives of people."

From the Vocations website of
the Diocese of Southwark

Get real

Today’s Gospel (Lk. 24:35-48) reinforces the physical reality of the resurrected Christ.

Some people think that religion and spirituality should be strictly non-corporeal in both goals and means.

Christians, on the other hand, believe in the reality of the Incarnation of Christ and of his bodily resurrection.

Likewise, our faith is neither carnal nor disembodied and thus in faith must we live our lives both as concretely and as spiritually as we can, so that by the grace of God we ourselves may share in the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


New Bishop of Providence

The Holy Father has named the Most Rev. Thomas J. Tobin, 56 (57 tomorrow), who has been Bishop of Youngstown, Ohio, as the new Bishop of Providence, Rhode Island, to replace the retiring Bishop Robert E. Mulvee.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Papal Health Update

The following declaration concerning the Holy Father's health was made early this afternoon (Rome time) by Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls:

"The Holy Father continues his slow and progressive convalescence.

"The Pope spends many hours each day in an armchair, celebrates Mass in his private chapel and is in working contact with his collaborators, directly following the activity of the Holy See and the life of the Church.

"In order to improve the caloric intake and to favor a valid recuperation of strength, enteral nutrition has been started by placing a nasal-gastric probe (tube).

"All public audiences remain suspended.

"Health assistance is assured by the personnel of the Health and Hygiene Services of Vatican City under the direction of Dr. Renato Buzzonetti, the Holy Father's personal physician."
(Source: Vatican Information Service)

Hello, Regina

(and in Latin that would be....)

The Holy Father appointed the Most Rev. Daniel J. Bohan, currently auxiliary bishop of Toronto, as the new Archbishop of Regina, Saskatchewan (Canada), having accepted the retirement of Archbishop Peter Joseph Mallon.

Christian Carnival

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

Stay with us, Lord!

The Supper at Emmaus by Rembrandt - The Louvre

Today's Gospel (Lk. 24:13-35) tells of the disciples meeting the Risen Christ on the way to Emmaus.

Any poor efforts of mine must give way to the Holy Father's exquisite reflections on this Gospel passage given in his Urbi et Orbi message on Easter three days ago.

1. "Mane nobiscum, Domine!
Stay with us, Lord! (cf. Lk 24:29)

"With these words,
the disciples on the road to Emmaus
invited the mysterious Wayfarer
to stay with them, as the sun was setting
on that first day of the week
when the incredible had occurred.

"According to his promise, Christ had risen;
but they did not yet know this.
the words spoken by the Wayfarer along the road
made their hearts burn within them.
So they said to him: 'Stay with us.'

"Seated around the supper table,
they recognized him in the "breaking of bread"
- and suddenly he vanished.
There remained in front of them the broken bread,
There echoed in their hearts
the gentle sound of his words.

2. "Dear brothers and sisters,
the Word and the Bread of the Eucharist,
the mystery and the gift of Easter,
remain down the centuries as a constant memorial
of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ!

"On this Easter Day,
together with all Christians throughout the world,
we too repeat those words:
Jesus, crucified and risen, stay with us!

"Stay with us, faithful friend and sure support
for humanity on its journey through history!
Living Word of the Father,
give hope and trust to all who are searching
for the true meaning of their lives.
Bread of eternal life, nourish those who hunger
for truth, freedom, justice and peace.

3. "Stay with us, Living Word of the Father,
and teach us words and deeds of peace:
peace for our world consecrated by your blood
and drenched in the blood
of so many innocent victims:
peace for the countries of the Middle East and Africa,
where so much blood continues to be shed;
peace for all of humanity,
still threatened by fratricidal wars.

"Stay with us, Bread of eternal life,
broken and distributed to those at table:
give also to us the strength to show generous solidarity
towards the multitudes who are even today
suffering and dying from poverty and hunger,
decimated by fatal epidemics
or devastated by immense natural disasters.
By the power of your Resurrection,
may they too become sharers in new life.

4. "We, the men and women of the third millennium,
we too need you, Risen Lord!

"Stay with us now, and until the end of time.

"Grant that the material progress of peoples
may never obscure the spiritual values
which are the soul of their civilization.

"Sustain us, we pray, on our journey.

"In you do we believe, in you do we hope,
for you alone have the words of eternal life
(cf. Jn 6:68).

"Mane nobiscum, Domine!


Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Catholic Carnival XXIII

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

Can’t touch this

'Noli me tangere' by Antonio Raggi (design by Gian Lorenzo Bernini) SS. Domenico e Sisto, Rome

In today’s Gospel (Jn. 20:11-18), our risen Lord appears to St. Mary Magdalene, one of Christianity's greatest saints, whose reputation had been incorrectly sullied in past centuries and has been blasphemously perverted in recent years.

But on this second day after the celebration of the glorious resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, it is good to focus simply on the moment when she meets the Risen One.

Many significant things happen in this brief encounter, but our Lord's initial response to her joyful recognition is particularly interesting: often translated as "Touch me not" (in Greek, mh mou aptou; in Latin, Noli me tangere).

The verb in the original Greek has more of a sense of ongoing action than the simple word "touch" may convey. Hence, other translations have rendered our Lord's response as "Do not cling to me," "Stop holding on to me," or "Be not touching me."

Our Lord then goes on to say

...for I am not yet ascended to my Father:
but go to my brethren, and say unto them,
I ascend unto my Father....

A simple way to paraphrase what our Lord is saying might be, "You can stop touching me: first, I haven't ascended to the Father yet and, second, you have to go to my brothers and deliver the message of my Ascension."

This brief moment reminds us of some important things for our own spiritual lives.

First, it is important - indeed, essential - for us to touch Jesus, in the Sacraments and in prayer.

Even so, our ability to touch our Lord is limited until he brings us to the place where he has ascended and where we can then luxuriate in his presence forever.

Moreover, our relationship with Christ cannot be a closed one (“just me and Jesus”). Touching Christ impels us to reach out with his love and his message to others. Even full-time contemplatives do not stay in isolation with Christ, but must reach out with love to the entire world through prayer.

There is nothing greater or more wonderful than meeting the risen Christ - hearing him in his word, touching him in our souls - but we must do more, for he calls us to go on and spread his message and his love to others until he brings us all to be with him and with the Father forever.


Nice bishops

The Holy Father yesterday accepted the age-related resignation of the Bishop of Nice, France, the Most Rev. Jean Bonfils, S.M.A., who will be succeeded automatically by his coadjutor Bishop, the Most Rev. Louis Sankalé.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Repose, Resurrection, & Rejoicing

On their blog, Moniales, the Dominican Nuns of Summit, New Jersey, have posted some interesting pictures of their activities during Holy Week and the Triduum.

Prayer and Repose
Sr. Maria Concepcion keeps watch with her Divine Spouse at the Altar of Repose which is set up at the choir grille behind the main altar. Sisters will keep vigil the whole night long
Praying before our Lord at the Altar of Repose on Holy Thursday.

Gaude et laetare
Sr. Mary Martin whips off her cappa at the opening strains of the Gloria.
Exuberance during the Gloria at the celebration of Easter

Like butter...

