Sunday, April 30, 2006

How Nerdy are You?

~Via Some Have Hats

Your Score Summary

Overall, you scored as follows:

18% scored higher
(more nerdy), and
82% scored
lower (less nerdy).

What does this mean? Your nerdiness

High-Level Nerd. You are definitely MIT material, apply now!!!.

I am nerdier than 82% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Uh-oh. Does this mean that I need to get a real life?

China ignores Vatican over bishop

~Via BBC

The state-controlled Catholic church in China has ignored the Vatican's wishes and consecrated a new bishop.
Father Ma Yingling was consecrated as bishop of Kunming at a ceremony in the southwestern Yunnan province on Sunday.

The Vatican had called for a delay in the appointment over concerns the bishop is inexperienced and too closely aligned with China's communist regime.

The Chinese Church does not recognise the Vatican's power to appoint bishops, causing tension between the two sides.

Many recent appointments however had been approved by both sides.

Father Ma was shown on Hong Kong cable television wearing a bishop's hat and waving to crowds.

A procession of clergy in white robes had earlier entered a church building, as dancers performed outside.

The request to postpone Father Ma's consecration had been made by the Vatican-appointed Roman Catholic Bishop of Hong Kong, Cardinal Joseph Zen.

He said the Vatican needed more time to assess Father Ma's qualifications.

"Trying to force the clergymen to carry out the ordination ceremony before the (Roman Catholic) Church's approval would be deliberately wrecking China-Vatican negotiations," he told Hong Kong radio.

Taiwan links

Cardinal Zen has been at the forefront of recent efforts to improve relations between Beijing and the Holy See.

China has both a state-sanctioned Roman Catholic church but also a bigger, unofficial church that is loyal to the Pope.

According to China's authorities the state-sanctioned church has about four million members, while the Vatican says the Roman Catholic Church there has some 10 million worshippers.

China has said it would like better relations with the Vatican, but insists that first the Holy See must cut its diplomatic links with Taiwan.

Ferrari club at Regina Caeli

Members of the Rome Passion Ferrari club await Pope Benedict XVI's Regina Coeli prayer in St. Peter's square at the Vatican April 30, 2006. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

Members of the Rome Passion Ferrari club wave from St. Peter's square as Pope Benedict XVI sends his greetings to them at the end of his Regina Coeli prayer at the Vatican April 30, 2006. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

Doesn't this just make you grin?

Regina Caeli: Pope entrusts to Mary world “marked by shadows”

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - At the start of the month of May, dedicated to Mary, Benedict XVI entrusted to her "the needs of the Church and the whole world, especially at this time, when it is marked by not inconsiderable shadows". He was addressing more than 30,000 people who turned up in St Peter’s Square for the recital of the Regina Caeli that, he recalled, will be prayed instead of the Angelus until Pentecost. The pope reiterated the "truth" of the Resurrection to counter those who, in the past as well as the present, would deny it. "The resurrection of Christ is the central fact of Christianity. It is a fundamental truth to be upheld vigorously at all times, since denying it in various ways, as some have tried to do, and continue to do, or seeking to transform it into a purely spiritual event, is to negate our very faith. ‘If Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain.’ (I Cor. 14:15)" Some saw his words as an indirect reference to the "Da Vinci Code".

"In the days following the resurrection of the Lord, the Apostles stayed gathered together, comforted by the presence of Mary, and after the Ascension, they persevered with her in prayerful anticipation of Pentecost. Our Lady was, for them, like a mother and teacher, a role she continues to undertake with Christians of all times. Every year, at Easter time, we relive this experience more intensely and perhaps this is why popular tradition consecrated the month of May to Mary, as it normally falls between Easter and Pentecost. This month, starting tomorrow, is useful for us to rediscover the maternal function she has in our life, so that we will be ever more meek disciples and courageous witnesses of the Risen Lord. To Mary we entrust the needs of the Church and the whole world, especially at this time when it is marked by not inconsiderable shadows. Invoking also the intercession of St Joseph, whom we remember in a special way tomorrow when we focus on the world of work, we turn to Her in the Regina Caeli prayer, which allows us to savour the comforting joy of the presence of the Risen Lord."

Benedict XVI also drew attention to today’s beatification, in Ramapuram in Kerala, India, of Fr Augustine Kunjachan Thevarparampil, the apostle of the Dalits. In his English greeting, after recital of the Marian prayer, he called for prayers for family reconciliation, in line with one of the main commitments of the new Blessed.

Finally, he had a greeting for the Polish, reminding them of his imminent trip to their country.

The celebration of the Eucharist

~by St. Justin Martyr

No one may share the Eucharist with us unless he believes that what we teach is true, unless he is washed in the regenerating waters of baptism for the remission of his sins, and unless he lives in accordance with the principles given us by Christ.

We do not consume the eucharistic bread and wine as if it were ordinary food and drink, for we have been taught that as Jesus Christ our Saviour became a man of flesh and blood by the power of the Word of God, so also the food that our flesh and blood assimilates for its nourishment becomes the flesh and blood of the incarnate Jesus by the power of his own words contained in the prayer of thanksgiving.

The apostles, in their recollections, which are called gospels, handed down to us what Jesus commanded them to do. They tell us that he took bread, gave thanks and said: Do this in memory of me. This is my body. In the same way he took the cup, he gave thanks and said: This is my blood. The Lord gave this command to them alone. Ever since then we have constantly reminded one another of these things. The rich among us help the poor and we are always united. For all that we receive we praise the Creator of the universe through his Son Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit.

On Sunday we have a common assembly of all our members, whether they live in the city or the outlying districts. The recollections of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as there is time. When the reader has finished, the president of the assembly speaks to us; he urges everyone to imitate the examples of virtue we have heard in the readings. Then we all stand up together and pray.

On the conclusion of our prayer, bread and wine and water are brought forward. The president offers prayers and gives thanks to the best of his ability, and the people give assent by saying, “Amen”. The eucharist is distributed, everyone present communicates, and the deacons take it to those who are absent.

The wealthy, if they wish, may make a contribution, and they themselves decide the amount. The collection is placed in the custody of the president, who uses it to help the orphans and widows and all who for any reason are in distress, whether because they are sick, in prison, or away from home. In a word, he takes care of all who are in need.

We hold our common assembly on Sunday because it is the first day of the week, the day on which God put darkness and chaos to flight and created the world, and because on that same day our saviour Jesus Christ rose from the dead. For he was crucified on Friday and on Sunday he appeared to his to his apostles and disciples and taught them the things that we have passed on for your consideration.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Receiving Jesus

My daughter leaving church after receiving Jesus for the first time. April 29, 2006

Father Cantalamessa on Resurrection as New Creation

~Via Zenit

The Lord Has Risen Indeed!

The Gospel enables us to be present at one of the many apparitions of the Risen One. The disciples of Emmaus have just arrived out of breath to Jerusalem and are recounting what happened to them on the road, when Jesus appears in person in their midst saying: "Peace to you!" At first, fear, as if they saw a spirit; then amazement, disbelief; finally, joy. What is more, disbelief and joy at the same time: "And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered."

Theirs is an altogether special disbelief. It is the attitude of someone who believes (otherwise, there would be no joy) but does not know how to realize it. As someone who says: "Too wonderful to be true." We can call it, paradoxically, an incredulous faith. To convince them, Jesus asks them for something to eat, because there is nothing like eating together to comfort and create communion.

All this tells us something important about the Resurrection. The latter is not only a great miracle, an argument or a proof in favor of the truth of Christ. More than that, it is a new world in which one enters with faith accompanied by wonder and joy. Christ's resurrection is the "new creation."

It is not just about believing that Jesus has risen; it is about knowing and experiencing "the power of the resurrection" (Philippians 3:10).

This more profound dimension of Easter is particularly felt by our Orthodox brothers. For them, Christ's resurrection is everything. In Eastertide, when they meet someone they greet one another saying: "Christ has risen!", and the other replies: "He has risen indeed!"

This custom is so rooted in the people that the following anecdote is told that occurred at the beginning of the Bolshevik Revolution. A public debate had been organized on the resurrection of Christ. First the atheist spoke, demolishing for good, in his opinion, Christians' faith in the resurrection.

When he came down, the Orthodox priest went to the dais, who was to speak in defense. The humble priest looked at the crowd and said simply: "Christ is risen!" Before even thinking, all answered in unison: "He has risen indeed!" And the priest came down from the dais in silence.

We know well how the resurrection is represented in the Western tradition, for example, in Piero della Francesca. Jesus comes out of the sepulcher raising the cross as a standard of victory. His face inspires extraordinary trust and security. But his victory is over his external, earthly enemies. The authorities had put seals in his sepulcher and guards to keep watch, and, lo, the seals are broken and the guards asleep. Men are present only as inert and passive witnesses; they do not really take part in the Resurrection.

