Monday, July 31, 2006

So you want active participation?

I was trying to find pictures of the 'ordination' play starring certain Poncho Ladies™ but instead ran across these photos. I give you pictures of the investiture of the Episcopalian Bishop Marc Andrus of the Diocese of California. These are from the diocesan website. Comments are mostly the diocese's.

Before members of the clergy processed in, a traditional Chinese lion and gong parade lifted the spirits of those gathered in the cathedral. The lion dancers were members of Kei Lun Martial Arts.

The lions danced and lept (sic) into the hearts of the gathered congregation.

And now, the pièce de résistance - liturgical dance in honor of St. Mary Magdalene:

The Institution service was held on the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, and members of the Omega Dance Company, choreographed by Carla DeSola, interpreted the story of Mary Magdalene at the tomb on Easter morning. The role of Mary Magdalene was danced by Sylvia Millier-Mutia (center), and the angels are Talia Raymond and Dawn Sample.

Don't cry for me Argentina...

Here we go, priestesses:

Bishop Marc was assisted at the table by the Rev. Dorothy Jones (left), and the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop-elect of the Episcopal Church (right).

Gresham Hall, on the cathedral's crypt level, was made available for overflow seating. Those present in Gresham Hall watched the service from the cathedral's nave on large screens, and they participated in the service, singing hymns, passing the Peace, and sharing in the Holy Communion.

Mysterious liturgy

~Via the Diocese of Spokane Website by Fr Jan Larson.
I was recently watching a part of the daily televised liturgy on EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network). The liturgy there is an odd mix of English and Latin, while following the texts of the current Roman Missal. The priest and ministers of the liturgy look way too somber and serious. The ritual is performed with all the exaggerated exactness of the pre-Vatican II Latin liturgy. The Mass is overly formal and mechanical. Needless to say, there are no women allowed in the sanctuary area, there is no procession with the gifts, no Sign of Peace, and, of course, no Communion from the cup for the lay people who are present. The liturgy, in effect, is unlike anything that Catholics experience in the vast majority of Catholic parish churches.

I am certain that the planners of these liturgies would explain their differences from parish liturgies with the familiar refrain that the post Vatican II liturgical reforms have taken too much of the mystery away from the Holy Mass. Certainly, they say, allowing the congregation full, active and conscious participation in the ritual is what empties the rites of their mystery, so the further we keep the secular congregation away from the clerical activity and space, the better to preserve the liturgy’s mystery. Thus the need to eliminate any personal touch with the lay folks, and, by all means, do not allow them to communicate with each other, even to wish one’s neighbor the peace of the risen Christ. (One wonders what these people think of the pope as he hugs and kisses the children who present him with the gifts to be offered, giving each of them a small gift as a remembrance of the liturgy. Perhaps it is all right for the pope to be warm and personable during the liturgy, but inappropriate for lesser souls.)

I think the folks responsible for these stuffy liturgies are confusing mystery with mystification. Rites that express mystery will invite people into the unknown, into what lies beyond the action of the ritual. Liturgy done well this way will cause people to ask, “How does this ritual which I can see, and in which I am participating, lead me more deeply into the beyond, into life of the God of mystery whom I cannot see?” Mystification, on the other hand, leads one to ask, “What on earth does that mean, and why in God’s name is he doing that?”

Luke Timothy Johnson, author of The Creed and other works, wrote recently in Commonweal magazine about the concerns of many conservative Catholics that paying attention to one another during the liturgy (what he calls “horizontal” values) have distracted us too much from the “vertical” values – our relationship with God and Christ. He writes:

“Critics who complain that these ‘horizontal’ values have been realized at the cost of ‘vertical’ ones, that mystery and a sense of the transcendent have disappeared among all the folksiness, need gently to be reminded of the difference between mystery and mystification. We who grew up in a Tridentine liturgy and who witnessed the travails of reform can bear an important witness to those of a younger generation who hanker after the ‘good old days.’ Some fear they have missed the solemn richness of Catholic piety, believing that the reformed liturgy comes dangerously close to Protestant worship, and that the perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is the essential expression of authentic Eucharistic theology. But we are in a position to state that for every example of splendid monastic liturgy in the old days there were countless examples of parish worship that appeared meaninglessly mechanical.

“We know that birettas and fiddle-back chasubles, mumbled (and often mangled) Latin, and truly execrable renditions of Gregorian chant were no more aesthetically than theologically impressive. Having lived through ‘speed-typing’ Masses guaranteed to last no more than twenty minutes, we can point to the greater seriousness, even greater solemnity, of parish worship today. Those who call contemporary worship insufficiently sacred literally do not know what they are talking about.

“As for the growing similarity among the Eucharistic celebrations of Catholics and Protestants, we should rejoice that Catholics now feel at home at Lutheran, Methodist, and Episcopalian worship, and that our Protestant neighbors have gained much through our process of renewal and reform. The Catholic form of worship remains a strong motivation for conversion among adults. As we have known all along, God works powerfully through the words and gestures of the liturgy; the hard work of renewal has served to make God’s work plain and public each Sunday when we gather as ‘church.’”

(Father Larson is a priest of and liturgical consultant for the Archdiocese of Seattle.)
Pardon me while I wipe the floor. Fr. Larson just dripped a festering puddle of disdain.

One Book Meme

I've been tagged by Jonathan with this meme.

1. One book that changed your life:
Art Needs no Justification by Hans Rookmaaker. This book started my journey in discovering the connection between Truth and Beauty. Dr. Rookmaaker was an art historian and you can read his bio here. When I read the book, I belonged to a group deeply influenced by Francis Schaeffer's L'Abri Fellowship. The book is online here.

2. One book that you've read more than once:
The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien. I've lost count how many times I've read this. The last few times have been out loud with my children. From one of my children, "Lembas is the Eucharist, isn't it?"

3. One book you'd want on a desert island:
The Bible. But it would have to be a parallel Bible with the Latin on one side and English on the other.

4. One book that made you laugh:
Why Catholics Can't Sing by Thomas Day. When the subtitle is The Culture of Catholicism and the Triumph of Bad Taste, I just knew I'd enjoy it.

5. One book that made you cry:
Confessions by St. Augustine. This passage:
The house of my soul is too narrow for thee to come in to me; let it be enlarged by thee. It is in ruins; do thou restore it. There is much about it which must offend thy eyes; I confess and know it.
has been the source of deep contemplation.

6. One book that you wish had been written:
The Austere and Simple Beauty of Family Life by Pope Paul VI...a snippet from his address in Nazareth on January 5, 1965.

7. One book that you wish had never been written:
The Historical Jesus by Dominic Crossan. It's led some loved ones of mine astray.

8. One book you’re currently reading:
I'm re-reading The Spiritual Exercises by St. Ignatius. I first read it as an Anglican. Now that I'm a Catholic, I wanted to see if it's more understandable now that I am under the discipline of the Sacraments.

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read:
The Diary of a Country Priest by Georges Bernanos. I've started it several times.

I'm tagging the following friends: Chad, Brian, Gerald, Denise, and Jay.
Traditional Latin Catholic Mass

~Hat tip to Fr. Tucker.
Traditional Latin Mass filmed on Easter Sunday in 1941 at Our Lady of Sorrows church in Chicago. The film presents the ceremonies of the Missa Solemnis or Solemn High Mass in full detail with narration by then-Mgr. Fulton J. Sheen. Celebrated by Rev. J. R. Keane of the Order of Servites (hence the white cassocks and cowls), the ceremonies are accompanied by a full polyphonic choir, orchestra, and fifty Gregorian Chanters.

Cardinal George resting well after second emergency surgery

Chicago, Jul. 31, 2006 (CNA) - Cardinal Francis George was recovering well Saturday at Loyola University Medical Center after undergoing surgery to remove his bladder and a second emergency surgery to stop internal bleeding, said the Archdiocese of Chicago.

According to church officials, the cardinal was well enough Saturday to get out of bed and move about.

"He’s in very good spirits. This morning he prayed the rosary with members of his staff," Dr. Myles Sheehan, a priest and the cardinal's personal physician, told CBS 2.

According to the Chicago Sun Times, the 69-year-old cardinal had five hours of surgery Thursday to remove his cancerous bladder, his prostate gland, part of his right ureter and several lymph nodes.

He had a second, two-hour emergency surgery early Friday to stop internal bleeding that resulted from the initial surgery. According to CBS 2, surgeons found a small blood vessel in the pelvis that was bleeding.

Urological surgeon Dr. Robert Flanigan reportedly told Dr. Sheehan that the two-millimeter artery was likely cut during node exploration deep in the pelvis.

He had a slight fever of 101 degrees on Friday, but Dr. Sheehan said that was to be expected in the days after a major surgery. There are no signs of infection.

As of Saturday morning, there was no sign of further bleeding, his vital signs were stable and he no longer had a fever. Dr. Sheehan said he would like the cardinal to convalesce until Labor Day.

Wake up, Spain!

