Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Papa's Message for Lent 2006

Ash Wednesday this year is on March 1st and will usher in the Lenten season. What are your intentions? How will you pass your time through the wilderness? How will you pursue holiness during this season?

Message of His Holiness Benedict XVI for Lent 2006

“Jesus, at the sight of the crowds, was moved with pity” (Mt 9:36)

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Lent is a privileged time of interior pilgrimage towards Him Who is the fount of mercy. It is a pilgrimage in which He Himself accompanies us through the desert of our poverty, sustaining us on our way towards the intense joy of Easter. Even in the “valley of darkness” of which the Psalmist speaks (Ps 23:4), while the tempter prompts us to despair or to place a vain hope in the work of our own hands, God is there to guard us and sustain us. Yes, even today the Lord hears the cry of the multitudes longing for joy, peace, and love. As in every age, they feel abandoned. Yet, even in the desolation of misery, loneliness, violence and hunger that indiscriminately afflict children, adults, and the elderly, God does not allow darkness to prevail. In fact, in the words of my beloved Predecessor, Pope John Paul II, there is a “divine limit imposed upon evil”, namely, mercy (Memory and Identity, pp. 19ff.). It is with these thoughts in mind that I have chosen as my theme for this Message the Gospel text: “Jesus, at the sight of the crowds, was moved with pity” (Mt 9:36).

In this light, I would like to pause and reflect upon an issue much debated today: the question of development. Even now, the compassionate “gaze” of Christ continues to fall upon individuals and peoples. He watches them, knowing that the divine “plan” includes their call to salvation. Jesus knows the perils that put this plan at risk, and He is moved with pity for the crowds. He chooses to defend them from the wolves even at the cost of His own life. The gaze of Jesus embraces individuals and multitudes, and he brings them all before the Father, offering Himself as a sacrifice of expiation.

Read the rest

Possible reconciliation

Lots of news swirling today about the possible reconciliation of SSPX and Rome.

Saint Pius X Fraternity seeks to regularize its canonical status and outlines detailed plan from Catholic News Agency.
Vichy, Jan. 31, 2006 (CNA) - The Saint Pius X Fraternity and its superior general Bishop Fellay , are seeking the regularize their situation with the Holy See, in a declaration made by the same bishop on January 13th, and in comments to French newspaper La Croix.

According to the superior general, the Vatican would be willing to grant them a status of autonomy and the creation of a personal apostolic administration directly under the administration of of the Pope. The same has been done already in 2001-2002 in Campos, Brazil.

Bishop Fellay is confident this status will be granted to them, even though, he says, “we don’t want to be a catholic group aside. We don’t ask for the old mass just for us, but for all. But maybe we have to go through this transitory status.”

Rocco has been reporting on it for the past couple of days here and here.

In exchange for the return to full communion of the Lefebvrist bishops --
which by no means could come immediately, but toward which goal tomorrow's
summit is oriented -- and other, unspecified conditions, it's said the Holy See
could be prepared to grant:

  • an acknowledgment that the Pian, or Tridentine, rite was not abrogated in the liturgical reforms following the Second Vatican Council;
  • an acknowledgment of the Old Mass' place and value in the life of the Latin church;
  • an acknowledgment that the SSPX never sought on its own accord to enter into schism;
  • an Apostolic Administration, subject to the Congregation for the Clergy, for the Society to maintain administration of its chapels, seminaries and other apostolates
Let us pray for an end to the schism. My family and I love the Tridentine Mass, but also understand the need for the vernacular. We have worshiped at the Basilica of the National Shrine with the Latin Mass (Novus Ordo). It is quite beautiful and reverential and one can see the continuity with tradition. What we experience each Sunday in our neighborhood parish is something different and shares many characteristics of worship service I've experienced deep in my former Protestant days. Some days we leave wondering where the Catholic identity is. However, I am reminded each time I enter the church with the tabernacle in front and center and the large crucifix above, then I am humbled.

Senate confirms Judge Alito

WASHINGTON - Samuel Anthony Alito Jr. became the nation's 110th Supreme Court justice on Tuesday, confirmed with the most partisan victory in modern history after a fierce battle over the future direction of the high court.

Thanks to Gerald at The Cafeteria is Closed.

Commentary on Deus Caritas Est

Jonathan at Ancient and Future Catholic Musings has posted his commentary on Pope Benedict's first encyclical Deus Caritas Est. Here is an excerpt:
Love of God always leads, however, to love of others. We cannot be unified with Jesus Christ and not seek union with all those receiving his Body and Blood. Communion implies going outside of ourselves. We cannot separate issues of morality and love from the Eucharist. As the Pope so ably puts it, "Worship itself, Eucharistic communion, includes the reality both of being loved and of loving others in turn." We are called to love our neighbor and our neighbor is now defined as everyone! Love of God is so connected to love of others that Jesus identifies himself with those in need. "In the least of the brethren we find Jesus himself, and in Jesus we find God." As Benedict has been expressing all along, love is unified.

Love of God is not merely abstract, but is experienced, especially in his people, the Sacraments, and in a special way, the Eucharist. In this way, love is most certainly NOT a sentiment. Benedict correctly notes that "sentiments come and go." Love is not temporary, but a process that is never finished, one that engages the whole man, including our will and intellect. Love is not something we merely should do to be obedient, but one that comes from our own will, based on the present love of God. In fact, we cannot fully love our neighbor without first encountering God intimately. This allows us to see others from the perspective, not of ourselves, but of Jesus. This love goes beyond a pious love because we should love, but should become a real love of others grounded in a real love for God. And this love needs the encounter with the Eucharistic Lord to truly branch out to love of neighbor.

...... Benedict has started his papacy on a strong note with this encyclical. I have no doubt that most who read it will find it to be edifying in many ways. The Catholic Church is often accused by many people of simply telling the faithful what not to do. While the Church certainly needs to emphasize right and wrong in a negative sense, I think this encyclical goes a long way in explaining the Catholic Church's positive theology of love, morality, and justice. This encyclical reaffirms Catholic teaching that all love, whether of God, spouse, or neighbor is unified and grounded in the "always seeking" love of God.
Read the rest

I have always laboured out of love

~From a letter by St. John Bosco

First of all, if we wish to appear concerned about the true happiness of our foster children and if we would move them to fulfil their duties, you must never forget that you are taking the place of the parents of these beloved young people. I have always laboured lovingly for them, and carried out my priestly duties with zeal. And the whole Salesian society has done this with me.

My sons, in my long experience very often I had to be convinced of this great truth. It is easier to become angry than to restrain oneself, and to threaten a boy than to persuade him. Yes, indeed, it is more fitting to be persistent in punishing our own impatience and pride than to correct the boys. We must be firm but kind, and be patient with them. I give you as a model the charity of Paul which he showed to his new converts. They often reduced him to tears and entreaties when he found them lacking docility and even opposing his loving efforts.

See that no one finds you motivated by impetuosity or wilfulness. It is difficult to keep calm when administering punishment, but this must be done if we are to keep ourselves from showing off our authority or spilling out our anger. Let us regard those boys over whom we have some authority as our own sons. Let us place ourselves in their service. Let us be ashamed to assume an attitude of superiority. Let us not rule over them except for the purpose of serving them better.

This was the method that Jesus used with the apostles. He put up with their ignorance and roughness and even their infidelity. He treated sinners with a kindness and affection that caused some to be shocked, others to be scandalised, and still others to hope for God’s mercy. And so he bade us to be gentle and humble of heart. They are our sons, and so in correcting their mistakes we must lay aside all anger and restrain it so firmly that it is extinguished entirely.

There must be no hostility in our minds, no contempt in our eyes, no insult on our lips. We must use mercy for the present and have hope for the future, as is fitting for true fathers who are eager for real correction and improvement.In serious matters it is better to beg God humbly than to send forth a flood of words that will only offend the listeners and have no effect on those who are guilty.