In the Eastern image, the scene is altogether different. It is not developed under an open sky, but underground. In the resurrection, Jesus does not come out but descends. With extraordinary energy he takes Adam and Eve by the hand, who were waiting in the realm of the dead, and pulls them with him to life and resurrection. Behind the two parents, an innumerable multitude of men and women who awaited the redemption. Jesus tramples on the gates of hell which he himself has just dislocated and broken. Christ's victory is not so much over visible but over invisible enemies, which are the worst: death, darkness, anguish, the devil.

We are involved in this representation. Christ's resurrection is also our resurrection. Every man who looks is invited to be identified with Adam, and every woman with Eve, and to stretch out their hands to allow themselves to be gripped and pulled by Christ out of the sepulcher. This is the new universal Easter exodus. God has come "with powerful arm and outstretched hand" to liberate his people from a much harsher and universal slavery than that of Egypt.

Feast Day

Giovanni di Paolo, St Catherine Exchanging her Heart with Christ, c. 1475

Today is the feast day of my patron saint, St. Catherine of Siena. My mother wanted to name me Catherine, but my father would have none of it. So at confirmation, I took Catherine as my confirmation name. My mother got her way after all, it just took a few years.

Also, this morning, my daughter will have her First Communion. What a wonderful confluence of events.

Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, virgin and doctor

Giovanni di Paolo, St Catherine before the Pope at Avignon, c. 1460

Catherine, the youngest of twenty-five children, was born in Siena on March 25, 1347. During her youth she had to contend with great difficulties on the part of her parents. They were planning marriage for their favorite daughter; but Catherine, who at the age of seven had already taken a vow of virginity, refused. To break her resistance, her beautiful golden brown tresses were shorn to the very skin and she was forced to do the most menial tasks. Undone by her patience, mother and father finally relented and their child entered the Third Order of St. Dominic.

Unbelievable were her austerities, her miracles, her ecstasies. The reputation of her sanctity soon spread abroad; thousands came to see her, to be converted by her. The priests associated with her, having received extraordinary faculties of absolution, were unable to accommodate the crowds of penitents. She was a helper and a consoler in every need. As time went on, her influence reached out to secular and ecclesiastical matters. She made peace between worldly princes. The heads of Church and State bowed to her words. She weaned Italy away from an anti-pope, and made cardinals and princes promise allegiance to the rightful pontiff. She journeyed to Avignon and persuaded Pope Gregory XI to return to Rome. Even though she barely reached the age of thirty-three her accomplishments place her among the great women of the Middle Ages. The virgin Catherine was espoused to Christ by a precious nuptial ring which, although visible only to her, always remained on her finger.

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

I tasted and I saw

~From the dialogue On Divine Providence by Saint Catherine of Siena, virgin and doctor

Eternal God, eternal Trinity, you have made the blood of Christ so precious through his sharing in your divine nature. You are a mystery as deep as the sea; the more I search, the more I find, and the more I find the more I search for you. But I can never be satisfied; what I receive will ever leave me desiring more. When you fill my soul I have an even greater hunger, and I grow more famished for your light. I desire above all to see you, the true light, as you really are.
I have tasted and seen the depth of your mystery and the beauty of your creation with the light of my understanding. I have clothed myself with your likeness and have seen what I shall be. Eternal Father, you have given me a share in your power and the wisdom that Christ claims as his own, and your Holy Spirit has given me the desire to love you. You are my Creator, eternal Trinity, and I am your creature. You have made of me a new creation in the blood of your Son, and I know that you are moved with love at the beauty of your creation, for you have enlightened me.

Eternal Trinity, Godhead, mystery deep as the sea, you could give me no greater gift than the gift of yourself. For you are a fire ever burning and never consumed, which itself consumes all the selfish love that fills my being. Yes, you are a fire that takes away the coldness, illuminates the mind with its light and causes me to know your truth. By this light, reflected as it were in a mirror, I recognise that you are the highest good, one we can neither comprehend nor fathom. And I know that you are beauty and wisdom itself. The food of angels, you gave yourself to man in the fire of your love.

You are the garment which covers our nakedness, and in our hunger you are a satisfying food, for you are sweetness and in you there is no taste of bitterness, O triune God!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Funky Franciscans

Remember Kung-fu Fightin' Franciscan's "interpretation" of the Our Father? Just to refresh your memory:

Gerald has a followup: What are these Franciscans smoking? Oh, before you click, make sure you put down any beverages you might be sipping.

Tea Ceremony: The idea is to enter into a relationship with the tea, to perceive it and let the blessing flow. While the tea is merging with the water, one looks into the other's eyes.

Pipe Ceremony: "Smoking stands for that which we have to do ourselves to make the prayer come true. Prayer can have many forms, as long as reverence for the holy is present."

Sandro Magister: Carlo Maria Martini’s “Day After”

~by Sandro Magister at Chiesa

ROMA, April 28, 2006 – At a Vatican accustomed to the crystal-clear preaching of pope Joseph Ratzinger, with the truth of heavenly and earthly things carved out neatly each time with a fine chisel, the ten pages of doubts, hypotheses, and “gray areas” of cardinal Carlo Maria Martini in dialogue with bioethicist Ignazio Marino published in last week’s edition of “L’espresso” came like the manifesto of an antipope.

Against the current pope. And also against his predecessor, John Paul II, who pegged his vibrant “Evangelium Vitae” on the topics of bioethics, birth, and death, the subjects of cardinal Martini’s remarks.

There are also those in the Church’s hierarchy who see a prophet in Martini for the same reasons. Luigi Bettazzi, one of the living bishops who participated in Vatican Council II, says: “Martini knows that the right time has come to say the things he has said. Before the Council, the primary end of Christian marriage was procreation. But today, the official doctrine of the Church puts love in the first place. It’s the same for bioethics. Martini has cleared the way, and the change will come. The Christian clergy and people are already on his side. They are learning from him how to connect faith with practical life.”

But meanwhile, under the reign of Benedict XVI, it is the congregation for the doctrine of the faith that watches over the teaching of the worldwide Church. Ratzinger was the prefect there for twenty-five years, and still governs it today. “So now the Trojan horse has been brought into the city,” says one of the top figures of the congregation, with “L’espresso” open on the table. “At first glance, some of cardinal Martini’s expressions of openness seem good and worthy of endorsing. But they conceal devastating effects.”

The congregation is studying a document on condom use. Benedict XVI personally put it on the agenda months ago, after some of the cardinals had admitted the use of condoms in a concrete case: as protection from a spouse sick with AIDS. Statements to this effect were made by the archbishops of Bruxelles, Godfried Danneels, and of Westminster, Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, and the curia cardinals Javier Lozano Barragán, president of the pontifical council for the pastoral care of the sick, and Georges Cottier, the official theologian of the pontifical household with John Paul II. Now Martini has joined them.

“The condom is a false solution,” continues the official of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith. “In the ABC’s of the battle against AIDS – Abstinence, Be faithful, Condom – the first two of these, chastity and marital fidelity, are valid for the Church. But not the third. The C should not stand for Condom, but for Cure, a cure for the illness. The Church’s public teaching and action should back this point. The concrete cases, understanding, and compassion are for the confessor and the missionary.”

In effect, even cardinal Martini concurred in “L’espresso” that it is not up to the Church authorities to support condom use publicly, because of “the risk of promoting an irresponsible attitude.” But the remarks that irritated the Church’s leadership most are others. “All you have to do is read the Catechism of the Catholic Church to identify the firm points from which Martini departs,” says the official of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith.

One of these first points is complete respect for every human life “from conception,” from its very first moments.

Read the complete article

Chinese bishop to be ordained against Pope’s wishes

~Via Asia News

Rome (AsiaNews) – The Chinese Patriotic Association is about to explode a huge diplomatic bomb, that risks jeopardizing initial traces of dialogue between China and the Vatican.

On Sunday, April 30 in Kunming (Yunnan), the Patriotic Association (P.A.) – and in particular its vice-president, layman Anthony Liu Bainian – wants at all costs to ordain a priest as bishop without the Holy See’s permission. Over the last two years, Beijing and the Vatican had arrived at an agreement which left it to Rome to indicate candidates for the episcopacy. Accordingly, auxiliary bishops of Shanghai, Xian, Wanxian and the ordinary of Suzhou were ordained. This agreement had put to the side the P.A., which for decades had held the reigns of ordinations, weakening its power over the official Church. This time however, the Patriotic Association is not standing by and has decided to have Father Ma Yinglin ordained as Bishop of Kunming (capital of Yunnan).

Father Ma, age 40, is currently secretary of the official Church’s Council of Bishops (a sort of episcopal conference, not recognized by the Vatican) and holds various offices in the Patriotic Association, the organism that controls the Church, and whose statutes include the goal of creating a national Church detached from the Holy See. According to AsiaNews sources in Beijing, Father Ma would also be of the opinion to not go ahead with this ordination, but Liu Bainian, for whom he has worked since 1999, is determined to go ahead against the wishes of the Holy See.