Two sisters cut up a 50 pound donation of butter.

* * * * *
"Signs of a call to Dominican Contemplative Life
  • "Single woman between the ages of 21-40
  • "A practicing Roman Catholic
  • "Fidelity and love for the Church
  • "Good physical and mental health
  • "A joyful, generous spirit
  • "Willingness to learn
  • "Ability to live in community and in solitude
  • "Zeal for the salvation of souls
  • "An attraction to prayer and the things of God
  • "A desire to give yourself entirely to Jesus Christ

"If you have these qualifications, why wait? We invite you, as Our Lord did His first disciples to 'come and see,' and contact:

Vocation Directress
Dominican Nuns
Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary
543 Springfield Avenue
Summit, NJ 07901-4498
Phone: 908-273-1228

e-mail: vocations.summit@op.org"

From the Vocations page of
Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary
Summit, NJ

Was it real?

Having just celebrated yesterday the glorious resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and hearing in today’s first reading (from Acts 2) St. Peter’s powerful first proclamation on Pentecost of that resurrection, we find today’s Gospel (Mt. 28:8-15) ending on an odd note: telling of conspiracies and rumors that deny the reality of all of this.

Some of us get uncomfortable when other people deny the historicity of what we believe.

When we were children, we may have thought that everyone believed the same things we do, except for those people far away that the missionaries hadn’t reached yet.

Then we may have heard our Jewish grade school classmate talk about his faith, the teacher who called himself “agnostic,” the loud person who denounced as our faith as evil, or the college professor who derided any and all religious belief.

We want them to believe as we do. We quite rightly want them to acknowledge the truth: what really happened and the way things really are.

We look through the Bible and the teaching of the Church. We bone up on apologetics and historical data, looking for that “slam dunk” that will make these people believe.

Sometimes they see the light, sometimes we fight to a draw, and sometimes we end with the feeling that they had the better of us in the argument.

St. Paul puts it all into perspective:

My message and my proclamation
were not with persuasive (words of) wisdom,
but with a demonstration of spirit and power,
so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom
but on the power of God.
1 Corinthians 2:4-5

Faith, ultimately, is a gift from God. We can and must be his instruments - channels of his message, his love, his spirit, and his power - but ultimately what is important, what is salvific, is not so much that other people believe us, but that they believe in Christ.

That is not to say that faith is brain dead - au contraire. Indeed, St. Paul goes on to say:

Yet we do speak a wisdom to those who are mature,
but not a wisdom of this age,
nor of the rulers of this age who are passing away.
Rather, we speak God's wisdom, mysterious, hidden,
which God predetermined before the ages for our glory,
and which none of the rulers of this age knew;
for if they had known it,
they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
1 Corinthians 2:6-8

Yes, the resurrection of Jesus Christ was and is real. It is historical (unless one redefines “historical” to mean something different from way most people define it).

The evidence is very strong, but it by no means eliminates the need for the grace of faith, and that is as it should be, for the dry details of historical information alone will not light a flame in one’s heart that can shine for all eternity.

Merely knowing about the resurrection of Jesus pales into dusty insignificance compared to the everlasting comfort and ecstasy of actually knowing Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord: having him in one’s heart, walking through life with him at one’s side, luxuriating in the many graces he showers on his faithful ones in the Sacraments and so many other ways.

Yes, it’s real. Christ is risen. Jesus lives eternally and he is always holding us in his loving embrace.


Sunday, March 27, 2005

Christ has been raised from the dead

the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

For since death came through a human being,
the resurrection of the dead
came also through a human being.
For just as in Adam all die,
so too in Christ shall all be brought to life,
but each one in proper order:
Christ the firstfruits;
then, at his coming,
those who belong to Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:20-23

Saturday, March 26, 2005


Quodlibeta has a very worthy three-column edition of the Church's most glorious Easter hymn, available at this link as a pdf file.
(Hat tip: /bin/cat)

In the darkness before the dawn

And behold, there was a great earthquake;
for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven,
approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.
His appearance was like lightning
and his clothing was white as snow.
The guards were shaken with fear of him
and became like dead men.

In this evening’s Gospel (Mt. 28:1-10) the announcement of our Lord’s resurrection comes in spectacular fashion: literally both cosmic and earthshaking.

The message is clear.

The resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is no small thing.

No human eye may have beheld the actual moment of resurrection, but it not only changed history, it changed the universe and beyond.

Death is no longer the end.

Creation is no longer impossibly alienated from God.

Infinity and eternity are open for us.

Have we been resisting that earthquake? Have we tried to hide or play dead like the guards, trying to act as if what happened didn’t happen or as if the resurrection of Christ has not challenged the very foundations of our existence?

Christ is risen. Indeed he is risen.

We want to rise. We must rise.

We therefore must be thoroughly changed.

We must let the resurrected Christ shake us
so that by his grace
we may be like him in glory.


The Lord is in the tomb

Let the feeling sit with you.

And wait.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Ecce homo

Behold the man.

These words mean something.

These words from the long account of our Lord’s Passion in the Gospel of John that we hear today on Good Friday (Jn. 18:1-19:42) mean much more than “Hey, look at him.” The Gospel of John chooses and uses words very carefully.

Pilate does not say to look at “him” or “this male” or “Jesus” or “this Nazorean,” but look at this “human being” (“homo” in Latin, “anthropos” in Greek).

Also, he says it after our Lord has been brutally tortured, scourged, and ridiculed.

Ecce homo

In a very real sense, Pilate’s words signal a completion of the Incarnation.

Pope Saint Leo the Great put it this way:

"For 'the Word became flesh'
in order that from the Virgin's womb
He might take our suffering nature,
and in order that
what could not be inflicted on the Son of God
might be inflicted on the Son of Man.

"For although at His very birth
the signs of Godhead shone forth in Him,
and the whole course of His bodily growth
was full of wonders,
yet He had also truly assumed our weaknesses,
and without share in sin
had spared Himself no human frailty,
that He might impart
what was His
to us
and heal what was ours
in Himself.”

As today's second reading says,

For we have not a high priest
who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,
but one who in every respect
has been tempted as we are,
yet without sin.
Let us then with confidence
draw near to the throne of grace,
that we may receive mercy
and find grace to help in time of need.

(Heb 4:15-16)

No matter how bad things may ever seem,
Christ is there.
No matter how great the pain,
Christ is there.
No matter how extreme or dire our circumstance,
Christ is there.

We can be faithful,
we can tough it out,
because Christ has been there
and is here
and will take his faithful ones where he is

Behold the man.

Behold one of us.

Behold our God and our Savior

Praised be Jesus Christ.

Laudetur Jesus Christus.

Way of the Cross reflections

(A beautiful set of reflections and prayers for this year's Way of Cross service at the Roman Colosseum has been posted here on the Vatican website: very thoughtful, and sometimes even bold. It is also available in French, German [the author's native language], Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. Hat tip: Recta Ratio.)

"The Lord bears this burden and falls, over and over again, in order to meet us. He gazes on us, he touches our hearts; he falls in order to raise us up."

