Friday, March 31, 2006

Stations of the Cross

For your observance of the Stations of the Cross, Daniel at The Lion and the Cardinal has posted his latest artwork.

TLM Update

~Via Catholic News Agency
Vatican City, Mar. 31, 2006 (CNA) - The St. Pius V Missal, which the Catholic Church used until 1962 before it was replaced by the new ordinary following the liturgical reforms of Vatican II, could be approved for universal use, according to sources close to the Vatican.

The decision on the use of the Missal, which was the subject of consultations between Pope Benedict XVI, the cardinals of the Church and the heads of the different Vatican diacasteries, could be announced after another meeting the Pope has scheduled for April 7 with Curia leaders.

The Pius V Missal contains the Mass celebrated in Latin according to the “Tridentine” rite and is currently allowed only with the permission of the local bishop. Universal approval would mean the traditional rite could be celebrated freely throughout the world by priests who wish to do so.

The move is not directly related to the Lefebvrist schism, since as a theologian the Pontiff had always expressed in interest in bringing back the rite. Nevertheless, Vatican sources note that this would be an important step in resolving the schism, as the possibility of freely celebrating the Mass of St Pius V is one of the points of contention with the Lefebvrists.

In July, the Society of St. Pius X—known as the Lefebvrists—will elect a new superior. The group will chose between openness to reconciliation embodied in the current superior Bernard Fellay or the decidedly anti-Vatican stance of Richard Williamson, another of the four bishops illicitly consecrated by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.

Dynamic Our Father

This is just so wrong--the Dynamic Our Father. But I can't stop laughing. Copy the URL and paste it onto Babelfish to translate from German.

Thanks Gerald.

US & Canadian Church Membership Statistics

~From the National Council of Churches 2006 Yearbook
U.S. Membership Denominational Ranking: Largest 25 Denominations/Communions

2006 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches.

1. The Catholic Church, 67,820,833 members, reporting an increase of .83 percent.

2. The Southern Baptist Convention, 16,267,494 members, reporting a decrease of 1.05 percent.

3. The United Methodist Church, 8,186,254 members, reporting a decrease of .79 percent.

4. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 5,999,177 members, reporting an increase of 1.74 percent.

5. The Church of God in Christ, 5,499,875 members, no increase or decrease reported.

6. National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., 5,000,000 members, no increase or decrease reported.

7. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 4,930,429, reporting a decrease of 1.09 percent.

8. National Baptist Convention of America, 3,500,000, no increase or decrease reported.

9. Presbyterian Church (USA), 3,189,573 members, reporting a decrease of 1.60 percent.

10. Assemblies of God, 2,779,095 members, reporting an increase of 1.81 percent.

11. African Methodist Episcopal Church, 2,500,000 members, no increase or decrease reported.

12. National Missionary Baptist Convention of America, 2,500,000 members, no increase or decrease reported.

13. Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc., 2,500,000 members, no increase or decrease reported.

14. The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS), 2,463,747, reporting a decrease or 1.01 percent.

15. Episcopal Church, 2,463,747, reporting a decrease of 1.55 percent.

16. Churches of Christ, 1,500,000 members, no increase or decrease reported.

17. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, 1,500,000 members, no increase or decrease reported.

18. Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc., 1,500,000 members, no increase or decrease reported.

19. The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, 1,432,795 members, no increase or decrease reported.

20. American Baptist Churches in the USA, 1,432,840, reporting a decrease of .57 percent.

21. United Church of Christ, 1,265,786, reporting a decrease of 2.38 percent.

22. Baptist Bible Fellowship International, 1,200,000, no increase or decrease reported.

23. Christian Churches and Churches of Christ, 1,071,615 members, no increase or decrease reported.

24. The Orthodox Church in America, 1,064,000 members, reporting an increase of 6.40 percent.

25. Jehovah's Witnesses, 1,029,902 members, reporting a decrease of 1.07 members.

The total members reported in the largest 25 communions is 148,009,649.
Interesting here is the decline of the Southern Baptists...no surprise with the mainline Protestant decline or the increase in Assemblies of God or LDS.

The Feast of Five Wounds


Fr. PF, a Passionist priest explains the Feast of Five Wounds.

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O sacrum convivium, in quo Christus sumitur;
recolitur memoria passionis ejus;
mens impletur gratia;
et futurae gloriae nobis pignus datur.

(Antiphon to the Magnificat, Second Vespers, Corpus Christi)

O sacred banquet, wherein Christ is received;
the memorial of his passion is renewed;
the soul is filled with grace;
and a pledge of future glory is given to us.

I commend to you several settings, particularly Messiaen's which is haunting. There are theThomas Tallis, and the Palestrina settings which are rich and expressive.

+++

Pure love lets you speak only a little because the loving soul loses itself completely in the immense sea of charity. Just as the Passion of Jesus Christ is a work of the infinite love of God, so a soul completely lost in the sea of that love cannot help being immersed in the sea of the most holy Passion. From a letter of St. Paul of the Cross quoted by Martin Bialas, The Mysticism of St. Paul of the Cross

May the Passion of Jesus Christ be ever in our hearts.

Prayers to the Five Wounds of Christ


ACT OF CONTRITION

As I kneel before Thee on the cross, most loving Saviour of my soul, my conscience reproaches me with having nailed Thee to that cross with these hands of mine, as often as I have fallen into mortal sin, wearying Thee with my base ingratitude. My God, my chief and perfect good, worthy of all my love, because Thou hast loaded me with blessings; I cannot now undo my misdeeds, as I would most willingly; but I loathe them, grieving sincerely for having offended Thee, Who art infinite goodness. And now, kneeling at Thy feet, I try, at least, to compassionate Thee, to give Thee thanks, to ask Thee pardon and contrition; wherefore with my heart and lips, I say:

TO THE WOUND OF THE LEFT FOOT

Holy wound of the left foot of my Jesus, I adore Thee; I compassionate Thee, O Jesus, for the most bitter pain which Thou didst suffer. I thank Thee for the love whereby Thou labored to overtake me on the way to ruin, and didst bleed amid the thorns and brambles of my sins. I offer to the Eternal Father the pain and love of Thy most holy humanity, in atonement for my sins, all of which I detest with sincere and bitter contrition.