~Via Catholic News Agency

Madrid, Jul. 31, 2006 (CNA) - The government of Saudi Arabia is working through its embassy in Madrid to acquire numerous private schools in Spain in order to turn them into Islamic formation centers, where the Koran and Islamic law would be taught.

The strategy to purchase schools was revealed by the Spanish daily "ABC", which discovered that Saudi Arabia had unsuccessfully tried to purchase school buildings operated by the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. The Saudi plan was to offer $17 million for a school in Madrid capable of holding 350 students. ABC reported that the offer was rejected "because the religious congregation was opposed to selling the buildings to the Saudis because of their intention to convert them into an Islamic school."

The Saudi embassy is now looking to purchase Our Lady of Mercies Catholic school-which is not affiliated with the religious order-also located in the Spanish capital.

ABC reported that the type of Islam which Saudi Arabia would promote in the schools would not directly encourage "jihad" against the West, but it would discourage integration by teaching that "the West corrupts, which in the long term could result in the breeding of future radicals that could be exported to other countries."

"We could find ourselves in two or three generations with even Spanish citizens who reject the Catholic King and Queen and embrace the reclaiming of Al Andalus-the name Muslims gave to Spain," the article warned.

Diocese of Pittsburgh response to 'ordination'

~Via the Diocese of Pittsburgh website.

Here are some excerpts.
By his sacrifice on the cross, Christ is the unique high priest, the mediator between God and humanity. This priesthood of Christ is made present in our lives through the priesthood, which serves as an “icon” – or representative – of Christ in the world.

The call to the ministerial priesthood comes from God and is authenticated by the Church, not by any individual. Holy Orders is a gift that those called do not earn, deserve, or have as a right. The call to ordination is received unmerited through the grace of God.

Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time. It is the sacrament of apostolic ministry and it is through the bishops, the successors of the apostles, that this gift of God is passed on from generation to generation through ordination.

As apostolic succession represents the living presence of the apostles in the Church until Christ’s return, and the priest serves as an icon or representative of Christ’s sacramental presence in the Church, the Church must conform to the delegation made by the Lord.

The ordination of males to the priesthood is not merely a matter of practice or discipline within the Church. Rather, the Church has determined that this is part of the Deposit of Faith handed down by Christ through his apostles. The Church is therefore bound by it and not free to change in this regard.

Ordination to the priesthood must be conferred by an ordained bishop on a baptized man. A candidate must receive the blessing of the Church, which has the authority and responsibility to determine if a true call to the priesthood exists.

This unfortunate ceremony will take place outside the Church and undermines the unity of the Church. Those attempting to confer Holy Orders have, by their own actions, removed themselves from the Church, as have those who present themselves for such an invalid ritual. Additionally, those who by their presence give witness and encouragement to this fundamental break with the unity of the People of God place themselves outside the Church.
Read the whole thing

Questions, answers on ‘ordination’ ceremony (Diocese of Pittsburgh)

~From the Pittsburgh Catholic

What is the ceremony that will take place on July 31?

According to an organization called “Roman Catholic Womenpriests,” a ceremony will take place on the rivers of Pittsburgh on July 31 that is represented to be an “ordination” to the priesthood. Among those taking part in the ceremony is Joan Houk, currently a parishioner at St. Alexis Parish in Wexford.

What is Roman Catholic Womenpriests?

It is a group founded in Germany that in June 2002 had excommunicated Argentine Bishop Romulo Braschi, founder of the schismatic Catholic-Apostolic Charismatic Church of Jesus the King, conduct an ordination ritual for seven women. In August 2002, the Holy See issued both the notification of excommunication for those involved and declared the ordinations null and void, which was upheld after an appeal in January 2003.

During the year following their alleged ordination, two of those women, Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger and Gisela Forster, claimed they were consecrated bishops in a secret ceremony by several bishops whose identities they have not revealed. Patricia Fresen, a former Dominican nun ordained by Mayr-Lumetzberger and Forster in August 2003, also came to consider herself a bishop.

In July 2005, Fresen, Mayr-Lumetzberger and Forster conducted a ritual on the St. Lawrence Seaway in which they claimed to ordain four women as priests and five women deacons. Roman Catholic Womenpriests announced it would conduct such rituals in ceremonies in Switzerland on June 24, 2006, and in Pittsburgh on July 31. In Pittsburgh, 12 women are expected to take part in such a ceremony with the claim that eight will be ordained to the priesthood and four to the diaconate.

What are the essential elements of the teaching of the church on ordination of women?

“(The Catholic Church) holds that it is not admissible to ordain women to the priesthood for very fundamental reasons. These reasons include: the example recorded in sacred Scripture of Christ choosing his apostles only from among men; the constant practice of the church, which imitated Christ in choosing only men; and her living teaching authority, which has consistently held that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is in accordance with God’s plan for his church” (Pope Paul VI, 1977).

Ordination to the priesthood must be conferred by an ordained bishop on a baptized man. A candidate must receive the blessing of the church, which has the authority and responsibility to determine if a true call to the priesthood exists. The ordination of males to the priesthood is not merely a matter of practice or discipline within the church. Rather, the church has determined that this is part of the deposit of faith handed down by Christ through his apostles. The church is, therefore, bound by it and not free to change in this regard.

Participation in this event is, therefore, a very serious matter with very serious consequences.

What are the consequences for those participating in this event?

As this unfortunate ceremony will take place outside the church and undermines the unity of the church, those attempting to confer holy orders have, by their own actions, removed themselves from the church, as have those who present themselves for such an invalid ritual. Additionally, those who by their presence give witness and encouragement to this fundamental break with the unity of the people of God place themselves outside the church.

This separation is not a discipline, judgment or mandate of the church. Nor is it the result of opinion or advocacy of a theological view by those involved. Rather, by conducting and taking part in such a ceremony, it is the choice of the participants to place themselves outside the community of believers.

Additionally, if those present as witnesses to the event serve in ministry in the church — as teachers, administrators, catechists, chaplains, etc. — they will be deemed to be in violation of the Cardinal’s Clause and/or the Code of Pastoral Conduct. As such, the most serious consequence would be dismissal from ministry and/or loss of employment.

What constitutes “participation” in this event?

The women conducting the ceremony and claiming to be bishops, and the women who present themselves for ordination to the priesthood and diaconate, are the direct participants. Those who, through their presence at the ceremony, encourage and openly defy church teaching, are also considered to be direct participants.

Practically speaking, what does it mean to say that they place themselves outside the church?

It means they are not to participate in the life of the church, including reception of the sacraments, until they are reconciled with the church. For those attempting to confer holy orders and for those presenting themselves for holy orders, their reconciliation must come through the Holy See. For those present as witnesses, their reconciliation must come through their pastors in the sacrament of reconciliation.

Does that mean anyone who attends this ceremony must be denied the Eucharist or removed from ministry in the church?

It is the responsibility of those receiving the Eucharist to make certain they are properly disposed to receive the sacrament, not the priest or the extraordinary minister of the Eucharist. It is also understandable that those distributing holy Communion may not be aware of all those who attended the event, or whether they have been reconciled, or whether there were circumstances surrounding their attendance that might serve to mitigate their individual responsibility.

However, it is clear that those conducting the ordination and those being ordained must reconcile through the Holy See. They could not be properly disposed to receive the sacraments or take part in the life of the church until notification has been made by the Holy See.

Aren’t we really just punishing these people because of their views?

Those who take part in the ceremony are removing themselves from the community as an immediate and direct consequence of their own actions. This has nothing to do with what they may think or their views. They have chosen to take part in a public ceremony that abuses the sacrament of holy orders and undermines the unity of the church. In doing so, they have chosen to remove themselves from the church by their actions, not their views.


Update on the Bog Psalter

The Psalm was not Psalm 83 after all, but Psalm 84. Actually, it was Psalm 84 reported by Arutz Sheva
It was initially reported that the Latin Vulgate version of the book was opened to Psalm 83, which in the Hebrew Bible exhorts G-d to “not hold Yourself silent” as the nations plot against Israel – explicitly mentioning Edom, Ishmael and the residents of Philistia and Tyre.

It turns out, however, that the Vulgate uses a different numbering of the chapters than the Hebrew Bible, and the chapter that was actually facing outwards was not Psalm 83.

It was then reported that the visible text on the bog book is from the seventh verse of Psalm 82, which reads: "But you will die like mere men; you will fall like every other ruler."

Finally, the the Director of Ireland's museum Patrick F. Wallace said in a statement Friday that it was actually Psalm 84 that was exposed. He said that the original announcement had “led to misconceptions about the revealed wording. It is hoped that this clarification will serve comfort to anyone worried by earlier reports of the content of the text.”
Here's Psalm 84 (Revised Standard Version):

1: How lovely is thy dwelling place, O LORD of hosts!
2: My soul longs, yea, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.
3: Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at thy altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God.
4: Blessed are those who dwell in thy house, ever singing thy praise! [Selah]
5: Blessed are the men whose strength is in thee, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
6: As they go through the valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools.
7: They go from strength to strength; the God of gods will be seen in Zion.
8: O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! [Selah]
9: Behold our shield, O God; look upon the face of thine anointed!
10: For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
11: For the LORD God is a sun and shield; he bestows favor and honor. No good thing does the LORD withhold from those who walk uprightly.
12: O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man who trusts in thee!

