Jesus answered: ‘Will you lay down your life for me?’ - John 13:38

Support the Holy Father and pray with him!

"Young people in particular, I appeal to you: bear witness to your faith through the digital world!"

-Pope Benedict XVI

Pray for Pope Benedict's prayer intentions for this month. Find out more here.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Sometimes life surprises us

What a wonderful story. Thank God he was given the chance to live and spread his wonderful message.

I wonder if Barack Obama could look him in the eye and say that him mother had the right to murder before he was born. In Obama's eyes Nick Vujicic would have been a punishment not a blessing to his mother ("I've got two daughters. 9 years old and 6 years old. I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals. But if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby.")

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Last Rites on a Wintry Night

A Halloween tale from Fr Joe (not from Opus Dei :p)

A Catholic Ghost Story from Southern Maryland

The priest was happy to have a fire burning. It was a cold winter night and it felt good to be settled in for the evening. His small parish in Charles County, Maryland, was a good one with simple but hardworking and faithful people. True, the area was a bit remote from the power center of the Archdiocese, but that had a positive side as well. However, such sentiments were best left unexplored and never expressed. The wind howled outside like a woman’s cry, and it was ever so dark. Peaceful— that was nature of this assignment; it was like a perpetual retreat. Counting himself fortunate, the Catholic cleric opened his breviary to say his prayers; hopefully he would finish them before falling asleep. He had barely begun when there was a knock at the door. Perhaps it was just the branch of a tree? Knock, knock!— no, there it was again— who could it be at this late hour of the night?

Throwing on his cassock he went to the door and opened it. “Yes, can I help you?” said the pastor, somewhat irritated at the interruption.

“Father, you have to come quickly, my daddy is dying!” cried a young teenage boy. “You have to come as fast as you can; he needs the last sacraments!”

The priest became immediately alert. He grabbed his coat and sick kit and ran out the door with the boy. Journeying to the house, he noted that the boy was only dressed in a flimsy shirt and shorts. He was even barefoot. No doubt the boy had run out to get him at a moment’s notice, thinking only of his father. He put his coat over the pale cold skin of the child. “Goodness, boy, if you’re not careful you’ll catch pneumonia yourself!”

“I’ll be okay, Father. The main thing is that you take care of my old man. He meant to contact you before this, but, well, he never thought his health would go down so quickly. We don’t have a phone so I ran to get you.”

“You’re telling me that you ran all this way to get me? You’re quite some boy. But rest and warm yourself now,” replied the concerned priest. The boy pointed the way and the priest made good time driving to their home.

Upon arriving, the priest jumped out and ran into the house. If the fellow was as bad as the boy made out, there was no time to lose. Sure enough, there he was, lying in bed and quite sick. The priest heard his Confession, anointed him, and gave him Holy Communion— it would be his last.

Sitting alongside the old man, for that was assuredly what he was, the priest began to chat with him. “Ah, I see you have a picture here of your son,” said the priest picking up a photograph near the man’s bedside.

“Oh yes, Father, that’s my boy,” returned the old man.

The priest added, “You must be proud to have a son like that, running all the way from here to the rectory for the priest on a night like this.”

“What Father? What do you mean?” he asked.

“Your boy,” explained the priest, “rushing half-naked to get me to insure you would receive the Last Rites— that was quite a selfless feat of love.”

“But Father,” stammered the old man pointing to the picture, “my boy has been dead these eighteen years, it was summer and he drowned.”

This story was told and retold to me many times by my father. It is a wonderful testimony of the value of the sacraments and the bond of love which transcends the grave.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I want my Papal hug, too.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Don't worry! Be happy!

From The Hermeneutic of Continuity

Some years ago, I remember a "hit" song that my youth group liked called "Don't worry! Be happy!" The fun and lilting caribbean voice made it a popular and amusing invitation to "chill out".

The atheist bus adverts promise people a worry-free existence if they will only accept that there is "probably" no God. This is not very reassuring in itself - to be free of worry, you would really need to be certain that there is no God - but let that pass.

Who can have a worry-free existence? This was essentially the problem that exercised the Stoics and other ancient philosophers in search of the "Beata vita", the blessed, or calm and contented life. Seneca and others got close when saying that freedom from fear and desire was the key. An ascetical life would free you from the desire that nags and worries. Acceptance of whatever happens will free you from fear.

Without the teaching of Christ, however, this search for the beata vita will be doomed to frustration. At this time of the year, we reflect on the Four Last Things: death, judgement, hell and heaven; exactly those eternal truths that Richard Dawkins and his friends think condemn us all to worry and unhappiness. In fact, they liberate us to enjoy life and life more abundant. By seeing our present lives in the perspective of eternity, we do not solve all our present worries but we are freed from seeing them as final. We are open to a glorious future in which:
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away. (Rev 21.4)
In "The God Delusion", Dawkins taunted Christians with the challenge that they should not fear death. Two examples come to mind from England in the reign of Henry VIII. St Thomas More marvelled at how the Carthusian martyrs went to their gruesome deaths at Tyburn singing the psalms as though they were on their way to a wedding.

I also love the story of St John Fisher's final hours in the Tower. On 22 June 1535, when the Lieutenant of the Tower of London came to tell him that he was to be executed that morning, there was this exchange:
‘Well,’ quoth the Bishop, ‘if this be your errand hither, it is no news unto me; I have looked daily for it. I pray you, what is it a’clock?’

‘It is,’ quoth the Lieutenant, ‘about five.’

‘What time,’ quoth the bishop, ‘must be mine hour to go out hence?’

‘About ten of the clock,’ said the Lieutenant.

‘Well, then,’ quoth the bishop, ‘I pray you, let me sleep an hour or twain. For I may say to you, I slept not much this night, not for fear of death, I tell you, but by reason of my great sickness and weakness.’
In other words, "Although I am going to have my head chopped off in a couple of hours, I'm a bit tired and I'd just like to get a little more sleep."

Don't worry! Be happy!

And here's the song he refers to :)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

St Gianna Beretta Molla

I found this video.. and it's very lovely and very moving..

Saturday, October 25, 2008

On the mentally handicapped, 'eating food cooked by Buddhists" and holding hands during the Our Father

Ite, missa est...and funny Cardinal Arinze

The Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, published an interview Oct. 17 with Cardinal Arinze, head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

He said along with "Ite, missa est," the Latin phrase now translated as "The Mass is ended, go in peace," the new options are:

-- "Ite ad Evangelium Domini annuntiandum" (Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord).

-- "Ite in pace, glorificando vita vestra Dominum" (Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life).

-- "Ite in pace" (Go in peace).

The idea for alternative words at the end of Mass was raised at the 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist. Many bishops wanted the final words to reflect a more explicit connection between Mass and the church's mission of evangelization in the world.

Now the next line is just classic:

Cardinal Arinze said the concern was that, for many Catholics, the present words of dismissal sounded like "The Mass is ended, go and rest."