Our Father ...
Hail Mary ...
Glory be to the Father..

Holy Mother, pierce me through,
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Saviour crucified.


TO THE WOUND OF THE RIGHT FOOT

Holy wound of the right foot of my Jesus, I adore Thee; I compassionate Thee, O Jesus, for the most bitter pain which Thou didst suffer. I thank Thee for that love which pierced Thee with such torture and shedding of blood, in order to punish my wanderings and the guilty pleasures I have granted to my unbridled passions. I offer the Eternal Father all the pain and love of Thy most holy humanity, and I pray Thee for grace to weep over my sins with hot tears, and to enable me to persevere in the good which I have begun, without ever swerving again from my obedience to the divine commands.

Our Father ...
Hail Mary ...
Glory be ...

Holy Mother, pierce me through,
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Saviour crucified.


TO THE WOUND OF THE LEFT HAND

Holy wound of the left hand of my Jesus, I adore Thee; I compassionate Thee, O Jesus, for the most bitter pain which Thou didst suffer. I thank Thee for having in Thy love spared me the scourges and eternal damnation which my sins have merited. I offer to the Eternal Father the pain and love of They most holy humanity: and I pray Thee to teach me how to turn to good account my span of life, and bring forth in it worthy fruits of penance, and to disarm the justice of God, which I have provoked.

Our Father ...
Hail Mary ...
Glory be ...

Holy Mother, pierce me through,
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Saviour crucified.


TO THE WOUND OF THE RIGHT HAND

Holy wound of the right hand of my Jesus, I adore Thee; I compassionate Thee, O Jesus, for the most bitter pain which Thou didst suffer. I thank Thee for Thy graces lavished on me with such love, in spite of all my most perverse obstinacy. I offer to the Eternal Father all the pain and love of Thy most holy humanity; and I pray Thee to change my heart and its affections, and make me do all my actions in accordance with the will of God.

Our Father ...
Hail Mary ...
Glory be ...

Holy Mother, pierce me through,
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Saviour crucified.


TO THE WOUND OF THE SACRED SIDE

Holy wound in the side of my Jesus, I adore Thee; I compassionate Thee, O Jesus, for the cruel insult Thou didst suffer. I thank Thee, my Jesus, for the love which suffered Thy side and Heart to be pierced, so that the last drops of blood and water might issue forth, making my redemption to overflow. I offer to the Eternal Father this outrage, and the love of Thy most holy humanity, that my soul may enter once for all into that most loving Heart, eager and ready to receive the greatest sinners, and never more depart.

Our Father ...
Hail Mary ...
Glory be ...

Holy Mother, pierce me through,
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Saviour crucified.

The Five Wounds of Christ


Prayer To The Five Sacred Wounds


Behold, O kind and most sweet Jesus, I cast myself upon my knees in Thy sight, and with the most fervent desire of my soul, I pray and beseech Thee that Thou wouldst impress upon my heart, lively sentiments of faith, hope and charity with true contrition for my sins and firm purpose of amendment; while with deep affection and grief of soul I ponder within myself and mentally contemplate Thy five most precious wounds, having before my eyes that which David spoke in prophecy concerning Thee: "They have pierced my hands and my feet, they have numbered all my bones".

~Painting by Colijn de Coter, Christ as Man of Sorrows, ca. 1500

The Paschal sacrament brings together in unity of faith those who are far away



~by St. Athanasius

Brethren, how fine a thing it is to move from festival to festival, from prayer to prayer, from holy day to holy day. The time is now at hand when we enter on a new beginning: the proclamation of the blessed Passover, in which the Lord was sacrificed. We feed as on the food of life, we constantly refresh our souls with his precious blood, as from a fountain. Yet we are always thirsting, burning to be satisfied. But he himself is present for those who thirst and in his goodness invites them to the feast day. Our Saviour repeats his words: If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.

He quenched the thirst not only of those who came to him then. Whenever anyone seeks him he is freely admitted to the presence of the Saviour. The grace of the feast is not restricted to one occasion. Its rays of glory never set. It is always at hand to enlighten the mind of those who desire it. Its power is always there for those whose minds have been enlightened and who meditate day and night on the holy Scriptures, like the one who is called blessed in the holy psalm: Blessed is the man who has not followed the counsel of the wicked, or stood where sinners stand, or sat in the seat of the scornful, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.

Moreover, my friends, the God who first established this feast for us allows us to celebrate it each year. He who gave up his Son to death for our salvation, from the same motive gives us this feast, which is commemorated every year. This feast guides us through the trials that meet us in this world. God now gives us the joy of salvation that shines out from this feast, as he brings us together to form one assembly, uniting us all in spirit in every place, allowing us to pray together and to offer common thanksgiving, as is our duty on the feast. Such is the wonder of his love: he gathers to this feast those who are far apart, and brings together in unity of faith those who may be physically separated from each other.

Stational Church: San'Eusebio


This church is the dominicum Eusebii, recorded in an epitaph of 474 as the home of the “heroic Roman priest, Eusebius.” Eusebius was condemned to death by starvation by the Arian Emperor Constantinus in 357. His home was converted into a titulus, one of the original twenty-five parishes of Rome, and this oratory is mentioned in the Councils held by Gelasius in 494 and by Symmachus in 499. It was formally erected into a station by Gregory the Great. Restored many times, the church was reconstructed in 1238 by Gregory IX, who dedicated it to Saint Eusebius and Saint Vincent, martyr, who died on January 22, 304.