The Vatican has already let it be known for some time that it does not support the candidacy of Father Ma, who is too close to the power structure of the AP and has little pastoral experience. According to AsiaNews sources, it seems that the Vatican has even asked that the ordination be delayed, to leave time for calm discussion and to reach an accord on another person. But the AP is not yielding and has sent its officials throughout China to gain acceptance for the new candidate and to push bishops, priests and members of the faithful to take part in the celebration. But already many bishops of the official Church have let it be known that they are against the ordination and will desert the event.

This new ordination is creating many new problems for the Church and the government of China. The first is the ecclesial position of the candidate who thus finds himself in de facto breach of ecclesial communion (latae sentientiae excommunication, “by the very commission of the offence”). As things currently stand, Chinese Catholics reject a bishop if he is not in communion with the Vatican and do not take part in his functions, preferring to swell the ranks of the underground Church. Plus, such a challenge by the AP shines a bad light on the government, which thus appears to be driven by mid-level authorities and their anti-Holy See expressions, while top officials – at least over this last year – have been engaging in signs of détente and dialogue with the Vatican.

Something similar happened in 2000. Just as rumours were spreading of rapprochement between China and the Vatican, the P.A. had planned, for January 6, 2000, the ordination of 12 new bishops. Seven of them ended up refusing the nomination, having come to learn that the Vatican had not given its approval; the other 5 were isolated and deceived into accepting the ordination. At the ceremony, which took place in Beijing in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception early in the morning, only a few patriotic prelates took part, including Fu Tieshan, Archbishop of Beijing and Liu Yuanren, Archbishop of Nanking, who are not reconciled with the Vatican. Priests, laypeople and other bishops who had been invited remained absent. Even the seminarians of the national seminary of Beijing deserted the event. In a letter to their rector, they had expressed their disapproval for these ordinations which were not approved by the Vatican.

Learn Gregorian Chant this summer

What: Summer Music Colloquium 2006 Liturgical Music and the Restoration of the Sacred
When: June 20-25, 2006
Where: The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.
About: The Colloquium features instruction in chant and the Catholic sacred music tradition, participation in chant and polyphonic choirs, nightly lectures and performances, along with daily celebrations of liturgies in both English and Latin at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Attendance is open to anyone interested in improving the quality of music in Catholic worship. Professional musicians will appreciate the rigor, while enthusiastic volunteer singers will enjoy the opportunity to study under an expert faculty.

Download the registration form here

Visit Musica Sacra of the CMAA

Celibacy and the Priest's Paternity

The Congregation for Clergy Teleconference on "Celibacy and the Priest's Paternity" is today. While we await the documents to be posted on the Congregation's webiste, here are couple of past presentations:

+ + +

~Given by Professor Jean Galot, Roma

The priestly vocation in a Eucharistic perspective (April 28th 2004)

In creating the Twelve, Christ indicated His will to provide the Church with a priestly organisation. By climbing the mountain for this institution, he intended to show the fundamental importance of the Twelve for the Church’s existence and development. With the words "He created the twelve", the Gospels allow us to understand that Christ’s creative omnipotence is committed to this institution. By creating the Twelve and giving each of them new names, the mark of new personalities, Christ created God’s new people, the Church.

Vocations come from a personal choice made by Christ: "It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you" (John 15,16). It is a call made by the Redeemer’s sovereign authority, a call to a totally gratuitous and definite love that requires a complete gift of the person, such a large and profound gift that a new person is born: the entire human being becomes the Lord’s property. The mark of the belonging is recognised as an indelible "characteristic".

In following Christ’s intention, priests are necessary for the Church’s development. More specifically they are necessary for the multiplication of Christ’s sacramental offering in the world: Christian communities need the Eucharist to be inspired by Christ’s life and to allow this life to produce all its fruits. The current drama experienced by many communities and parishes who lack priests and can no longer gather in participation in the Holy Mass, emphasises this need for priestly vocations. It must be a stimulus for prayer to obtain a larger number of priests from the divine generosity.

+ + +

~Given by Ignace de la Potterie, Biblical scholar (January 1, 1993)

The biblical foundation of priestly celibacy

For several centuries there has been much debate as to whether the obligation of celibacy for clerics in major orders (or at least that of living in continence for those who are married) is of biblical origin or whether it is based merely on ecclesiastical tradition dating back to the fourth century, since from then on, without question, legislation exists on the subject. The first of these two possible answers has recently been presented. once again, this time with an extraordinary wealth of material, by C. Cochini in Origines apostoliques du célibat sacerdotal. Clearly set forth in the title, the author’s position is apparently that celibacy can be and should be upheld, given that account is taken (more perhaps than in the past) of the growth of ancient tradition, a point on which A.M. Stickler also insists in his preface, and H. Crouzel in a review. In other words, it could be said that the obligation of continence (or of celibacy) became canon law only in the fourth century but that, before that, from apostolic times, the ideal of living in continence (or in celibacy) was already held up to the ministers of the Church, and that this ideal was indeed deeply felt and lived as a requirement by quite a number (Tertullian and Origen, for instance) but was not yet imposed on all clerics in major orders. It was a vital principle, a seed, clearly present from apostolic times but which gradually then developed until the ecclesiastical legislation of the fourth century. More here

Pope Benedict: Inner freedom condition for authentic human growth

Excerpt from Pope Benedict's message to the plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, meeting 28 April, 2006 to May 2006:
Parents, educators and community leaders, if they are to be faithful to their own calling, can never renounce their duty to set before children and young people the task of choosing a life project directed towards authentic happiness, one capable of distinguishing between truth and falsehood, good and evil, justice and injustice, the real world and the world of "virtual reality".

In your own scientific approach to the various issues treated in the present Session, I would encourage you to give due consideration to these overarching issues and, in particular, the question of human freedom, with its vast implications for a sound vision of the person and the achievement of affective maturity within the broader community. Inner freedom is in fact the condition for authentic human growth. Where such freedom is lacking or endangered, young people experience frustration and become incapable of striving generously for the ideals which can give shape to their lives as individuals and as members of society. As a result, they can become disheartened or rebellious, and their immense human potential diverted from meeting the exciting challenges of life.

Christians, who believe that the Gospel sheds light on every aspect of individual and social life, will not fail to see the philosophical and theological dimensions of these issues, and the need to consider that fundamental opposition between sin and grace which embraces all the other conflicts which trouble the human heart: the conflict between error and truth, vice and virtue, rebellion and co-operation, war and peace. Nor can they help but be convinced that faith, lived out in the fullness of charity and communicated to new generations, is an essential element in the building of a better future and safeguarding intergenerational solidarity, inasmuch as it anchors every human effort to build a civilization of love in the revelation of God the Creator, the creation of men and women in his image, and the victory of Christ over evil and death.

Optional Memorial of St. Peter Chanel

On April 18, 1841, a band of native warriors entered the hut of Father Peter Chanel on the island of Futuna in the New Hebrides islands near New Zealand. They clubbed the missionary to death and cut up his body with hatchets. Two years later, the whole island was Catholic.
St. Peter Chanel's death bears witness to the ancient axiom that "the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians." He is the first martyr from Oceania, that part of the world spread over the south Pacific, and he came there as the fulfillment of a dream he had had as a boy.

Peter was born in 1803 in the diocese of Belley, France. At the age of seven, he was a shepherd boy, but the local parish priest, recognizing something unusual in the boy, convinced his parents to let him study, in a little school the priest had started. From there Peter went on to the seminary, where it was said of him: "He had a heart of gold with the simple faith of a child, and he led the life of an angel."

He was ordained a priest and assigned to a parish at Crozet. In three years he had transformed the parish. In 1831, he joined the newly founded Society of Mary, since he had long dreamed of being a missionary; but for five years he was assigned to teach at the seminary in Belley. Finally, in 1836, his dream was realized, and he was sent with other Marists to the islands of the Pacific. He had to suffer great hardships, disappointments, frustration, and almost complete failure as well as the opposition of the local chieftain. The work seemed hopeless: only a few had been baptized, and the chieftain continued to be suspicious and hostile. Then, when the chief's son asked for baptism, the chief was so angry that he sent warriors to kill the missionary.

Peter's violent death brought about the conversion of the island, and the people of Futuna remain Catholic to this day. Peter Chanel was beatified in 1889 and canonized in 1954.

~Excerpted from The One Year Book of Saints by Rev. Clifford Stevens

Optional Memorial of St. Louis Mary de Montfort

Louis's life is inseparable from his efforts to promote genuine devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus and mother of the church. Totus tuus (completely yours) was Louis's personal motto; Karol Wojtyla chose it as his episcopal motto. Born in the Breton village of Montfort, close to Rennes (France), as an adult Louis identified himself by the place of his baptism instead of his family name, Grignion. After being educated by the Jesuits and the Sulpicians, he was ordained as a diocesan priest in 1700.
Soon he began preaching parish missions throughout western France. His years of ministering to the poor prompted him to travel and live very simply, sometimes getting him into trouble with church authorities. In his preaching, which attracted thousands of people back to the faith, Father Louis recommended frequent, even daily, Holy Communion (not the custom then!) and imitation of the Virgin Mary's ongoing acceptance of God's will for her life.