Just look

In his column yesterday for the New York Catholic, Cardinal Egan tried something different:
The picture on this page is an untouched photograph of a being that has been within its mother for 20 weeks. Please do me the favor of looking at it carefully.

Have you any doubt that it is a human being?

If you do not have any such doubt, have you any doubt that it is an innocent human being?

If you have no doubt about this either, have you any doubt that the authorities in a civilized society are duty-bound to protect this innocent human being if anyone were to wish to kill it?

If your answer to this last query is negative, that is, if you have no doubt that the authorities in a civilized society would be duty-bound to protect this innocent human being if someone were to wish to kill it, I would suggest—even insist—that there is not a lot more to be said about the issue of abortion in our society. It is wrong, and it cannot—must not—be tolerated.
Farther in:
It is high time to stop pretending that we do not know what this nation of ours is allowing—and approving—with the killing each year of more than 1,600,000 innocent human beings within their mothers. We know full well that to kill what is clearly seen to be an innocent human being or what cannot be proved to be other than an innocent human being is as wrong as wrong gets.

Do me a favor. Look at the photograph again. Look and decide with honesty and decency what the Lord expects of you and me as the horror of "legalized" abortion continues to erode the honor of our nation. Look, and do not absolve yourself if you refuse to act.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Doctor Lloyd is on Wikipedia

Check it out!

Citation 9:
L. F. N. Ah Qune, K. Tamada, M. Hara (2008). "Self-Assembling Properties of 11-Ferrocenyl-1-Undecanethiol on Highly Oriented Pyrolitic Graphite Characterized by Scanning Tunneling Microscopy". e-Journal of Surface Science and Nanotechnology 6: 119–123. doi:10.1380/ejssnt.2008.119

Voters' Guide

For those interested in ethics:

St. Anthony, Lost and Found

by Anthony Stevens-Arroyo for the Washington Post

One of the treasures of Catholicism is praying to St. Anthony to find lost things. Persons of other faiths might not understand this practice or even find it objectionable theologically. However, we Catholics rejoice that St. Anthony cares.

The historical origin of the practice dates back to the Middle Ages when the Franciscan, Anthony of Padua and Lisbon (1195-1231), was considered to have prayed for and secured the return of a psalm book that had been lost. But in the lived faith of Catholics today, a prayer is offered up to St. Anthony whenever we can’t find something. With the aid of the saint, we eventually find what we are looking for, thus proving that he is indeed a powerful intercessor in heaven.

Theologically, this may present problems. Nothing of the life of St. Anthony is in the Bible and it is hard to imagine him breaking off his chants in heaven to find someone’s car keys. Some might argue that the practice is merely a psychological crutch. The prayer postpones anxiety and anger until the search for something lost is concluded. And we always find what was lost in the last place we look – because we stop looking when we find it!

I would not deny the theological ambiguities of the practice or even that spiritual things have material consequences. However, my explanation for St. Anthony’s care and the role of all saints in Catholicism goes along another path. I think we rejoice in this popular expression of our traditional faith because it makes the saints ordinary people like ourselves. Saints – while they were still alive on earth – experienced the same ups and downs as we do: lost items, physical pains like sore throats, diminished eyesight, toothaches, etc. We look for inspiration to a person who did not let such things detract them from the bigger picture of loving God and serving others. Saints Blaise (throat), Lucy (eyesight) Apollonia (toothaches) all bring consolation by example. There is even a patron saint of barbecuing: St. Lawrence (d. 258 ?), a deacon, when being burned alive for the faith, suggested his persecutors turn him over because he was “done on that side.” While this popular lore flirts with caricature, it is an example of the appeal of Catholicism to ordinary people. While elitists and snobs will sneer at the immediacy of grace, such customs also actualize what we call “the communion of saints.” In love are we thus bound – living and dead – by a common faith.

So the next time a Catholic interrupts a search by saying, “Pray to St. Anthony!” remember how it enriches faith to believe God’s heroes and heroines care about ordinary people like us.

The Priests

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Church is not Wal-Mart

I had a much longer piece, but I scrapped it for something a lot shorter and more to the point.

1). The Roman Catholic Church isn't WalMart or Burger King; it's the Body of Christ.

2). Catholic priests, nuns, sisters/brothers and laity aren't employees; we are members of the Body of Christ.

3). The doctrine and dogma of the Catholic Church are not consumer products that the Church's employees sell to those who want them; Catholic doctrine and dogma express the unchanging truth of the faith.

4). Life in a Catholic parish is not a trip to Disney Land or Target or McDonald's where your consumer needs and whims are catered to by the whimpering clergy and lay staff; parish life is the life of Christ for the local Catholic family.

5). You do not come into the Catholic Church b/c you like the building better than you like the Methodist chapel; or because the priest at the Catholic parish is cuter than the Baptist preacher; or because you heard that the homilies are shorter at St. Bubba's by the Lake than they are at the Unitarian Church. You come into the Catholic Church because you believe that the Catholic faith is the truth of the gospel taught by Christ himself and given to his apostles.

6). Leaving the Catholic Church because a priest was mean to you, or because sister whacked you with a ruler, or because the church secretary looked at you funny is as stupid as giving up on the truths of math because you hate your high school algebra teacher. Why would anyone let a crazy priest or a cranky nun or anyone else for the matter drive you out of the faith you believe is true? My only conclusion: you never thought it was true to begin with; or, you have a favorite sin the Church teaches against and crazy priests and cranky nuns is as good an excuse as any to leave and pursue your sin all the while feeling justified b/c Father and/or Sister are such jerks.

7). Anyone who comes in the Catholic Church thinking that they will find clouds of angels at Mass dressed as parishioners; hordes of perfect saints kneeling for communion; seminaries packed with angelic young men burning to be priests; a parish hall stacked to the ceiling with morally pure people eager to serve; and a priest without flaw or blemish, well, you're cracked and you probably need to go back and try again. Telling Catholics that they aren't perfect makes as much sense as telling fish they're wet. We know already. Move on.

8). Of the hundreds of priests and religious I know, I know two who could count as saints right now. The rest of us are deeply flawed, impure, struggling creatures who know all too well that we fail utterly to meet the basic standards of holiness. For that matter: so do you. Get in line.

9). The Catholic Church owes no one a revision of her doctrine or dogma. She didn't change to save most of Europe from becoming Protestant, why would you imagine that she would change just to get you in one of her parishes?

10). If you want to become Catholic, do it. But do it because you think the Church teaches the true faith. If a cranky priest on a blogsite is enough to keep you from embracing the truth of the faith, then two things are painfully clear: 1) you do not believe the Church teaches the faith; 2) and you care more about expresssing your hurt consumer feelings than you do for your immortal soul.

Choose Life

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"A tiny ripple of hope"

I'm looking for a speech to analyse for my module on Rhetoric. Here are some excerpts of a speech I found by Robert F Kennedy to youth in South Africa. I think it's a wonderful message to us all:

At the heart of that Western freedom and democracy is the belief that the individual man, the child of God, is the touchstone of value, and all society, groups, the state, exist for his benefit. Therefore the enlargement of liberty for individual human beings must be the supreme goal and the abiding practice of any Western society.