Thursday, March 24, 2005


Perhaps the most disturbing scene in the film The Passion of the Christ (and it’s a very long, long scene) is the scourging of our Lord. It is unrelentingly violent and painful even for an unbeliever to watch.

For the Christian, it is inexpressibly painful, driving deep spikes of grief and sorrow into our very souls as our souls cry out over and over again:

My God, my God, how much he loves me!
Because of my sin, how
much he suffered for me!

By the time our Lord is dragged away, the stone pavement of nearly the entire courtyard is covered with his blood.

And then, something unexpected happens.

Our Lord’s grief-stricken mother comes forward and slowly begins to wipe her son’s blood from the stones.

In a mysterious yet wonderful way, the meaning of her action relates to tonight’s first reading from the 12th chapter of Exodus: the account of the first Passover and of the blood of the Passover lamb.

They shall take some of its blood
and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel
of every house....
Seeing the blood, I will pass over you;
thus, when I strike the land of Egypt,
no destructive blow will come upon you.

A devout Jew, Mary understood deeply the meaning of the Passover, of the Exodus, and of blood in God’s salvation for his people.

By instinct, then, as well as by grace, she understood what would later be said in the letter to the Hebrews:

How much more will the blood of Christ,
who through the eternal spirit
offered himself unblemished to God,
cleanse our consciences from dead works
to worship the living God.
Hebrews 9:14

How precious this blood. How deep this love.

Infinitely deep. Infinitely precious.

Tonight and every night and every tomorrow,
we must respond to this love.
At every moment of our lives,
with every word, thought, and act,
we must make manifest this love, this grace,
given in this most precious blood of Jesus.

"Blood of Christ, fill me."

"Sanguis Christi, inebria me"

The Last Judge (Updated)

The U.S. Supreme Court having again declined to hear Terri Schiavo's case, today's hearing before Judge Greer may have been the last legal option.

Our focus now should be on redoubling our prayers to God, the Father of Mercies and the Ultimate Judge.

UPDATE: I plan to not have any news-related posts until after Easter. No matter what may happen, we will find its ultimate meaning in what we celebrate during these days. Laudetur Jesus Christus.

A show of hands for Christ

On this Holy Thursday,
as we commemorate the very first Eucharist,
you and I should resolve
to pray for vocations
and to help more men recognize
that God is calling them
to dedicate their lives totally to God
in the ordained priesthood of Jesus Christ.

The Renowned

The first reading from today’s Chrism Mass is from Isaiah 61. It has a special meaning for priests, resonating with the joys of their dedication to the Lord and of their ministry (which is why it is included in the Chrism Mass), but it is also very relevant to every Christian who is serious about being an instrument of the Lord.

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me;
He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly,
to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
and release to the prisoners,
To announce a year of favor from the LORD
and a day of vindication by our God,
to comfort all who mourn;

A part of one verse, however, sounds somewhat inapplicable to celibate priests:

Their descendants shall be renowned among the nations,
and their offspring among the peoples.

Verses like these might somewhat bother anyone who, for one reason or another, cannot have or raise children.

Yet the meaning of this verse extends beyond just biological descendents (although that is its primary sense).

By the grace of God, all of us are capable of being instruments of God, often in very different ways, and thus of having God accomplish wondrous things through us, his humble servants.

These accomplishments, done in and through the grace of God, can be what “shall be renowned among the nations,” as we have seen so often in the lives of the saints throughout history.

Each one of us – priest or layperson, parent or childless – is called to be an instrument of God, to be a channel of his power and love, and to do things worthy of renown among the nations (even if actually unseen by human eyes) for the sake of his love and for the glory of God alone.

Conclusion of Letter to Priests

"A 'Eucharistic' life at the school of Mary

8. "The relationship between the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Eucharist is a very close one, as I pointed out in the Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia (cf. Nos. 53-58).

"In its own sober liturgical language, every Eucharistic Prayer brings this out. Thus in the Roman Canon we say: 'In union with the whole Church we honour Mary, the ever-virgin Mother of Jesus Christ our Lord and God.' In the other Eucharistic Prayers, honour leads to petition, as for example in Prayer II: 'Make us worthy to share eternal life with Mary, the virgin Mother of God.'

"In recent years, I have warmly recommended the contemplation of the face of Christ, especially in my Letters Novo Millennio Ineunte (cf. Nos. 23ff.) and in Rosarium Virginis Mariae (cf. Nos. 9ff.), and I have pointed to Mary as our great teacher. In the Encyclical on the Eucharist I then spoke of her as the 'Woman of the Eucharist' (cf. No. 53).

"Who more than Mary can help us taste the greatness of the Eucharistic mystery? She more than anyone can teach us how to celebrate the sacred mysteries with due fervour and to commune with her Son, hidden in the Eucharist. I pray to her, then, for all of you, and I entrust to her especially the elderly, the sick, and those in difficulty. This Easter, in the Year of the Eucharist, I gladly repeat to each of you the gentle and consoling words of Jesus: 'Behold your Mother' (Jn 19:27).

"With these sentiments, I send you my heartfelt blessing, and I wish you the profound joy of Easter.

"From Gemelli Hospital in Rome, on 13 March, the Fifth Sunday of Lent, in the year 2005, the twenty-seventh of my Pontificate."


Holy Thursday & Priesthood

Today, on Holy Thursday, the Mass of the Holy Chrism is celebrated (although many dioceses celebrate it earlier in the week for practical reasons) at which Holy Chrism and other sacramental oils are blessed and at which priests rededicate themselves to their ministry. After the homily the bishop speaks to the priests:

"My brothers,

"Today we celebrate the memory of the first Eucharist, at which our Lord Jesus Christ shared with his apostles and with us his call to the priestly service of his Church.

"Now, in the presence of your bishop and God’s holy people, are you ready to renew your own dedication to Christ as priests of his new covenant?"
Priests: "I am."

"At your ordination you accepted the responsibilities of the priesthood out of love for the Lord Jesus and his Church. Are you resolved to unite yourselves more closely to Christ and to try to become more like him by joyfully sacrificing your own pleasure and ambition to bring his peace and love to your brothers and sisters?"
Priests: "I am. "

"Are you resolved to be faithful ministers of the mysteries of God, to celebrate the Eucharist and the other liturgical services with sincere devotion?"
Priests: "I am. "

"Are you resolved to imitate Jesus Christ, the head and shepherd of the Church, by teaching the Christian faith without thinking of your own profit, solely for the well-being of the people you were sent to serve?"
Priest: "I am."

(Then the bishop addresses the people:)

"My brothers and sisters, pray for your priests.

"Ask the Lord to bless them with the fullness of his love, to help them be faithful ministers of Christ the High Priest, so that they will be able to lead you to him, the fountain of your salvation."
People: "Lord Jesus Christ, hear us and answer our prayer."

"Pray also for me that despite my own unworthiness I may faithfully fulfill the office of apostle which Jesus Christ has entrusted to me. Pray that I may become more like our High Priest and Good Shepherd, the teacher and servant of all, and so be a genuine sign of Christ’s loving presence among you."
People: "Lord Jesus Christ, hear us and answer our prayer. "

"May the Lord in his love keep you close to him always, and may he bring all of us, his priests and people, to eternal life."
All: "AMEN."