Memorial of St. John Bosco, Priest

~From Catholic Culture

John Bosco was born near Castelnuovo in the archdiocese of Turin, Italy, in 1815. His father died when John was only two years old and it was his mother Margaret who provided him with a good humanistic and Christian education. His early years were financially difficult but at the age of twenty he entered the major seminary, thanks to the financial help received from Louis Guala, founder and rector of the ecclesiastical residence St. Francis of Assisi in Turin. John Bosco was ordained a priest on June 5, 1846, and with the help of John Borel he founded the oratory of St. Francis de Sales.

At this time the city of Turin was on the threshold of the industrial revolution and as a result there were many challenges and problems, especially for young men. Gifted as he was as an educator and a leader, Don Bosco formulated a system of education based on "reason, religion and kindness." In spite of the criticism and violent attacks of the anti-clericals, he conducted workshops for the tradesmen and manual laborers, schools of arts and sciences for young workers, and schools of the liberal arts for those preparing for the priesthood. In 1868 there were 800 students involved in this educational system. To ensure the continuation of his work, Don Bosco founded the Society of St. Francis de Sales (Salesians), which was approved in 1869. Also, with the help of Sister Mary Dominic Mazzarello, he founded the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Auxiliatrix.

In 1875 a wave of emigration to Latin America began, and this prompted the inauguration of the Salesian missionary apostolate. Don Bosco became a traveller throughout Europe, seeking funds for the missions. Some of the reports referred to him as "the new St. Vincent de Paul." He also found time to write popular catechetical pamphlets, which were distributed throughout Italy, as was his Salesian Bulletin. This great apostle of youth died on January 31, 1888, and was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1934. Pope John Paul II named him "teacher and father to the young."

Excerpted from Saints of the Roman Calendar by Enzo Lodi

Monday, January 30, 2006


Hieronymus at The Lion and The Cardinal has posted a gallery of monstrances. My favorite has to be this one. The enamel work looks faintly Celtic.

~Thanks to Fr. Tucker at Dappled Things

New Product

The Curt Jester is offering a new product: The Basket Light. Shop early for the C & E Christians on your list.

A Church by Any Other Name

The Pontificator has posted a discussion on why the Roman Church feels justified to call itself "Catholic". He quotes Ignatius of Antioch, Pacian of Barcelona, and cites Cyril of Jerusalem and Augustine of Hippo.

The Keys of Forgiveness: The Loving Power of the Successor of Peter

This year marks the 500th anniversary of St. Peter's Basilica begun by Pope Julius II in 1506. The original basilica was erected by Emperor Constantine in the 4th century AD over the Circus of Nero where St. Peter was martyred.

~From Chiesa by Sandro Magister

On January 25 – celebrating vespers in the Roman basilica of Saint Paul’s Outside the Walls, together with representatives of non-Catholic Churches and communities – Benedict XVI noted that the day was also the feast of the conversion of the apostle Paul.

Paul and Peter – the rock – are the two apostles upon whom the Church of Rome is founded.

And the pope, citing the first words and the theme of his encyclical, said:

“’Deus caritas est’ (1 John 4:8,16), God is love. The entire faith of the Church rests upon this solid rock. The patient search for full communion among the disciples of Christ is based upon this. […] The Church of Rome, which, according to saint Ignatius of Antioch’s expression, ‘presides in charity,’ has been established in service of this unity in love. In your presence, dear brothers and sisters, I wish to renew this day the entrusting of my specific Petrine ministry to God, invoking upon this ministry the light and power of the Holy Spirit, that it may always foster the fraternal communion of all Christians.”

But as is well known, the “Petrine ministry” is itself one of the main obstacles to unity among Christians.

The power of the popes is rejected by the non-Catholic Churches and communities precisely as power, in the concrete forms that this has taken on over the centuries.

These forms are not purely doctrinal and theological. They are also architectural and artistic.......

.......But in what sense are Saint Peter’s basilica and the Rome of the popes images of power?

In reality, the message that they convey is one of power and forgiveness, inextricably interwoven.

Power and forgiveness: this is the interpretation made of the Rome of the popes by one of the leading historians of Christian art, Timothy Verdon, in a magnificent book on “The Basilica of Saint Peter,” from its origin until today. The book was published in Italy at the end of last year.

Read the rest of the article for an excerpt of Fr. Verdon's first chapter explaining the connection between power and forgiveness as symbolized by the Vatican. Just to tweak your interest, here's a quote:
It may seem strange to insist upon power in a religious system which, in its sacred writings, favors meekness instead, turning the other cheek, and sacrificing oneself without resistance. And yet, when one considers the Vatican, the question of “power” is inevitable, even central, because everything within the Vatican speaks of it: the titanic dimensions of its buildings, its sumptuous decorations, the sacred solemnity of its rituals.

The hearts and minds of all believers were one

~From a commentary by St. Hilary of Poitiers

Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell in unity! It is good and pleasant for brothers to dwell in unity, because when they do so their association creates the assembly of the Church. The term “brothers” describes the bond of affection arising from their singleness of purpose.

We read that when the apostles first preached, the chief instruction they gave lay in this saying: The hearts and minds of all believers were one. So it is fitting for the people of God to be brothers under one Father, to be united under one Spirit, to live in harmony under one roof, to be limbs of one body.

It is pleasant and good for brothers to dwell in unity. The prophet suggested a comparison for this good and pleasant activity when he said: It is like the ointment on the head which ran down over the beard of Aaron, down upon the collar of his garment. Aaron’s oil was made of the perfumes used to anoint a priest. It was God’s decision that his priest should have his consecration first, and that our Lord should be so anointed, but not visibly, by those who are joined with him. Aaron’s anointing did not belong to this world; it was not done with the horn used for kings, but with the oil of gladness. So afterward Aaron was called the anointed one as the Law proscribed.

When this oil is poured out upon men of unclean heart, it snuffs out their lives, but when it is received as an anointing of love, it exudes the sweet odour of harmony with God. As Paul says, we are the goodly fragrance of Christ. So just as it was pleasing to God when Aaron was anointed priest with this oil, so it is good and pleasant for brothers to dwell in unity.Now the oil ran down from his head to his beard. A beard adorns a man of mature years. We must not be children before Christ except in the restricted scriptural sense of being children in wickedness but not in our way of thinking. Now Paul calls all who lack faith, children, because they are too weak to take solid food and still need milk. As he says: I fed you with milk rather than the solid food for which you were not yet ready; and you are still not ready.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Builders of peace

Via Yahoo News

Benedict, together with two children at his window, released a pair of doves into the square and laughed when one of the white birds darted back inside his studio.

"The dove wants to stay with the pope but it will find its freedom," Benedict said, and one of the children gave the bird another push to fly.

The birds did not go very far, perching on a cornice just below the window on the Apostolic Palace.

Benedict told the children in the square that by always saying the truth "you will become builders of peace."

Pope's first encyclical underlines 'back to basics' theme of papacy

From Catholic News Service, by John Thavis, 27 January, 2006

Most Catholics who read "God Is Love" will find the text challenging, provocative and insightful, offering reflections on topics they might not expect to find in an encyclical, the highest form of papal teaching.

In discussing eros, or sexual love, for example, the pope confronted head-on the accusation that the church has been "opposed to the body" and sexual pleasure. He acknowledged that "tendencies of this sort have always existed."

But he argued that eros, and its power to impart supreme happiness, has a place in Christianity. It just needs to be balanced with "concern and care for the other.""Eros tends to rise in ecstasy toward the Divine, to lead us beyond ourselves; yet for this very reason it calls for a path of ascent, renunciation, purification and healing," he said.

In its intellectual sweep, the encyclical reminds readers that the author is Joseph Ratzinger, long considered one of the church's most intelligent theologians.He drew on a wide range of sources -- ranging from Plato to Friedrich Nietzsche, from Rene Descartes to Blessed Mother Teresa -- and used them creatively to show the interaction between Christianity and culture through the ages.

Read the rest of the article

~I haven't finished reading the encyclical since I've deliberately chosen to read it slowly. Because no one is waiting to read what I think of it, it's a wonderful luxury to take my time. Besides, there are plenty of other sites that have offered up analyses and criticisms. For me, it's a matter of reading, digesting, and taking to heart what it offers. I have so much to learn and the road to agape is a long road of obedience.