Each nation has different obstacles and different goals, shaped by the vagaries of history and of experience. Yet as I talk to young people around the world I am impressed not by the diversity but by the closeness of their goals, their desires and their concerns and their hope for the future. There is discrimination in New York, the racial inequality of apartheid in South Africa, and serfdom in the mountains of Peru. People starve in the streets of India, a former Prime Minister is summarily executed in the Congo, intellectuals go to jail in Russia, and thousands are slaughtered in Indonesia; wealth is lavished on armaments everywhere in the world. These are differing evils; but they are the common works of man. They reflect the imperfections of human justice, the inadequacy of human compassion, the defectiveness of our sensibility toward the sufferings of our fellows; they mark the limit of our ability to use knowledge for the well-being of our fellow human beings throughout the world. And therefore they call upon common qualities of conscience and indignation, a shared determination to wipe away the unnecessary sufferings of our fellow human beings at home and around the world.

It is these qualities which make of youth today the only true international community. More than this I think that we could agree on what kind of a world we would all want to build. it would be a world of independent nations, moving toward international community, each of which protected and respected the basic human freedoms. It would be a world which demanded of each government that it accept its responsibility to insure social justice. It would be a world of constantly accelerating economic progress--not material welfare as an end in itself, but as a means to liberate the capacity of every human being to pursue his talents and to pursue his hopes. It would, in short, be a world that we would be proud to have built.


Our answer is the world's hope; it is to rely on youth. The cruelties and obstacles of this swiftly changing planet will not yield to obsolete dogmas and outworn slogans. It cannot be moved by those who cling to a present which is already dying, who prefer the illusion of security to the excitement and danger which comes with even the most peaceful progress.

This world demands the qualities of youth; not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease. It is a revolutionary world we live in, and thus, as I have said in Latin America and Asia, in Europe and in the United States, it is young people who must take the lead. Thus you, and your young compatriots everywhere, have had thrust upon you a greater burden of responsibility than any generation that has ever lived.

"There is," said an Italian philosopher, "nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things." Yet this is the measure of the task of your generation, and the road is strewn with many dangers.

First, is the danger of futility: the belief there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world's ills--against misery and ignorance, injustice and violence. Yet many of the world's greatest movements, of thought and action, have flowed from the work of a single man. A young monk began the Protestant Reformation, a young general extended an empire from Macedonia to the borders of the earth, and a young woman reclaimed the territory of France. It was a young Italian explorer who discovered the New World, and the thirty-two-year-old Thomas Jefferson who proclaimed that all men are created equal.

"Give me a place to stand," said Archimedes, "and I will move the world." These men moved the world, and so can we all. Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation. Thousands of Peace Corps volunteers are making a difference in isolated villages and city slums in dozens of countries. Thousands of unknown men and women in Europe resisted the occupation of the Nazis and many died, but all added to the ultimate strength and freedom of their countries. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

"If Athens shall appear great to you," said Pericles, "consider then that her glories were purchased by valiant men, and by men who learned their duty." That is the source of all greatness in all societies, and it is the key to progress in our time.

The second danger is that of expediency; of those who say that hopes and beliefs must bend before immediate necessities. Of course, if we would act effectively we must deal with the world as it is. We must get things done. But if there was one thing President Kennedy stood for that touched the most profound feelings of young people around the world, it was the belief that idealism, high aspirations, and deep convictions are not incompatible with the most practical and efficient of programs--that there is no basic inconsistency between ideals and realistic possibilities, no separation between the deepest desires of heart and of mind and the rational application of human effort to human problems. It is not realistic or hardheaded to solve problems and take action unguided by ultimate moral aims and values, although we all know some who claim that it is so. In my judgment, it is thoughtless folly. For it ignores the realities of human faith and of passion and of belief--forces ultimately more powerful than all of the calculations of our economists or of our generals. Of course to adhere to standards, to idealism, to vision in the face of immediate dangers takes great courage and takes self-confidence. But we also know that only those who dare to fail greatly, can ever achieve greatly.

It is this new idealism which is also, I believe, the common heritage of a generation which has learned that while efficiency can lead to the camps at Auschwitz, or the streets of Budapest, only the ideals of humanity and love can climb the hills of the Acropolis.

A third danger is timidity. Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality of those who seek to change a world which yields most painfully to change. Aristotle tells us that "At the Olympic games it is not the finest and the strongest men who are crowned, but they who enter the lists.... So too in the life of the honorable and the good it is they who act rightly who win the prize." I believe that in this generation those with the courage to enter the moral conflict will find themselves with companions in every corner of the world.

For the fortunate among us, the fourth danger is comfort, the temptation to follow the easy and familiar paths of personal ambition and financial success so grandly spread before those who have the privilege of education. But that is not the road history has marked out for us. There is a Chinese curse which says "May he live in interesting times." Like it or not we live in interesting times. They are times of danger and uncertainty; but they are also more open to the creative energy of men than any other time in history. And everyone here will ultimately be judged--will ultimately judge himself--on the effort he has contributed to building a new world society and the extent to which his ideals and goals have shaped that effort.

So we part, I to my country and you to remain. We are--if a man of forty can claim that privilege--fellow members of the world's largest younger generation. Each of us have our own work to do. I know at times you must feel very alone with your problems and difficulties. But I want to say how impressed I am with what you stand for and the effort you are making; and I say this not just for myself, but for men and women everywhere. And I hope you will often take heart from the knowledge that you are joined with fellow young people in every land, they struggling with their problems and you with yours, but all joined in a common purpose; that, like the young people of my own country and of every country I have visited, you are all in many ways more closely united to the brothers of your time than to the older generations of any of these nations; and that you are determined to build a better future. President Kennedy was speaking to the young people of America, but beyond them to young people everywhere, when he said that "the energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it--and the glow from that fire can truly light the world."

And, he added, "With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own."

I thank you.

Rosary Widget

We could use this to lead the Rosary in the future. (Via Gerg)

Monday, October 20, 2008


Curt Jester :)

Coming to you on EWTN!

Our brand new show is a story of clergy and laity with extraordinary liturgical abilities who fight against the various liturgical catastrophes around the world. Our liturgical heroes do not have superhuman abilities, but follow the supernatural inspirations of grace in the reform of the reform.

Our heroes include Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Pell, Cardinal Hoyos, Cardinal "do-it-yourself liturgy is over" Arinze, Monsignor Marini, Father "Slavishly accurate liturgical translations" Z, Father Fessio S.J., Helen Hull Hitchcock, Jimmy Akin, Colin Donavan, Shawn Tribe and a cast of thousands dedicated to protecting and enriching the liturgy.