While little is known of Saint Eusebius, we know that the early Church honored three martyred deacons from different localities: Stephen (Palestine), Lawrence (Rome), and Vincent (Spain), remembered in this church. Vincent was martyred in Valencia, Spain, during the persecution of Diocletian and Maximian. The Acts of the Martyrs describes his torments in some detail and records Vincent’s speech to Dacian, governor of Spain: “The more I witness your fury, Dacian, the greater is my pleasure. Do not lessen in any way the sufferings you prepare for me so that I can make my victory shine more resplendently.”

The relics of Saint Eusebius are interred beneath the high altar.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Mortality's Sting

Some days, mortality's banquet is a bitter feast. As in today, finding out that
  • A friend my age has breast cancer and there is indication that it has spread to lymph nodes. Her son is a friend of my sons, she was my daughter's Sunday School teacher.
  • Another friend's father is fading quickly, he who is the rock of an unstable family
  • And a friend's brother who was found dead this morning, apparently had been dead for awhile. Friend and brother had been estranged for years.
  • And reading about Stephen Hand's son, Jeremy, and the agony that the Hand family is experiencing.
Lord, have mercy. In the face of grief, it's hard to know what to say in prayer. What words can I form with my mouth to bring to the Lord? And yet, I am reminded of this (Mark 14:36): "Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will." Jesus' words.

The Great Silence

Sandro Magister writes in today's Chiesa about the German film, "The Great Silence".
The original title in German is “Die Grosse Stille,” the great silence. It is a title that is more than appropriate for 162 uninterrupted minutes of pure contemplation. The soundtrack is made only of the chiming of bells, nighttime psalmody, footsteps, wind, rain, and very little else.

It’s just like the passage of God in the First Book of Kings, 19:11-13:

“And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and powerful wind tore through the mountains, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire, there was the whispering of a gentle wind.”

These words – like others in the Bible that are no less powerful – appear on the screen repeatedly throughout the film. But these repetitions are always fresh, like the liturgies in Gregorian chant, the seasons of nature, and the daily lives of the monks of the Grande Chartreuse.

Because the only characters in the film are the monks of the Grande Chartreuse monastery of Grenoble, in the French Alps, the mother of all the Carthusian monasteries in the world.

Philip Gröning, 46, from Düsseldorf in Germany, lived there for six months, armed only with a movie camera and a Super 8. He did everything himself: staging, production, direction, filming, sound, editing. There is no artificial lighting, no music, no offscreen narration.

But this is exactly where the film’s appeal lies. It is humble and transparent. It reveals without explaining. It penetrates the soul like a fertile seed.
I'm sure it will be in my local cinema soon. NOT! Anyone know if when it will be available in DVD?

World Day of Prayer for Vocations

VATICAN CITY, MAR 30, 2006 (VIS) - Made public today was the Holy Father's Message for the 43rd World Day of Prayer for Vocations, which is due to be celebrated on May 7, fourth Sunday of Easter, on the theme: "Vocation in the mystery of the Church."

"The weight of two millennia of history makes it difficult to perceive the novelty of the fascinating mystery of divine adoption which lies at the center of St. Paul's teaching," writes the Holy Father in his Message, which is dated March 5. "We are called to live as brothers and sisters of Christ, to consider ourselves as sons and daughters of the same Father. This a gift that overturns all exclusively human ideas and projects."

"What, then, must we say," Benedict XVI asks, "of the temptation, so strongly felt in our own time, to think ourselves so self-sufficient as to shut ourselves off from the mysterious plan God has for us? The love of the Father, revealed in the person of Christ, calls out to us."

Down the centuries, the Pope writes, many men and women, "transformed by divine love, have consecrated their lives to the cause of the Kingdom," and "through Christ have known the mystery of the Father's love." These people, the Pope goes on, "represent the multiplicity of vocations that have always been present in the Church."

Referring then to Vatican Council II's universal call to sanctity, the Holy Father affirms that, in each generation, Christ "calls individuals to take care of His people; in particular He calls men to the priestly ministry to exercise a paternal function. ... The priest's mission in the Church is irreplaceable. Therefore, even though some areas suffer a shortage of clergy, we must not lose the conviction that Christ continues to call men" to the priesthood.

"Another special vocation occupying a place of honor in the Church is the call to consecrated life. ... Although they undertake various forms of service in the field of human formation and care for the poor, in education and in assistance to the sick, [consecrated people] do not consider these activities as the principle aim of their lives because, as the Code of Canon Law says: 'Contemplation of divine things and assiduous union with God in prayer is to be the first and foremost duty of all religious'."

Benedict XVI concludes his Message with a call to pray "for vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life. ... The Church's sanctity depends essentially on her union with Christ and her openness to the mystery of grace at work in the hearts of believers. For this reason, I would like to invite all the faithful to cultivate an intimate relationship with Christ, Master and Pastor of His people, imitating Mary who guarded the divine mysteries in her heart and contemplated them assiduously."

Secular intransigence enemy of tolerance, says Pope

This morning, the Holy Father received in an audience members of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) during their Study Days in Rome. Here is an excerpt of his address to them:
At present, Europe has to address complex issues of great importance, such as the growth and development of European integration, the increasingly precise definition of neighbourhood policy within the Union and the debate over its social model. In order to attain these goals, it will be important to draw inspiration, with creative fidelity, from the Christian heritage which has made such a particular contribution to forging the identity of this continent. By valuing its Christian roots, Europe will be able to give a secure direction to the choices of its citizens and peoples, it will strengthen their awareness of belonging to a common civilization and it will nourish the commitment of all to address the challenges of the present for the sake of a better future. I therefore appreciate your Group’s recognition of Europe’s Christian heritage, which offers valuable ethical guidelines in the search for a social model that responds adequately to the demands of an already globalized economy and to demographic changes, assuring growth and employment, protection of the family, equal opportunities for education of the young and solicitude for the poor.