Louis founded the Missionaries of the Company of Mary (for priests and brothers) and the Daughters of Wisdom, who cared especially for the sick. His book, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, has become a classic explanation of Marian devotion.

Louis died in Saint-Laurent-sur-Sevre, where a basilica has been erected in his honor. He was canonized in 1947.

~Excerpted from Saint of the Day, Leonard Foley, O.F.M.

The precious and life-giving cross of Christ

~by St. Theodore the Studite

How precious the gift of the cross, how splendid to contemplate! In the cross there is no mingling of good and evil, as in the tree of paradise: it is wholly beautiful to behold and good to taste. The fruit of this tree is not death but life, not darkness but light. This tree does not cast us out of paradise, but opens the way for our return.

This was the tree on which Christ, like a king on a chariot, destroyed the devil, the Lord of death, and freed the human race from his tyranny. This was the tree upon which the Lord, like a brave warrior wounded in his hands, feet and side, healed the wounds of sin that the evil serpent had inflicted on our nature. A tree once caused our death, but now a tree brings life. Once deceived by a tree, we have now repelled the cunning serpent by a tree. What an astonishing transformation! That death should become life, that decay should become immortality, that shame should become glory! Well might the holy Apostle exclaim: Far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world! The supreme wisdom that flowered on the cross has shown the folly of worldly wisdom’s pride. The knowledge of all good, which is the fruit of the cross, has cut away the shoots of wickedness.

The wonders accomplished through this tree were foreshadowed clearly even by the mere types and figures that existed in the past. Meditate on these, if you are eager to learn. Was it not the wood of a tree that enabled Noah, at God’s command, to escape the destruction of the flood together with his sons, his wife, his sons’ wives and every kind of animal? And surely the rod of Moses prefigured the cross when it changed water into blood, swallowed up the false serpents of Pharaoh’s magicians, divided the sea at one stroke and then restored the waters to their normal course, drowning the enemy and saving God’s own people? Aaron’s rod, which blossomed in one day in proof of his true priesthood, was another figure of the cross, and did not Abraham foreshadow the cross when he bound his son Isaac and placed him on the pile of wood?

By the cross death was slain and Adam was restored to life. The cross is the glory of all the apostles, the crown of the martyrs, the sanctification of the saints. By the cross we put on Christ and cast aside our former self. By the cross we, the sheep of Christ, have been gathered into one flock, destined for the sheepfolds of heaven.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Peter Seewald: German Pope having an impact on his native land

~Via Catholic World News

The interaction between the Successor of Peter and the people of his native country will be exciting, German journalist Peter Seewald has predicted.

“I think that the German Pope is doing a fantastic job," said the German journalist and best-selling author in an interview with the Passauer Neue Presse, reported on the German-language web site. Seewald’s book-length interviews with then-Cardinal Ratzinger were published in English as Salt of the Earth and God and the World.

The Holy Father has “far surpassed” even the most optimistic expectations, Seewald said. “I don’t believe that any Pope has ever basked in such a glow to begin with,” he remarked, summarizing the first year of the new pontificate. “Benedict XVI has managed to fuse two pontificates seamlessly into a historical double pontificate, with which the Church is entering a new era of faith.”

A pope is “not a politician,” Seewald said. “He has no next election waiting in the wings, only the Last Judgment. And Benedict has no intention of distancing himself from the magnificent legacy of his predecessor. On the contrary, he wants to bring it to full fruition. And that is plenty to accomplish.”


Meanwhile in Germany one finds “not only a heightened interest in religion, but also phenomena such as the fading-away of the old, deeply-engrained ‘anti-Roman’ bias, a decrease in the number of those who leave the Catholic Church [to avoid the church tax levied by the government on members], and an increase in re-registrations”, the journalist noted. “All that is not a massive change in the overall trend, and we shouldn’t expect one. But clearly we are dealing with a different climate."

"Many Protestants, too, are beginning to like the Pope," Seewald said; "one of the main reasons for this is his clarity. I think that the interaction between the Successor of Peter and the people of the land from which he came will be very exciting. The Poles can tell you all about that.”

Go to the complete article

Papal Message to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints

~From the Vatican Information Service

VATICAN CITY, APR 27, 2006 (VIS) - Made public today was a Message from Pope Benedict XVI to Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins C.M.F., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which has just concluded its plenary session.

''From her beginnings", says the Message, "the Church has dedicated great attention to the procedures that elevate Servants of God to the glory of the altars. The causes of saints are considered 'major causes' because of their noble and material impact on the lives of the people of God."

The Pope recalled prior interventions by earlier pontiffs who sought to improve the celebration and study of the causes of saints, quoting, among others, Pope John Paul II who in 1983 promulgated the Apostolic Constitution " Divinus Perfectionis Magister" and the "Normae servandae in inquisitionibus ab Episcopis faciendis in Causis Sanctorum."

"The experience of more than 20 years since this text was published has prompted this congregation to publish an 'Instruction for the procedure of diocesan inquiries into the causes of saints,' which is chiefly addressed to diocesan bishops and constitutes the first theme examined by the plenary," says the Holy Father. The instruction "attempts to facilitate the application of the 'Normae servandae' in order to safeguard the seriousness of investigations", into virtues, causes of martyrdom or possible miracles.

"It is clear", writes the Pope "that a cause of beatification or canonization cannot be initiated in the absence of a proven reputation for holiness, even when dealing with people who have been distinguished for their evangelical coherence and for particular ecclesial or social merits."

Read more


It's been rainy and gloomy all week, but today, I cheered up inspite of the cold rain. The Confederate Jasmine buds burst open this morning. The honeysuckle vines growing wild in my backyard have been blooming heavily in the last couple of days. So the air is perfumed with the sweetest fragrance. This morning after daily mass, I walked out of the church and was also greeted there by the scent of honeysuckle. Southern gardens never cease to fascinate me for the unending variety. Azaleas and rhododendron have just finished their bloom, now the jasmine and honeysuckle are putting on their show, and soon, we'll have gardenias scenting the air.

Tonight begins another round of RCIA at church, perhaps a springtime in these seekers' spiritual lives. I rejoice that God continually draws people to himself.

Louisiana Senate passes pro-life bill

~Via Catholic News Agency
Baton Rouge, Apr. 27, 2006 (CNA) - The Louisiana Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would prohibit abortion except to save the life of the mother. The measure, which passed on a 30-7 vote, is similar to one enacted earlier this year in South Dakota. The legislation now goes to the Louisiana House of Representatives for consideration.

Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, applauded Louisiana for taking a positive step toward “rebuilding the culture of life after decades of Roe v. Wade’s devastation.”

“Everyone’s life deserves the protection of law,” he added. “I pray that the Louisiana House will continue the work to protect the most vulnerable in the Bayou State, the unborn.”

Pro-abort professor is charged

Remember the professor and her band of unhappy pro-abortionists who wrecked a pro-life display? Here's the follow-up:

~Via The Enquirer (Cincinnati)

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS - A professor and six students at Northern Kentucky University were charged Wednesday with misdemeanors related to the April 12 destruction of an anti-abortion display on campus.

Sally Jacobsen of the literature and language department, has been charged with criminal mischief, theft by unlawful taking and criminal solicitation. The third charge relates to evidence that she encouraged students to participate in the destruction, County Attorney Justin Verst said.

The six students, who range in age from 21 to 27, were charged with criminal mischief and theft by unlawful taking.

The theft charge is a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $500 fine.

The criminal mischief and solicitation charges are class B misdemeanors punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $250 fine.

Verst said additional students might be charged as their identities become known.

Four hundred crosses representing aborted fetuses were pulled from the ground and thrown in trash cans around campus.

A sign explaining the temporary display, which had been approved by university officials as an expression of free speech, was also removed.

Jacobsen told reporters that she had "invited" students in her graduate-level British literature course to exercise free-speech by destroying the display.

More here

Soaring Pollen Counts Spur Worst Allergy Season in Years

Okay, this explains why I'm sneezing all day and so is everyone around me.

~Via Yahoo Health News
THURSDAY, April 27 (HealthDay News) -- April showers bring May flowers, but this year they've also brought a bumper crop of grass, ragweed and early-budding trees that means misery to millions of allergic Americans.

Experts across the country say they are recording the highest pollen counts they've seen in a decade. And while the Southeast usually gets slammed the hardest when it comes to airborne allergens, this season it may be Yankees who are suffering the most.

"I looked at the total pollen counts for this season compared to last, and, at this point, we have already reached 80-90 percent of what we saw for the entire season last year," said Albany, N.Y.-based allergy specialist Dr. David Shulan, a spokesman for the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI).

The culprit: a mild, wet winter and early spring, plus unusually warm days.

"We have seen an early and aggressive allergy season, including seasonal pollens and mold spores," said Dr. Clifford Bassett, a Long Island-based allergist and vice-chairman of AAAAI's Public Education Committee.

Shulan agreed. "The buds have been ready to burst, and when we have these warm days, the pollen counts have been just wild," he said.