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Young religious order

The Sun Sentinel has an article about the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary, "the first order of Hispanic nuns created in the United States in more than 50 years."

From their website: www.corazones.org

"Las Siervas de los Corazones Traspasados de Jesús y María es una comunidad religiosa diocesana fundada por la Madre Adela Galindo en 1990, en la Arquidiócesis de Miami, Florida, EE.UU. Profesamos votos de pobreza, castidad, obediencia y fidelidad al magisterio."

"La esencia de nuestra vocación es ofrecernos, con profundo amor y alegría, como sacrificios vivos de reparación y consolación a los Corazones Traspasados de Jesús y María."

"Estamos al servicio de la 'Nueva Evangelización,' según la visión de SS Juan Pablo II: nueva en ardor, en métodos y en expresión, para construir la civilización del amor y la vida."

Under attack

Today’s readings vividly depict the vicious antagonism often suffered by people of faith, beginning with the “tough guy” poetry of Isaiah (Is. 50:4-9a):

I gave my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;
My face I did not shield
from buffets and spitting.

The Lord GOD is my help,
therefore I am not disgraced;
I have set my face like flint,
knowing that I shall not be put to shame.

And then (Mt. 26:14-25), there is our Lord’s poignant witness to intimate treachery.

"He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me
is the one who will betray me.”

Many of us feel that, if push came to shove, we would stand up to persecution and even die for Christ. Some of us in our heart of hearts, however, worry that we are “wusses” and fear that we would not be able to stand up against serious persecution.

Sadly, persecution is an increasingly real phenomenon as even in “civilized” countries Christians are being criminally investigated and charged for honestly expressing mainstream Christian teaching. Even in our daily lives we may too often let our Christian beliefs cower in the face of social pressure or an activist bully.

As a film character once asked, “What can men do against such reckless hate?”

The answer is not a paranoid or "bunker" mentality (and "scorched earth" responses are generally ineffective tactics for evangelization).

The answer is focus and grace: focus on Christ and be filled with his grace.

Of course, we should be as prudent and as strong as we can: but ultimately only God’s grace can preserve us.

Our first reaction to every fear, every worry, every attack, and every betrayal must be to go deeper into Christ.

It is very much like the story of Peter in the storm: when he focused on the wind and the waves, he sank; but as long as he kept his gaze fixed on Christ, he could literally walk on water.

Some of us are “tough guys,” some of us are not, but no matter what we may fear or what we may suffer, in and through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ we are eternally indomitable.

Elsewhere on the front lines...

...of the battle to defend human life, the Holy Father today named new members to the administrative council of the Pontifical Academy for Life: Msgr. Jean-Marie Musivi Mpendawatu of the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Prof. Angelo Fiori of Italy; Prof. Alicja Grzeoekowiak of Poland; Dr. Manfred Lutz of Germany, Prof. Patricio Ventura Junca del Tobar of Chile, and Bishop Willem Jacobus Eijk of Groningen, Netherlands. (Source: Vatican Information Service)

Bishop Eijk has been a fierce opponent of the so-called Groningen protocol, allowing doctors to euthanize newborns with severe disabilities. According to a statement from Bishop Eijk’s office, "This is a Darwinian nightmare and a grave violation of the laws of God.... It is a slippery slope that will give doctors the right to impose life or death, and will lead to an argument that it should be extended to all." (Source: Weekly Telegraph)

The Friars with Terri's Parents

The St. Petersburg Times reports on the Minnesota-based Franciscan Brothers of Peace, who have often been seen at the side of Terri Schiavo's parents

"They have come to Florida, they say, because they are staunch right-to-life supporters, because they can help raise money for the Schindlers, and because of what happened to Brother Michael.

"In 1982, Michael Gaworski founded the order.

"The fledgling group took over a former convent and the Brothers began collecting food and clothing for the needy, ministering to international survivors of torture, witnessing at a juvenile detention center and conducting sidewalk counseling at abortion clinics.

"Gaworski suffered a heart attack in 1991 that left him in a condition similar to that of Terri Schiavo - with severe brain damage and dependent on a feeding tube for nourishment. For the next 12 years, the friars cared for Gaworski in their downtown St. Paul friary" until he died of pneumonia in 2003.

The Order's website is www.brothersofpeace.org

(UPDATE: Relevant Radio has another story about the Friars and Terri Schiavo - hat tip: Amy Welborn)

A life centred on Christ

7. "'Mortem tuam annuntiamus, Domine, et tuam resurrectionem confitemur, donec venias.'

"Every time we celebrate the Eucharist, the remembrance of Christ in his Paschal Mystery leads to the desire for a full and definitive encounter with Him.

"We live in expectation of his coming!

"In priestly spirituality, this expectation must be lived out through pastoral charity, which impels us to live in the midst of God's People, so as to direct their path and to nourish their hope.

"This task requires from the priest an interior attitude similar to that of the Apostle Paul: 'Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal' (Phil 3:13-14).

"The priest is someone who, despite the passing of years, continues to radiate youthfulness, spreading it almost 'contagiously' among those he meets along the way. His secret lies in his 'passion'' for Christ. As Saint Paul said: 'For me, to live is Christ' (Phil 1:21).

"Particularly in the context of the new evangelization, the people have a right to turn to priests in the hope of 'seeing' Christ in them (cf. Jn 12:21).

"The young feel the need for this especially; Christ continues to call them, to make them his friends and to challenge some to give themselves completely for the sake of the Kingdom.

"Vocations will certainly not be lacking if our manner of life is truly priestly, if we become more holy, more joyful, more impassioned in the exercise of our ministry.

"A priest 'won'' by Christ (cf. Phil 3:12) more easily 'wins' others, so that they too decide to set out on the same adventure."

John Paul II
Holy Thursday Letter to Priests 2005 (excerpt - emphasis added)

Terri Schiavo appeal denied (UPDATE)

The three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals has ruled 2-1 to deny the emergency request to reinsert Terri Schiavo's feeding tube. Further appeals are certain.

The text of the ruling is here.

UPDATE: The full panel of the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals court this afternoon has rejected the request for an expedited rehearing by a 10-2 vote . The majority did not give an explanation, but the two dissenting judges explained their dissent. The text is here.

An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to be tried.

Discover the Priesthood

"While all the baptized participate in the priesthood of Jesus Christ, some men are called, ordained and commissioned to serve all God's people.

"Have you ever thought God might be calling you to the priesthood?

"The priesthood is a vocation. No man can claim this gift for himself, only those who are called by God, consecrated by the Sacrament of Holy Orders and sent forth to all people in service of the Church.

"The priest answers God's call by trusting God, striving for holiness and living for others."

from the Vocations website of the Diocese of Toledo

Christian Carnival

This week's Christian Carnival - a collection of posts from Christian blogs of various types - is online at A Nutt's View.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

A Catholic Guide to End-of-Life Decisions

In 2001, the National Catholic Bioethics Center published an excellent Catholic Guide to End-of-Life Decisions. It is best read together with their March 18, 2005 statement on the Terri Schiavo situation, which integrates the Holy Father's important March 2004 speech regarding artificial hydration and nutrition.