Your support for the Christian heritage, moreover, can contribute significantly to the defeat of a culture that is now fairly widespread in Europe, which relegates to the private and subjective sphere the manifestation of one’s own religious convictions. Policies built on this foundation not only entail the repudiation of Christianity’s public role; more generally, they exclude engagement with Europe’s religious tradition, which is so clear, despite its denominational variations, thereby threatening democracy itself, whose strength depends on the values that it promotes (cf. Evangelium Vitae, 70). Given that this tradition, precisely in what might be called its polyphonic unity, conveys values that are fundamental for the good of society, the European Union can only be enriched by engaging with it. It would be a sign of immaturity, if not indeed weakness, to choose to oppose or ignore it, rather than to dialogue with it. In this context one has to recognize that a certain secular intransigence shows itself to be the enemy of tolerance and of a sound secular vision of state and society.
.....

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable. Among these the following emerge clearly today:

- protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death;

- recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family - as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage - and its defence from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role;

- the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.

These principles are not truths of faith, even though they receive further light and confirmation from faith; they are inscribed in human nature itself and therefore they are common to all humanity. The Church’s action in promoting them is therefore not confessional in character, but is addressed to all people, prescinding from any religious affiliation they may have. On the contrary, such action is all the more necessary the more these principles are denied or misunderstood, because this constitutes an offence against the truth of the human person, a grave wound inflicted onto justice itself.
The complete address here

Stational Church: Santi Silvestro e Martino ai Monti


The full name of this church is Santi Silvestro e Martino ai Monti. At first glance, one would hardly guess that it is ancient in foundation, important in the history of the Church, and endowed with many spiritual treasures. Its origins reach back to the era of the imperial persecutions when it was a domus Dei, a house church, known as titulus Equitii, probably because the house or land belonged to a priest named Equitius. The original church was built by Saint Sylvester (314-335) and restored in the early sixth century when it was dedicated to St. Martin of Tours (317-397) and Pope St. Sylvester.

The crypt shows signs of the ancient alternate name of the church as “San Martino in Thermis.” It was the site of the preparatory meetings for the Council of Nicaea in 325 and the site of a diocesan Council over which both Constantine and Sylvester presided. It was here, in fact, that the Nicene Creed was first proclaimed in Rome. Also, the heretical books of Arius, Sabellius, and Victorius were burnt here.

The entire church was restored in 1650 by the Carmelites who were given the church and convent. Saint Charles Borromeo restored the ceiling. (Before their election, both Pius XI and Paul VI also had the title here.) There are two very interesting, 16th century paintings on the left wall: St. Peter and St. John Lateran Basilicas as they were in medieval times. Notice also the chapel where St. Sylvester is said to have celebrated Mass. His papal throne is preserved here, together with his miter. He is reported to be the first Latin bishop to assume the miter and this one is said to be the oldest in Christendom. Under the main altar are the relics of Pope St. Martin I (649-655) and the relics of Sts. Artemius, Paulina, and Sisinnius.

In the crypt an altar encases the relics of St. Sylvester, along with Popes Sergius, Fabian, Stephan I, Soter, Cyriacus, Anastatius, and Innocent I. Sergius II (844-847) likewise enshrined here many other relics of martyrs taken from the catacombs of Saint Priscilla which, as an ancient dedication reads, “are known only to God.” Off the crypt on the left side is the entrance to the excavations of the ancient titulus.

Scholars have surmised that this ancient house had ground-floor windows, an inner court, and was of two levels, as were most of the plebian houses of that time. However, the room beyond the vestibule was vaulted and looks as if the builder planned it for a meeting place and sanctuary large enough to hold about four hundred people. As such, it is the only known assembly hall of this type to exist. The church was formally erected as a station by Gregory II (715-731). During the ninth century, it was known as a Deaconry. Today it is cared for by the Carmelite Fathers.


Contemplating the Lord's passion


~by Pope St. Leo the Great

True reverence for the Lord’s passion means fixing the eyes of our heart on Jesus crucified and recognising in him our own humanity.

The earth – our earthly nature – should tremble at the suffering of its Redeemer. The rocks – the hearts of unbelievers – should burst asunder. The dead, imprisoned in the tombs of their mortality, should come forth, the massive stones now ripped apart. Foreshadowings of the future resurrection should appear in the holy city, the Church of God: what is to happen to our bodies should now take place in our hearts.

No one, however weak, is denied a share in the victory of the cross. No one is beyond the help of the prayer of Christ. His prayer brought benefit to the multitude that raged against him. How much more does it bring to those who turn to him in repentance.

Ignorance has been destroyed, obstinacy has been overcome. The sacred blood of Christ has quenched the flaming sword that barred access to the tree of life. The age-old night of sin has given place to the true light.

The Christian people are invited to share the riches of paradise. All who have been reborn have the way open before them to return to their native land, from which they had been exiled. Unless indeed they close off for themselves the path that could be opened before the faith of a thief.
The business of this life should not preoccupy us with its anxiety and pride, so that we no longer strive with all the love of our heart to be like our Redeemer, and to follow his example. Everything that he did or suffered was for our salvation: he wanted his body to share the goodness of its head.

First of all, in taking our human nature while remaining God, so that the Word became man, he left no member of the human race, the unbeliever excepted, without a share in his mercy. Who does not share a common nature with Christ if he has welcomed Christ, who took our nature, and is reborn in the Spirit through whom Christ was conceived?