The article ends with this:
The Psalm is recited by many Jews at the beginning of the afternoon prayers on a daily basis. The Valley of Weeping can be read as the Bekaa Valley, a Hizbullah stronghold in eastern Lebanon thought to also host a Syrian military intelligence presence.

Today's the day

Joan Houk, a Roman Catholic, shows her blessing cup she used while at the Holy Cross Church in Jackson, Ky. in the dining room of her Wexford, Pa. home on Thursday, June 28, 2006. Behind her is a painting of 'The Last Supper' by Polish artist Bohdan Piasecki. Houk will be one of a dozen women participating in a ceremony Monday in which eight will proclaim themselves priests and four deacons. The ceremony won't be recognized by the Catholic church, which has a 2,000-year tradition of an all-male priesthood. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Catholic women face excommunication via Yahoo News

PITTSBURGH - Joan Houk has ministered to the sick and needy, run two Roman Catholic parishes that were without priests and has presided over baptisms and funerals. Her calling now, she says, is to be a priest.

Houk will be one of a dozen women participating in a ceremony Monday in which eight will proclaim themselves priests and four deacons. The ceremony won't be recognized by the Catholic church, which has a 2,000-year tradition of an all-male priesthood.

Similar ceremonies conducted by the group Roman Catholic Womenpriests have been held before in other countries, and most of the participants have been excommunicated. It's the first time the group is holding a ceremony in the U.S.

The Pittsburgh Diocese issued a statement saying the ordination would not be valid.

"This unfortunate ceremony will take place outside the Church and undermines the unity of the Church. Those attempting to confer Holy Orders have, by their own actions, removed themselves from the Church, as have those who present themselves for such an invalid ritual," according to the statement released by the Rev. Ronald Lengwin, a spokesman for the diocese.

The diocese said they will welcome back anyone who chooses to leave the church.

Liberal Catholics say the ongoing clergy shortage and the dramatic rise in female lay leaders in American churches will eventually create pressure to ordain women. More lay people than priests are working full-time in American parishes and a significant number of the lay leaders are women.

But conservatives believe only males can be priests, as evidenced by Jesus' choice of men to be his apostles and the church's long tradition of only allowing men to serve.


Oh, yeah, it's just a mean and cruel belief held by conservatives. Pay no mind to that silly old rule.

Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola, confessor

Ignatius, by nation a Spaniard, was born of a noble family at Loyola, in Cantabria. At first he attended the court of the Catholic king, and later on embraced a military career. Having been wounded at the siege of Pampeluna, he chanced in his illness to read some pious books, which kindled in his soul a wonderful eagerness to follow in the footsteps of Christ and the saints. He went to Montserrat, and hung up his arms before the altar of the Blessed Virgin; he then watched the whole night in prayer, and thus entered upon his knighthood in the army of Christ.

Next he retired to Manresa, dressed as he was in sackcloth, for he had a short time before given his costly garments to a beggar. Here he stayed for a year, and during that time he lived on bread and water, given to him in alms; he fasted every day except Sunday, subdued his flesh with a sharp chain and a hair-shirt, slept on the ground, and scourged himself with iron disciplines. God favored and refreshed him with such wonderful spiritual lights, that afterwards he was wont to say that even if the sacred Scriptures did not exist, he would be ready to die for the faith, on account of those revelations alone which the Lord had made to him at Manresa. It was at this time that he, a man without education, composed that admirable book of the Spiritual Exercises.

However, in order to make himself more fit for gaining souls, he determined to procure the advantages of education, and began by studying grammar among children. Meanwhile he relaxed nothing of his zeal for the salvation of others, and it is marvelous what sufferings and insults he patiently endured in every place, undergoing the hardest trials, even imprisonment and beatings almost to death. But he ever desired to suffer far more for the glory of his Lord. At Paris he was joined by nine companions from that University, men of different nations, who had taken their degrees in Arts and Theology; and there at Montmartre he laid the first foundations of the order, which he was later on to institute at Rome. He added to the three usual vows a fourth concerning missions, thus binding it closely to the Apostolic See. Paul III first welcomed and approved the Society, as did later other Pontiffs and the Council of Trent. Ignatius sent St. Francis Xavier to preach the Gospel in the Indies, and dispersed others of his children to spread the Christian faith in other parts of the world, thus declaring war against paganism, superstition, and heresy. This war he carried on with such success that it has always been the universal opinion, confirmed by the word of pontiffs, that God raised up Ignatius and the Society founded by him to oppose Luther and the heretics of his time, as formerly he had raised up other holy men to oppose other heretics.

He made the restoration of piety among Catholics his first care. He increased the beauty of the sacred buildings, the giving of catechetical instructions, the frequency of sermons and of the sacraments. He everywhere opened schools for the education of youth in piety and letters. He founded at Rome the German College, refuges for women of evil life, and for young girls who were in danger, houses for orphans and catechumens of both sexes, and many other pious works. He devoted himself unweariedly to gaining souls to God. Once he was heard saying that if he were given his choice he would rather live uncertain of attaining the Beatific Vision, and in the meanwhile devote himself to the service of God and the salvation of his neighbor, than die at once certain of eternal glory. His power over the demons was wonderful. St. Philip Neri and others saw his countenance shining with heavenly light. At length in the sixty-fifth year of his age he passed to the embrace of his Lord, whose greater glory he had ever preached and ever sought in all things. He was celebrated for miracles and for his great services to the Church, and Gregory XV enrolled him amongst the saints; while Pius XI, in response to the prayers of the episcopate, declared him heavenly patron of all Spiritual Exercises.

~Excerpted from The Liturgical Year, Abbot Gueranger O.S.B.

Put inward experiences to the test to see if they come from God

~by Luiz Gonzalez

Ignatius was passionately fond of reading worldly books of fiction and tales of knight-errantry. When he felt he was getting better, he asked for some of these books to pass the time. But no book of that sort could be found in the house; instead they gave him a life of Christ and a collection of the lives of saints written in Spanish.

By constantly reading these books he began to be attracted to what he found narrated there. Sometimes in the midst of his reading he would reflect on what he had read. Yet at other times he would dwell on many of the things which he had been accustomed to dwell on previously. But at this point our Lord came to his assistance, insuring that these thoughts were followed by others which arose from his current reading.

While reading the life of Christ our Lord or the lives of the saints, he would reflect and reason with himself: “What if I should do what Saint Francis or Saint Dominic did?” In this way he let his mind dwell on many thoughts; they lasted a while until other things took their place. Then those vain and worldly images would come into his mind and remain a long time. This sequence of thoughts persisted with him for a long time.

But there was a difference. When Ignatius reflected on worldly thoughts, he felt intense pleasure; but when he gave them up out of weariness, he felt dry and depressed. Yet when he thought of living the rigorous sort of life he knew the saints had lived, he not only experienced pleasure when he actually thought about it, but even after he dismissed these thoughts, he still experienced great joy. Yet he did not pay attention to this, nor did he appreciate it until one day, in a moment of insight, he began to marvel at the difference. Then he understood his experience: thoughts of one kind left him sad, the others full of joy. And this was the first time he applied a process of reasoning to his religious experience. Later on, when he began to formulate his spiritual exercises, he used this experience as an illustration to explain the doctrine he taught his disciples on the discernment of spirits.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

I rejoice exceedingly in all my tribulations

~by St. John Chrysostom

Again Paul turns to speak of love, softening the harshness of his rebuke. For after convicting and reproaching them for not loving him as he had loved them, breaking away from his love and attaching themselves to troublemakers, he again takes the edge off the reproach by saying: Open your hearts to us, that is, love us. He asks for a favour which will be no burden to them but will be more profitable to the giver than to the receiver. And he did not use the word “love” but said, more appealingly: Open your hearts to us.

Who, he said, has cast us out of your minds, thrust us from your hearts? How is it that you feel constraint with us? For, since he has said earlier: You are restricted in your own affection, he now declares himself more openly and says: Open your heart to us, thus once more drawing them to him. For nothing so much wins love as the knowledge that one’s lover desires most of all to be himself loved.

For I said before, he tells them, that you are in our hearts to die together or live together. This is love at its height, that even though in disfavour, he wishes both to die and to live with them. For you are in our hearts, not just somehow or other, but in the way I have said. It is possible to love and yet to draw back when danger threatens; but my love is not like that.

I am filled with consolation. What consolation? That which comes from you because you, being changed for the better, have consoled me by what you have done. It is natural for a lover both to complain that he is not loved in return and to fear that he may cause distress by complaining too much. Therefore, he says: I am filled with consolation, I rejoice exceedingly.

It is as if he said, I was much grieved on your account, but you have made it up for me in full measure and given me comfort; for you have not only removed the cause for any grief but filled me with a richer joy.