Christ has called us to his kingdom and glory

~From a letter by St. Ignatius of Antioch to the Church at Smyrna

From Ignatius, known as Theophorus, to the Church of God the Father and of Jesus Christ, his beloved, at Smyrna in Asia, wishing you all joy in an immaculate spirit and the Word of God. By his mercy you have won every gift and lack none, filled as you are with faith and love, beloved of God and fruitful in sanctity.I celebrate the glory of Jesus Christ as God, because he is responsible for your wisdom, well aware as I am of the perfection of your unshakeable faith. You are like men who have been nailed body and soul to the cross of Jesus Christ, confirmed in love by his blood.

In regard to the Lord, you firmly believe that he was of the race of David according to the flesh, but God’s son by the will and power of God; truly born of the Virgin and baptised by John, that all justice might be fulfilled; truly nailed to a cross in the flesh for our sake under Pontius Pilate and the Tetrarch Herod, and of his most blessed passion we are the fruit. And thus, by his resurrection he raised up a standard over his saints and faithful ones for all time (both Jews and Gentiles alike) in the one body of his Church. For he endured all this for us, for our salvation; and he really suffered, and just as truly rose from the dead.

As for myself, I am convinced that he was united with his body even after the resurrection. When he visited Peter and his companions, he said to them: Take hold of me, touch me and see that I am not a spirit without a body. Immediately they touched him and believed, clutching at his body and his very spirit. And for this reason they despised death and conquered it. In addition, after his resurrection, the Lord ate and drank with them like a real human being, even though in spirit he was united with his Father.

And so I am giving you serious instruction on these things, dearly beloved, even though I am aware that you believe them to be so.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

The Cope

Fr. Tucker has posted a page on copes. A feast for sore eyes relegated to what passes for chasubles in polyester with felt appliques these days. Who in their right minds would trade this:

for this:

or this tie-dye mess:

These two are hardly the worst that I've seen. Who foisted this modernity stuff on us anyway? Are these supposed to inspire us to think and contemplate about the beauty of holiness? Or when we see these, do we start thinking of all those geometry theorems that we studied in seventh grade? Or maybe the time in summer camp when we twisted our t-shirts and dunked them in tubs of dye, and presto! cool shirt!

Anyway, Fr. Tucker's post is about copes, which are hardly ever worn these days, at least in my diocese.

Prayers of St. Thomas Aquinas

O Lord my God, help me to be obedient without reserve, poor without servility, chaste without compromise, humble without pretense, joyful without depravity, serious without affectation, active without frivolty, submissive without bitterness, truthful without duplicity, fruitful in good works without presumption, quick to revive my neighbor without haughtiness, and quick to edify others by word and example without simulation.

Grant me, O Lord, an ever-watchful heart that no alien thought can lure away from You; a noble heart that no base love can sully; an upright heart that no perverse intention can lead astray; an invincible heart that no distresscan overcome; an unfettered heart that no impetuous desires can enchain. O Lord my God, also bestow upon me understanding to know You, zeal to seek You, wisdom to find You, a life that is pleasing to You, unshakable perseverance, and a hope that will one day take hold of You.

May I do penance here below and patiently bear your chastisements. May I also receive the benefits of your grace, in order to taste your heavenly joys and contemplate your glory. Amen.

Almighty and ever-living God, I approach the sacrament of your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. I come sick to the doctor of life, unclean to the fountain of mercy, blind to the radiance of eternal light, and poor and needy to the Lord of heaven and earth. Lord, in your great generosity, heal my sickness, wash away my defilement, enlighten my blindness, enrich my poverty, and clothe my nakedness.

May I receive the bread of angels, the King of kings and Lord of lords, with humble reverence, with the purity and faith, the repentance and love, and the determined purpose that will help to bring me to salvation. May I receive the sacrament of the Lord's Body and Blood, and its reality and power.

Kind God, may I receive the Body of your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, born from the womb of the Virgin Mary, and so be received into His mystical Body and numbered among his members. Loving Father, as on my earthly pilgrimage I now receive your beloved Son, under the veil of a sacrament, may I one day see Him Face to face in glory, who lives and reigns with You for ever. Amen.


Lord, Father all-powerful and ever-living God, I thank You, for even though I am a sinner, your unprofitable servant, not because of my worth but in the kindness of your mercy, You have fed me with the precious Body and Blood of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. I pray that this Holy Communion may not bring me condemnation and punishment but forgiveness and salvation.

May It be a helmet of faith and a shield of good will. May It purify me from evil ways and put an end to my evil passions. May It bring me charity and patience, humility and obedience, and growth in the power to do good.

May It be my strong defense against all my enemies, visible and invisible, and the perfect calming of all my evil impulses, bodily and spiritual. May It unite me more closely to You, the one true God, and lead me safely through death to everlasting happiness with You.

And I pray that You will lead me, a sinner, to the banquet where You, with your Son and Holy Spirit, are true and perfect light, total fulfillment, everlasting joy, gladness without end, and perfect happiness to your saints. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pange lingua gloriosi

Surely one of the most sublime hymns ever written for all time written by St. Thomas Aquinas for the Feast of Corpus Christi. The last two stanzas are known as Tantum Ergo used at the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

Pange, lingua, gloriosi
Corporis mysterium,
Sanginisque pretiosi,
quem in mundi pretium
fructus ventris generosi
Rex effudit Gentium.

Nobis datus, nobis natus
ex intacta Virgine,
et in mundo conversatus,
sparso verbi semine,
sui morias incolatus
miro clausit ordine.

In supremae nocte cenae
recumbens cum fratribus
observata lege plene
cibis in legalibus,
cibum turbae duodenae
se dat suis manibus.

Verbum caro, panem verum
verbo carnem efficit:
fitque sanguis Christi merum,
et si sensus deficit,
ad firmandum cor sincerum
sola fides sufficit.

Tantum ergo Sacramentum
veneremur cernui:
et antiquum documentum
novo cedat ritui:
praestet fides supplementum
sensuum defectui.

Genitori, Genitoque
laus et iubilatio,
salus, honor, virtus quoque
sit et benedictio:
procedenti ab utroque
compar sit laudatio.
Amen. Alleluia.


Sing, my tongue, the Savior's glory,
of His flesh the mystery sing;
of the Blood, all price exceeding,
shed by our immortal King,
destined, for the world's redemption,
from a noble womb to spring.

Of a pure and spotless Virgin
born for us on earth below,
He, as Man, with man conversing,
stayed, the seeds of truth to sow;
then He closed in solemn order
wonderously His life of woe.

On the night of that Last Supper,
seated with His chosen band,
He the Paschal victim eating,
first fulfills the Law's command;
then as Food to His Apostles
gives Himself with His own hand.

Word-made-Flesh, the bread of nature
by his word to Flesh He turns;
wine into His Blood He changes:
what though sense no change discerns?
Only be the heart in earnest,
faith her lesson quickly learns.

Down in adoration falling,
Lo! the sacred Host we hail;
Lo! o'er ancient forms departing
newer rites of grace prevail;
faith for all defects supplying,
where the feeble sense fail.

To the everlasting Father,
and the Son who reigns on high,
with the Holy Ghost proceeding
forth from Each eternally,
be salvation, honor, blessing,
might and endless majesty.
Amen. Alleluia.

The Angelic Doctor

St. Thomas (1226-1274) ranks among the greatest writers and theologians of all time. His most important work, the "Summa Theologica," an explanation and summary of the entire body of Catholic teaching, has been standard for centuries, even to our own day. At the Council of Trent it was consulted after the Bible.

To a deeply speculative mind, he joined a remarkable life of prayer, a precious memento of which has been left to us in the Office of Corpus Christi. Reputed as great already in life, he nevertheless remained modest, a perfect model of childlike simplicity and goodness. He was mild in word and kind in deed. He believed everyone was as innocent as he himself was. When someone sinned through weakness, Thomas bemoaned the sin as if it were his own. The goodness of his heart shone in his face, no one could look upon him and remain disconsolate. How he suffered with the poor and the needy was most inspiring. Whatever clothing or other items he could give away, he gladly did. He kept nothing superfluous in his efforts to alleviate the needs of others.