Again, who cannot recognise in Christ his own infirmities? Who would not recognise that Christ’s eating and sleeping, his sadness and his shedding of tears of love are marks of the nature of a slave?

It was this nature of a slave that had to be healed of its ancient wounds and cleansed of the defilement of sin. For that reason the only-begotten Son of God became also the son of man. He was to have both the reality of a human nature and the fullness of the godhead.

The body that lay lifeless in the tomb is ours. The body that rose again on the third day is ours. The body that ascended above all the heights of heaven to the right hand of the Father’s glory is ours. If then we walk in the way of his commandments, and are not ashamed to acknowledge the price he paid for our salvation in a lowly body, we too are to rise to share his glory. The promise he made will be fulfilled in the sight of all: Whoever acknowledges me before men, I too will acknowledge him before my Father who is in heaven.

Holiness of life best reflector of Divine Beauty

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 29, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The Church faces the challenge of understanding how beauty can be a "way of evangelization and dialogue," says the Pontifical Council for Culture.

Members and consultors of this Vatican dicastery addressed this topic during their two-day plenary assembly, focusing on three questions: "the beauty of nature, the beauty of art and the beauty of Christian holiness."

Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture and recently named president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, presented the conclusions at the end of the assembly today.

The topic of beauty, he said, is decisive "to address the cultural situation in which we find ourselves, in particular, the crucial challenge of secularization that, from the West, extends across a world" that lives as "if God didn't exist."

The cardinal, 75, said at the meeting that "the way of beauty has a long tradition in the Church." Yet he acknowledged that "today it must be rediscovered, as it is often forgotten and at times even combated, because it is misunderstood."

"The Church can only propose the Gospel message in all its beauty, which is capable of attracting spirits and hearts, offering through its pastors and faithful the testimony of integrity of life and of clarity of the message they reflect," said the cardinal when presenting one of the principal conclusions.

Hedonism

In fact, he added, "the examination of the challenge of sects has brought to light the disastrous consequences of the anti-testimonies given by priests and laymen whose daily life is in contradiction of the Gospel message, and in this way their lack of spirituality darkens the clarity and splendor of grace."

The participants acknowledged that the prevailing hedonism darkens, particularly in young people, the perception of genuine beauty.

Cardinal Poupard contended, therefore, that it is necessary to help our contemporaries "to escape from the nets of exterior appearance and find their deepest self again."

Given that the liturgy is a privileged place of encounter with the Church, Cardinal Poupard warned about the danger of "liturgical clericalism" by which, "instead of leading to the mystery of Christ, the priest appears only as the movie director," transforming "ceremonies into shows that have nothing to do with the beauty of the mystery of faith."

The cardinal concluded that "holiness of life is the best reflector of divine beauty," and stressed "the urgency of a profound renewal in the Church through the search for a genuine culture of holiness

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Afghan convert arrives in Italy

Via Yahoo News
ROME - Italy granted asylum Wednesday to an Afghan who faced the death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity, and Premier Silvio Berlusconi said the man was in the care of the Interior Ministry after arriving in Italy earlier in the day.

Abdul Rahman "is already in Italy. I think he arrived overnight," Berlusconi said, declining to release more details.

Pontifical Council of Culture Meeting this Week

Keep an eye on this plenary assembly. Its focus is on "beauty as a way of evangelization and dialogue."

Link to the Vatican page on the agenda

I'll post excerpts as soon as they're made available.

Some of the session titles:
  • The Via Pulchritudinis Theological Foundations for a Pastoral Approach to Beauty
  • Beauty Menaced by Materialism and Consumerism
  • The Church's Artistic Patrimony, Means of Evangelisation, Catechesis and Dialogue
  • Giving back to the Liturgy its Dignity and Authentic Beauty

40,000 attend today's General Audience


~From Asia News

Communion is a divine gift in a world that suffers from divisions and solitude, says Pope
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The Church, “in spite of all human frailties”, expresses the communion, the “participation in trinitary life”. It is a “gift that brings us out of our solitude and enables us to participate in the love that binds us to God and to one another.” We can understand its greatness “only if we consider the divisions and conflicts that afflict relations between individuals, groups and entire peoples.”

Today, on a true day of spring, Benedict XVI spoke of the gift of communion to 40,000 faithful gathered for the general audience in St Peter’s Square. Communion is a gift from which the Church stems and which the Church expresses, he said. Through its apostolic ministry, it “will live across time building and nourishing the communion in Christ and the Spirit”.

“The Twelve prepared their successors (cf 1 Clem 42, 4) so that their mission might continue after their death. In the course of time, the Church, organically structured under the guidance of its legitimate Pastors, has thus continued to exist in the world as the mystery of communion in which is somewhat reflected the trinitary communion itself”.

As a theologian, the Pope said that Paul had already mentioned the supreme trinitary source when he greeted his fellow Christians with “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the holy Spirit be with all of you” (2 Cor, 13: 13).

“These words, which probably echo the worship practices of the early Church, show how the Father’s free gift of love through Jesus Christ is realised and expressed in the communion of the Holy Spirit.”

“This interpretation, based on the close similarities that the text establishes between the three genitives (“the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ . . . the love of God . . . and the communion of the Holy Spirit), presents the “communion” as a specific gift from the Spirit similar to the love given by God the Father and the grace offered by the Lord Jesus.”

The idea of the communion as participation in the trinitary life “is illustrated with particular intensity in the Gospel according to John, where the communion of love which ties the Son to the Father and to men is at the same time model and source of brotherly communion which must bind the disciples together. ‘[L]ove one another as I love you’ (Jn, 15: 12; cf 13, 34); ‘so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you’ (Jn, 17: 21, 22)”.