(Hat tip to Bettnet)


Both of today’s readings confront us with the experience of bitter failure by godly men. Isaiah (49:1-6) expresses himself with eloquent, devastating simplicity:

I have laboured in vain,
I have spent my strength for nought,
and in vain…

In the Gospel (from John 13), Peter hears the bitter words that prophesy what will be the most grievous failure of his life:

Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake?
Verily, verily, I say unto thee,
The cock shall not crow,
till thou hast denied me thrice.

If the greatest of prophets and the chief of the apostles can fail so miserably, who are we to think we can always succeed? Who are we to disparage others who fail? Who are we to despair when we ourselves fail?

Then I said,
I have laboured in vain,
I have spent my strength for nought,
and in vain:

yet surely my judgment is with the LORD,
and my work with my God.

Failure, of course, is not 'a good thing,' but earthly failure and the prospect of failure should remind us of two critical lessons:

First, we may triumph in our fields of endeavor for a day, but ultimately we cannot succeed without the help of God’s grace. Indeed, the more we become conscious, obedient, and active instruments of God’s grace according to God’s will, the greater and more eternal our success will be (ad majorem Dei gloriam).

Second, although failure and weakness are things best to be avoided, even in bad things such as these, God’s wondrous power can accomplish unimaginable goodness.

And he said unto me,
My grace is sufficient for thee:
for my strength is made perfect in weakness.

2 Corinthians 2:9a

This week, we celebrate the greatest and most empowering example of this truth: as rejection and infamy, unrelenting torture and a cry of despair, a publicly displayed corpse and a borrowed grave all lead by the power of God to resurrection and eternal salvation in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We should not fear. We must never despair. We must take advantage of every failure (and every success) to draw closer to Christ and to become more conscious, obedient, and active instruments of his wondrous grace.


(The end of all things is near.)

These three words have been appearing as a "teaser" advertisement for the upcoming NBC miniseries Revelations (NBC has an interesting trailer on its website).

Premise: the terrifying adventures of a devout nun and a skeptical scientist as signs of the End Time abound.

The New York Times (which had previously reported incorrectly about the origin of the ads) quotes Executive Producer Gavin Polone as saying, "We felt what needed to be done is a television show that expressed itself as Christian. We're very clear about that here. The words 'Jesus Christ' or 'Christ' are used three times a minute."

(hat tip: Amy Welborn)

A "consecrated'' life

6. "'Mysterium fidei!'

"Every time he proclaims these words after consecrating the bread and wine, the priest expresses his ever-renewed amazement at the extraordinary miracle worked at his hands.

"It is a miracle which only the eyes of faith can perceive. The natural elements do not lose their external characteristics, since the 'species' remain those of bread and wine; but their 'substance,' through the power of Christ's word and the action of the Holy Spirit, is changed into the substance of the body and blood of Christ.

"On the altar, then, Christ crucified and risen is 'truly, really and substantially' present in the fullness of his humanity and divinity.

"What an eminently sacred reality! That is why the Church treats this mystery with such great reverence, and takes such care to ensure the observance of the liturgical norms intended to safeguard the sanctity of so great a sacrament.

"We priests are the celebrants, but also the guardians of this most sacred mystery. It is our relationship to the Eucharist that most clearly challenges us to lead a 'sacred' life.

"This must shine forth from our whole way of being, but above all from the way we celebrate.

"Let us sit at the school of the saints! The Year of the Eucharist invites us to rediscover those saints who were vigorous proponents of Eucharistic devotion (cf. Mane Nobiscum Domine, 31).

"Many beatified and canonized priests have given exemplary testimony in this regard, enkindling fervour among the faithful present at their celebrations of Mass. Many of them were known for their prolonged Eucharistic adoration.

"To place ourselves before Jesus in the Eucharist, to take advantage of our 'moments of solitude' and to fill them with this Presence, is to enliven our consecration by our personal relationship with Christ, from whom our life derives its joy and its meaning."

John Paul II
Holy Thursday Letter to Priests 2005 (excerpt)

Federal judge refuses reinsertion

U.S. District Judge James Whittemore this morning refused to issue an emergency order to reinsert Terri Schiavo's feeding tube, saying her parents had not established a "substantial likelihood of success" at a Federal trial on the merits of their arguments.

Further motions and appeals are certain.

MSNBC has the text of the ruling here.

Catholic Carnival XXII

Journey from the Mount of Olives

As we begin Holy Week, we stand on the Mount of Olives, looking toward Jerusalem and thinking about all of what will happen on the journey before us.

In Holy Week and Easter Week, The Blog from the Core provides some "links to sermons by Cardinal Newman for Holy Week and Easter Week."

In The Minds of the Faithful, Toward Contemplation (my other blog) passes on a reminder from Pope St. Leo the Great for us to pay special attention to the readings during this “season of the Lord’s Passion.”

In Terri. John Paul II. Lucia. George W. Bush. Mary, The Anchoress has a post that's "about All of them, and Holy Week, and there being no accidents."

In Our Savior, HMS Blog has "a reflection on what the Palm Sunday Mass readings tell us about why Jesus was rejected and killed."

In The Week of Renewed Creation, Crusader of Justice reflects on the "symbolism of Holy Week in comparison with the 7 days of creation in Genesis."

Now we start down the mountain, walking toward Jerusalem. Ahead of us on the road is Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

In The Mysteries of Faith, The Paragraph Farmer offers "a self-contained continuation of my friendly argument with a high-profile Southern Baptist theologian over the role of Mary in the church."

We pass by a soldier on guard, keeping the peace.

In Leviticus 19:16 Protect Your Neighbor as Yourself, HerbEly says that "Chapter 19 of the book of Leviticus supplies several examples of what it means to love one's neighbor as oneself (and that) verse 16 implies that love of neighbor might require the use of force to defend another's life."

We look around to see who else might be on the road.

In Broadening Horizons, Ales Rarus says, "I have access to more conservative blogs than I care to read. Can anyone recommend some good moderate or liberal Christian blogs? I'm looking for blogs that support traditional, orthodox (heck, call it conservative if you wish) Christianity and moderate or liberal politics (within reason)."

We walk on into the dark valley.

In But you do not always have me, A Penitent Blogger reflects on a recent tragic death and a difficult Gospel passage.

In Dachau: Mortal Agony, North Western Winds has a post "about Dachau, which was a Nazi Concentration camp located right in Germany (not Poland). Many Catholics resistors of the Nazis were concentrated and imprisoned there. Many of them were priests and many suffered through Malaria experiments. I don't think this is well known, so I did up a post on it, using links to a good memorial site."

In The Murder of Terri (Day 1): Leaders Must Lead—Not Merely Plead, Catholics in the Public Square posts "a final note to the Republican leadership. You have to win this one. Issue whatever subpoena, call whatever witnesses, pass whatever emergency bill, but don't let this woman die."