After he died his lifelong companion and confessor testified, "I have always known him to be as innocent as a five-year-old child. Never did a carnal temptation soil his soul, never did he consent to a mortal sin." He cherished a most tender devotion to St. Agnes, constantly carrying relics of this virgin martyr on his person. He died in 1274, at the age of fifty, in the abbey of Fossa Nuova. He is the patron saint of schools and of sacred theology.

Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.

From Catholic Culture

Democrats concede Judge Alito victory

Sen. John Kerry dashed home from the Swiss Alps yesterday to man the barricades of a futile filibuster against Supreme Court nominee Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr.

Well before he reached the battlefield, however, Democrats had waved the white flag and agreed that next week's vote to confirm Judge Alito will surely succeed.

"Everyone knows there is not enough votes to support a filibuster," Minority Leader Harry Reid said yesterday, several hours before Mr. Kerry arrived.

By midday, Republicans had dubbed Mr. Kerry's international politicking the "Swiss Miss."
White House spokesman Scott McClellan called it a "pretty historic" day.

"This was the first time ever that a senator has called for a filibuster from the slopes of Davos, Switzerland," Mr. McClellan said. "I think even for a senator, it takes some pretty serious yodeling to call for a filibusters from a five-star ski resort in the Swiss Alps."

~From Washington Times by Charles Hurt, 28 January, 2006

Yo-del-le-heee-hooo, Yo-del-ley-hee, Yo-del-ley-heee-hooo, John F'n Kerry is a bomb, heee, hooo!!

Friday, January 27, 2006

How to listen to a homily

Father Philip Powell, OP, has been writing a series of articles on how to write a homily. Yesterday, he posted one on how to listen to a homily. Here's one very funny section, but definitely worthwhile to learn:
4. Listen now, argue later. OK. Fr. Oprah is on and on and on about his latest trip to the therapist and he’s boring the snot out of you with tales of his evolving consciousness and how close he is to exploding into Cosmic Oneness with the Womb of Universal Is-ness. First, put down the missalette. Just put it down. Pay attention to key words and image and repeat every word in your head. Why? Because for better or worse, ugly or pretty, he’s the preacher and (however hard it is for us to understand why) the Church has seen fit to make him a priest. He has something you need to hear. Even if you need to hear in order to reject it. Listen now, argue later. If you start arguing when he launches into a description of his Naked Rebirthing Sweat Lodge Ritual with Richard Rohr and you tune out because you need to argue, then you can’t hear what it is you need to hear from him. You’re spending your homily time arguing with someone who can’t hear you argue and couldn’t care less if he could. So, don’t waste your homily time arguing with your version of Fr. Oprah’s homily. Hear him out and argue on his time later.

And lest we forget what it's all about, Fr. Powell reminds us:
5. Pray! The proclamation and preaching of the Word is an extension of the Word into this time and this place. When we hear the Word proclaimed and preached, we are made larger to better receive God’s blessing; we are strengthened to labor in holiness; we are deepened to be fresher sources of living water for others; and we are excited, electrified to be bearers of the Word, apostles to our world. Pray constantly for our preachers. Ask God to set them on fire for His truth, to open their hearts and minds to His Word, to loosen their tongues, to free their gifts, and make them true workers in sowing the seed of faith. Since we know from the Tradition that the first beneficiary of prayer is the Prayer himself, praying for our preachers grows the capacity of the Prayer to hear, bear, and spread the Word he/she hears in a homily. Ears settled charitably in prayer will hear clearly the voice of God spoken by the preacher.
We're blessed that both of the priests in our parish are faithful ministers of God's Word and Sacraments. Their homilies have been spot-on and I look forward to hearing their proclamation each week.

Optional Memorial of St. Angela Merici, Virgin

The saint was born in 1474 in the diocese of Verona. Early in life she dedicated herself to Christ as His bride. After the death of her parents, she desired to live solely for God in quiet and solitude, but her uncle insisted that she manage his household. She renounced her patrimony in order to observe most perfectly the rule for Franciscan Tertiaries.

During a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1524, she lost her eyesight temporarily. Pope Clement VII, whom she visited in Rome, desired her to remain in the Holy City. Later she founded a society for girls, under the protection of St. Ursula; this was the beginning of the Ursuline Order. St. Angela was almost seventy when she died; her body remained incorrupt for thirty days. Remarkable phenomena occurred at her burial in the Church of St. Afra.

Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.

From Catholic Culture

~From the spiritual testament of St. Angela Merici

Mothers and sisters most dear to me in Christ: in the first place strive with all your power and zeal to be open. With the help of God, try to receive such good counsel that, led solely by the love of God and an eagerness to save souls, you may fulfil your charge.

Only if the responsibilities committed to you are rooted firmly in this twofold charity will they bear beneficial and saving fruit. As our Saviour says: A good tree is not able to produce bad fruit.

He says: A good tree, that is, a good heart as well as a soul inflamed with charity, can do nothing but good and holy works. For this reason Saint Augustine said: Love, and do what you will, namely, possess love and charity and then do what you will. It is as if he had said: Charity is not able to sin.

I also beg you to be concerned about every one of your daughters. Bear them, so to speak, engraved upon your heart – not merely their names, but their conditions and states, whatever they may be. This will not be difficult for you if you embrace them with a living love.

Mothers of children, even if they have a thousand, carry each and every one fixed in their hearts, and because of the strength of their love they do not forget any of them. In fact, it seems that the more children they have the more their love and care for each one is increased. Surely those who are mothers in spirit can and must act all the more in the same way, because spiritual love is more powerful than the love that comes from a blood relationship.

Therefore, mothers most dear to me, if you love these your daughters with a living and unaffected charity, it will be impossible for you not to have each and every one of them engraved upon your memory and in your mind.I beg you again, strive to draw them by love, modesty, charity, and not by pride and harshness. Be sincerely kind to every one according to the words of our Lord: Learn of me, for I am meek and humble of heart. Thus you are imitating God, of whom it is said: He has disposed all things pleasantly. And again Jesus said: My yoke is easy and my burden is light.

You also ought to exercise pleasantness toward all, taking great care especially that what you have commanded may never be done by reason of force. For God has given free will to everyone, and therefore he forces no one but only indicates, calls, persuades. Sometimes, however, something will have to be done with a stronger command, yet in a suitable manner and according to the state and necessities of individuals; but then also we should be impelled only by charity and zeal for souls.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Mozart: Name that tune

From Zenit News

Mozart was born on Jan. 26, 1756, and baptized Catholic with the name Johann Chrysostom Wolfgang Theophilus. "Theophilus," which means "lover of God," was soon transformed into the more celebrated moniker "Amadeus." He married Costanza Weber in the Cathedral of Vienna, his children were baptized Catholic and he was given last rites by a Catholic priest.

In this light, the visit to Rome must have held great meaning for the 14-year-old Catholic Mozart. Immediately upon entering the city through the splendid Piazza del Popolo, the young Mozart and his father Leopold made their way to St. Peter's Basilica. Thanks to Wolfgang's fine clothes and Leopold's clever strategies, the two were allowed through the Vatican gates.

It was Holy Week in Rome -- Holy Tuesday to be exact. Pope Clement XIV was busy serving meals to the poor gathered in the Vatican, shortly before celebrating Mass in the Sistine Chapel. The two Austrian musicians managed to find their way into the papal presence and then accompanied the court into the chapel.

It was custom during Holy Week in the Sistine Chapel to sing the exceptionally beautiful piece of music known as the "Miserere," written a century earlier by Giorgio Allegri. The work, performed by two choirs of nine voices, was exclusive to the Sistine Chapel and could not be published, but was handed down from choirmaster to choirmaster.

The remarkable prodigy Wolfgang stunned everyone by returning to his lodgings and transcribing the music he had memorized during the liturgy. His proud father wrote to Wolfgang's mother Anna, "Perhaps you have heard of the famous 'Miserere,' whose publication is prohibited under pain of excommunication. Well, we have it. Wolfgang wrote it from memory."
Word spread fast throughout Rome of the child who could memorize music after hearing it once. The news eventually reached the ears of the Pope. Far from excommunicating the boy, Pope Clement received Wolfgang several times in audience, conferring medals and titles on him.