The communion, fruit of the Holy Spirit, is then “a kind of anticipation of the future glory: just that, a gift that brings us out of our solitude and makes us take part in the love that binds us to God and one another”.

The communion then “is truly the Good Word that overcomes solitude, a precious gift that makes us feel welcomed and loved by God in the unity of His People gathered in the name of the Trinity. It is the light that makes the Church sparkle as a risen sign amongst the peoples”. It is a “wonderful creation of love that was created so that Christ would be close to each man and woman who truly wants to meet Him, till the end of times”.

Total eclipse

Flickr slideshow of the solar eclipse



Parts of World Get a Stunning Solar Show via Yahoo News:
ACCRA, Ghana - Schoolchildren cheered as the first total eclipse in years plunged Ghana into daytime darkness Wednesday, a solar show sweeping northeast from Brazil to Mongolia.

As the heavens and Earth moved into rare alignment, all that could be seen of the sun were the rays of its corona — the usually invisible extended atmosphere of the sun that glowed a dull yellow for about three minutes, barely illuminating the west African nation.

Automatic street lights flickered on, authorities sounded whistles and schoolchildren burst into applause across Ghana's capital, Accra. Many in the deeply religious country of Christians and Muslims said the phenomenon bolstered their faith.

"I believe it's a wonderful work of God, despite all what the scientists say," said Solomon Pomenya, a 52-year old doctor. "This tells me that God is a true engineer."
More here

A Tribute to Anglo-Catholics

As a former Anglo-Catholic, I have to smile at this one (via Whitehall by Sean Reed):
A Tribute to Anglo-Catholics
(tune: Aurelia: The Church's One Foundation)

Our church is mighty spikey with smells and bells and chants,
And Palestrina masses that vex the Protestants.
O happy ones and holy who fall upon their knees
For solemn Benediction and mid-week Rosaries.

Though with a scornful wonder men see our clergy, dressed
In rich brocaded vestments as slowly they process;
Yet saints their watch are keeping lest souls be set alight
Not by the Holy Spirit, but incense taking flight.

Now we on earth have union with Lambeth, not with Rome,
Although the wags and cynics may question our true home;
But folk masses and bingo can't possibly depose
The works of Byrd and Tallis, or Cranmer's stately prose.

(Here shall the organist modulate)

So let the organ thunder, sound fanfares "en chamade";
Rejoice, for we are treading where many saints have trod;
Let peals ring from the spire, sing descants to high C,
Just don't let your elation disrupt the liturgy.

Stational Church: The Basilica of San Paolo fuori le Mura


The Patriarchal Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls is the largest church in Rome after Saint Peter’s Basilica and is sometimes referred to as the “Ostian Basilica” because of its location along the Ostian Way. The Apostle Paul was brought to Rome as a prisoner and martyred between the years 64 and 67 during the persecution of Nero. Aquae Salviae, today’s Tre Fontana, about two miles from the basilica, is the traditional site of Paul’s martyrdom. Since he was a Roman citizen, his execution was probably by beheading rather than public torture. The body was claimed by the Roman matron Lucina, who buried it in her family tomb near a vineyard on the road to Ostia. An oratory was soon erected over it.

In 324 Constantine replaced the oratory with a basilica and placed the apostle’s body in a bronze sarcophagus with a marble slab over it. Pope Sylvester I (314-355) is said to have consecrated the church on the same day on which the Basilica of St. Peter was consecrated – on November 18, 326. Because of the large number of pilgrims, a new building was soon needed, and in 386 Valentinian II made plans for a larger building, which Theodosius began and Honorius completed. Pope Leo III (795-816) further embellished it, and in time this became the largest and most beautiful church in Rome, surpassing even St. Peter’s.

After the Saracens pillaged (847) the basilica, John VIII (872-882) built a village around it and fortified it. The village was called Johannipolis (Giovannipoli) or “City of John” and it successfully defended the basilica from the heavy attacks of Emperor Henry IV in the 11th century. Thus the basilica stood until the fateful night of July 15, 1823, when the roof caught fire and crashed into the nave and aisles, destroying most of the basilica. At the time of the fire, Pius VII was dying, and those attending him thought it better to keep the sad news from him; he died on July 20, 1823.

Leo XII (1823-1829) ordered the basilica’s restoration, financed through donations from around the world. The transept was consecrated by Gregory XVI (1831-1846) on October 5, 1840, and completed in 1854. On December 10 of that year it was consecrated by Blessed Pius IX (1846-1878). The present basilica is virtually the same in size and plan as the one that had been destroyed, and in fact is an excellent (perhaps the best) representation of an early Christian basilica because it is devoid of the natural accretions and decorations that collect over many centuries of use. In 1891 a nearby explosion broke most of the stained glass windows, which were then replaced with Egyptian alabaster.


The gold mosaics on the façade depict Christ between the Apostles Peter and Paul. Below is the Lamb of God on the mountain of Paradise. The four rivers symbolize the Gospels, and the twelve lambs drinking from the rivers symbolize the Apostles. The cities are Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The lower section shows the Old Testament Prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. The reliefs on the main door show scenes from the lives of Peter and Paul in Rome.

The basilica has the “T” shape of an Egyptian cross, with one nave and double aisles separated by eighty columns of Montofarno granite. Between the windows, the walls of the nave have twenty-two 19th century frescoes by various artists illustrating episodes from St. Paul’s life. Beneath the frescoes and windows are friezes of mosaic portraits of the popes. The portrait of Pope John Paul II is on the right aisle, near the right transept, and has a light shining on it. There seems to be room for only eight more portraits, a portentious fact for those with an apocalyptic bent! The ten niches of the outer walls have statues of the apostles, and the coffered ceiling is in beautiful Renaissance style, with much gold stucco work.