According to the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America, which estimates that 50 million Americans are impacted by allergies, the top 10 worst cities to be in right now, in terms of airborne allergens, are:
  • Hartford, Conn.
  • Greenville, S.C.
  • Boston
  • Detroit
  • Orlando, Fla.
  • Knoxville, Tenn.
  • Omaha, Neb.
  • Sacramento, Calif.
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Baltimore

Chicago bans foie gras in restaurants

~Via Yahoo News

CHICAGO (AFP) - Chicago has banned the sale of foie gras in its restaurants because city officials think the French delicacy is cruel to ducks and geese.

Under a city ordinance the ban will be imposed by September. Fines will range from 250 to 500 dollars for every day that a restaurant is caught serving the dish.

"It's terrible!" chef Didier Durand, proprietor of Cyrano's Bistro and a spokesman for the Illinois Restaurant Association, told AFP.

"In Chicago they banned smoking (in restaurants) now foie gras - what's next? Sex?"

The ban is an attack on personal freedom and will lower the "gastronomic level" of the city, Didier said.

Foie gras aficionados will now be forced to dine at home if they wish to indulge. A situation which could lead to a new type of Chicago speakeasy as fans find ways around the prohibition.

But proponents of the ban say that it is the city's job to prevent animal abuse.

"The laws that we adopt embody the values and mores of our constituents," said alderman Joe Moore who sponsored the ordinance and fought for months to gain its near-unanimous passage.

"They define what's right and wrong and they are a reflection of our culture and our culture does not condone cruelty and torture," he said in a telephone interview.

To convince his colleges, the alderman showed them graphic photographs and a video narrated by movie star Roger Moore that depicted how metal pipes are forced down the throats of geese and ducks so that their livers become engorged by up to 10 times the normal size.

"Foie gras, which means fatty liver, is a painful liver disease that should be treated by a veterinarian, but is instead cruelly and intentionally induced on foie gras factory farms throughout the world," the former James Bond actor said in the video.

"As revolting as it is to eat an animal's diseased organ, the cruel treatment of the birds is even more disturbing."

Chicago's city council has joined a growing animal rights crusade against the dish that has been granted cultural heritage status by the French parliament.

The ban in Chicago -- which is known as 'Hogtown' because of its sprawling slaughter houses -- follows a bill introduced in California in 2004 that will impose a ban on the sale and production of foie gras in 2012.

Force-feeding birds has also been banned in 15 countries, including Germany, Italy, Israel and Britain, according to animal rights group Farm Sanctuary which runs the website.

Similar bans have been introduced in several other US states and Farm Sanctuary hopes Wednesday's victory will help grant the movement more credibility.

"This will legitimize it in the minds of other legislative bodies and it will hopefully get some traction," said Farm Sanctuary president Gene Bauston.

The Chicago city ordinance cited a number of reasons for banning the rich livers.

It called the practice "inhumane", cited media reports showing the "unethical practice" of producers, noted that a famous local chef had stopped serving it in his restaurants and cited a poll in which nearly 80 percent of Americans support a ban on force feeding birds.

There are only a dozen or so restaurants in Chicago that serve the pricey delicacy.

Divine Law Does Not Eliminate Human Freedom

~Via Vatican News Service
VATICAN CITY, APR 27, 2006 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI received members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, who have just celebrated their annual plenary session dedicated to the relationship between the Bible and morality. The session was presided over by Cardinal William Joseph Levada, president of the commission.

The Pope greeted the participants, recalling the fact that he knows them personally, having been president of the same commission. He also highlighted the important theme discussed during the plenary session.

''The primordial impulse of human beings'', he said turning to consider the subject of the plenary, ''is their desire for happiness and a fulfilling life. Nevertheless, there are many today who think that such fulfillment must be attained autonomously, with no reference to God or to His law. Some have even suggested the absolute sovereignty of reason and freedom in the field of moral norms. ... The proponents of this 'moral laicism' affirm that human beings, as rational creatures, not only can but must freely decide the value of their own behavior''.

''This false conviction'', he continued, ''is rooted in a supposed conflict between human freedom and any kind of law." However, "the law of God does not mitigate or eliminate human freedom, on the contrary, it guarantees and promotes it. ... Moral law, established by God at the creation and confirmed in the Revelation of the Old Testament, finds its fullness and greatness in Christ. Jesus Christ is the way of perfection, the living and personal synthesis of perfect freedom in His total obedience to the will of God''.

''In revealing the Father and in His own actions, Jesus also reveals the norms for just human behavior. He explicitly underlines this connection when, at the conclusion of His lessons regarding love for one's enemies, He says 'be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect'.''

''The path indicated by Jesus through His teachings is not a rule imposed from the outside. He Himself walks this path and asks no more than that we follow Him. ... In the search for a Christologically inspired ethic, it is always necessary to remember that Christ is the Word Incarnate Who renders us participants in His divine life, and with His grace He sustains us on the path towards true fulfillment.''

''The essence of human beings'', concluded the Pope, ''appears definitively in the Word made man," and "this relationship with Christ defines the highest fulfillment of man's moral actions. ... It is not an act dictated solely by external norms, it proceeds from the vital relationship that unites believers to Christ and to God.''

New book shows Pope's concerns for liturgy

~Via Catholic World News

Rome, Apr. 27 ( - The Italian publication of a book on the liturgy, with a preface by Pope Benedict XVI, is calling fresh attention to the Pope's interest in liturgical reform, and particularly in recovering the elements of the traditional Latin liturgy.

The Italian publisher Cantagalli held a public presentation on April 27 to introduce Rivolti al Signore, a book written in 2003 by Father Uwe Michael Lang, with a preface by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. In the book, Father Lang argues in favor of celebrating Mass ad orientem-- that is, with the priest and the congregation facing in the same direction. Rivolti al Signore appeared in English as Turning Towards the Lord, published by Ignatius Press in 2004.

The Theological Sense of Liturgy

by Bruno Forte, Rome, September 28. 2002

The encounter between time and the Eternal, achieved in the wonders of the history of salvation, becomes real in continuously new ways in the liturgy of the Church: in it the Trinity becomes anchored in time, and time sees itself received by the vivifying love of the Trinity. In the liturgy the Trinity offers itself as an "abode" and as a "homeland" for the redeemed existence: here the believer does not stand in front of the Eternal as a stranger facing the inaccessible transcendence, but instead enters the profoundness of God, allowing himself to be enveloped by the mystery of divine relations in the communion of the Church, the real "icon of the Trinity". The specific characteristic of liturgical prayer, which distinguishes it from any other form of prayer, is therefore the being a Trinitarian prayer: in the Spirit, for the Son, the celebrating community goes to the Father, and it is from the Father, for the Son, that every perfect gift is received in the Holy Spirit. Therefore liturgical prayers end with the Trinitarian formula, which moves towards God the Father, for Christ, in the Spirit, or welcomes the gift of the Spirit from the Father through the Son. Hence the celebration of the Eucharistic, the summit and the source of the liturgy and of all ecclesial life, consists precisely in this movement from the Trinity to the Trinity, within the Trinity: it blesses the "Really saintly Father", invoking Him to send the gift of the Spirit and so that this gift may make Christ present for those who commemorate His passion and His resurrection. After the gift has been invoked from the Father through the action of grace and made present through the epiclesis of the Spirit and the memory of the Son, believers return to the Father for the same Son in the same Spirit, participating in the bread and the wine transformed by the Spirit into the flesh and blood of the Lord Jesus, so that all may rise towards God the Father for Christ, with Him and in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, to praise His glory (concerning this Trinitarian structure see the work that prepared immediately, in its biblical, patristic, and theological foundations, the liturgical theology of the Second Vatican Council, the unanimous voice of the Catholic tradition: C. Vagaggini, The theological sense of the liturgy, Rome 19654).

The essence of the liturgy consists therefore in praying to God in His own mystery, united in Christ, who becomes present in the fullness of his Paschal mystery, thanks to the acts of the Holy Spirit. Jesus himself, moreover, introduced his followers to the Trinitarian mystery when He taught them to pray: "Thus therefore you shall pray: Our Father ..." (Mt 6,9; see Luke 11,2). In the liturgical prayer the Christian experiences the mystery of divine origin: the Christian does not face God as if facing someone who is absent or an adorable and terrible stranger, but abodes in Him in the Spirit, for the Son, as a son, in the mystery of the Father. "God has sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying: Abba - Father!" (Gal 4,6; see. Rom 8,15). Therefore the liturgy is the site of the coming of the trinity in history, the place of the alliance between God’s eternal history and the history of mankind: in it the history is welcomed by the womb of the Trinity and the Trinity comes to abode in the hearts of mankind. And in the Trinity the sanctification of time is totally fulfilled. One could state that the mystery of the encounter between eternity and time – which takes place in the liturgy – consists in the celebrating community’s entrance in the Holy Trinity: praying for Christians does not mean praying to a God, but praying in God; in the Spirit, for the Son, liturgy speaks to God the Father, from whom for Christ and in the Spirit all good is bestowed upon us.