In The Murder of Terri (Day 2): A Crime of Violence, Times Against Humanity recalls "the hell to which Terri is being subjected by an unfaithful husband and nation" by passing on CURE advisor Fr. Rob Johansen's revisiting of "the infamous Exit Protocol, a 'recipe for murder' concocted by hospice executioners."

In The Murder of Terri (Day 3): Will the Sacrifice of Many Save One?, Life Matters! wonders, "Congress has surrendered countless lives in further weakening an already compromised bill, ostensibly to save one life, but will it do so? And who will defend the next victim and the next hundred victims, whose deaths will be imposed far from the public attention that Terri has attained?"

We come to stand at the foot of the cross.

A Java applet Cross for Terri Schiavo has been erected in Notes.

A blessed Holy Week to all.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Church leaders praise Terri's Law

Catholic News Service reports that "Richard Doerflinger, deputy director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, praised Bush and members of Congress for the new law.

"'Terri Schiavo is not terminally ill; she is a woman with cognitive disabilities,' he said March 21. 'This law ensures that the decision to discontinue her assisted feeding will be reviewed with full attention to her legal rights.'

"Washington Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick noted at a March 21 news conference that Pope John Paul II has stated that people considered in a 'vegetative state' still have the right to basic health care such as nutrition and hydration.

"'Deliberately removing water and food 'in order to hasten a patient's death would be a form of euthanasia, which is gravely wrong,' Cardinal McCarrick said.

"He said this also was the position of the Florida Catholic bishops in a Feb. 28 statement on the Schiavo case.

"'We join with them in praying that those who hold power over Terri Schindler Schiavo's fate will see that she "continues to receive nourishment, comfort and loving care,"' he said."

New Campaign Against Death Penalty

The U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops today launched a Catholic Campaign to End the Use of the Death Penalty with a new website: www.ccedp.org.

The website includes this passage from The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace:

#405. "The Church sees as a sign of hope 'a growing public opposition to the death penalty, even when such a penalty is seen as a kind of "legitimate defense" on the part of society. Modern society in fact has the means of effectively suppressing crime by rendering criminals harmless without definitively denying them the chance to reform' (John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, 27).

"Whereas, presuming the full ascertainment of the identity and responsibility of the guilty party, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude the death penalty 'when this is the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor' (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2267), bloodless methods of deterrence and punishment are preferred as 'they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person' (Ibid). The growing number of countries adopting provisions to abolish the death penalty or suspend its application is also proof of the fact that cases in which it is absolutely necessary to execute the offender 'are very rare, if not practically non-existent' (John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, 56; cf. also John Paul II, Message for the 2001 World Day of Peace, 19, where recourse to the death penalty is described as 'unnecessary.'”

A Penitent Blogger, of course, humbly supports the efforts of the bishops and the Holy Father to inject Catholic values into this important debate. To be sure, if and when the death penalty truly ‘is the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor’ is a matter of prudential judgment and therefore something that can and should be debated respectfully within society.

Sadly, political arguments and legal structures both for and against capital punishment (as well as politics and policies on crime and punishment in general) are too often based on emotion and not sufficiently grounded in responsible prudence, Catholic teaching, or both.

The mission of the contemplative vocation

"The specific mission of the contemplative vocation... is to undertake, cherish and promote; what is most deep in the life of the Church.

"Hence, Dominican nuns... have a clear realization that in virtue of their profession they are completely consecrated to the Church and called to bring about the extension of the kingdom of God in the world, by means which are hidden indeed but nevertheless possess a wonderful efficacy."
Anicetus Fernandez, O.P., Master General
(From an address to the General Chapter 1971)

On the website of the Monastery of Our Lady of Grace
North Guilford, CT

Post hoc... dicit: “ Sitio.”

The Most Rev. Thomas Wenski, Bishop of Orlando, had an Op-Ed in yesterday's Orlando Sentinel with a powerful closing (hat tip: Kevin Miller @ HMS Blog):

"As Terri shares in his passion, she will share in his Resurrection. Like Jesus did, Terri Schiavo cries out, though with muted voice:

"I thirst!"

But you do not always have me

Just a little while ago, a young person – just a few weeks from beginning a promising life of service to the people of God – was suddenly killed in an accident.

The Gospel at the Funeral was today’s Gospel (Jn. 12:1-11). At first, it struck me as an unusual choice, full as it is with complex messages and religious people secretly planning evil: not the easiest way to comfort people overwhelmed by grief.

But suddenly out of the shadows of the text, a relevant idea came to me, illuminating a path out of the darkness of sudden, youthful death...

What a waste. What a terrible waste. That thought comes again and again to our minds as we try to come to terms with so quick a loss of a person with such promise. So much good that person could have done!

Then it was with terrible discomfort that I realized that this thought – what a waste, what good might instead have been done – was echoed in the Gospel.

"Why was this oil not sold… and given to the poor?"

It was a very disturbing thought: to compare thoughts of grief with a cover story for larceny by Judas Iscariot himself!

But if we set aside that this question was asked by Judas and that his underlying motive was greed, we recognize that there is really nothing wrong with the question itself: it is a good question and has a noble sentiment (which is why Judas misused it for his own purposes in the first place).

So, the ulterior motives of bad people aside, wouldn’t it really have been best that this costly oil would have been sold to help the poor?

Wouldn’t it have been better for this young person to have lived a long life of doing great things for God and his people?

We turn now to our Lord’s answer.

“You always have the poor with you,
but you do not always have me."

As we go through our daily lives, we tend to take the people we know and love for granted. So too did the disciples take our Lord for granted.

Our Lord is here reminding them that his time on earth is limited: he is not their possession; he is a gift, the greatest gift of a loving God.

For God so loved the world
that he gave his only Son…

John 3:16a

Yes, there are needs and there will always be people in need, but how can we ever hope to meet those needs except with the gifts of God?

Yes, the loss of this young life leaves a great gap among us, but this loss is a strong and clear lesson: that everything in life is a gift from God in accordance with the mysterious ways and depths of his love.

Everyone we know and every one of us are gifts from God. Moreover, as Christians, we are called to be imitators of Christ, the greatest of all gifts.

We must take this lesson to heart, a lesson taught by the loss of a young life, and appreciate the many gifts we still have and will continue to receive from God, and most importantly, put to better use the gift that we ourselves are.

Take none of God’s gifts for granted – especially the gifts which are the other people in our lives and the gift of our own time on this earth – for you will not always have them.

There are many needs. Learn the lesson. Use well the gifts – now.

A life that "remembers''

5. "'Hoc facite in meam commemorationem.'

"These words of Jesus have been preserved for us not only by Luke (22:19) but also by Paul (1 Cor 11:24).

"We should keep in mind that they were spoken in the context of the Paschal meal, which for the Jews was indeed a 'memorial' (in Hebrew, zikkarôn). On that occasion the Israelites relived the Exodus first and foremost, but also the other important events of their history: the call of Abraham, the sacrifice of Isaac, the Covenant of Sinai, the many acts of God in defence of his people.