Each week our heroes fight against villains that do no simply rollover at the mention of the GIRM. A good action show requires capable villains that you love to hate and you won't be disappointed by villains such as Bishop Fishperson and his hordes of liturgist minions such as Syler the liturgist who has the power to suck the beauty out of anything he touches. Though this is actually a common power to most liturgists who suck the liturgy dry of beauty in the name of relevance. Each week you will be sitting on the edge as you wonder will the heroes defeat the plans of Fr. Richard S. Vosko in his latest wreckovation scheme or whether a clown Mass will go on as scheduled.

So whether our heroes are fighting to protect against attempts to quash the Extraordinary Form of the Mass or ensuring that the Ordinary Form of the Mass is celebrated as it was intended you will stand up and cheer as our heroes go up against the worst of liturgical villains each week.

"Heroes" is an epic drama that chronicles the lives of those protecting the liturgy and go beyond just griping and moaning about it. This is must see TV to save our litugy.


Archbishop Chaput explains the church's stance on pro-abortion Catholic politicians:

Archbishop Chaput: Little Murders


I believe that Senator Obama, whatever his other talents, is the most committed ''abortion-rights'' presidential candidate of either major party since the Roe v. Wade abortion decision in 1973. Despite what Prof. Kmiec suggests, the party platform Senator Obama runs on this year is not only aggressively ''pro-choice;'' it has also removed any suggestion that killing an unborn child might be a regrettable thing. On the question of homicide against the unborn child - and let's remember that the great Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer explicitly called abortion ''murder'' - the Democratic platform that emerged from Denver in August 2008 is clearly anti-life. 

Prof. Kmiec argues that there are defensible motives to support Senator Obama. Speaking for myself, I do not know any proportionate reason that could outweigh more than 40 million unborn children killed by abortion and the many millions of women deeply wounded by the loss and regret abortion creates.


The truth is that for some Catholics, the abortion issue has never been a comfortable cause. It's embarrassing. It's not the kind of social justice they like to talk about. It interferes with their natural political alliances. And because the homicides involved in abortion are ''little murders'' - the kind of private, legally protected murders that kill conveniently unseen lives - it's easy to look the other way. 


The abortion conflict has never simply been about repealing Roe v. Wade. And the many pro-lifers I know live a much deeper kind of discipleship than ''single issue'' politics. But they do understand that the cornerstone of Catholic social teaching is protecting human life from conception to natural death. They do understand that every other human right depends on the right to life. They did not and do not and will not give up - and they won't be lied to. 

So I think that people who claim that the abortion struggle is ''lost'' as a matter of law, or that supporting an outspoken defender of legal abortion is somehow ''prolife,'' are not just wrong; they're betraying the witness of every person who continues the work of defending the unborn child. And I hope they know how to explain that, because someday they'll be required to. 

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Chant: Music for the Soul

Some relaxing Gregorian chant from the Cistercian monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz
You can buy their popular CD (tens of thousands sold) at the Holy Cross bookshop.

"It's a pretty safe bet that very few of Universal Music's recent signings count Pope Benedict XVI among their fans. But the pontiff is a definite admirer of the latest boys in the hood(s) to sign globally to Universal Classics"

Here's a nice newspaper article on the monks :)

A sense of timelessness is part of the attraction of the chants, which are sung in Latin and, unlike most music, don't have a fixed rhythm and are sung in unison. They are composed in eight "modes", with the words taken from the Bible, usually psalms.

Another monk, Edmund, explained that the origins of the chant lay in pre-Christian Jewish liturgy, but they were assembled and collected by Pope Gregory in the 7th century, and began to be written down in the 11th century. "The monks sing back to God the words he has given us. They are not written by any monk in particular, but developed over the centuries."

The success of the record doesn't seem to have affected the monks' lives too much - the monastery is already a well-known tourist attraction, attracting more than 100,000 visitors a year and the church is packed at feast days and Christmas. "We do find that more people come to hear us sing at vespers," said brother Edmund. The abbot has decreed that they will not perform in any shows, or on television but that people who want to hear the music live can visit the monastery.

"What we are doing is not an artistic performance but continuous prayer," said Johannes Paul. "That is one reason people love the music so much - art and the sacred have become separated in the modern world."

Mother Teresa:"...and the fruit of love is service"

"The Church is missionary by her very nature." - Pope John Paul II

Dear faithful laity, you who act in the different areas of society are all called to take part in an increasingly important way in spreading the Gospel. A complex and multiform areopagus thus opens up before you to be evangelized: the world. Give witness with your lives that Christians "belong to a new society which is the goal of their common pilgrimage and which is anticipated in the course of that pilgrimage" - Pope Benedict XVI

Christmas songs in October

I was eating lunch with Cassie and Bella today when Cassie asked me if I had started listening to Christmas songs.

Thoroughly unabashed, I said yes. In fact, I've been listening since the midterm break. Which isn't really that 'bad' considering that in the Philippines, radio stations start playing holiday tunes once we hit the '-ber' months.

And to give you a full confession, I like listening to Christmas songs anytime, anywhere. They just make me happy.

So here's an old goodie from (who else?) Libera:

Francis Cardinal Arinze on pro-choice Catholic politicians

The pod-casting Cardinal tells it as it is: ask any first-Holy Communicant (usually 8 year olds) and they would tell you the absurdity of the the pro-choice Catholic politicians' stance

Saturday, October 18, 2008

nice story from recollection

I just went for recollection today. Then in a meditation there, Father told us this story, which I thought was very nice :) So, here it is..

A long time ago in China , a girl named Li-Li got married & went to live with her husband and mother-in-law. In a very short time, Li-Li found that she couldn't get along with her mother-in-law at all.

Their personalities were very different, and Li-Li was angered by many of her mother-in-law's habits. In addition, she criticized Li-Li constantly.

Days passed, and weeks passed. Li-Li and her mother-in-law never stopped arguing and fighting.

But what made the situation even worse was that, according to ancient Chinese tradition, Li-Li had to bow to her mother-in-law and obey her every wish. All the anger and unhappiness in the house was causing Li-Li's poor husband! d great distress.

Finally, Li-Li could not stand her mother-in-! law's bad temper and dictatorship any longer, and she decided to do something about it! Li-Li went to see her father's good friend, Mr. Huang, who sold herbs.

She told him the situation and asked if he would give her some poison so that she could solve the problem once and for all.

Mr. Huang thought for awhile, and finally said, "Li-Li, I will help you solve your problem, but you must listen to me and obey what I tell you."

Li-Li said, "Yes, Mr. Huang, I will do whatever you tell me to do."Mr. Huang went into the back room, and returned in a few minutes with a package of herbs. He told Li-Li, "You can't use a quick-acting poison to get rid of your mother-in-law, because that would cause people to become suspicious Therefore, I have given you a number of herbs that will slowly build up poison in her body. Every other day prepare some delicious meal and put a little of these herbs in her serving.

Now, in order to make sure that nobody suspect you, when she dies, you must be very careful to act very friendly towards her. "Don't argue with her, obey her every wish, and treat her like a queen." Li-Li was so happy.