Under the main altar is the Apostle’s tomb. Excavations at the time of the rebuilding uncovered a first-century tomb, surrounded by Christian and pagan burials. A marble slab (approximately 7 feet by 3 feet 6 inches) with the inscription Paulo Apostolomart is above the bronze sarcophagus containing the Apostle’s relics. Above St. Paul’s tomb is the celebrated Gothic baldachin of Arnolfo di Cambio (1245-1310). The four corner niches have statues of Sts. Peter, Paul, and Timothy, as well as Bartholomew, the Benedictine abbot of the basilica who commissioned it. By the confessio are four alabaster columns that support nothing but air. They were given to the church by the Khedive of Egypt in 1840, and formed part of a larger baldachino that covered this area – it even covered the canopy above the high altar. It was taken down after a short time, but the columns remain.

The apse mosaic dates from about 1220 and survived the fire of 1823. It is the work of Venetian artists sent to Rome to replace a much damaged fifth-century mosaic. A majestic Teaching Christ, wearing imperial colors, sits erect on a cushioned throne; his visage is serene and in his left hand he holds a book with the words, “Come blessed of my Father and receive the kingdom prepared for you.” His right hand is raised in blessing in the Greek manner. Saints Paul and Luke are on his right, with Saints Peter and Andrew on his left. Honorius, who commissioned the work, is the tiny figure kneeling at Christ’s right foot. In the center, lower down, is a jeweled cross on a throne with symbols of the Passion, flanked by two angels with the other nine apostles, as well as Saints Matthias, Barnabas, and Mark. The figures are separated from each other by trees; they sing the Gloria from the Mass, the words of which are written on the scrolls they hold.

The superbly carved Easter candlestick is approximately eighteen feet tall and dates from about 1170. It has figures of animals and scenes from Christ’s passion and the Ascension on it. Also notice the Chapel of St. Stephen, a reminder that before his conversion, Saul took part in the stoning of St. Stephen, protomartyr of the church, who is buried at St. Lawrence Outside the Walls. Left of the apse is the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, with a 14th century crucifix that is said to have spoken, or nodded, to St. Bridget of Sweden when she prayed here in 1370. Also in this chapel is the 12th century icon of the Blessed Virgin before which St. Ignatius of Loyola and his companions made their first public vows on August 22, 1541.


The cloister is a touch of the Middle Ages, and though smaller than that of St. John Lateran, nevertheless it is more ornate, better preserved, and more beautiful. It is thought to be the work of Pietro Vassalletto (Rome 1154-1186), who also worked on the large Easter candlestick in the basilica. While at the basilica, visit the Chapel of the Relics which houses the chains which once bound the Apostle Paul while a prisoner in Rome.

This basilica was the traditional site of the First Scrutiny of the Catechumenate. This is the reason why a major basilica was erected by Gregory the Great as a station church in mid-week. The tomb of the Apostles, called so specially by Christ, reminds one of the Lenten theme of conversion. Traditionally the Title of this basilica was bestowed upon the reigning King of England with the designation “Proto-Canon.” Regrettably, this Title is now vacant. The basilica is cared for by Benedictine monks. ~From Pontifical North American College, Station Churches of Rome


The mercy of God to the penitent



~by St. Maximus the Confessor

God’s will is to save us, and nothing pleases him more than our coming back to him with true repentance. The heralds of truth and the ministers of divine grace have told us this from the beginning, repeating it in every age. Indeed, God’s desire for our salvation is the primary and pre-eminent sign of his infinite goodness. Precisely in order to show that there is nothing closer to God’s heart than this, the divine Word of God the Father, with untold condescension, lived among us in the flesh, and did, suffered, and said all that was necessary to reconcile us to God the Father, when we were at enmity with him, and to restore us to the life of blessedness from which we had been exiled. He healed our physical infirmities by miracles; he freed us from our sins, many and grievous as they were, by suffering and dying, taking them upon himself as if he were answerable for them, sinless though he was. He also taught us in many different ways that we should wish to imitate him by our own kindness and genuine love for one another.

So it was that Christ proclaimed that he had come to call sinners to repentance, not the righteous, and that it was not the healthy who required a doctor, but the sick. He declared that he had come to look for the sheep that was lost, and that it was to the lost sheep of the house of Israel that he had been sent. Speaking more obscurely in the parable of the silver coin, he tells us that the purpose of his coming was to reclaim the royal image, which had been coated with the filth of sin. “You can be sure there is joy in heaven’, he said, over one sinner who repents.

To give the same lesson he revived the man who, having fallen into the hands of the brigands, had been left stripped and half-dead from his wounds; he poured wine and oil on the wounds, bandaged them, placed the man on his own mule and brought him to an inn, where he let sufficient money to have him cared for, and promised to repay any further expense on his return.

Again, he told of how that Father, who is goodness itself, was moved with pity for his profligate son who returned and made amends by repentance; how he embraced him, dressed him once more in the fine garments that befitted his own dignity, and did not reproach him for any of his sins.

So too, when he found wandering in the mountains and hills the one sheep that had strayed from God’s flock of a hundred, he brought it back to the fold, but he did not exhaust it by driving it ahead of him. Instead, he placed it on his own shoulders and so, compassionately, he restored it safely to the flock.

So also he cried out: Come to me, all you that toil and are heavy of heart. Accept my yoke’, he said, by which he meant his commands, or rather, the whole way of life that he taught us in the Gospel. He then speaks of a burden, but that is only because repentance seems difficult. In fact, however, my yoke is easy, he assures us, and my burden is light.

Then again he instructs us in divine justice and goodness, telling us to be like our heavenly Father, holy, perfect and merciful. Forgive, he says, and you will be forgiven. Behave toward other people as you would wish them to behave toward you.