Then he shows the greatness of that joy by saying not only I rejoice exceedingly but also the words which follow: in all my tribulations. So great, he says, was the delight that you gave me that it was not even dimmed by so much tribulation, but overcame by its strength and keenness all those sorrows which had invaded my heart, and took away from me all awareness of them.

Bishop Burbidge Installation to be Broadcast

~Via Diocese of Raleigh website

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge will be installed as the fifth Bishop of the Diocese of Raleigh on August 4, 2006. The installation Mass will take place at 2:30 p.m. at Meymandi Concert Hall in the Center for the Performing Arts, East South Street in Raleigh. Representatives will be invited from each parish.

The Mass will be broadcast on five television stations in the diocese and carried on the Internet by WRAL-TV on its web site, The five stations are WRAZ Fox-50 in Raleigh-Durham, WXFI Fox 8 in Morehead City, WYDO Fox-14 in Greenville and WRAL's Digital News Channel 256 beginning at 2:30 p.m. WILM CBS Channel 10 in Wilmington will carry it on a 90-minute tape delay beginning at 4:30 p.m. Click for broadcast information (PDF).

Blogging friend Chad will be in the choir!

The Miracle of Loaves and Fish

~Via Catholic Culture

The Gospel is from St. John 6:1-15. Although Jesus had the intention of preparing the minds of the multitude for his discourse on the heavenly food which he would make next day, his principal motive in working this miracle was pity and compassion. He knew that they were hungry—they had been away from home all day and some for many days.

They were willing to suffer this inconvenience but he did not want them to do so. Even though he knew there were some among them who would never accept him, and perhaps even some who would be among the rabble that demanded his crucifixion on Good Friday; yet he made no distinction. He had compassion on them all.

This miracle should surely convince us that Christ is interested in our daily needs too, just as he was interested in those of his contemporaries in Palestine. Our principal and only real purpose in life is to be saved and Christ is ever ready to help us. However, we have first to travel through our earthly life so, of necessity, we have to take a passing interest in the affairs of this world. We have to provide for our earthly needs and for those of any others who may depend on us. For many, in fact for the vast majority of men, this has always been and will be a struggle against great odds. Here, too, Christ is ever ready to help us. He has a true interest in our progress through life and if we turn to him trustfully and sincerely, he will help us over our difficulties.

This does not mean that we can expect or demand a miracle whenever we find ourselves in difficulties. If, however, we are true to Christ and to the faith in our daily lives, he will find ways and means of freeing us from difficulties which would otherwise overcome us. If we look back over our past we may notice occasions when we were saved from grave difficulties by some unexpected intervention. We may not even have called on Christ to help us but he knew our needs and he answered our unspoken request. Those five thousand hungry people had not asked him for food, but he knew their needs. He knew too that their needs were caused by their desire to be in his presence—so he gave them what they had not thought of asking for. If we are loyal to him we, too, can trust that his mercy and power will be with us in our hour of need. He may not remove the cause of our difficulty. Remember St. Paul who had some bodily infirmity which he thought impeded his effectiveness as a missioner? Three times he pleaded with Christ to remove this 'infirmity, but Christ assured him: "my grace is sufficient for you." He would prove all the more effectively that he was Christ's Apostle by preaching in spite of that infirmity: "for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor. 12: 7-9). Thus it may be that Christ will use the very difficulty from which we are suffering, to bring us and others into more intimate union with him. Many of the saints suffered great hardships and afflictions during their years on earth—these very afflictions were Christ's gifts to them. Without these, and the virtues of patience, faith and trust which they had to practice, they might not be among God's elect today.

We must rest assured then that Christ is intimately interested in our daily lives on earth. We must not expect that this interest of his will remove all shadows from our path. This would not be for our eternal good—and our eternal happiness is Christ's first interest in us. It should also be our own first and principal interest too. It will help us, too, to bear with our lot, if we look about us and see so many others who are worse off, or at least as badly off as we are especially with regard to the snags of life. Christian charity will move us to help them; we may not be able to give them any material help, but we can help to lighten their load by showing our sincere interest in them and by offering words of comfort and consolation. This is the only charity that the poor have to offer to their fellow sufferers, but if it is Christ-inspired its effects will reach to heaven.

~Excerpted from The Sunday Readings by Fr. Kevin O'Sullivan, O.F.M.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Sandro Magister: The Church in Spain Is Sick

~In Chiesa

The sickness is “the secularization within the Church”: a widespread loss of faith caused in part by “theological propositions that have in common a deformed presentation of the mystery of Christ.”

The cure is precisely that of restoring life to the profession of faith: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16), in the four areas where it is most seriously undermined today:

– the interpretation of Scripture,
– Jesus Christ as the only savior of all men,
– the Church as the Body of Christ,
– moral life.

The instruction is organized under these four main headings. In each section, the document first presents the features of correct Christological doctrine, and then denounces the theologies that deform it.

It denounces the theologies, not the theologians. The instruction does not target particular authors, but limits itself to denouncing erroneous tendencies. The names found in the notes that accompany the text are simply those of theologians already marked out in the past by doctrinal condemnations and disciplinary sanctions by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith or by the Spanish bishops’ conference.


When is a priest not a priest?

When she's a woman...
Fraud detected but unpunished in Off the Record

Jean Marie Marchant is one of the 9 women who claimed to have been ordained as Catholic priests in a surrealistic ceremony that took place last year in international waters. Like most of the other would-be priestesses, Marchant showed her courage by using a false name.

But now she had identified herself in a letter to Boston's Cardinal Sean O'Malley, forcing him to make some public response.
There's more. The sympathetic Boston Globe story minimizes the damage done by Marchant's treachery, assuring readers that she did not often perform priestly functions, although "she has quietly anointed some she has quietly anointed some sick people and privately consecrated the Eucharist."

Wrong. She pretended to anoint sick people and consecrate the Eucharist. She can't actually perform those priestly functions, because she isn't a priest. (Yes, I know she thinks she's a priest. But if you wake up tomorrow under the illusion that you are Napoleon Bonaparte, you still won't have an army.) Insofar as any bewildered Catholics relied on Jean Marie Marchant to fulfill their spiritual needs, they were denied the sacraments-- by an official of the Boston archdiocese.

From the pastoral perspective that is a very, very serious offense. Even from the secular perspective it's a form of fraud. And in response to that fraud, the cardinal-archbishop "has imposed no penalty." Thereby making it very likely that similar frauds will occur in the near future.
I wish there was more backbone displayed in these cases. Then there are the nutty Poncho LadiesTM planning on being ordained in international waters. Someone wearing a red hat needs to say that these women are NOT priests. Why is the Church always behind the curve in the PR world?

In the Cumberlands

I'm in the Cumberlands for the weekend escaping the heat in the coastal plains. All we have here is dial-up, so I'll have to wait until Monday to answer your comments. Prayers for rain for all of you in the drought-stricken areas. Stay cool, y'all. Enjoy a pint of Haagen-Dazs, but stay away from Haugen Haas!

Holy Father's August Prayer Intentions

ROME, JULY 28, 2006 ( During the month of August, Benedict XVI will pray that Christians be faithful to their missionary vocation.

Specifically, the Pope's missionary prayer intention for August is: "That Christian faithful be conscious of their missionary vocation in all environments and circumstances."

The Apostleship of Prayer announced the general and missionary prayer intentions chosen by the Holy Father.

The Pontiff, along with thousands of faithful worldwide, offers his prayers and sacrifices for the intentions.

The Pope's general prayer intention for the month is: "That orphans not be lacking in due care for their human and Christian formation."

Father Cantalamessa: Gather Up the Fragments Left Over

~Via Zenit

For several Sundays, the Gospel has been taken from Jesus' discourse on the bread of life in the synagogue of Capernaum, to which the Evangelist John refers. This Sunday's passage comes from the multiplication of loaves and fishes, which is an introduction to the Eucharistic discourse.

It is no accident that the presentation of the Eucharist begins with the account of the multiplication of loaves. What is stated with it is that, in man, the religious dimension cannot be separated from the material dimension. Provision cannot be made for man's spiritual and eternal needs without being concerned, at the same time, about his earthly and material needs.

It was precisely the latter which for an instant was the temptation of the apostles. In another passage of the Gospel one reads that they suggested to Jesus that he dismiss the crowd so that it would find something to eat in neighboring villages.

But Jesus answered: "You give them something to eat!" (Matthew 14:16). With this, Jesus is not asking his disciples to perform miracles. He is asking that they do what they can. To place in common and share what each one has. In arithmetic, multiplication and division are two opposite operations, but in this case they are the same. There is no "multiplication" without "partition" (or sharing)!

This connection between the material and spiritual bread was visible in the way the Eucharist was celebrated in the early days of the Church. The Lord's Supper, then called "agape," took place in the context of a fraternal meal, in which both ordinary bread and Eucharistic bread was shared.

That is why differences between some one who had nothing to eat and some one who became "inebriated" were perceived as scandalous and intolerable (1 Corinthians 11:20-22). Today the Eucharist is no longer celebrated in the context of an ordinary meal, but the contrast between those who have what is superfluous and those who lack what is necessary has not diminished, what is more, it has assumed global dimensions.