She thanked Mr. Huang and hurried home to start her plot of murdering her mother-in-law.

Weeks went by, and months went by, and every other day, Li-Li served the specially treated food to her mother-in-law. She remembered what Mr. Huang had said about avoiding suspicion, so she controlled her temper!r, obeyed her mother-in-law, and treated her like her own mother.

After six months had passed, the whole household had changed. Li-Li had practiced controlling her temper so much that she found that she almost never got mad or upset. She hadn't had an argument with her mother-in-law in six months because she now seemed much kinder and easier to get along with.

The mother-in-law's attitude toward Li-Li changed, and she began to love Li-Li like her own daughter. She kept telling friends and relatives that Li-Li was the best daughter-in-law one could ever find. Li-Li and her mother-in-law were now treating each other like a real mother and daughter.

Li-Li's husband was very happy to see what was happening. One day, Li-Li came to see Mr. Huang and asked for his help again She said, "Dear Mr. Huang, please help me to keep the poison from killing my mother-in-law. She's changed into such a nice woman, and I love her like my own mother. I do not want her to die because of the poison I gave her."

Mr. Huang smiled and nodded his head. "Li-Li, there's nothing to worry about. I never gave you any poison. The herbs I gave you were vitamins to improve her health. The only poison was in your mind and your attitude toward her, but that has been all washed away by the love which you gave to her."

Video: Pope John Paul the Great celebrating the Tridentine Mass

Beautiful man, beautiful soul, beautiful voice, beautiful song, beautiful mass,

most beautiful Savior.

I do miss him...Santo Subito!

"Save our Children!"

From the American Papist:

The Archdiocesan Administrator who is running St. Louis until a replacement can be found for its previous shepherd Abp. Raymond Burke ... has issued an extraordinary exhortation to the Catholics under his care:

"Save our children! More than anything else, this election is about saving our children or killing our children. This life issue is the overriding issue facing each of us in this coming election. All other issues, including the economy, have to take second place to the issue of life."

... Save our children! How can a so-called good Catholic vote for a candidate that supports laws that take the life of innocent children, when there is an alternative? If there were two candidates who supported abortion, but not equally, we would have the obligation to mitigate the evil by voting for the less-permissive candidate.

... Save our children! How can a so-called good Catholic vote for a candidate that supports laws that justify the killing of a child that survived a botched abortion? How can such a so-called good Catholic receive the Holy Eucharist?

... Save our children! I have no doubt that there may be some so-called good Catholics who are reading this column and who may be really angry about now. I ask the question "Why would such a person be angry?" If we do good deeds, then our conscience is at peace. If we do evil deeds, then our conscience bothers us. It is my hope that this column will lead some of our so-called good Catholics to study the Catholic Catechism.

... Save our children! Some of our so-called good Catholics may have hardened their hearts against the real understanding of induced abortions, that they can no longer see that this involves the destruction of our children. "If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts!"

... Save our children! Supporting induced abortions is not the greatest sin in the world. A greater sin is the refusal to repent of such a serious crime or the denial that this involves the killing of innocent children.

... Save our children! I have used this terminology again and again penetrate the defenses of anyone who in the past may have put personal, economic or political interests above the issue of saving our children. The right to life is our most fundamental right, and to defend this right on behalf of the most vulnerable is a great privilege and is worth giving one’s life for. Policemen and firemen always risk their lives to save human life. Why should we not risk our own reputation to save our children?"

[Read his entire column.]

His spiritual exhortation? Pray. the. rosary.

Friday, October 17, 2008

allocutio: 16/10

Yesterday was the feast day of St Theresa of Avila, doctor of the church, thus today’s allocutio will be a bit about her.

When Teresa first entered the Carmelite convent permanently, she started to learn and practice mental prayer, in which she "tried as hard as I could to keep Jesus Christ present within me....” but she thought that her imagination was so dull that she had no talent for imagining or coming up with great theological thoughts." Still, Teresa prayed this way off and on for eighteen years without feeling that she was getting results. But the important thing was that she never stopped praying in spite of all this, and the Catholic church is so much the richer for all the writings that she has written out of all this prayer.

Teresa suffered the same problem that Francis of Assisi did -- she was too charming. Everyone liked her and she liked to be liked. She found it too easy to slip into a worldly life and ignore God.

I was thinking that we as legionaries who live not in the Carmelite monastery, but out in the world, would definitely meet many people of all walks of life as well, and hence we would be at even greater risk of earthly pride, and being overly caught up with the things of this world and being sociable, to the extent of not spending enough time with God. Being a legionary calls for us to attend to people, but it is difficult to mantain a high spiritual level consistently when interacting with various people, and to constantly remember that when we do our contact work, it is not for personal benefit, gratification, to gain ourselves friendship/ popularity, but all for our Mother and our God. There are pros and cons to this, the pro being, the need to feel validated from the contact work, or simply put, the need to feel “liked” while doing contact work, should not be there... if we are doing our work for God, then we should trust that even if we were to say something that might seem offensive to the person momentarily, or something that might cause them to see us as less likeable or less similar people to them (or seem like aliens from another world who has different beliefs or something), we shouldn’t feel humiliated, because what we say and do, should be for God.Afterall, logically, the further we are from earthly vanities, would mean that the closer we are to God. And we only have to be glad for that.

St Therese of Liseux, who had St Teresa of Avila as a patron saint but was quite the opposite in terms of having very few friends comparatively, said that an “immoderate love of creatures is a poison-draught which has always been kept away from my lips,” but that she was sure that “many souls go that way. They’re like the poor moths; dazzled by the lure of this rush-light; they fly into it and burn their wings, only to come back later into the soft radiance of that true love which is divine.” St Therese was of the opinion that “it was only God’s mercy that preserved me from giving myself up to the love of creatures” but at the same time, because of not needing to fall into this trap of being overly attached to earthly things and earthly “creatures”, St Therese thought that she owed God so much more.
However, if we attend to all our legionary work and contact with the idea that we are only doing it for God and our Mother Mary, and lose sight of the fact that we are also interacting with our contacts for the sake of ourcontacts’, we can end up sounding only self-righteous and pious but forget the importance of being first a friend to them, and wanting the best for them as well. The human element, of having relational skills and always treating everyone we meet with love is still the most essential part of our legionary service. It is through trying to imitate Mother Mary’s love for her son and her son’s love for the world, that we can truly appear to be sincere about our contacts’ well being and salvation. Earthly popularity is frequently determined by how much material wealth and luxury can be shared among the group and friends, however because we as legionaries should be concerned with bringing our contacts towards God and towards a spiritual awakening, the only way we can do this is through gestures of love and a spiritual concern for others, and not through material giftings. For example, giving a friend a $50 book voucher for a birthday might make the person think that you’re a really great friend, but it might not do as much good for the friend as sending bible passages or spiritually inspirational stories to the friend’s email everyday or sharing with the friend many more stories of the saints, that would be a much greater gift fulfilling the friend’s spiritual need, an everlasting gift in terms that it points the person more towards the eternal, and also a sign of a more constant friendship.