[Anyone who has sung this work will tell you how taxing and demanding it is on singers. The Miserere is sung in the "falsobordone" style, a method of harmonizing chant. In this work, nine voices are split into 2 choirs alternating each verse in chant. The smaller choir of 4 has the soprano singing a high C (C5) repeatedly. The verses are based on Psalm 50: Miserere mei, Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam (Have mercy on me, O God according to your great mercy). To hear this sung in person is like a bit of heaven on earth, especially if the acoustics are lively. The Tallis Scholars CD is the one that I listen to in times of distress.]

Hans Küng sees encyclical as "positive sign," but wants more

Jan. 26 (CWNews.com) - The dissident theologian Hans Küng praised Pope Benedict XVI for his encyclical Deus Caritas Est, but added that the Pope should now take "courageous steps" to change Church teaching, in an interview with the Italian daily La Stampa.

The Swiss theologian, a former colleague who has frequently been critical of Pope Benedict, said that the encyclical is "a positive sign." He said that the Pontiff's next encyclical should treat "the structures of justice in the institutional Church," and relations between the Vatican and those who question Catholic teachings.

The Pope should now take "courageous steps" to change Church teaching??????? Excuse me, who's Pope again?

Kerry calls for a filibuster

Per CNN, Sen. John F. Kerry has called for a filibuster of the vote for Samuel Alito's nomination. That ought to be interesting watching him talk on and on and on. I have been having trouble sleeping lately. Watching John F. Kerry might have some use after all. What's strange in all of this is that Sen. Robert Byrd says he'll support Alito's nomination.

Reclaiming Catholic Colleges

David Holman writes in The American Spectator:

It's been said that a Catholic university is an oxymoron. Progressives sling this quip as an attack against the stodgy, narrow-minded Church imposing orthodoxy on that bastion of free thinking, the university. Those with a stronger grip on history understand that the university, as a home of scholars intentionally pursuing Truth, is inherently Catholic. Heck, the Catholic Church invented the university. Catholicism and higher education only became an oxymoron when trendy liberalism took the upper hand, imposing its secular orthodoxy and demanding that Catholic schools retain Catholic "identity" but not Catholic teaching.

In the last week, two young priest-presidents took bold steps toward cleaning up the mess at their colleges.

Read the rest of the article

The issue of an authentic Catholic university has been foremost in our minds since our eldest goes off to college in the fall. We were deeply affected by John Paul II's Ex corde ecclesiae. John Paul wrote:

BORN FROM THE HEART of the Church, a Catholic University is located in that course of tradition which may be traced back to the very origin of the University as an institution. It has always been recognized as an incomparable centre of creativity and dissemination of knowledge for the good of humanity. By vocation, the Universitas magistrorum et scholarium is dedicated to research, to teaching and to the education of students who freely associate with their teachers in a common love of knowledge. With every other University it shares that gaudium de veritate, so precious to Saint Augustine, which is that joy of searching for, discovering and communicating truth in every field of knowledge. A Catholic University's privileged task is "to unite existentially by intellectual effort two orders of reality that too frequently tend to be placed in opposition as though they were antithetical: the search for truth, and the certainty of already knowing the fount of truth".

My husband and I were at university during the initial breakout of the political correctness wars. We were blessed to have had professors at a public university who taught the history of Western Civilization free of that self-hatred encountered by our younger friends not soon after we left. With the V-Monologue debates raging on Catholic campuses, we see that the culture wars continue to be fierce. My husband and I looked at each other and asked, "Do we want to put our children into this?" We had carefully and intentionally kept them from the culture wars by homeschooling them.

Part of our rationale for homeschooling our children was that early on we saw the social engineering campaign and refused to engage in it. We don't have the siege Y2k mentality and allowed our children appropriate channels to socialize, if you will. They were involved in the theatre and musical performances. Early on, they were involved in community service. Socialization (the cudgel which public-school proponents held over our heads) for us meant exposing children to different age groups and situations and teaching them appropriate and respectful behavior. I believe that we were successful judging by the comments and praises heaped on their heads by people who've come to know them. Their comments astonish me because I do not see us as anything extraordinary. Our children behave in the manner of what was expected and normal for previous generations--to be respectful, modest, cheerful (yes, cheerful), helpful, and appropriately responsible.

I've gotten off on a tangent here. We are very happy that our son was accepted to a couple of schools on the mandatum list. It's shameful that there are only a dozen or so schools on this list. National Catholic Register has a guide for 2006 here.

We're trying to prepare as a family for our dynamics to change in a few short months by taking the advice of a friend. Hector wrote about Praying for our Young Adults. I'll close here by sharing a prayer for children from the Eastern Orthodox tradition:
O Greatly Merciful Lord, Who gives food to the birds of the sky and to all living things on the earth, Who watches over the flower that sprouts amidst the rocky cliffs; nourish, bring up, and protect well our children also. Help us, O Lord, to plant in their souls what is good and useful for the Holy Church and the nation, and what is well pleasing to Thee, that Thy holy name may be exalted through them. Fill them, O Lord, with the enlightened wisdom and holy understanding which come down from Thee. Protect them from all the snares of enemies both visible and invisible. Command Thine Angels as always to be their enlightened guides and counselors in all good works.

We pray Thee, O Lord, to pen their minds, that they may know Thee as much as possible. Amen

Waulking Songs

Jonathan has blogged about Irish music and included some favorite lyrics. David has listed the music he's enjoying through Yahoo Music, among which is The Chieftains! I'm going to join the fray here and talk a bit about a specific form of Celtic music--the waulking song.

What's a waulking song, you ask? While we were in Scotland, we regularly watched BBC-Alba (in Gaelic) and happened to see a show on waulking songs. Someone undertook a project to collect and film women waulking and the songs that they sang while performing the task. They wanted to record this before the surviving waulkers passed on. This was filmed on the Isle of Harris, known for its tweed.

When tweed is taken off the loom, the threads are loose and ineffective in keeping the wind out. Waulking is the process of beating and pounding the cloth repeatedly. First, the cloth is soaked in urine (can you imagine being the one assigned to collect it?). The women sit around a table or a door taken off its hinges, 4 or 5 on each side. Then the cloth is pulled and pushed and turned clockwise around the table, either by hand or by foot. This was an ancient practice but survived into the 20th century in the Hebrides. To help pass the time, women took turns singing out verses while the rest sang the choruses. The songs are rhythmic to match the pushing and pulling. It took about 2-3 hours to waulk a cloth, then they'd celebrate the end with a ceilidh (kay-lay) dancing.

Here are the lyrics of Skye Waulking Song (My Father sent me to a house of sorrow) from Capercaillie's Nadurra.

Seisd 1: Hi ri huraibhi o ho

Chuir m'athair mise dha'n taigh charraideach

Seisd 2: O hi a bho ro hu o ho

'N oidhche sin a rinn e bhanais dhomh
Gur truagh a Righ nach b'e m'fhalairidh
M'an do bhrist mo lamh an t-aran dhomh
M'an d'rinn mo sgian biadh a ghearradh dhomh

Sheathain chridhe nan sul socair
Tha do bhata nochd 's na portaibh
Och, ma tha, chaneil i sociar
O nach roch thu, ghaoil, na toiseach.
And here's the rousing Alasdair Mhic Cholla Ghasda (Alasdair, Son of Gallant Coll), in English. This is a signature piece of Capercaillie's.
Alasdair, son of exile Cholla
In your hand I would entrust deeds
The Lord of Ach-nam-breac would be killed by you
He would be buried at the edge of the loch
And although I would get a bow,
I heard yesterday a sad story
That Glasgow was going down
And Aberdeen is being pillaged
This isn't a waulking song, but is from the album, Sidewaulk, and one of my favorites.

Both Sides of the Tweed

What's the spring breathing jasmine and rose
What's the summer with all its gay train
What's the splendour of autumn to those
Who've bartered their freedom for gain.

Let the love of our land's sacred rights
To the love of our people succeed
Let friendship and honour unite
And flourish on both sides of the Tweed.