From the Father to the Father: the liturgy above all places the community and each of the baptized in relation with the Father. The relationship with the Father consists in a dual relationship: from the Father to mankind and from mankind to the Father. God the Father is the source of all perfect gifts (see John 1,17), He who takes the initiative of love and sends His Son and the Holy Spirit. The Father is the irradiant gratuitousness of love, the eternal Loving One, who has always loved and always will, and will never tire of loving. The liturgy is the place in which both the individual and the Church recognize this gift of faithful and eternally renewed love. Because everything comes from the Father, liturgical prayer is the receptiveness, the place of advent of God’s mystery in the heart of history: to pray means allowing God to love us, it means facing the Father’s resourceful gratuitousness, so that the heart and life itself may be filled with His overflowing generosity. Praying liturgically therefore above all means receiving, waiting for the gift from above in the perseverance of the silence filled with the wonder and amazement of love. It is God who acts in the liturgy and mankind is called upon to stand humbly in front of the mystery allowing itself to be loved by the Eternal. In this sense, the spirit of the liturgy is a nighttime experience of God, silence, in which one allows oneself to become filled with the mystery of the divine presence (here one perceives the importance of the moments of silence during celebrations and how important it is that each additional word should be sober!). Here the liturgical spirit appears above all in its passive nature, "passio" which prepares the "actio", the receptiveness from which a gift is created.

If everything comes from the Father, everything returns to Him: the liturgy, a place of advent, is also an answering movement, for bringing everything back to God. Liturgical prayer therefore becomes the vehicle of God’s nostalgia which is in the heart of mankind and in the heart of history, and as such it is a sacrifice of praise, an act of grace, of intercession, in which the whole world has the task of rediscovering itself in its real origins. In this dynamism of the liturgy the moral life of Christians is deep-rooted alongside their commitment to faith and charity, their work in favor of justice and peace, their solidarity for the poor. It is by praying in the liturgy, and starting from it, that the Christian learns to see all things in the light of God, and consequently to denounce injustice and to proclaim the justice of the Kingdom that will come. By praying, the Christian orientates his private matters, those of mankind and of the Church towards the Homeland, glimpsed at but not yet achieved, of God’s eternal mystery. From this viewpoint the liturgy educates Christians to become the voice of those with no voice, so that all may lead to the heart of the Father, and forming in those who experience it the sense of God’s things, so that the commitment for the liberation of mankind may be united to the hunger for another justice and another liberation, which only belong to the Kingdom of God that is still to come.

For Christ, the eternal Son: the liturgy takes place for the Son, in unity with Christ, the supreme and eternal Priest of the new alliance, in becoming present in His paschal mystery. If the Father is the pure source of life and of love, the Son is He who eternally accepts love, the eternally Beloved, who allows Himself to be sent into the world and to be consigned to death on the cross, to be filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of resurrection. To pray for the Son means entering the mystery of His welcoming, and in this grateful acceptance in front of God, thereby becoming accepting regards to the Church and the world in the company of life. These are the two aspects that liturgical prayer, with regards to Christ, allows to shine brightly in the redeemed existence: the imitation of Christ and the company of faith and of life. Liturgy provokes the imitation of Christ (imitatio Christi), it does not copy a distant model that one is forced to reproduce. According to the great spiritual tradition "imitation" means "representation". The liturgical Ethos means representing Christ within ourselves, through the grace of His sacramental representation, to the point of being able to say as Paul does: "Now not I, but Christ lives in me" (Gal 2,20). To Imitate Christ means to open oneself so profoundly to listening to the Word of God and to the coming of the living Christ in the sacramental event, that it is He who lives in us. The prayer for the Son is therefore the place in which Christ comes to live in our hearts (see. Eph 3,14). The liturgy is the event in which the Son places Himself in history, in the flesh and the life of mankind. And because He is united inseparably with the Resurrected Crucifix, the liturgical ethos, as it is the "imitation of Christ", will mean experiencing His Cross and His resurrection. To Imitate the Crucifix means knowing the aridity of the spiritual experience, which is not only the result of human resistance, motivated by sin or the effort of sensitivity that allows itself to become the prisoner of the invisible, but it is also profoundly "a dark night" (the noche oscura of Saint John of the Cross), a time that allows the believer to enter the mystery of the Cross of the Lord. Therefore one may say of this night: "Oh night more lovable than the dawn, oh night that has united the loved one with the beloved, and transformed the loved one with the beloved!" (Saint John of the Cross, En una noche oscura, V verse: "¡Oh noche amable más que el alborada! / ¡Oh noche que juntaste / Amado con amada, / amada en el Amado tránsformada!").

The liturgical ethos also leads to the imitation of the glorified Christ: here the liturgy offers itself as a source of peace, lively participation in the power of He who has overcome death. The moral life of a Christian is simply "knowing Him, the power of His resurrection, the participation in His suffering, conforming to Him in death, with the hope of achieving the resurrection of the dead" (see Phil 3,10s). The joy of the resurrected is experienced in the Paschal victory, in which the whole of mankind and each individual is welcomed in God with Christ. And it is through this allowing oneself to be received in the welcoming of the Son that the liturgy educates us to welcome others in Him. The liturgy generates the company of faith and of life: in the liturgy many become the only Body of the Lord, living in time. The sense of the Church nourishes itself therefore at the sources of the experiencing of the mystery, which is the liturgy, the event that marked eternity’s entrance in time: those who live the liturgy love the Church, and those who love the Church really live the liturgy! In addition to the company of faith however, the company of life is deep-rooted in the reality of being received by Christ (see the story of the washing of the feet in John 13, which in the fourth gospel corresponds to the "liturgy" of the Last Supper). The company of life is shared bread (from cum and panis), the solidarity of "being with", before "being for": in this sense solidarity comes from the liturgy; it is in the liturgy that we learn to carry each others burdens.

The liturgy finally is fulfilled in the Holy Spirit: in the Trinity’s womb western theology thinks of the Spirit as the link with eternal love. Between the One who Loves and the Beloved, the Spirit is Love, the "vinculum caritatis aeternae" (Saint Augustine), the divine communion that brings about communion and peace in the hearts of men. Alongside this tradition, which is intensely paschal, eastern theology considers the Spirit in the event of the Lord’s Cross. According to this theological thought the Spirit is the One thanks to whom Jesus entered the solidarity of sinners, of the Godless, and is therefore the "ecstasy of God", the gift thanks to which God can leave Himself. The Spirit is He who provokes all that is new, and who opens to the future: He is freedom within love. The liturgy teaches one to pray "in unitate Spiritus Sancti": because the Spirit is the source of unity, prayer in the Spirit allows one to experience the unity of mystery. The ethos that follows is that of dialogue and communion, which induces one to recognize the other as a gift, a gift that is not competitive and does not cause fear. And together, because the Spirit is aperture and freedom, the ethos that comes from the liturgy opens to the imagination of the Eternal, it makes one docile and sensitive to prophecies, disposed to all that is "new" in God and "ancient" in mankind. Those who pray in the Spirit will be incapable of not being open to hope, because the Spirit is always alive in history. In the liturgy celebrated in the Spirit, faithfulness and novelty, far from opposing each other, offer themselves as aspects of the same experience, in which the future of God takes its place in the present time of mankind.

The liturgy is therefore the place in which the Trinity – eternal event of Love – enters the humble and daily stories of the human exodus, and these in turn, freely and more and more profoundly, enter the mystery of divine relations. In the liturgy, the anthropology of the identity which is its own prisoner is overcome thanks to the acceptance of the divine gift, while the nihilist anthropology of incommunicability is defeated through the experience of the transcendent and redeeming Otherness. The liturgical ethos is therefore that of life that corresponds to the good novella in the Gospel, in which man has time for God, because God found time for mankind, and time enters eternity, because eternity has entered time: the ethos of those renewed by a love that comes from above, singing with life the new canticle of love in an eternal liturgy of praise and gratefulness. "Novi novum canamus canticum!" (Saint Augustine).

Feast of Our Lady of Montserrat (Canada)

The origin of the devotion to Our Lady at the shrine of Montserrat according to the earliest written records dates from 932, when the Count of Barcelona confirmed and renewed an endowment to the shrine made by his father in 888. This gift was again confirmed in 982 by Lothaire, King of France. Constant and unbroken tradition is that even previous to 888, an image of Our Lady was miraculously found among the rocks of Montserrat. Montserrat itself is a fantastic mountain group, four thousand feet high, about twenty miles from Barcelona.

The name, Montserrat, of Latin origin, means saw-edged mountain. It is formed by huge boulders that raise their immense bulk perpendicularly to that four thousand foot summit. Outwardly, it resembles the seemingly inaccessible monasteries seen on high Mount Athos in Greece: "Montserrat is, and will forever be, a source of deep impressions caused by the singularity of the place. There, what is material becomes cyclopean, the mysterious is turned mystical and the picturesque is promoted to sublimity." There is a story that the mountain was once a huge boulder with a smooth surface. At the time of the Crucifixion of Jesus, however, when the sun darkened, the rock was shaken to its very foundations and when light returned, the mountain had a thousand peaks.