In the legion handbook, page 145, it is said that a “soul that is to win others must be great and wide as the ocean. To convert the world, one’s soul must be greater than the world.” Hence although we might think that our souls seem inadequate in terms of purity and grace, we should still aim towards an all-encompassing love for all, sinner and saint, Catholic or protestant alike. Our souls must not see things on merely an earthly level, but it must be greater than the world, able to resist temptations and rise after a battle with an unending fervour to win other souls for Christ. However to have a soul wide enough and great enough would mean needing to constantly ask our Mother to provide us with the necessary courage to answer contacts’ queries about the faith wisely, and also to have enough patience and compassion when dealing with people who might have a sense of who God is but who have yet to know and love God fully. It also takes a great deal of humility on our own part and our soul has to learn to reject pride, to the extent that we must acknowledge that we too have yet to know all the mysteries of our faith and God fully, and that we are all also just as sinful as the next person, and needful of even more prayer in our lives, for we might be inadequate and yet we are called as legionaries to still go forth to bring God’s word to others.

How then should we approach God, and try our best to live a life of prayer? St Teresa prayed for eighteen years without feeling results, but obviously there were results, or she wouldn’t have been able to claim this great truth that, and I quote "Prayer is an act of love, words are not needed. Even if sickness distracts from thoughts, all that is needed is the will to love." As legionaries, imitating Mary, the will to love should always be present, thus our very lives can be an active work and prayer, in spite of our busy schedules. Since love is more an action than just words, prayer is greater as acts of love rather than just words too. How then can we act with love daily?

It requres daily prayer and moments of discernment, As St Teresa says: “ it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us. The important thing is not to think much but to love much and so do that which best stirs you to love. Love is not great delight but desire to please God in everything."
Thus as Legionaries, let us, regardless of whether we are called by God towards a path more like St Teresa’s who needed to grow closer to God by remembering to take the time out of her youthful popularity to pray more... or like St Therese who was born more resilient from the snares of earthly delights but reailzed that she had to be thankful for such a gift... aim to do our contact work in a manner of love that aims only to please God in everything.


John Paul the Great

Revelation: Obama May Have Been a Fetus

In a stunning development that's left the political world shocked, accusations are surfacing from a blog called CMR that Presidential candidate Barack Obama may have at one time been a fetus.

Although Obama has consistently pushed a radical anti-fetus agenda throughout his political career, a revelation that he was actually a fetus at one time could sink his campaign among hard-core Democrats.

"The Democratic leadership does not like fetuses," said one high ranking source in the Democratic Party. "To find out this late in the game that Barack Obama may have been a fetus is very disturbing for a lot of us."

Some DNC officials are saying they feel "lied to."

Obama campaign spokespeople, however, are saying that no photographic evidence exists of Obama as a fetus. DNC spokesperson, Joe the spokesperson, said "the first pictures which exist of Sen. Obama are from when he was a child in Indonesia...I mean Hawaii."

One Obama aide did say that Obama may be willing to admit he was at one time a blob of tissue but nothing more at this time.

It is unclear that if indeed Obama was at one time a fetus, when he might have stopped being a fetus and became a human person worthy of rights but so far the Obama campaign has refused to specify a moment at what moment a fetus becomes a person.

"Well, according to Obama's abortion record I don't think he believes a fetus becomes a human until about kindergarten," said Joe the Pro-life activist. DNC spokespeople said nobody knows when a "fetus" becomes a person so it's safe just to make them all available for abortion just in case.
Some political experts said it would be like finding out Newt Gingrich, who has pushed for closing the border, was an illegal immigrant. Or the hypocrisy of Senator Larry Craig trumpeting family values.

John McCain said today it's not the fact that Obama was a fetus at one time but the hypocrisy of his anti-fetal stance that makes it relevant to this election.

I love it! Read the rest here

Joe the spokesman and Joe the pro-life activist are a parody of "Joe the plumber" that first Sen McCain and then Sen Obama referred to during the last debate.

I can do all things in Him who strengthen me

For us Legionaries in NUS, many times we encountered problems with our time management. We must struggled with many many things at the same times. Test, projects, assignments, CCAs, contact work, etc. It's true that things sometimes can be very tiring, very demanding.. And at that point of time, sometimes we are thinking to run away from some of our responsibilities because we feel that we cannot cope with it anymore.

And then, at times, we feel disappointed with ourselves. I failed to do this, and I failed to do that. Specific example for legionaries.. I failed to invite my friend for Mass, for a talk, or for Legion meeting.

In fact, a few days/weeks ago, I did experience that. However, that time, when I was praying using St Josemaria’s book, The Way, I bump into these 2 quotes and they strike me a lot,

When you want to do things well, really well, it's then you do them worse. Humble yourself before Jesus, saying to him: Don't you see how I do everything wrong? Well, if you don't help me very much, I'll do it all even worse! Take pity on your child: You see, I want to write a big page each day in the book of my life. But I'm so clumsy, that if the Master doesn't guide my hand, instead of graceful strokes my pen leaves behind blots and scratches, that can't be shown to anyone. From now on, Jesus, the writing will always be done by both of us together.

You are full of weaknesses. Every day you see them more clearly. But don't let them frighten you. He well knows you can't yield more fruit. Your involuntary falls-those of a child-show your Father God that he must take more care, and your Mother Mary that she must never let you go from her loving hand. Each day, as our Lord picks you up from the ground, take advantage of it, embrace him with all your strength and lay your wearied head on his open breast so that you'll be carried away by the beating of his most loving heart.

Now that I think about it again, these two quotes are quite related to basic duties of legionaries which is listed in chapter 33 of our handbook. To tell you the truth, I’m quite surprised to see the basic duties listed there when I was preparing this allo since I never opened that chapter before. But anyway, there are two things that are listed there that I think quite important for us legionaries to fulfilled, “The Legionary must pray as well as work”, and “The interior life of Legionaries”, which consist of prayer, mortification and sacraments.

From these duties, I can see that our founder has realized how important it is for us to really abandon ourselves to our Father God and to Our Mother Mary; that we, in doing apostolate, must really depend on the divine power, not just on mere human power. This apostolic work, this contact work, is not our work. Through our prayer and interior life, through constant discernment, we should keep asking again and again, what is the Lord’s will in my life? Day by day asking our Lord, “What apostolic work do You want me to do today Lord?” So that we can always be very much united with His Holy will. And then, of course we can always turn to Our Lady, to ask for her intercession for our work.

However, even though we might have practiced that prayer, mortification and sacraments, we might still encountered failings in our apostolate. It’s very normal for us to encountered failings; when we encountered that, keep in mind again, that this work we did, is not our work, it’s God’s work. None of us can change our contact’s hearts. It is only God who can change the heart of a person. Don’t worry and don’t get discouraged when we encounter failings. Like what St Josemaria said, if we really humble ourselves and admit our failings as a child.. And just humbly ask for His help to begin again, again and again. Because He never asked us to success; He just wants us to be faithful and to persevere.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Papal Blog?