No sweetness the senses can cheer
Which corruption and bribery bind
No brightness the sun can e'er clear
For honour's the sum of the mind.

Let virtue distinguish the brave
Place riches in lowest degree
Think them poorest who can be a slave
Them richest who dare to be free.

My husband's family has deep Scottish roots, so one of the most memorable things for us was to find the clan's seat in East Lothian. It's no wonder that my children love Celtic music so much.

Memorial of Sts. Timothy and Titus

St. Timothy, born in Galatia in Asia Minor, was baptized and later ordained to the priesthood by St. Paul. The young Galatian became Paul's missionary companion and his most beloved spiritual son. St. Paul showed his trust in this disciple by consecrating him bishop of the great city of Ephesus. St. Timothy was stoned to death thirty years after St. Paul's martyrdom for having denounced the worship of the goddess Diana. St. Timothy's feast was celebrated on January 24 before the reform of the Roman Calendar.

St. Titus, a convert from paganism, was a fellow laborer of St. Paul on many apostolic missions. St. Paul later made him bishop of Crete, a difficult charge because of the character of the inhabitants and the spread of erroneous doctrines on that island. St. Paul's writings tell us that St. Titus rejoiced to discover what was good in others and drew the hearts of men by his wide and affectionate sympathy. Previously St. Titus' feast was celebrated on February 23.

From Catholic Culture


God our Father, you gave your saints Timothy and Titus the courage and wisdom of the apostles; may their prayers help us to live holy lives and lead us to heaven, our true home. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

One in Hope

Today closes the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, will close the octave during Vespers at St.-Paul-Outside-the-Walls, one of the patriarchal basilicas where St. Paul is buried beneath the high altar.

The Readings:

Ex 40:34-38 Throughout all their journeys the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle
Ps 42 (41) Hope in God, for I shall again praise him
Rev 21:1-6 God himself will be with them
Jn 14:15-31 I will not leave you desolate


The people of Israel were led by Moses through the desert. As they journeyed in the wilderness, God was present in a column of cloud by day and of fire by night.

The theme of the psalm is a vital longing and hoping for the community of God which will take away all doubts and sorrows.

The new people born out of the gospel is a pilgrim people, journeying towards the fullness of life in the new creation when God will dwell among us wiping away every tear from our eyes. Death will be no more. Pain and divisions are overcome. There will be one renewed and unified humanity in God.

Now, however, we are together on the way. We have the same hope and belong to the one God. On our pilgrim way we are not desolate. Jesus has not left us orphans because the Spirit has been given to us. It is the Spirit of hope and the Spirit of love. The peace of Christ has been given to us, encouraging and leading us to remain in love. If we love Christ, we will keep his word.

The theme of this week reminds us of Jesus’ promise: “where two or more are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst”. With Jesus, the eternal Word of God living among us, we travel together on a journey of hope. We can help one another to be faithful to this way. In the power of the Spirit, Jesus Christ will introduce us more and more into the Father’s will of renewal. The reconciled and reconciling community to which we are committed in our ecumenical movement is a sign and an anticipation of the coming new creation. With God’s grace, we are on a journey to live now already as much as possible “on earth as it is in heaven”.


Eternal Father, united in the name of Jesus, give us the certainty that despite everything, death will not win out, that our divisions will cease, that we will not give way to discouragement and that we will attain in hope to that fullness of life, love and light that you promise to those who love you and keep your word. Amen.

For Love of Christ, Paul Bore Every Burden

~From a homily by St. John Chrysostom, Bishop

Paul, more than anyone else, has shown us what man really is, and in what our nobility consists, and of what virtue this particular animal is capable. Each day he aimed ever higher; each day he rose up with greater ardour and faced with new eagerness the dangers that threatened him. He summed up his attitude in the words: I forget what is behind me and push on to what lies ahead. When he saw death imminent, he bade others share his joy: Rejoice and be glad with me! And when danger, injustice and abuse threatened, he said: I am content with weakness, mistreatment and persecution. These he called the weapons of righteousness, thus telling us that he derived immense profit from them.

Thus, amid the traps set for him by his enemies, with exultant heart he turned their every attack into a victory for himself; constantly beaten, abused and cursed, he boasted of it as though he were celebrating a triumphal procession and taking trophies home, and offered thanks to God for it all: Thanks be to God who is always victorious in us! This is why he was far more eager for the shameful abuse that his zeal in preaching brought upon him than we are for the most pleasing honours, more eager for death than we are for life, for poverty than we are for wealth; he yearned for toil far more than others yearn for rest after toil. The one thing he feared, indeed dreaded, was to offend God; nothing else could sway him. Therefore, the only thing he really wanted was always to please God.

The most important thing of all to him, however, was that he knew himself to be loved by Christ. Enjoying this love, he considered himself happier than anyone else; were he without it, it would be no satisfaction to be the friend of principalities and powers. He preferred to be thus loved and be the least of all, or even to be among the damned, than to be without that love and be among the great and honoured.

To be separated from that love was, in his eyes, the greatest and most extraordinary of torments; the pain of that loss would alone have been hell, and endless, unbearable torture.

So too, in being loved by Christ he thought of himself as possessing life, the world, the angels, present and future, the kingdom, the promise and countless blessings. Apart from that love nothing saddened or delighted him; for nothing earthly did he regard as bitter or sweet.

Paul set no store by the things that fill our visible world, any more than a man sets value on the withered grass of the field. As for tyrannical rulers or the people enraged against him, he paid them no more heed than gnats. Death itself and pain and whatever torments might come were but child’s play to him, provided that thereby he might bear some burden for the sake of Christ.

Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, Apostle

Meanwhile Saul was still breathing threats to slaughter the Lord’s disciples. He had gone to the high priest and asked for letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, that would authorise him to arrest and take to Jerusalem any followers of the Way, men or women, that he could find.

Suddenly, while he was travelling to Damascus and just before he reached the city, there came a light from heaven all round him. He fell to the ground, and then he heard a voice saying, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ ‘Who are you, Lord?’ he asked, and the voice answered, ‘I am Jesus, and you are persecuting me. Get up now and go into the city, and you will be told what you have to do.’ The men travelling with Saul stood there speechless, for though they heard the voice they could see no one. Saul got up from the ground, but even with his eyes wide open he could see nothing at all, and they had to lead him into Damascus by the hand. For three days he was without his sight, and took neither food nor drink. (From Acts 9)

About the painting by Caravaggio

Conversion of St. Paul on the Way to Damascus is found in the Cerasi Chapel of the Church of Santa Maria del Populo. The church is a treasurehouse of works by Raphael, Carracci, Bernini, and Caravaggio. Caravaggio was given the commission after he had completed the cycle of paintings of Matthew in the Contarelli Chapel in the Church of San Luigi dei Francesci. He finished the work in 1600 and the canvas is 7.55 feet by 5.74 feet.

Technically, according to critics, the composition is flawed. There is too much going on in the picture. Personally, this is my favorite painting along with Caravaggio's Vocation of St. Matthew. The single source of light magnifies the drama of the moment of Saul embracing the True Light of Christ, piercing through the atmospheric darkness. Though he is physically blinded, he finally has interior sight. The horse and servant look on in bewilderment and the tangle of legs create a sense of confusion. Saul's red mantle and tunic evoke the blood of the first Christian martyrs and perhaps foreshadows Paul's own martyrdom.

This painting was at the top of my list of must-see-in-person paintings. After studying it in postcard size for a lifetime, it was stunning to see it at last in person in a sacred space. This painting shares the chapel with another of Caravaggio's masterpieces, The Crucifixion of St. Peter.

While we were sleeping

Deus Caritas Est of the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI to the Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, Men and Women Religious, and all the Lay Faithful on Christian Love.

1. « DEUS CARITAS EST, et, qui manet in caritate, in Deo manet, et Deus in eo manet » (1 Io 4, 16). Haec Primae Epistulae Ioannis voces singulari quidem perspicuitate veluti fidei christianae centrum aperiunt: christianam Dei imaginem atque etiam congruentem hominis imaginem eiusque itineris. Praeterea eodem hoc in versiculo nobis concedit Ioannes compendiariam, ut ita dicamus, christianae vitae formulam: « Et nos cognovimus et credidimus caritati quam habet Deus in nobis ».