On this point, the end of the account also has something to say to us. When all were satiated, Jesus ordered: "Gather up the fragments left over, that nothing may be lost."

We live in a society where waste is habitual. In 50 years, we have gone from a situation in which one went to school or Sunday Mass carrying one's shoes to the threshold, so as not to wear them out, to a situation in which virtually new shoes are discarded so as to adapt oneself to the changing fashion.

The most scandalous waste occurs in the food sector. Research carried out by the United States Department of Agriculture reveals that one-fourth of food products end up every day in the garbage, not to speak of what is deliberately destroyed before it reaches the market.

Jesus did not say that day: "Destroy the left-over fragments so that the price of bread and fish will not fall in the market." But it is exactly what is done today.

Under the influence of repetitive advertising, "Spend, don't save!" is at present the codeword in the economy.

Of course, it is not enough to save. Prudence must enable individuals and societies of rich countries to be more generous in their aid to poor countries, otherwise it is more like avarice than prudence.

Memorial of St. Martha, virgin

Martha was born of noble and wealthy parents, but she is still more illustrious for the hospitality she gave to Christ our Lord. After His Ascension into heaven, she was seized by the Jews, together with her brother and sister, Marcella her handmaid, and Maximin, one of the seventy two disciples of our Lord, who had baptized the whole family, and many other Christians. They were put on board a ship without sails or oars, and left helpless on the open sea, exposed to certain shipwreck. But God guided the ship, and they all arrived safely at Marseilles.

This miracle, together with their preaching, brought the people of Marseilles, of Aix, and of the neighborhood to believe in Christ. Lazarus was made Bishop of Marseilles and Maximin of Aix. Magdalen, who was accustomed to devote herself to prayer and to sit at our Lord's feet, in order to enjoy the better part which she had chosen, that is, contemplation of the joys of heaven, retired into a deserted cave on a very high mountain. There she lived for thirty years, separated from all human intercourse; and every day she was carried to heaven by the angels to hear their songs of praise.

But Martha, after having won the love and admiration of the people of Marseilles by the sanctity of her life and her wonderful charity, withdrew in the company of several virtuous women to a spot remote from men, where she lived for a long time, greatly renowned for her piety and prudence. She foretold her death long before it occurred; and at length, famous for miracles, she passed to our Lord on the fourth of the Kalends of August. Her body which lies at Tarascon is held in great veneration.

~from The Liturgical Year, Abbot Gueranger O.S.B.

Blessed are they who deserved to receive Christ in their homes

~by St. Augustine

Our Lord’s words teach us that though we labour among the many distractions of this world, we should have but one goal. For we are but travellers on a journey without as yet a fixed abode; we are on our way, not yet in our native land; we are in a state of longing, not yet of enjoyment. But let us continue on our way, and continue without sloth or respite, so that we may ultimately arrive at our destination.

Martha and Mary were sisters, related not only by blood but also by religious aspirations. They stayed close to our Lord and both served him harmoniously when he was among them. Martha welcomed him as travellers are welcomed. But in her case, the maidservant received her Lord, the invalid her Saviour, the creature her Creator, to serve him bodily food while she was to be fed by the Spirit. For the Lord willed to put on the form of a slave, and under this form to be fed by his own servants, out of condescension and not out of need. For this was indeed condescension, to present himself to be fed; since he was in the flesh he would indeed be hungry and thirsty.

Thus was the Lord received as a guest who came unto his own and his own received him not; but as many as received him, he gave them the power to become sons of God, adopting those who were servants and making them his brothers, ransoming the captives and making them his co-heirs. No one of you should say: “Blessed are they who have deserved to receive Christ into their homes!” Do not grieve or complain that you were born in a time when you can no longer see God in the flesh. He did not in fact take this privilege from you. As he says: Whatever you have done to the least of my brothers, you did to me.

But you, Martha, If I may say so, are blessed for your good service, and for your labours you seek the reward of peace. Now you are much occupied in nourishing the body, admittedly a holy one. But when you come to the heavenly homeland will you find a traveller to welcome, someone hungry to feed, or thirsty to whom you may give drink, someone ill whom you could visit, or quarrelling whom you could reconcile, or dead whom you could bury?

No, there will be none of these tasks there. What you will find there is what Mary chose. There we shall not feed others, we ourselves shall be fed. Thus what Mary chose in this life will be realised there in all its fullness; she was gathering fragments from that rich banquet, the Word of God. Do you wish to know what we will have there? The Lord himself tells us when he says of his servants, Amen, I say to you, he will make them recline and passing he will serve them.

Friday, July 28, 2006

SSPX Declaration

~Rorate Cæli in a report today:

The Declaration reaffirms the need for the two preconditions proposed long ago: the liberalisation of the Traditional Mass and the repeal of the decrees of excommunication of 1988. The Declaration also affirms that "the contacts which [the Fraternity] keeps at times with the Roman authorities have as their sole aim to aid them to regain the Tradition which the Church cannot deny without losing its own identity, and not the search for an advantage for [the Fraternity] itself, or to reach an impossible purely practical 'agreement'.


Catholics face crisis over retired nuns

~Via Yahoo News

With tens of thousands of U.S. nuns over age 70, the Roman Catholic Church is facing a massive financial shortfall for the care of retirees in religious orders — a gap that over the long term dwarfs costs from the clergy abuse crisis.

Though billions of dollars have been salted away, there still remains an unfunded future liability of $8.7 billion for current nuns, priests and brothers in religious orders. The financial hole is projected by a consulting firm to exceed $20 billion by 2023.

A June survey by the church's National Religious Retirement Office, not yet released to the public, puts spending for retiree care at $926 million last year alone. That compares with a total of $499 million received over the last 18 years from annual special parish collections to aid retirees.

The retirement realities far overshadow the burden from well-publicized sexual abuse cases, which have cost the American church more than $1 billion since 1950, with tens of millions of dollars in pending claims.

In some ways, religious orders face the same problem as many governments: increasing numbers of older retirees need benefits, but there are fewer workers to support them. America's younger workers pay now for the Social Security benefits of seniors, while younger religious support their older generations by caring for them.

Sisters, who make up 82 percent of retirees, are especially vulnerable.

Between 1965 and 2005, their numbers plummeted from 179,954 to 68,634, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.

With far fewer younger novices being recruited, the majority of sisters are now more than 70 years old, the retirement office's new survey said. Even though sisters usually work until age 75, caring for the retired population is a huge task.

The problem is discussed in the new book "Double Crossed: Uncovering the Catholic Church's Betrayal of American Nuns" (Doubleday) by former New York Times religion editor Kenneth Briggs. The book's main theme is that church authorities vetoed sisters' hopes for dramatic changes that would provide more freedom and effective ministries in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council. (my emphasis)


They just had to get that dig in there, didn't they?

Back to work

~Via Vatican News

Papa ended his holiday in Les Combes, Valle d'Aosta today and flew back to Rome. He'll head for Castel Gandolfo, his summer residence. Angelus on Sunday will be broadcast from Castel Gandolfo and General Audiences resume on August 2nd at St. Peter's Square.

Christian perfume

~from Mere Comments by Russell Moore.
Wolfe said in no certain terms that he does not want Christians to "witness" to him about the gospel, but, nonetheless, he sees in Christian T-shirts, breath-mints, and boy bands the reality that Christians don't want to witness to him anyway. Wolfe said that he cannot imagine an unbeliever coming to faith through, say, a Christian bumper-sticker on the car in front of him. Buying the stuff gives Christians an easy conscience that they are carrying the Great Commission without ever having to verbally and relationally engage their unbelieving neighbors.

I suspect he's right. The Los Angeles Times report from the Christian Retail expo is depressing. The makers of a "new genre" of "Christian perfume" rolled out their product, with the promise that it can be an effective evangelistic tool.

"It should be enticing enough to provoke questions: 'What's that you're wearing?'" the marketer said. "Then you take that opportunity to speak of your faith. They've opened the door, and now they're going to get it."

Going to get what? A migraine headache? An allergic reaction? Or the gospel of salvation?
How exactly does perfume work as an evangelistic tool? What would the name be...Eau du Calvary?

Human eggs as currency

~from LifeSite News

A UK fertility clinic has been given the green light by the country’s fertility authority to allow women undergoing in-vitro fertilization to trade costs of the treatment in exchange for any surplus eggs. The eggs are to be fertilized, and the resulting embryonic babies mined for cells to be used in research.

The decision marks the first instance where human eggs are being legally sold as items of commerce.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority licensed the North East England Stem Cell Institute to exchange embryos in lieu of payment for IVF services. The Newcastle-based Institute utilizes the cells derived from embryonic humans to investigate potential stem cell treatments for conditions such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.

Before now, women were allowed to voluntarily donate “spare” eggs derived from IVF treatments, although the demand has exceeded the supply, according to the Newcastle team.