From the CNS blog:

VATICAN CITY — The Synod of Bishops on the Bible heard an unusual suggestion Tuesday morning when a Hong Kong observer asked Pope Benedict to start up his own daily blog on Scripture.

Agnes Kam Leng Lam, president of the Catholic Biblical Association of Hong Kong, said people need to experience Scripture in small but significant doses.

“To put it in a nutshell, I’d like to suggest to you Holy Father to start a multi-language blog to shepherd today’s world by scriptural verses, daily verses,” she said on the synod floor. The pope’s blog should include simple reflections that relate Scripture to real-life situations, she said.

Lam included advice that’s probably good for any blogger: “Remember, brief texts, Holy Father, and plentiful images, and this will be very attractive to the young generation and to today’s people.”

The talk apparently provoked a positive reaction and some laughter, but the pope, who was presiding over the Oct. 5-26 assembly, didn’t say whether he’d be blogging anytime soon.

The Curt Jester has a few suggestions for the blog name. =)

Adoro Te Devote

My favourite Eucharistic hymn

One of the five beautiful hymns St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) composed in honor of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament at Pope Urban IV's (1261-1264) request when the Pope first established the Feast of Corpus Christi in 1264. The hymn is found in the Roman Missal as a prayer of thanksgiving after Mass. A partial indulgence is granted to the faithful who devoutly recite this hymn.

ADORO te devote, latens Deitas, quae sub his figuris vere latitas: tibi se cor meum totum subiicit, quia te contemplans totum deficit. HIDDEN God, devoutly I adore Thee, truly present underneath these veils: all my heart subdues itself before Thee, since it all before Thee faints and fails.
Visus, tactus, gustus in te fallitur, sed auditu solo tuto creditur; credo quidquid dixit Dei Filius: nil hoc verbo Veritatis verius. Not to sight, or taste, or touch be credit hearing only do we trust secure; I believe, for God the Son has said it- Word of truth that ever shall endure.
In cruce latebat sola Deitas, at hic latet simul et humanitas; ambo tamen credens atque confitens, peto quod petivit latro paenitens. On the cross was veiled Thy Godhead's splendor, here Thy manhood lies hidden too; unto both alike my faith I render, and, as sued the contrite thief, I sue.
Plagas, sicut Thomas, non intueor; Deum tamen meum te confiteor; fac me tibi semper magis credere, in te spem habere, te diligere. Though I look not on Thy wounds with Thomas, Thee, my Lord, and Thee, my God, I call: make me more and more believe Thy promise, hope in Thee, and love Thee over all.
O memoriale mortis Domini! panis vivus, vitam praestans homini! praesta meae menti de te vivere et te illi semper dulce sapere. O memorial of my Savior dying, Living Bread, that gives life to man; make my soul, its life from Thee supplying, taste Thy sweetness, as on earth it can.
Pie pellicane, Iesu Domine, me immundum munda tuo sanguine; cuius una stilla salvum facere totum mundum quit ab omni scelere. Deign, O Jesus, Pelican of heaven, me, a sinner, in Thy Blood to lave, to a single drop of which is given all the world from all its sin to save.
Iesu, quem velatum nunc aspicio, oro fiat illud quod tam sitio; ut te revelata cernens facie, visu sim beatus tuae gloriae. Amen. Contemplating, Lord, Thy hidden presence, grant me what I thirst for and implore, in the revelation of Thy essence to behold Thy glory evermore. Amen.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Legion's attitudes towards others

(1 Cor 13:13)

Mary was so utterly full of charity that she was found worthy to conceive and bring into the world him who is Charity itself. The Legion of Mary, depending for its very life on devotedness to her and imitation of her, must necessarily be distinguished by this selfsame quality of intense charity. It must be full of charity: then only will it bring charity into the world. It is important, therefore, that the following directives be carefully observed.

1. For entry to the ranks of the Legion, there shall be no social, racial, national or colour discrimination. Fitness for membership is to be the only test. The legionary apostolate will accomplish even more by indirect action, that is, as the leaven in the community, than directly by the works in hand. If the entire community is to be brought fully under the influence of legionary action, it follows that the Legion's ranks must contain representatives of every section of the community.

2. Within its own ranks there should be an unaffected simplicity and sincere mutual charity among the members, all distinctions being non-existent. If love is due to those whom the legionary serves, it is no less due to one's fellow-members. The spirit of distinction is evidence of the absence of the first qualification for membership, which is the spirit of love. The whole idea and spirit of the Legion is one of intense charity and sympathy, which before radiating its warmth outside must first of all burn brightly and strongly on the domestic hearth of the Legion itself. "By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (Jn 13:35)
Charity practised in its ranks will soon be practised at large. Divisions removed by membership are on the way to being removed from people outside.

3. Towards other organisations, whose aims are compatible with the Church's mission, there should be a spirit of readiness to give cooperation and assistance whenever possible. Not all Catholics can be brought into the Legion's own ranks for its requirements are far from easy, however, all should be encouraged to participate in some way in the work of the Church. Legionaries can further this through their apostolate and personal contacts. It should be noted, however, that whatever cooperation is given should not place additional burdens on legionaries to the detriment of their own apostolate. It is important, also, that there be discernment in regard to the degree and type of assistance which is given and to whom it is given. In this connection, reference should also be made to the sections 'Control of the work by the Praesidium' (ch 39, no. 6) and 'The intimate nature of the legionary work must be safeguarded' (ch. 39, no. 8).

4. Towards the Pastors of the Church there should be shown the filial love due to them as spiritual fathers and shepherds. Legionaries should share their anxieties and help them by prayer and, as far as possible, by active work so that they may be better able to overcome difficulties and carry out their duties with greater success.
Since pastors of the Church have the God-given role of communicating divine truth and graces of the sacraments, it should be the legionaries' concern to keep people in
touch with these bearers of divine gifts and to repair the link where it has been broken.
This is especially necessary in the case of those who are in anyway alienated from the clergy for reasons, justified or unjustified.
People who are seriously ill can be very reluctant to consult a doctor. Often it takes one's marriage partner, family or friend to supply the necessary encouragement.
When spiritual health is at stake, much depends on the quality of charity in those who are close to the one needing help.
The formation of legionaries helps them to take the initiative in mediating between priests and souls, and to do so with gentle refinement. This is an exquisite form of charity. They act as agents of the Good Shepherd who calls them, through their baptism to enter into his work.

"If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end." (1 Cor 13:1-8)

Monday, October 13, 2008

The struggle to love

I post this for someone who is thinking to give up a relationship. I will pray for you

The struggle to love

By Rev. Ronald Rolheiser, OMI

After his wife died, Jacques Maritain published her journals. In the preface to that book, "Raissa's Journal," he talks about her death, brought on by a stroke, and then gives this commentary:

"But there is still something else, which is not easy to express and which, nevertheless, I want very much to add. This concerns God's mode of action.