"For Christians too, the Eucharist is a 'memorial,' but of a unique kind: it not only commemorates, but sacramentally makes present the death and resurrection of the Lord.

"Jesus said: 'Do this in memory of me.' The Eucharist does not simply commemorate a fact; it commemorates Him!

"Through his daily repetition in persona Christi of the words of the 'memorial,' the priest is invited to develop a 'spirituality of remembrance.'

"At a time when rapid social and cultural changes are weakening the sense of tradition and leading the younger generation especially to risk losing touch with their roots, the priest is called to be, within the community entrusted to him, the man who faithfully remembers the entire mystery of Christ: prefigured in the Old Testament, fulfilled in the New, and understood ever more deeply, under the guidance of the Spirit, as Jesus explicitly promised: 'He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you' (Jn 14:26)."

John Paul II
Holy Thursday Letter to Priests 2005 (excerpt)

Retiring bishops replaced

The Holy Father has accepted the retirement of Cardinal Thomas Stafford Williams as Archbishop of Wellington, New Zealand. He is being replaced by the Archdiocese's Coadjutor Bishop John Atcherly Dew.

The Holy Father has accepted the retirement of the Apostolic Vicar of the Arabian Peninsula Giovanni Bernardo Gremoli, O.F.M. Cap. He is being replaced by his Swiss-born Auxiliary Bishop Paul Hinder, O.F.M. Cap.

President signs Terri's Law (2 Updates)

President Bush has signed legislation allowing a federal court to review whether Terri Schiavo should be kept alive via a feeding tube.

Text of Law: An Act for the relief of the parents of Theresa Marie Schiavo.

UPDATE - U.S. District Judge James Whittemore in Tampa, Florida, has scheduled a hearing for 3 p.m. Eastern Time Monday (Text of notice here, additional information here).

UPDATE - After a two-hour hearing. Judge Whittemore said that he would not make an immediate ruling and gave no indication on when he might.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Time dragging painfully

There are many, many important things in today’s Gospel, some more important than others, but there is one thing that almost everyone notices, sometimes painfully:

It is very... very... very long.

Most of us readily understand why it is so long and how foolish it would be for us to complain, for the Gospel today (Mt. 26:14-27:66) is Saint Matthew’s account of the Passion and Death of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Yet that experience of discomfort, however slight it may be in comparison, gives us a hint of a particular aspect of our Lord’s suffering, that of time dragging painfully.

Many of us saw the Passion of the Christ and were emotionally devastated by the graphic depiction of our Lord’s torture that went on and on and on – and then they turned him over and scourged him on his other side.

But that was nothing.

Our Lord would go on to hang on the cross for hours, fighting suffocation and struggling against the nails driven through his flesh into the wood.

For hours.

Time dragging painfully.

We today live in a culture that fears pain: we fill up our medicine cabinets with over-the-counter pain relievers and sleeping aids. Some people become addicted to drugs, prescription or otherwise.

We also live in a world that fears time: we multi-task, we fill our lives with distractions, and we loose patience or interest quickly.

Our Lord’s reproach to his Apostles strikes at us.

"So you could not keep watch with me for one hour?”

We as Christians cannot be afraid of suffering, even the suffering of time dragging painfully. We cannot let fear of suffering cause us to numb ourselves senseless or to walk away from doing what is right, for we are Christians: disciples and imitators of Jesus Christ.

We do not seek suffering for the fun of it – we are not masochists – but doing the right thing in this broken world inevitably involves suffering and we must never shrink from doing what is right.

We need to ask ourselves, what are we not doing because we fear time dragging painfully? Making time for personal prayer? Arranging real quality time with family members? Visiting lonely relatives who cannot travel? Volunteering for church organizations and to help the poor?

We must not let the distractions of our culture get in the way of doing the right things we should be doing, even at the cost of time dragging painfully. We must do them because these things are right and because we are followers of Christ: the suffering servant, our Savior and Lord.

Hero on a white horse

At one point in the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark, when the situation looks bleak, the hero suddenly appears on a white horse and rides forth as crowds cheer.

Across the world, “a man on a white horse” is the classic expression for the one whom the people seek to save them from a bad, complex situation

In today’s Palm Sunday Gospel account of our Lord’s triumphant entrance into Jerusalem (Mt. 21:1-11), the people are greeting our Lord as the definitive hero on a white horse.

But he is not on a white horse: our Lord rides into town in a precarious and undignified fashion.

The people go along with it - someone says it is a fulfillment of prophecy – but within a matter of days, the crowd will turn against him.

It turns out that he was not the hero on a white horse they thought he was.

He is infinitely greater. He is the Savior. He is the Lord. And through suffering and even indignity he has taken away the sin of the world and brought eternal salvation.

Do we look for heroes on white horses? Do we see ourselves as the next great hero on a horse?

The truth is: we’re more like asses– at best. Christ is the savior of the world – not any one of us, not even the most charismatic leader or zealous advocacy group.

I use the word “ass” not so much as a term of disparagement as rather a job description: we are beasts of burden, we are servants, our function is to support Christ – not that he needs our help, but he calls us to do it.

We should not be looking for a hero on a white horse. All of us – from high to low - should rather aspire to be the very best beasts of burden that we can be: in service to Christ, the savior of the world.

A life that is "saved'' in order to save

4. "'Hoc est enim corpus meum quod pro vobis tradetur.'

"The body and the blood of Christ are given for the salvation of man, of the whole man and of all men. This salvation is integral and at the same time universal, because no one, unless he freely chooses, is excluded from the saving power of Christ's blood: "qui pro vobis et pro multis effundetur".

"It is a sacrifice offered for 'many'', as the Biblical text says (Mk 14:24; Mt 26:28; cf. Is 53:11-12); this typical Semitic expression refers to the multitude who are saved by Christ, the one Redeemer, yet at the same time it implies the totality of human beings to whom salvation is offered: the Lord's blood is 'shed for you and for all,' as some translations legitimately make explicit. Christ's flesh is truly given 'for the life of the world' (Jn 6:51; cf. 1 Jn 2:2).

"Repeating Christ's venerable words in the recollected silence of the liturgical assembly, we priests become privileged heralds of this mystery of salvation.

"Yet unless we sense that we ourselves are saved, how can we be convincing heralds?

"We are the first to be touched inwardly by the grace which raises us from our frailty and makes us cry 'Abba, Father' with the confidence of God's children (cf. Gal 4:6; Rom 8:15). This in turn commits us to advance along the path of perfection.

"Holiness, in fact, is the full expression of salvation. Only if our lives manifest the fact that we are saved do we become credible heralds of salvation.

"Moreover, a constant awareness of Christ's will to offer salvation to all cannot fail to inspire us with fresh missionary fervour, spurring each of us on to become 'all things to all men, in order to save at least some of them' (1 Cor 9:22)."

John Paul II
Holy Thursday Letter to Priests 2005 (excerpt)

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Interesting Via Dolorosa

"The Archdiocese of Miami's Campus Ministry invites the community to the Good Friday Way of the Cross, a prayerful 1.5-mile walk at 1 p.m. Friday.