Paul Tully, General Secretary for the UK’s Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, told today that he was “deeply concerned” over the prospect of women being paid for their “spare” eggs.

“Women will be under enormous pressure to engage in these practices,” he emphasized. “There is a huge potential for exploitation."

Josephine Quintavalle, co-founder of Hands Off Our Ovaries, told the BBC that the needs of researchers who want more eggs for research will supersede the best interests of the women donors. “It is coercion under another name,” she said. She described the HFEAs actions as the “worst example of HFEA arrogance” she had observed.

Cardinal George doing well after surgery

~From the Archdiocese of Chicago website

Cardinal George is out of surgery and is doing well after his successful bladder operation at Loyola University Medical Center.

The Cardinal has already expressed his thanks and gratitude to all the people of Chicago for their prayers and best wishes. He also extends his gratitude to his doctors, nurses and all the members of his medical team.

During the days and weeks ahead, we will continue to ask all Catholics in the Archdiocese and other friends and colleagues to pray for the Cardinal’s recovery and return to his active life.

Old Calendar: Pope St. Victor I

Victor, an African by birth, governed the Church in the time of the Emperor Severus. He confirmed the decree of Pius I, which ordered Easter to be celebrated on a Sunday. Later on, Councils were held in many places in order to bring this rule into practice, and finally the first Council of Nicea commanded that the feast of Easter should be always kept after the fourteenth day of the moon, lest the Christians should seem to imitate the Jews. Victor ordained that, in case of necessity, baptism could be given with any water, provided it was natural. He expelled from the Church the Byzantine, Theodosius the currier, who taught that Christ was only man. He wrote on the question of Easter, and some other small works. In two ordinations which he held in the month of December, he made four priests, seven deacons, and twelve bishops for different places. He was crowned with martyrdom, and buried in the Vatican on the fifth of the Calends of August, after having sat nine years, one month, and twenty-eight days. He died in the year 199 A.D.

~from The Liturgical Year, Abbot Gueranger O.S.B.

Old Calendar: Pope St. Innocent I

Alaric's sack of Rome

Innocent was born in Albano, Italy. He lived during the time of Saints Jerome and Augustine. He became Pope, on December 22, 401. Jerome, writing to the virgin Demetrias, says of him: "Hold fast to the faith of holy Innocent, who is the son of Anastasius of blessed memory and his successor in the apostolic throne; receive no strange doctrine, however shrewd and prudent you may think yourself."

During his pontificate, Innocent emphasized papal supremacy, praising the bishops of Africa for referring the decrees of their councils at Carthage and Milevis in 416 that condemned Pelagianism, to the pope for confirmation. This confirmation stirred St. Augustine to pen his famous remark: "Roma locuta, causa finita est" (Rome has spoken, the matter is ended).

Innocent was pope during the capture and sack of Rome by the Goths under Alaric in 410. He condemned the heresies of Pelagius and Celestinus, decreeing that children, even though born of a Christian mother, must be born again by water, in order that their second birth may cleanse away the stain they have contracted by the first. He also approved the observance of fasting on the Saturday in memory of the burial of Christ our Lord. He fought the unjust removal of Saint John Chrysostom and spoke strongly in favor of clerical celibacy. He sat fifteen years, one month, and ten days. Innocent died in Rome, March 12, 417 and was buried in the cemetery called ad Ursum Pileatum.

~from The Liturgical Year, Abbot Gueranger O.S.B.

Christ died for all

~from St. Augustine's Confessions

In your unfathomable mercy you first gave the humble certain pointers to the true Mediator, and then sent him, so that by his example they might learn even a humility like his. This Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, appeared to stand between mortal sinners and the God who is immortal and just: like us he was mortal, but like God he was just. Now the wage due to justice is life and peace; and so, through the justice whereby he was one with God, he broke the power of death over malefactors and by that act rendered them just, using that very mortality which he had himself chosen to share with them. How you loved us, O good Father, who spared not even your only Son, but gave him up for us evil-doers! How you loved us, for whose sake he who deemed it no robbery to be your equal was made subservient even to the point of dying on the cross! Alone of all, he was free among the dead, for he had power to lay down his life and power to retrieve it. For our sake he stood to you as both victor and victim, and victor because victim; for us he stood to you as priest and sacrifice, and priest because sacrifice, making us your children instead of your servants by being born of you in order to serve us.

There is good reason for my solid hope in him, because you will heal all my infirmities through him who sits at your right hand and intercedes for us. Were it not so, I should despair; for many and grave are those infirmities, many and grave; but wider-reaching is your healing power. We might have despaired of ourselves, thinking your Word remote from any conjunction with mankind, had he not become flesh and made his dwelling among us. Filled with terror by my sins and my load of misery, I had been turning over in my mind a plan to flee into solitude; but you forbade me, and strengthened me by your words: To this end Christ died for all, that they who are alive might live not for themselves but for him who died for them.

See, then, Lord: I cast my care upon you so that I may live, and I will contemplate the wonders you have revealed. You know how stupid and weak I am: teach me and heal me. Your only Son, in whom are hidden all treasures of wisdom and knowledge, has redeemed me with his blood. Let not the proud disparage me, for I am mindful of my ransom. I eat it, I drink it, I dispense it to others, and as a poor man I long to be filled with it among those who are fed and feasted. And then, let those who seek him praise the Lord.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Yet one more specialized church: Cowboy church

I thought for sure this was parody. But here's the newest fad, along with Emerging Churches-- Cowboy Churches. Giddyup, pardner...and also with you.

Cowboy churches growing in U.S.
BOAZ, July 26 (UPI) — The newest iteration in the U.S. church growth movement's drive to boost attendance on Sunday mornings is something called "cowboy churches."

As evangelical Christian congregations within the country and western culture, cowboy churches often meet in a barn or western-themed building. Some have their own rodeo arenas and country bands. Oftentimes, cattle tanks are used for baptisms.

During the recent Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Greensboro, N.C., a "stampede event" aimed at highlighting cowboy churches showcased cowboys and cowgirls from across North Carolina. Jeff Smith of the Cowboy Church Network of North America attended the event.

"These churches are one of the hottest things going," Smith said. "The cowboy church movement has grown so fast. It's working. Cowboys who weren't going anywhere before now have somewhere to go."

Randall Stoner, director of missions for an Alabama Baptist county association, is another advocate for the unconventional churches, Associated Baptist Press reported Wednesday.

"They [members of the Cowboy Church] have taken on the challenge of intentional evangelism," he said. "This church is reaching a segment of people that need Jesus Christ."

Otis Corbitt, who works for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, agreed.

"It's a way of creating an environment where people will feel comfortable to come and worship the Lord," Corbitt said. "There are a lot of people in our society who do not feel comfortable in our current churches." (my emphasis)

A Guide for the Perplexed Liturgist

Diogenes is back from vacation and has posted this at Off the Record:
Easing back into my normal work schedule after a short but welcome vacation (and thus a period of comparative silence, for which I apologize to my faithful readers), I spent some time cleaning up old files on my computer, and came across an agenda item that appeared in the May-July 1997 newsletter of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgy Commissions:
Limit discussion to perpetual adoration; dialogue with people who are advocates of various devotions; determine what is missing in our celebration of the Eucharist that leads people to want these devotions.
That was nearly a decade ago, and perhaps by now our hard-working diocesan liturgists have educed some explanation for the curious tendency of some Catholics to kneel for hours before the Blessed Sacrament-- when they could be using that time to learn the steps of the latest liturgical dances. But in case the explanation still eludes them, may we offer the following guide to perplexed liturgists?

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church*, #1418:

Because Christ himself is present in the sacrament of the altar, he is to be honored with the worship of adoration.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1418

To visit the Blessed Sacrament is a proof of gratitude, an expression of love, and a duty of adoration toward Christ our Lord.
Mysterium Fidei, Pope Paul VI, #66

+ + +

I just got our new parish directory and inside the front cover, I find the Mission Statement which is sounding very dated along the lines of "we are a community, blah, blah." The Pastor's letter on the facing page however goes for the jugular, "Our life is centered around the Mass. Mass is offered daily. Make it the highest point of your life. Adoration hour is at X time." Then he quoted Mother Teresa, "The time you spend with the Blessed Sacrament is the best time you'll spend on earth." When our pastor came a few years ago, he got reported to the Bishop by a few parishioners who complained vociferously because he established Morning Prayer, daily mass, rosary and novena, and Adoration Hour. The complaint was, "He's going to make it like a monastery." Previously, he was a superior at a monastery. He placed the tabernacle front and center and forbade all other activity in the church that wasn't worship related. A lot of people left. But interestingly, our membership has doubled since he arrived.

Fr. Altier answers Archdiocesan Communications Director

~Via Matt Abbot's column in Renew America

Excerpt from Fr. Altier's letter to Dennis McGrath, Archdiocesan Communications Director:
These are rather interesting statements considering that your own letter contains very few pieces of factual data but is, indeed, replete with misinformation and a great deal of false and distorted information of its own (and this is not the first time). This strikes me as being "almost unimaginable" coming from one who claims to be a trained journalist and even more because you represent the Archdiocese and the Archbishop. If this were merely a matter of false and distorted information I would have ignored it and remained silent, as I have in the past. But there is something much more serious contained in your letter which has prompted me to write you. This would fall under your statement about getting the record straight and concern about journalistic ethics and truth.