"At a moment when everything collapsed for both of us, and which was followed by four agonizing months, Raissa was walled up in herself by a sudden attack of aphasia. Whatever progress she made during several weeks by sheer force of intelligence and will, all deep communication remained cut off. And subsequently, after a relapse, she could barely articulate words.

"In the supreme battle in which she was engaged, no one here on earth could help her, myself no more than anyone else. She preserved the peace of her soul, her full lucidity, her humor, her concern for her friends, the fear of being a trouble to others, and her marvelous smile (that unforgettable smile with which she said thank-you to Pere Riquet after Extreme Unction) and the extraordinary light of her wonderful eyes. To everyone who came near her, she invariably gave (and with what astonishing silent generosity during her last two days when she could only breathe out her love) some sort of impalpable gift which emanated from the mystery in which she was enclosed.

"And throughout that time she was being implacably destroyed, as if by the blows of an axe, by that God who loved her in his terrible fashion, and whose love is only 'sweet' in the eyes of saints, or of those who do not know what they are talking about."

God's love is sweet only to those who are already saints and to those who do not know what they are talking about. That is true not just of God's love, but of all love.

Love isn't easy, except in our daydreams. We do not even need to look at the superficiality of the cheaper romantic novels or movies to see the truth of that. It suffices to go to church regularly: I go to Mass every day and I go there with good people --- who are sincere, committed, honest and full of faith. But they (along with myself) are also human and thus, as we stand together in a circle of faith, we are not always the idyllic picture of harmony and love of which our church hymns speak. We may be gathered in faith, but we are human and we cannot but feel certain things in each other's presence: jealousy, irritation, hurt, paranoia, distrust, the sense of not being fully valued.

And so beneath our rhetoric of love we also feel tension, distance and even hostility sometimes. We sing brave songs that proclaim how open our hearts are and how we welcome everyone into this space, but invariably there are parts of us that don't quite mean those words, at least as they apply to some people.

And this isn't an anomaly, it's true for all congregations, of every gathering, except those where everyone is already fully a saint. Love, this side of eternity, is not easy, at least not if we try to actually embrace everyone and not just our own kind.

The older we get, the more we sense what love actually demands. It isn't easy to say the words "I love you" and actually back that up.

What does it mean to love someone? I'm pretty cautious now about what kind of words I put around that. Maybe I would use just two words: fidelity and respect. Love means keeping your word, staying with a relationship and not walking away. And love means fully respecting someone else, not violating anyone's freedom, and positively blessing and helping others to grow according to their own internal dictates. What we actually feel when we do those things is sometimes less than warm, but love, as we know, is not a question of feeling but of fidelity.

And partly that is gift, something from beyond us, from a God who can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves --- namely, remain together inside of family and community. In the end, that is what church and Eucharist are meant to do:

On the night before he died, Jesus sat down with his disciples and what he found there was what we too find whenever we go to church, a sincere bunch of people struggling to not let the jealousies, irritations, self-preoccupations, and wounds of life drive them apart. We come to church and to the Eucharist to ask God to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves, love each other.

Maritain is right: Love is only sweet for those who are already saints and for those who are dangerously naive. Since we are neither, it's good to be humble, admit our struggle, and to go to those places that can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

Oblate of Mary Immaculate Father Ronald Rolheiser is a specialist in the field of spirituality and systematic theology. His website is

Do not stand at my grave and weep

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Smells and bells

Another thing to love in the Catholic Church

Mass by artserverpimp.

altar by Zuan.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Church Militant?

Via the Curt Jester

Why do we worship God?

This article (From is very much in line with something Nick told us some weeks ago. Why do we go for Mass? To receive Jesus? To receive His blessings? That shouldn't be the primary reason. We should move away from the me-centred attitude that is so prevalent around us. We go to Mass to worship God because that's what He deserves - because He's God. "It's is right to give Him thanks and praise" because of who He is and who we are, not because what we can get from Him and what He does for us. Our worship of God is a matter of justice (which has been defined as according a person what they actually deserve or are entitled to)



Last week in the combox discussion related to SDG's post, I wrote the following in response to an unbeliever who held that the praise and worship of God - especially in heaven for all eternity - strikes even most Christians as a bore and a drudgery, but they do it anyway because it's what God commands;

I have always been an artist. I have always understood that the world is a work of art, that it means something, and if it means something, then there must be someone to mean it.

(I know I'm paraphrasing Chesterton here and there)

The worship of God - due praise to the artist - is not only something I don't find AT ALL to be a dreary duty, but is something that can hardly be helped. It wants to leap out on its own, like a laugh or the "Oooohs and Aaahhhs" you hear at a fireworks show. They won't be able to shut me up in heaven.

I believe I did get the point across that the praise and worship of God is a very natural response, and this statement is alright as far as it goes, but it doesn't go far enough and could leave the false impression that we worship God mainly for what he does, rather than who he is.

God does deserve endless praise just for his work, his artfulness in creating the universe, but that is only the beginning of the story. The universe is as achingly beautiful and subtle and powerful and fascinating as it is because it reflects in many ways the character - the attributes - of the artist who made it. If the world is an artwork and does have meaning as I maintained above, then it all points back to the one who made it and what he is like. Not that a person would be able to really understand everything about God from nature alone (the pagans demonstrate that), but as St. Paul said in Romans 1:20, "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.".

As we pray in the Gloria, "We praise you for your glory.". God's glory is this revelation of himself, this radiant presence that comes to us through all of his creation. His glory consists in the very fact that the Triune God, infinitely perfect and complete, does not keep himself to himself. He continually shares his divine life with all creation, holding every atom in existence by his will from moment to moment. God shares with us the attributes of existence and free will in a completely unnecessary and ongoing act of love.

We praise God for who he is, and we only know who he is because he has revealed it to us in this radiant penumbra of glory called Creation. We often think of Creation as a noun, like it's only a thing. Creation is also a verb, the ongoing act of God.

Friday, October 10, 2008

What's good for the goose...

One of my pet peeves is the double standard in treating different religions. This is one of the many examples of them (source: American Papist). 

This was published after Bishop Martino of Scranton, PA asked his priests to read his pastoral letter for Respect Life Sunday instead of their Sunday homilys.

Tell me. If this were a leader of another religion, will it be accepted quietly? Will it even have the 'honor' of being printed? How is it that the smallest infringement on other faiths rouses so much debate and recrimination, but this doesn't? Why do people toe the line so carefully when talking about other faiths, but treat the Catholic faith as a free-for-all paint-ball course?

         Sometimes, it is just so difficult to turn the other cheek.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Viva il Papa!

Photo via Fr Z

Benedict XVI, Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Province of Rome, Sovereign of the State of Vatican City, Servant of the Servants of God