"The walk will start at the Missionaries of Charity, 727 NW 17th St., and continue through the McLemore Center for Abused and Neglected Children, the Highland Park Hospital's Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Center, the Jackson Memorial Hospital Ryder Trauma Center, the Dade County medical examiner's office and the Dade County women's jail.

"The service will be in Spanish and English. For information, contact Patricia Stockton, 305-762-1097 or patstockton@miamiarch.org."
(Source: Miami Herald)

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake,
and in my flesh I complete
what is lacking in Christ's afflictions
for the sake of his body, that is, the church.
Colossians 1:24

Priesthood Information Day

The 2005 Priesthood Information Day was held today, Saturday March 19th, at Ennismore Retreat Centre, Cork, Ireland. It had "the highest attendance in recent years and organisers were very satisfied with the attendance and the level of interest shown."

This was an informal opportunity for men considering priesthood as a way of life to meet some priests and seminarians and discuss their questions.

"Contrary to popular perception, thinking about being a priest does not begin with a bolt of lightning! Most priests can't tell exactly where their decision to become a priest began. It is a combination of many thinks, including the environment in which one is reared, the influence of priests, the values which one acquires, one's prayer life, reading, learning, reflecting …

"One thing is for sure — it is never a snap decision. It takes time before you can arrive at a point of reasonable certainty that God is calling you to be a priest. Nonetheless, it is clear from the scriptures and from the history of Christianity that God does call people to this special life of service.

"So how would you know?

"The first thing to do is find out all you can about the life of a priest. Being a priest in a diocese for example is very different to being a priest in a monastery or on the missions abroad. Ask priests about their lives. Read what literature is available....

"Spend time in prayer asking God to help you discern whether priesthood is for you. Read some of the passages of the bible that deal with Our Lord's call to the prophets of the Old Testament and the Apostles and disciples of the New Testament.

"Ask family members and friends to also place you in their prayers.

"Heavenly Father, we praise you and thank you for all you have done for us. We thank you especially for sending your son, Jesus Christ, on earth to visit and save us. We ask you to bless our families and all the members of the parish family, especially those who are suffering in any way. May your love be upon us as we place all our hope in you. May those in our parish whom you call to enter the priesthood and religious life have the generosity to follow your invitation so that those who need your help may always find it.

"We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen."

from the Priesthood Vocations webpages of
The Diocese of Cork & Ross (Ireland)

Quality of Life

Today’s Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, reminds us of a special quality of their married life.


The first chapter of the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, from which today’s Gospel comes, twice makes clear that Mary and Joseph were chaste before and after their becoming husband and wife. (Catholics and others believe that they continued this chastity throughout their married life.)

If chastity between husband and wife sounds strange, especially in this flesh-obsessed age, how about this?

All Christians, in one way or another, are called to practice chastity.

Now, this not only sounds strange, it sounds like a recipe for the extinction of an entire religion (cf, the Shakers).

The point, however, is that chastity is more than just continence or abstinence from any physical relations, although that is its fullest sense.

Chastity is also a quality of life to be lived in different ways according to one’s state of life.

The quality of chastity is to be not controlled by sex in any way, but to keep our thoughts, actions, and relationships in perfect alignment with God and his plan.

For celibates (and even for some married people who freely and mutually choose it), this indeed includes perpetual abstinence from any form of sexual activity. For singles, this includes abstinence from any form of such activity until marriage.

For every husband and wife, chastity includes abstinence from any form of sexual activity except with each other. It also includes respecting each other and respecting God’s purposes, both when they are intimate and when they are continent.

Again, chastity is more than just abstinence: it is not being controlled by sex, but keeping our thoughts, actions, and relationships in perfect alignment with God and his plan.

In the flesh-obsessed culture in which we live, chastity is a radical, countercultural idea, but it reaffirms and deepens our quality of life that rises above the transitory and deteriorating things of the flesh to the eternal and infinite bliss of the world to come.

A life that is "given''

3. "'Accipite et manducate. Accipite et bibite.'

"Christ's self-giving, which has its origin in the Trinitarian life of the God who is Love, reaches its culmination in the sacrifice of the Cross, sacramentally anticipated in the Last Supper.

"It is impossible to repeat the words of consecration without feeling oneself caught up in this spiritual movement. In a certain sense, when he says the words: 'take and eat,' the priest must learn to apply them also to himself, and to speak them with truth and generosity.

"If he is able to offer himself as a gift, placing himself at the disposal of the community and at the service of anyone in need, his life takes on its true meaning.

"This is exactly what Jesus expected of his apostles, as the Evangelist John emphasizes in his account of the washing of the feet. It is also what the People of God expect of a priest.

"If we think about it more fully, the priest's promise of obedience, which he made on the day of Ordination and is asked to renew at the Chrism Mass, is illuminated by this relationship with the Eucharist.

"Obeying out of love, sacrificing even a certain legitimate freedom when the authoritative discernment of the Bishop so requires, the priest lives out in his own flesh that 'take and eat' with which Christ, in the Last Supper, gave himself to the Church."

John Paul II
Holy Thursday Letter to Priests 2005 (excerpt)

“She’s pregnant.”

“Pregnant? But, I… I mean, she… I mean, we never…”

“There must be something going on you don’t know about.”

“I can’t believe it. No, she wouldn’t.”

“Look, she’s pregnant. There’s no doubt about it. She’s pregnant.”

“I just can’t…”

“Come on. Focus. You’ve got some decisions to make.”

“I… what…?”

“If the child’s not yours, that means she cheated on you.”

“No, no, she wouldn’t…”

“Hey, face reality. If you didn’t do it, that means somebody else did. I know you love her, but it’s obvious: she cheated on you. And you know what that means.”

“I… oh, no. No, not that. I’m not letting that happen to her.”

“Listen, it’s the way it has to be.”

“No! Absolutely not. There’s got to be another way.”

“Umm…. well… there's a legal thing we can do quietly. That way you can go on with your life and she can go on to… whatever.”

“But she doesn’t get hurt.”

“No, she doesn’t get hurt.”

“Well, I guess… but, I… I just don’t know…”

But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying,

“Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”

Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child,
and shall bring forth a son,
and they shall call his name Emmanuel,
which being interpreted is, ‘God with us.’”

Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife….
cf Matthew 1:20-24

Today is the Solemnity of Saint Joseph
Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Friday, March 18, 2005

Bishops’ Official RE: Congress & Terri Schiavo

"Gail Quinn, Executive Director of the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, made the following statement today on the recent Congressional action on Terri Schiavo, a Florida woman at the heart of a controversy over withholding nutrition and hydration from people with cognitive disabilities:

"'We commend the U.S. House of Representatives for passing H.R. 1332 on March 16, 2005 and the U.S. Senate for passing S. 653 the following day.'

"'We strongly support legislation to provide Terri Schiavo access to the federal court so she can present her case in federal court,' she said."

(UPDATE - the trial judge disregarded a Congressional subpoena and allowed the tube removal to proceed. Congressional attorneys have filed appeals. Terri's feeding tube has been removed.)