The legend relates that the figure of Our Lady came from Jerusalem to Barcelona, and was brought into the mountains to save it from the Saracens. It is true that the Montserrat statue has oriental features, but this could well be traced to the Byzantine sculptors who were constantly employed in the West. The legend goes on to say that in the eighth century shepherds one night saw strange lights on the mountain and heard Seraphic music.

Guided by the shepherds, the Bishop of Manresa found, in a cavern, a wooden figure of Our Lady and the Holy Child. He ordered that the statue be carried into the cathedral immediately. However, the procession with the statue never reached the cathedral because, after much marching, the small wooden figure became too heavy so that the Bishop decided to accept it as a sign and left it in a chapel of a nearby hermitage. The statue remained there until a church was built on the site of the present abbey on the top of the rocks near where the statue was discovered.

Since that incident, this statue is the most celebrated, the most important of Spain; it is thirty-eight inches in height, and is known as "La Morenata" — The Little Black Madonna. The wood is now black with age; one of its most striking features is the dignified expression of Our Lady. In her right hand, she holds a majestic orb.

Excerpted from Shrines to Our Lady, Zsolt Aradi.

Gregorian Chant Summer Colloquium

Want to learn about Gregorian Chant? The Summer Music Colloquium, June 20-25, 2006, will be held at the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. and is sponsored by the Church Music Association of America.

Download the registration form here

Visit Musica Sacra of the CMAA

The inheritance of the new Covenant

~by St. Gaudentius of Brescia, bishop

The heavenly sacrifice, instituted by Christ, is the most gracious legacy of his new covenant. On the night he was delivered up to be crucified he left us this gift as a pledge of his abiding presence.

This sacrifice is our sustenance on life’s journey; by it we are nourished and supported along the road of life until we depart from this world and make our way to the Lord. For this reason he addressed these words to us: Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you will not have life in you.

It was the Lord’s will that his gifts should remain with us, and that we who have been redeemed by his precious blood should constantly be sanctified according to the pattern of his own passion. And so he commanded those faithful disciples of his whom he made the first priests of his Church to enact these mysteries of eternal life continuously. All priests throughout the churches of the world must celebrate these mysteries until Christ comes again from heaven. Therefore let us all, priests and people alike, be faithful to this everlasting memorial of our redemption. Daily it is before our eyes as a representation of the passion of Christ. We hold it in our hands, we receive it in our mouths, and we accept it in our hearts.

It is appropriate that we should receive the body of Christ in the form of bread, because, as there are many grains of wheat in the flour from which bread is made by mixing it with water and baking it with fire, so also we know that many members make up the one body of Christ which is brought to maturity by the fire of the Holy Spirit. Christ was born of the Holy Spirit, and since it was fitting that he should fulfil all justice, he entered into the waters of baptism to sanctify them. When he left the Jordan he was filled with the Holy Spirit who had descended upon him in the form of a dove. As the evangelist tells us: Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan.

Similarly, the wine of Christ’s blood, drawn from the many grapes of the vineyard that he had planted, is extracted in the wine-press of the cross. When men receive it with believing hearts, like capacious wineskins, it ferments within them by its own power.

And so, now that you have escaped from the power of Egypt and of Pharaoh, who is the devil, join with us, all of you, in receiving this sacrifice of the saving passover with the eagerness of dedicated hearts. Then in our inmost being we shall be wholly sanctified by the very Lord Jesus Christ whom we believe to be present in his sacraments, and whose boundless power abides for ever.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Benedict XVI and the Dignity of Women

~Via Zenit

An interview with Theologian Sister Marcellina Farina
Q: John Paul II spoke of the "feminine genius." Do you think that Benedict XVI will surprise us with some gesture toward women?
Sister Farina: Benedict XVI follows in John Paul II's footsteps with his own style, made of noble delicacy and clear testimony.

With his first encyclical letter, "Deus Caritas Est," he lets us perceive his profound proximity to the contemporary world and, therefore, to women; he also indicates the path he is taking and which he wishes to propose not just to the Church but to all people of good will.

When one receives God's charity with simplicity and radicalism, the world is transformed; it is reborn as a new spring. Each creature, especially the human creature made in God's image, reflects the luminosity of God, hence, his beauty.

Over this year of pontificate, Benedict XVI has given us a rich doctrinal patrimony in the anthropological ambit. Suffice it to think of the audiences, addresses and messages proposed to the pontifical academies, and of meetings with people of different institutions, believers and nonbelievers.

He has a sober style, made of audacity and evangelical ardor, humility and courage, generous dedication and simplicity. I do not think he will make "astounding" gestures in the phenomenological sense. The wonder he arouses in those who meet and hear him springs from his kind and profound closeness.

Q: The "(Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World" was published precisely when Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Sister Farina: Yes, it is dated May 31, 2004, feast of the Visitation of the Virgin Mary, an especially eloquent day for the communication of anthropological values expressed in the feminine.

When he was prefect of the congregation, he published the text on July 31, 2004. The letter, as noted, has the date of a day in which Mary is commemorated going to visit her cousin Elizabeth to whom she takes Life, which is Jesus.

I think he wishes to have it understood that, with Mary, the dawn of a new humanity according to God's plan, the messianic joy is offered to men and women, to past, present and future generations, to individuals and nations. It is a message of proposal and commitment that he offers to humanity, hence to women.

In a certain sense, he resumes John Paul II's teaching on the dignity and mission of woman. The encyclical "Deus Caritas Est" furthers it.

If we review the texts in which his predecessor spoke of the "feminine genius," we may conclude that this genius coincides with the acceptance and communication of love that, from the heart of God, radiates and shines in human hearts.

Young Japanese on a pilgrimage to find the roots of the nation’s Catholicism

~Via Asia News
Tokyo (AsiaNews/JCN) – A group of young Japanese Catholics had decided to find the roots of Christianity in Japan by organising meetings and pilgrimages across the country. The Shinsei Kaikan Youth Centre in Tokyo organised the first such event, a pilgrimage to places where its first representatives suffered martyrdom, to better understand the origins of Japanese Catholicism.

Shibata Yoko, 23, from Shizuoka parish, said she came with joy because since high school “no matter how much I thought about it [martyrdom], I could not understand it.”

It all began when she read Endo Shusaku's novel Silence, a story of the persecution of Christians in Japan. “I know that to die a martyr is splendid but I feel it is necessary to study the historical facts one by one.”

Freezing of embryos, an offense against the respect due human beings, says Jesuit Priest

~Via Catholic News Agency
In his interview, he takes on the delicate theme of bioethical research from the perspective of moral theology. Father Mattheeuws first gave moral definition to the act of freezing embryos: “It is morally illicit. In fact, we must ask ourselves what gives us the right to plunge an embryonic child into a ‘cold prison?’”

He then quoted the encyclical Donum vitae regarding this issue: “The freezing of embryos, even when carried out in order to preserve the life of an embryo—cryopreservation—constitutes an offence against the respect due to human beings by exposing them to grave risks of death or harm to their physical integrity and depriving them, at least temporarily, of maternal shelter and gestation, thus placing them in a situation in which further offences and manipulation are possible” (I, 6),” he said.

The priest then tackled the difficult question of moral responsibility, warning that “We must keep from judging the people and at the same time recognize in truth the illicit nature of what they have done, at times in good faith. All of this is to say that in our efforts to inform their consciences, we must protect their dignity with love and respect.”

With respect to the parents of these frozen embryos, he remarked that “even as parents, they cannot morally sign ‘a complete release’ of the embryos issued from their bodies and from their persons. The parents have on the one hand a ‘first right,’ but not an absolute right over their children.”

“It is naturally and morally good”, he said, “that parents of these embryos take care of them.”

He added that "It is in their hands to avoid adding one evil on top of another: to create a surplus of embryos and freeze them is one evil, to keep them in this state is another. To decide to make them material for science is also an evil. Parents must be vigilant in protecting the dignity of these frozen embryonic children. Their connection to their embryonic children cannot be dissolved.”

Father Mattheeuws also stressed the need for conjugal responsibility, underlining the “indissoluble link between the two significations of the conjugal act.” “This moral and spiritual exigency is not always understood or lived in the receiving of a child,” he said.
More here

Cardinal Lozano announces Vatican document on AIDS prevention

~Via Catholic News Agency
Vatican City, Apr. 26, 2006 (CNA) - Speaking on Vatican Radio, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care, announced that his dicastery is preparing a document on ministry to persons with AIDS....

...“Precisely in this sense we are preparing a profound study that will be both scientific and moral. This study will certainly be presented to the Holy Father through the necessary channels and the Holy Father, according to his wisdom and with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, will make the decision and will tell us which way to go. What he says will be the position of the Church,” the cardinal said.