Read it in English

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A Preview of Deus Caritas Est

As we wait with bated breath for the release of Pope Benedict's first encyclical in a few hours, here's the text of his preview given to the Pontifical Council yesterday via Zenit. Here's an excerpt:
I wished to express to our time and to our existence something of what Dante audaciously recapitulated in his vision. He speaks of his "sight" that "was enriched" when looking at it, changing him interiorly [The textual quotation in English is: "But through the sight, that fortified itself in me by looking, one appearance only to me was ever changing as I changed" (cf. "Paradise," XXXIII, verses 112-114)]. It is precisely this: that faith might become a vision-comprehension that transforms us.

I wished to underline the centrality of faith in God, in that God who has assumed a human face and a human heart. Faith is not a theory that one can take up or lay aside. It is something very concrete: It is the criterion that decides our lifestyle. In an age in which hostility and greed have become superpowers, an age in which we witness the abuse of religion to the point of culminating in hatred, neutral rationality on its own is unable to protect us. We are in need of the living God who has loved us unto death.

Thus, in this encyclical, the subjects "God," "Christ" and "Love" are welded, as the central guide of the Christian faith. I wished to show the humanity of faith, of which "eros" forms part, man's "yes" to his corporeal nature created by God, a "yes" that in the indissoluble marriage between man and woman finds its rooting in creation. And in it, "eros" is transformed into "agape," love for the other that no longer seeks itself but that becomes concern for the other, willingness to sacrifice oneself for him and
openness to the gift of a new human life.

The Christian "agape," love for one's neighbor in the following of Christ, is not something foreign, put to one side or something that even goes against the "eros"; on the contrary, with the sacrifice Christ made of himself for man he offered a new dimension, which has developed ever more in the history of the charitable dedication of Christians to the poor and the suffering.

Canonical Question about Michael Schiavo's Remarriage

Jimmy Akin has a discussion going on the canonical question arising from Michael Schiavo's remarriage to his long-time live-in mistress.

Canon law specifically provides an impediment to prevent exactly this thing. It's known as the impediment of crimen (Latin, "crime"). If you bring about the death of your spouse with a view to marrying another person and then you attempt marriage, the impediment of crimen makes that new marriage automatically invalid.

The Code of Canon Law provides the following:

Can. 1090 §1. Anyone who with a view to entering marriage with a certain person has brought about the death of that person’s spouse or of one’s own spouse invalidly attempts this marriage.

§2. Those who have brought about the death of a spouse by mutual physical or moral cooperation also invalidly attempt a marriage together.

Further, only the pope can dispense from the impediment of crimen.

Go read the article

Thanks to Amy Welborn

Songs That Make a Difference (in the faith life of American Catholics)

One of the hardest and most painful things in my conversion from Anglo-Catholicism, has been the loss of beauty in Catholic worship. And foremost in that has been the banal muzak that poses for music. Last Sunday, not only did we sing "Los Pescadores" (which I have re-titled The Peskies), but for the closing hymn, we sang "I Am the Light of the World" complete with clapping. And we continue to sing the same 2 psalms alternately, "All the Ends of the Earth" and "To You, O Lord".

I do not miss the heterodoxy offered each week in the homilies, the lame Via Media theology of all truth being relative, the open communion, and the severe lack of call to holiness. But I do miss the chant, the beautiful interiors, the altar rail, the incense, the sanctus bells, the gestures, even the coffee hours.

So it was with dismay when I read this list yesterday. What happened to the great patrimony of the Church? The Church that gave us "Pange lingua" and "Adoro te devote" and Allegri's "Miserere". The Church that gave us Bernini's baldacchino and Michelangelo's Dome.

I'm in this Barque now and I will do my best to help with the bailing of water. The Real Presence of Christ is my waybread through this wilderness.

The list as compiled by the National Association of Pastoral Musicians:

  1. On Eagle's Wings (242)
  2. Here I Am, Lord (152)
  3. Be Not Afraid (146)
  4. You Are Mine (138)
  5. How Great Thou Art (76)
  6. Holy God, We Praise Thy Name (70)
  7. Amazing Grace (69)
  8. All Are Welcome (58)
  9. Prayer of St. Francis (43)
  10. Ave Maria (42)
  11. We Are Called (38)
  12. Let There Be Peace on Earth (36)
  13. I Am the Bread of Life (30)
  14. The Summons (30)
  15. Panis Angelicus (29)
  16. The Servant Song-Gillard (29)
  17. Pescador de Hombres (28)
  18. Servant Song-McCargill (28)
  19. Shepherd Me, O God (27)
  20. Ave Verum Corpus (26)
  21. Lord of the Dance (24)
  22. One Bread, One Body (24)
  23. Tantum Ergo (24)
  24. Hosea (23)
  25. Pange Lingua (23)

No "Salve Regina", "O Salutaris Hostia", "Adoro te Devoto" or "Ubi Caritas". Well, I have been asked by our Music Director to help him form a schola and re-introduce Gregorian Chant into our parish. My teenage sons who've grown up with Gregorian chant will be the core. So there's hope. We did chant Rorate coeli on Advent 3 and some people came up afterwards very thankful for that dewdrop.

Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

St Francis de Sales (1567 - 1622)

He was born near Annecy, in Savoy, studied the law, and was ordained to the priesthood despite the opposition of his father. His first mission was to re-evangelize the people of his home district (the Chablais), who had gone over to Calvinism. Always in danger of his life from hostile Calvinists, he preached with such effectiveness that after four years most of the people had returned to the Church. He was then appointed bishop of Geneva, and spent the rest of his life reforming and reorganising the diocese, and in caring for the souls of his people by preaching and spiritual guidance.

St Francis taught that we can all attain a devout and spiritual life, whatever our position in society: holiness is not reserved for monks and hermits alone. His wrote that “religious devotion does not destroy: it perfects”, and his spiritual counsel is dedicated to making people more holy by making them more themselves. In his preaching against Calvinism he was driven by love rather than a desire to win: so much so, that it was a Calvinist minister who said “if we honoured anyone as a saint, I know of no-one since the days of the Apostles more worthy of it than this man”.

St Francis is the patron saint of writers and journalists, who would do well to imitate his love and his moderation: as he said, “whoever wants to preach effectively must preach with love".

~From Introduction to the Devout Life

What true devotion is

But, in fact, all true and living devotion presupposes the love of God;—and indeed it is neither more nor less than a very real love of God, though not always of the same kind; for that Love one while shining on the soul we call grace, which makes us acceptable to His Divine Majesty;—when it strengthens us to do well, it is called Charity;—but when it attains its fullest perfection, in which it not only leads us to do well, but to act carefully, diligently, and promptly, then it is called Devotion.

The ostrich never flies,—the hen rises with difficulty, and achieves but a brief and rare flight, but the eagle, the dove, and the swallow, are continually on the wing, and soar high;—even so sinners do not rise towards God, for all their movements are earthly and earthbound. Well-meaning people, who have not as yet attained a true devotion, attempt a manner of flight by means of their good actions, but rarely, slowly and heavily; while really devout men rise up to God frequently, and with a swift and soaring wing.

In short, devotion is simply a spiritual activity and liveliness by means of which Divine Love works in us, and causes us to work briskly and lovingly; and just as charity leads us to a general practice of all God’s Commandments, so devotion leads us to practise them readily and diligently. And therefore we cannot call him who neglects to observe all God’s Commandments either good or devout, because in order to be good, a man must be filled with love, and to be devout, he must further be very ready and apt to perform the deeds of love.

And forasmuch as devotion consists in a high degree of real love, it not only makes us ready, active, and diligent in following all God’s Commands, but it also excites us to be ready and loving in performing as many good works as possible, even such as are not enjoined upon us, but are only matters of counsel or inspiration.

Even as a man just recovering from illness, walks only so far as he is obliged to go, with a slow and weary step, so the converted sinner journeys along as far as God commands him but slowly and wearily, until he attains a true spirit of devotion, and then, like a sound man, he not only gets along, but he runs and leaps in the way of God’s Commands, and hastens gladly along the paths of heavenly counsels and inspirations.