In your letter you state that I have "indeed frequently and inappropriately (if not disobediently) criticized the Archbishop and Archdiocesan leaders (and not simply on the VIRTUS child protection/education program)." While it is true that I have not always agreed with certain decisions that have been made, I have never, to my recollection, made public statements that are critical of the Archbishop and I have never been disobedient to anything he has ever asked. A clear distinction needs to be made here. We have a right and, at times, an obligation to make judgments on actions, including decisions. To criticize such actions or decisions does not constitute criticism of the person per se. I have made a promise of respect and obedience to the Archbishop and I have maintained this promise. To disagree with a decision is neither an act of disrespect for the person of the Archbishop nor is it an act of disobedience. These charges made in your letter are not only fabrications of your own, but they constitute slander and calumny which are both serious sins. I am requesting that you either produce some evidence to back up your remarks or "strive to correct the record" by recanting these statements in the same medium or media in which they were made.

Where are the Men?

~Excerpted from The New Oxford Review by Donald Tremblay
Other activities such as "Cigar Nights" and "Monday Night Football Nights" can provide similar opportunities for a bond to form between the clergy and the male community. Msgr. Cassato has held 10 "Cigar Nights" and he describes these gatherings as "a man's night out." Over time, the clergy can take the next step and encourage those males to return to the Church.

Too often the Church has portrayed Jesus as effeminate. But Jesus, who flipped over the money-changers' tables, is the Jesus with whom men can identify. The Jesus who is portrayed solely as one who eternally "turns the other cheek" has little in common with the American male. Denver Archdiocesan Chancellor Francis Maier summarizes the feelings of many men: "Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ is a good example of male identification. It affected men because they looked at James Caviezel as Jesus and said, ‘That is a man.' He is a muscular carpenter; there are no doubts about his sexual identity." In the movie, Jesus was not the androgynous figure He has unfortunately been portrayed as in the Church. He was a man who faced down the authorities, antagonizing them, rebuking them, and challenging them to such a degree that it resulted in His suffering perhaps the cruelest death of all: crucifixion. Ultimately, He embraced the value that men hold highest: giving one's life for a cause. A man will sacrifice his life for his family, for his country, for his friends, and even for his religion. It is this Jesus with whom men identify, this Jesus who speaks to their masculinity.

Finally, the Church must reconsider how she interacts with men ceremonially, particularly at Sunday Mass. Many men fled the Church in response to the changes instituted by the hierarchy following Vatican II. Music is number one on the list of changes that disenchanted men. The general opinion of Church music today is that it is either of poor quality regardless of its message, or that it is sentimental at the expense of being reverential. Leon Podles, author of The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity, points out that much of the Church's liturgical music consists of "love ballads" with Jesus' name inserted as the object of that love. This is particularly so, he argues, at Communion. Any man who attends Mass regularly can attest to this pathetic reality. The Church needs to recognize that no heterosexual man will sing love ballads to another man, even if that man is God incarnate.

The Church must return to more reverential music, such as Gregorian chants and monastic chants. Both are spiritually uplifting and inflame the fires of mystical awe that men feel toward Almighty God. That mystical awe can be further stimulated by recovering liturgical rituals that were forsaken following Vatican II (see Tom Bethell's Sept. 2005 Last Things column, "Refugees From the Vernacular Mass," where, of the Tridentine Latin Mass at St. Mary Mother of God Church in Washington, D.C., he states: "I tell you, this is a church men don't hate going to.")

My teenage sons hate the Glory-and-Praise type music. They can't stand LifeTeen Mass music. Granted, they're classically trained musicians and were trained in the English cathedral style of choral singing. But they call the Glory-and-Praise music as "Jesus is my boyfriend" music. When our music director needs a quickie schola to chant a solemnity mass, he'll call on the boys and it always shocks him that they refuse any amplification devices. Then they infuriate some of the choir members for the "churchy" music that is sure to drive teenagers away. Ironic since it's teenage boys re-introducing chant to the church.

Cardinal Bertone has right qualities: Navarro-Valls

~Via Catholic World News
Jul. 27 ( - Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the incoming Vatican Secretary of State, is a decisive man, with a friendly, open disposition. That was the description furnished by Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the former Vatican press secretary, in an interview with the Italian TG1 television network.

Navarro-Valls said that Cardinal Bertone-- who will assume the #2 post at the Vatican on September 15, with the retirement of Cardinal Angelo Sodano -- has many personal assets, but included three in particular that are important for his future work. The Italian cardinal, he said, is a thoroughly educated man, one capable of making decisions, and with a generally sunny disposition.

Why am I uncomfortable with this description? I am sure that Cardinal Bertone is much deeper than what Navarro-Valls describes. Maybe something got lost in the translation. What would have happened if Bertone had a more introspective disposition? I suppose I need to make allowances that this interview was done on TV and what we get is a sound byte...the curse of our shallow media age.

Dedication booklet for St. James in Charles Town, WV

Daniel of The Lion and the Cardinal was hired to do the dedication booklet cover for St James the Greater. Click on the image to go to his site for a larger image.

Saying "No" to Dr. Death

~by Pamela Winnick in the Wall Street Journal via LifeSite News. Pamela describes her experience fending off a series of doctors and nurses who all insisted that it was the family's duty to let her father die.
"Dr. Death" was just one of several. A new resident appeared the next day, this one a bit more diplomatic but again urging us to allow my father to "die with dignity." And the next day came yet another, who opened with the words, "We're getting mixed messages from your family," before I shut him up. I've written extensively about practice of bioethics--which, for the most part, I do not find especially ethical--but never did I dream that our moral compass had gone this far askew. My father, 85, was heading ineluctably toward death. Though unconscious, his brain, as far as anyone could tell, had not been touched by either the cancer or the blood clot. He was not in a "persistent vegetative state" (itself a phrase subject to broad interpretation), that magic point at which family members are required to pull the plug--or risk the accusation that they are right-wing Christians.

I complained about all the death-with-dignity pressure to my father's doctor, an Orthodox Jew, who said that his religion forbids the termination of care but that he would be perfectly willing to "look the other way" if we wanted my father to die. We didn't. Then a light bulb went off in my head. We could devise a strategy to fend off the death-happy residents: We would tell them we were Orthodox Jews.

My little ruse worked. During the few days after I announced this faux fact, it was as though an invisible fence had been drawn around my mother, my sister and me. No one dared mutter that hateful phrase "death with dignity."

Though my father was born to an Orthodox Jewish family, he is an avowed atheist who long ago had rejected his parents' ways. As I sat in the ICU, blips on the various screens the only proof that my father was alive, the irony struck me: My father, who had long ago rejected Orthodox Judaism, was now under its protection.

As though to confirm this, there came a series of miracles. Just a week after he was rushed to ICU, my father was pronounced well enough to be moved out of the unit into North Shore's long-term respiratory care unit. A day later he was off the respirator, able to breathe on his own. He still mostly slept, but then he began to awaken for minutes at a time, at first groggy, but soon he was as alert (and funny) as ever. A day later, we walked in to find him sitting upright in a chair, reading the New York Times.

US Catechism for Adults out on July 31st

~Via Zenit.

If you want to read a sample chapter, click here. I start sneezing and hives break out when I read the words "diversity" and "global awareness".

Prayers for Cardinal George

...who undergoes surgery in just a few minutes for bladder cancer. He is expected to make a full recovery.

Old Calendar: St. Pantaleon

Saint Pantaleon was born in Nicomedia of a pagan father and a Christian mother, who died while her son was still a child. He was among the court physicians of the Emperor Galerius Maximianus. Deceived by hearing the false maxims of the world applauded, he was without religion when God decided to rescue his soul from its unhappy darkness. A zealous and prudent Christian named Hermolaus took special notice of him and awakened his conscience, telling him that although the famous physicians of ancient times had possessed the science which cures bodies, Jesus Christ was a far more excellent Physician, able to cure not only bodies, but souls, by His divine doctrine. Hermolaus succeeded in bringing him into the fold of the Church.

The young Christian strove to procure for his father the same grace he himself had received, and his words had already begun to separate his father from his idols, when one day a blind man, led by friends, came to the door and begged Pantaleon to cure him. His father was present and heard the promise his son made to this man to do so, if he would give to the poor the money he was offering him. The father was amazed and feared that the promise could not be fulfilled. But the young Saint prayed and touched the eyes of the blind man, invoking the name of Jesus Christ, and his eyes were opened. Pantaleon’s father and the blind man were both baptized as a result of this miracle. When Eustorgus, his father, died, Saint Pantaleon liberated all his slaves and, having sold most of his possessions, gave to the liberated ones and others the assistance their poverty required. He cured other illnesses and soon became renowned in Nicomedia.