Another suit against Catholics

Ah, yet another thing to sue Catholics for: US lesbian denied fertility treatment sues Catholic docs
A woman whose doctors refused her infertility treatment because she is a lesbian has sued before California's Supreme Court, her attorney said.

"Our client's doctors' behavior goes against established medical ethics and violates California civil rights law," said Lambda Legal attorney Jennifer Pizer in a statement announcing the suit was filed on Monday.

"The doctors claim a right not to comply with California's civil rights law because they are fundamentalist Christians and they object to treating a lesbian patient the same way they treat other patients," the group said in a statement.

An appeals court overturned a trial court decision that Guadalupe Benitez was denied infertility treatment in violation of California law.

"Doctors are supposed to treat their patients, not make religious judgments about them," Benitez said in a statement.

"I trusted my doctors and then they humiliated my family and me by refusing to perform the insemination procedure after they'd been treating me and promising it to me for nearly a year," she said.

A New Beginning for Sacred Music

~Offered by Musica Sacra of the Church Music Assocation of America.
"The greatest need of liturgy today is the restoration of the sense of the sacred," writes William Mahrt in his opening editorial to the Spring 2006 issue of Sacred Music (Volume 133, Number 1). The issue has arrived in the mailboxes of members, and is being made available for public download in the hope that readers will join our efforts by becoming members.

"Music has a principal role, since it expresses that sense of the sacred and sustains it through time."

"Whether it be Gregorian chant, classical polyphony, or more recently composed music, standards of artistic excellence, both in composition and in performance must be re-established and strengthened."

To that end, Professor Mahrt (Stanford University) introduces a new series of new studies on repertory appropriate to the new rite. The new issue features his own close examination of the Kyrie Orbis Factor as an excellent choice for parishes.
Read the issue

Gregorian Chant Summer Camp

Jeffrey at The New Liturgical Movement has come up with a banner ad for the Summer Music Colloquium, June 20-25, 2006, which will be held at the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. sponsored by the Church Music Association of America.

Download the registration form here

Day of Silence

Just in case you didn't know, today is a "Day of Silence" for students all around the country, observing "the silencing that gays and lesbians experience in their daily lives.". Here is Mark Coppenger on The Curious Rationale for "Day of Silence"
2. Far from being silenced, gays in our society are given every imaginable media and political platform to air their convictions. And totally neglected is the possibility that gays are silenced by their own sense of compassion for their families and by their shame, informed by conscience. ...

4. The school speaks of making itself a "safe" place for gays, as if they were in danger there. If anyone is in "danger" in that school, it is the dissenter from the program of homosexual normalization. The school proudly proclaims its openness and respect for diversity, but it is virtually inconceivable that Chapin would prove equally open and respectful toward faith traditions denouncing homosexuality and promoting sexual purity.

The Post-conciliar Reform and the Mistaken Sense of Creativity and Adaptation

~by Prof. Gary Devery of Sydney, delivered at a Teleconference of the Congregation for Clergy, November 30, 2005

1. One of the refrains coming out of the post-conciliar reforms of the liturgy was ‘active participation.’ This has commonly suffered a mistaken interpretation and consequent implementation. Active participation is deeply rooted in the key concept of ‘communion’ – that fundamental reality deriving from our one faith and one baptism enabling us to participate in the paschal mystery. We actively participate in the liturgy from the dignity of being a priestly, prophetic and kingly people. Misunderstood active participation has often deformed this dignity into a patronising activism of keeping as many of the assembly as busy as possible, for as long as possible.

2. ‘Inculturation’ has emerged after the Council as another important element to the reform of the liturgy. God continues to dialogue with humanity in time and place. It is within the liturgy that this dialogue unfolds in a unique way and the transmission of the event of the Paschal Mystery takes place. When a mistaken understanding of inculturation enters into the equation then liturgy is reduced to being a cultural self-expression of a particular people through their architecture, art and music. Inculturation becomes an absolute value rather than the experience of a people in a particular time and place in dialogue with the living Tradition in which the liturgy transmits the Paschal Mystery.

3. The hierarchical nature of the assembly has also suffered from a mistaken interpretation. It has become obscured by primary emphasis being placed upon social values and theories as the hermeneutical keys for its interpretation. The liturgy, and particularly its essential expression of the hierarchal nature of the Church in the assembly, becomes the vehicle to advance values and theories of democratization, feminization, tolerance and equality, social justice and so forth.

4. The above three mistaken interpretations mixed together has left us at times with a strange combination whereby the liturgy is put at the service of democracy, inculturation and art. The manipulation of the liturgical signs is indicative of an inadequate mystagogia, both liturgical and sacramental.

5. Where this malady exists the road to recovery necessitates a mystagogical catechesis. Through a sound, life related catechesis the believer is initiated into the language of the liturgy whereby the content of liturgical symbols and their meanings is understood and experienced as the ‘language’ of Revelation. The believer is catechised to understand that the liturgy is art but at the service of mystery, rather than mystery at the service of art.

Interview with Bishop Fellay

Rorate Cæli has provided a link to an excerpt of a recent interview with Bishop Fellay posted at Le Forum Catholique. The interview was done by the French Catholic weekly Famille Chretienne.
"What do you make of the beginning of his [Benedict's] pontificate?"

"Actions are lacking, words are not the [most] important. I shall be very reserved in my opinion. [...] But I am not disappointed. One sees that Benedict XVI is more circumspect than John Paul II, less spectacular."

Benedict XVI and Islam

This is the analysis of a renowned expert, who last September participated in a meeting on Islam behind closed doors with the pontiff.

~by Samir Khalil Samir, sj
(AsiaNews) - Benedict XVI is probably one of the few figures to have profoundly understood the ambiguity in which contemporary Islam is being debated and its struggle to find a place in modern society. At the same time, he is proposing a way for Islam to work toward coexistence globally and with religions, based not on religious dialogue, but on dialogue between cultures and civilizations based on rationality and on a vision of man and human nature which comes before any ideology or religion. This choice to wager on cultural dialogue explains his decision to absorb the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue into the larger Pontifical Council for Culture.

While the Pope is asking Islam for dialogue based on culture, human rights, the refusal of violence, he is asking the West, at the same time, to go back to a vision of human nature and rationality in which the religious dimension is not excluded. In this way – and perhaps only in this way – a clash of civilizations can be avoided, transforming it instead into a dialogue between civilizations.

Islamic totalitarianism differs from Christianity

To understand Benedict XVI’s thinking and Islamic religion, we must go over their evolution. A truly essential document is found in his book (written in 1996, when he was still cardinal, together with Peter Seewald), entitled “The Salt of the Earth”, in which he makes certain considerations and highlights various differences between Islam and Christian religion and the West.

First of all, he shows that there is no orthodoxy in Islam, because there is no one authority, no common doctrinal magisterium. This makes dialogue difficult: when we engage in dialogue, it is not “with Islam”, but with groups.

But the key point that he tackles is that of sharia. He points out that:

“the Koran is a total religious law, which regulates the whole of political and social life and insists that the whole order of life be Islamic. Sharia shapes society from beginning to end. In this sense, it can exploit such freedoms as our constitutions give, but it cannot be its final goal to say: Yes, now we too are a body with rights, now we are present [in society] just like the Catholics and the Protestants. In such a situation, [Islam] would not achieve a status consistent with its inner nature; it would be in alienation from itself”, which could be resolved only through the total Islamization of society. When for example an Islamic finds himself in a Western society, he can benefit from or exploit certain elements, but he can never identify himself with the non-Muslim citizen, because he does not find himself in a Muslim society.
Read complete article

Tradition as communion in time

~Via Asia News, a summary of today's General Audience at St. Peter's Square, the Vatican attended by over 50,000 people.
Ecclesial communion, in the words of Benedict XVI, “does not only extend to all believers in a given moment in time, which unites all believers in all parts of the world (synchronic communion); it also embraces all times and all generations of believers in the past and future (diachronic communion).”And so the “experience of the Risen Lord of the apostolic community at the beginnings of the Church, can always be lived by successive generations, in that it is transmitted and actualized in faith, in worship and in communion of the People of God, pilgrim in time. The apostolic Tradition of the Church consists of this transmission of the virtues of salvation, which makes the Christian community the permanent realization of the original community, in the strength of the Spirit. It is called so because it was born from the testimony of the Apostles and of the community of disciples at the beginning, it was handed down under the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the writings of the New Testament and sacramental life, and the Church continually refers to it as its foundation and norm through the uninterrupted succession of the apostolic ministry.” And it is the Spirit who “actualizes” the “saving presence of the Lord Jesus through the ministry of the apostles – leaders of the eschatological Israel (cfr Mt 19:28) – and through the life of all the people of the new covenant”.

“This permanent actualization of the active presence of the Lord Jesus in his people, by the work of the Holy Spirit and expressed in the Church through the apostolic ministry and brotherly communion, is what is meant, in a theological sense, by the term Tradition: it is not the simple material transmission of things and words, of what was given to the Apostles at the beginning, but the effective presence of the Lord Jesus, crucified and risen, that accompanies and leads the community gathered around him in the spirit”.