The difference between love and devotion is just that which exists between fire and flame;—love being a spiritual fire which becomes devotion when it is fanned into a flame;—and what devotion adds to the fire of love is that flame which makes it eager, energetic and diligent, not merely in obeying God’s Commandments, but in fulfilling His Divine Counsels and inspirations.

Welcoming God's Presence

Today is Day 7 of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Here are the readings:

Ex 3: 1-17 The burning bush
Ps 34 The Lord saves the crushed in spirit
Acts 9: 1-6 I am Jesus whom you are persecuting
Mt 25: 31-46 Jesus is present in our neighbour


When God announced that he would liberate the people of Israel from slavery, leading them out of Egypt and into a land flowing with milk and honey, he made known his presence to Moses from within the burning bush which was never consumed by fire. Thus the people are assured of the presence of the God of their fathers: ‘I am who I am’. This is no distant, uncaring God but a presence and a person concerned with the fate of his chosen people.

God would later confirm the nature of his being in the person of his son, Jesus Christ, who reminds us that we must become like little children if we wish to enter the kingdom! It is not in the great of this world that we should first seek Christ but in the innocence of little children (and those who have become like them in innocence and humility). In welcoming them into our midst, we welcome the Christ. Jesus gives us further assurance of his presence with us when we keep his word; when two or three come together in his name; and with those who are persecuted for his sake. Above all, as Christians who obey Jesus’ command at the last supper to do this in remembrance of me and although we might not agree on the exact nature of Jesus' presence, we believe (at the very least) that he is present in our hearts and minds.

As we feed the hungry, tend the sick, visit the prisoners, clothe the naked and welcome the stranger we also care for and welcome Jesus. The World Council of Churches was set up (in part) in 1948 in response to the urgent need for Christians to collaborate in the task of reconciliation and caring for those whose lives had been devastated by World War II. The diaconal and ecumenical task continues with as much urgency today . At the same time, theologians struggle to find the way towards greater unity within the church. Here too “stranger” is a key word. Jesus told us that we should love our neighbour in all his otherness. This clear instruction to recognize that the stranger, the other, belongs to Christ however different he or she may be is a fundamental clue as to how we can embrace and pursue the ecumenical task. If we recognize the presence of Christ in the stranger from another church tradition we need not fear him or his intentions. Instead we might learn from him and he, from us. In this way, we advance along the road to unity.

It is in our awareness of Jesus’ continuing presence in so many different ways that we recognize that he is indeed part of our lives. Not just a figure in history who taught us how we should live, but through the Holy Spirit he is present and active in the world today.


Eternal Father, grant us so to recognize your presence among us in different ways that our desire for true community in our own churches and society may be increased, and our prayer for unity within the body of Christ, your church, may be ever more fervent. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.

The Vatican Resource for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Monday, January 23, 2006

Choose therefore life

I call heaven and earth to witness this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Choose therefore life, that both thou and thy seed may live
Deuteronomy 39:19 (Douay-Rheims)

Papa talking up his first encyclical

AP - Mon Jan 23, 9:52 AM ET

In this photo released by Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict XVI, in white robe at left, is clapped on by participants to a symposium on Christian charity, as he arrives in the Vatican's Clementine hall, Monday Jan. 23, 2006. The pontiff again talked up his forthcoming encyclical Monday, saying he chose the theme of 'love' because the word today is so spoiled and abused that it needs to be purified. He said the word love today 'is so spoiled, so consumed and abused that you almost fear to utter it.' But rather than abandoning the word, he said, 'we must take it back, purify it and bring it back to its original splendor so that it can illuminate our lives and take them on the correct path.' (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano)

The Sanctity of Marriage and the Family

~From Gaudium et spes, No. 48, Vatican II

Husband and wife, by the covenant of marriage, are no longer two, but one flesh. By their intimate union of persons and of actions they give mutual help and service to each other, experience the meaning of their unity, and gain an ever deeper understanding of it day by day.

This intimate union in the mutual self-giving of two persons, as well as the good of the children, demands full fidelity from both, and an indissoluble unity between them.

Christ the Lord has abundantly blessed this richly complex love, which springs from the divine source of love and is founded on the model of his union with the Church.

In earlier times God met his people in a covenant of love and fidelity. So now the Savior of mankind, the Bridegroom of the Church, meets Christian husbands and wives in the sacrament of matrimony. Further, he remains with them in order that, as he loved the Church and gave himself up for her, so husband and wife may, in mutual self-giving, love each other with perpetual fidelity.

True married love is caught up into God's love; it is guided and enriched by the redeeming power of Christ and the saving action of the Church, in order that the partners may be effectively led to God and receive help and strength in the sublime responsibility of parenthood.

Christian partners are therefore strengthened; and as it were consecrated, by a special sacrament for the duties and the dignity of their state. By the power of this sacrament they fulfill their obligations to each other and to their family and are filled with the spirit of Christ. This spirit pervades their whole lives with faith, hope, and love. Thus they promote their own perfection and each other's sanctification, and so contribute together to the greater glory of God.

Hence, with parents leading the way by example and family prayer, their children--indeed, all within the family circle--will find it easier to make progress in natural virtues, in salvation, and in holiness. Husband and wife, raised to the digntiy and the responsibility of parenthood, will be zealous in fulfilling their task that is primarily their own.

Children, as active members of the family, contribute in their own way to the holiness of their parents. With the love of grateful hearts, with loving respect and trust, they will return the generosity of their parents and will stand by them as true sons and daughters when they eet with hardship and the onleliness of old age.

Mission in Jesus' Name

Today is Day 6 for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The readings are:

Dan 3:19-30 Witnessing for faith
Ps 146 (145) In praise of God the Saviour
Acts 8:26-40 Philip witnesses to the Ethiopian eunuch
Lk 10:1-12 Jesus sends out his disciples


Today we meet people who are called by God to witness to their
faith. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego have a strong and firm belief in the One who saves them. Their fervour, courage and united witness, in the face of great personal danger, convince the king and his officials that their God is the one true God. However, their faith-witness served also to rally the fainthearted of Israel. In this way the people of God were strengthened and united once more around their God.

The psalmist sings the praises of the Lord who reaches out to the people in many different circumstances so that they may find safety and salvation. The definitive example of God’s continuous care for his people may be seen in the sending of Jesus. He not only gathers in those who are weak and have gone astray, but also expects his disciples to be enthusiastic and committed in sharing the good news of the kingdom of God when sent on mission in his name.

Philip reflects the enthusiasm of the early church. He capitalises n every opportunity that presents itself to fulfil the mission of Jesus.

As Christ’s followers to-day we are called to be a missionary people. Moreover, the message of the gospel is always stronger when Christians are united in offering a common witness to its truth. It is our turn to share the good news with all people. We are called:

  • to have courage in the face of unbelief

  • to move out from the security of our own culture and religious tradition

  • to find new and innovative ways of proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ

  • to be inspired and excited by our common faith

  • to be motivated by the compassion of Jesus to work together to alleviate suffering in our world

  • to challenge the injustice in the world and stand alongside the poor

In the face of a rapidly evolving world, the united witness to the gospel that Christians give comes from both our activity of going out to the world, and our gathering in the weak so that not one of the little ones should be lost.

We have a double calling to fulfil!


Living God, awaken in us the desire to be a missionary people. Help us to listen for your call and grant us the courage to follow the guidance of your Spirit. Through our common witness may we gather in the weak to be strengthened and go out to all the world to proclaim the good news of your kingdom. Amen.

The Vatican Resource for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Sunday, January 22, 2006

On a happier anniversary: 500th Anniversary of the Swiss Guard

Swiss Guards, in their blue-and-yellow uniforms, attended a special Mass in the Sistine Chapel celebrated by Angelo Cardinal Sodano, Vatican Secretary of State on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the Guards' first arrival at the Vatican on January 22, 1506. They were greeted by Pope Benedict XVI from the papal apartments during the Angelus at St. Peter's Square.