Saint Pantaleon, being a very sincere penitent, ardently wished to expiate his former idolatry by the martyrdom he could foresee. When a bloody persecution broke out at Nicomedia in 303, the blind man he had cured was beheaded upon refusing to admit that it was the gods who had cured him. Saint Pantaleon, to prepare himself for the imminent combat, distributed all he had left among the poor. Not long after this act of charity he was arrested and subjected to various tortures, during which he was preserved from death. Three other Christians, of whom one was Hermolaus, were apprehended. After suffering many torments, the four confessors were all sentenced to be beheaded.

The relics of Saint Pantaleon were translated to Constantinople, and there received great honor. His blood, conserved in a small vial, is said to liquefy on his feast day and become oxygenated. Charlemagne brought a part of his relics into France, where they are presently divided again, a portion being in the abbey of Saint Denys near Paris, and the head at Lyons. Saint Pantaleon, whose name means the “all-compassionate one,” is the patron of physicians.

Source: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 9.

The light of your face has shone upon us

by St. Ambrose

Why do you turn your face away? We think that God has turned his face away from us when we find ourselves suffering, so that shadows overwhelm our feelings and stop our eyes from seeing the brilliance of the truth. All the same, if God touches our intellect and chooses to become present to our minds then we will be certain that nothing can lead us into darkness.

A man’s face shines out more than the rest of his body and it is by the face that we perceive strangers and recognise our friends. How much more, then, is the face of God able bring illumination to whoever he looks at!

The apostle Paul has something important to say about this, as about so many other things. He is a true interpreter of Christ for us, bringing him to our understanding through well-chosen words and images. He says: It is the same God that said, ‘Let there be light shining out of darkness’, who has shone in our minds to radiate the light of the knowledge of God’s glory, the glory on the face of Christ. We have heard where Christ shines in us: he is the eternal brilliant illumination of souls, whom the Father sent into the world so that his face should shine on us and permit us to contemplate eternal and heavenly truths – we who had been plunged in earthly darkness.

What shall I say about Christ, when even the apostle Peter said to the man who had been lame from birth Look upon us? The cripple looked at Peter and found light by the grace of faith: unless he had faithfully believed he could not have received healing.

When there was so much glory to be seen among the Apostles, Zachaeus, hearing that the Lord Jesus was passing by, climbed a tree because he was small and weak and could not see the Lord through the crowd. He saw Christ and he found light. He saw Christ and instead of robbing others of their goods he began to give away his own.

Why do you turn your face away? Let us read it thus: even if you do turn your face away from us, Lord, its light is still imprinted upon us. We hold it in our hearts and our innermost feelings are transformed by its light.

For if you truly turn your face away, Lord, no-one can survive.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Another new church

~Brought to you by the same people (architect and builder) who built St. James, Charles Town, West Virginia. Ground has been broken for the new Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Bristow, VA, Arlington Diocese. Some architectural renderings:

St. James, Charles Town, WV:

Post from yesterday

Another feminist chimes in on the drudgery of childrearing

~Via The Daily Mail: Sorry, but my children bore me to death!
Helen Kirwan-Taylor, a 42-year-old writer, lives in Notting Hill, West London, with her businessman husband Charles and their sons Constantin, 12, and Ivan, ten. Here, she argues provocatively that modern women must not be enslaved by their children.
To be honest, I spent much of the early years of my children's lives in a workaholic frenzy because the thought of spending time with them was more stressful than any journalistic assignment I could imagine.

Kids are supposed to be fulfilling, life-changing, life-enhancing fun: why was my attitude towards them so different?

While all my girlfriends were dropping important careers and occupying their afternoons with cake baking, I was begging the nanny to stay on, at least until she had read my two a bedtime story. What kind of mother hates reading bedtime stories? A bad mother, that's who, and a mother who is bored rigid by her children.
My children have got used to my disappearing to the gym when they're doing their prep (how boring to learn something you never wanted to learn in the first place).

They know better than to expect me to sit through a cricket match, and they've completely given up on expecting me to spend school holidays taking them to museums or enjoying the latest cinema block-boster alongside them. (I spent two hours texting friends throughout a screening of Pirates Of The Caribbean the other day).

Am I a lazy, superficial person because I don't enjoy packing up their sports kit, or making their lunch, or sitting through coffee mornings with other mothers discussing how Mr Science (I can't remember most of the teachers' names) said such and such to Little Johnny and should we all complain to the headmaster.

At this point in the conversation, my mind drifts to thoughts of my own lunch and which shoes I plan to wear with what skirt.
I'm tempted to send this woman the definition of narcissism.

Sandro Magister: At the Summit on the Middle East, Benedict XVI Preaches the Cross of Jesus

~Found in Chiesa. Wow, three articles this week from Sandro.

Less politics – as little as possible – and more Christian faith: this is the new approach the pope wants for the Church. While the armies fight and the diplomats negotiate, in a little mountain parish he says...
ROMA, July 26, 2006 – At the same time as the opening of the international conference on the war in Lebanon in the Italian capital – with representatives from the United Nations, the World Bank, the United States, Canada, Europe, Russia, the Muslim countries, and the Vatican - the position of Benedict XVI distinguishes itself for its sheer clarity and originality.

To grasp this, it is enough to read the brief words he spoke on Sunday, July 23, at two different occasions of prayer.

The first was at the midday Angelus, the only occasion at which Benedict XVI has given the essential political coordinates of the Holy See’s position on the conflict.

The pope said that the three pillars for a stable peace in the region are these:

“the right of the Lebanese to the integrity and sovereignty of their country, the right of the Israelis to live in peace in their state, and the right of the Palestinians to have a free and sovereign homeland.”

He asked the parties in conflict for an immediate ceasefire, and for the opening of negotiations “with the support of the international community.”

And he insisted in particular upon the right to “humanitarian” assistance of the populations struck by the war, both in Lebanon and in Galilee.

But the key point of Benedict XVI’s message at the Angelus was a different one. It was his invitation to make that Sunday “a special day of prayer and penance to implore from God the gift of peace.” It was an invitation he extended, not only to Catholic Christians, but “to all believers.”

At the end of his brief message the pope remembered Saint Bridget, whose feast fell on that day:

“Saint Bridget came from Sweden, lived in Rome, and also went on pilgrimage in the Holy Land. Her witness speaks to us of openness to different peoples and civilizations. Let us ask her to help humanity today to make extensive room for peace. In particular, may she obtain from the Lord peace in that Holy Land toward for she had such affection and veneration.”

Pictures of Bog Psalter

Here are a couple of pictures of the psalter (ca. 800 AD) found in an Irish bog last Friday. See accompanying story below.

The psalm fragment that is legible is Psalm 83 (82) that is a lament over other nations' attempt to wipe out Israel. The Douay-Rheims reads:
A canticle of a psalm for Asaph. O God, who shall be like to thee? hold not thy peace, neither be thou still, O God. For lo, thy enemies have made a noise: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head. They have taken a malicious counsel against thy people, and have consulted against thy saints. They have said: Come and let us destroy them, so that they be not a nation: and let the name of Israel be remembered no more.

For they have contrived with one consent: they have made a covenant together against thee, The tabernacles of the Edomites, and the Ismahelites: Moab, and the Agarens, Gebal, and Ammon and Amalec: the Philistines, with the inhabitants of Tyre. Yea, and the Assyrian also is joined with them: they are come to the aid of the sons of Lot.

Ancient psalter found in Irish bog

~Via The Courier Mail

The National Museum of Ireland said fragments of what appeared to be an ancient Psalter or Book of Psalms, written around AD 800, were uncovered by a bulldozer in a bog in the south Midlands.

"In discovery terms this Irish equivalent to the Dead Sea Scrolls is being hailed by the Museum's experts as the greatest find ever from a European bog," the museum said in a statement.

The Dead Sea Scrolls, found in the mid 20th century, are considered to be of enormous religious and historical significance since they include some of the earliest known surviving Biblical documents.

The Irish discovery, recovered from bogland last Friday, comprises extensive fragments of what is thought to be an Irish Early Christian Psalter, written on vellum, a fine animal skin parchment.

"In my wildest hopes, I could only have dreamed of a discovery as fragile and rare as this," Museum Director Pat Wallace said, adding it was not so much the fragments themselves, but what they represented, that was of such "staggering" importance.

"It testifies to the incredible richness of the Early Christian civilisation of this island and to the greatness of ancient Ireland," he said.

The museum said it did not know how the manuscript ended up in the bog.

"It may have been lost in transit or dumped after a raid, possibly more than a thousand to twelve hundred years ago."

Part of Psalm 83, a lament to God over other nations' attempts to wipe out Israel, is legible but the museum said the extent to which other Psalms or additional texts are preserved would only be determined by lengthy work by a team of experts.

Bernard Meehan, Head of Manuscripts at Trinity College Dublin, who was invited to advise on the context and background of the manuscript, said he believed it was the first discovery of an Irish Early Medieval manuscript in two centuries.

Initial impressions placed the composition date of the manuscript at about AD 800, a time of Viking raids in Ireland.