~Painting by Rembrandt, The Return of the Prodigal Son, 1662

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

It's coming!!!!

Woooo! My copy is on its way! In my mailbox when I got home tonight:
Greetings from Amazon.com,

We thought you'd like to know that we shipped your items, and that this completes your order.

Thanks for shopping at Amazon.com, and we hope to see you again soon.



The following items were included in this shipment:

1 Compendium of the Catechism o $14.95 1 $14.95
Time to clear my reading stack....

Eating the sun

....total solar eclipse tomorrow.



Warn your Henny-Pennys.

Be faithful, so that your children may learn to be faithful


....so exhorted our pastor last night to parents of the 64 children receiving their first communion next month in our parish.

"Do everything you can to bring them to Mass every Sunday," he said. "Here they receive Jesus. This is what we believe, that by the power of the Holy Spirit, the bread and the wine become the Body and Blood of Christ.

"People have died for this belief and I would give my life for it. It is a great mystery of faith, but it is a gift of faith that Jesus is present in the bread and in the wine.

"How can it be? Can God come into the womb of a virgin and take her flesh and become like us? With God everything is possible. So we believe that this is Jesus under the species of bread and wine.

"It is a great mystery of faith that Jesus can enter into our bodies, that we can feed on him. This is Love. This is the most important thing that we do. So, yes, give your children gifts to celebrate this day of their first communion. But do not forget that the greatest gift is Jesus himself."

My seven-year-old daughter whispered in my ear, "When Fr. J speaks, I feel as though God is saying something to me."

Update on Afghani convert

Christian Convert Vanishes After Release
(AP) KABUL, Afghanistan - An Afghan man who had faced the death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity quickly vanished Tuesday after he was released from prison, apparently out of fear for his life with Muslim clerics still demanding his death.

Italy's Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini said he would ask his government to grant Abdul Rahman asylum. Fini was among the first to speak out on the man's behalf.

Rahman, 41, was released from the high-security Policharki prison on the outskirts of Kabul late Monday, Afghan Justice Minister Mohammed Sarwar Danish told The Associated Press.

"We released him last night because the prosecutors told us to," he said. "His family was there when he was freed, but I don't know where he was taken."

Deputy Attorney-General Mohammed Eshak Aloko said prosecutors had issued a letter calling for Rahman's release because "he was mentally unfit to stand trial." He also said he did not know where Rahman had gone after being released.

He said Rahman may be sent overseas for medical treatment.

On Monday, hundreds of clerics, students and others chanting "Death to Christians!" marched through the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif to protest the court decision Sunday to dismiss the case. Several Muslim clerics threatened to incite Afghans to kill Rahman if he is freed, saying that he is clearly guilty of apostasy and deserves to die.

"Abdul Rahman must be killed. Islam demands it," said senior Cleric Faiez Mohammed, from the nearby northern city of Kunduz. "The Christian foreigners occupying Afghanistan are attacking our religion."

~Via Yahoo News

In praise of charity


~by Pope St. Leo the Great

In John’s gospel the Lord says: By this love you have for one another, everyone will know you are my disciples. In a letter by John we read: My dear people, let us love one another since love comes from God and everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Anyone who fails to love can never have known God, because God is love.

So the faithful should look into themselves and carefully examine their minds and the impulses of their hearts. If they find some of the fruits of love stored in their hearts then they must not doubt God’s presence within them, but to make themselves more and more able to receive so great a guest they should do more and more works of durable mercy and kindness. After all, if God is love, charity should know no limit, for God himself cannot be confined within limits.

What is the appropriate time for performing works of charity? My beloved children, any time is the right time, but these days of Lent provide a special encouragement. Those who want to be present at the Lord’s Passover in holiness of mind and body should seek above all to win this grace. Charity contains all other virtues and covers a multitude of sins.

As we prepare to celebrate that greatest of all mysteries, by which the blood of Jesus Christ destroyed our sins, let us first of all make ready the sacrificial offerings — that is, our works of mercy. What God in his goodness has already given to us, let us give it to those who have sinned against us.

And to the poor also, and to those who are afflicted in various ways, let us show a more open-handed generosity so that God may be thanked through many voices and the needy may be fed as a result of our fasting. No act of devotion on the part of the faithful gives God more pleasure than the support that is lavished on his poor. Where God finds charity with its loving concern, there he recognises the reflection of his own fatherly care.

Do not be put off giving by a lack of resources. A generous spirit is itself great wealth, and there can be no shortage of material for generosity where it is Christ who feeds and Christ who is fed. His hand is present in all this activity: his hand, which multiplies the bread by breaking it and increases it by giving it away.

When you give alms, do not be anxious but full of happiness. The greatest treasure will go to the one who has kept the least for himself. The holy apostle Paul tells us: He who provides seed for the sower will give bread for food, provide you with more seed, and increase the harvest of your goodness, in Christ Jesus our Lord, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.

~Painting by Lorenzo Costa, St. Cecily's Charity, 1505-06

Stational Church: San Lorenzo in Damaso


San Lorenzo in Damaso, dedicated to St. Lawrence the Deacon – again! – is located at the site of the ancient titulus Damasi, one of the twenty-five original parishes of Rome. The first church was built by Pope St. Damasus (366-384) over his house near the Theater of Pompey. It was here that he founded his public library, so an inscription reads: “I have erected this building for the archives of the Roman church; I have surrounded it with porticoes on either side, and I have given it my name, which I hope will be remembered for centuries.”

This ancient basilica and palace were demolished in 1484 to make room for the new Palazzo della Cancelleria. Considered a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture, the palazzo was built for Raffaele Cardinal Riario, nephew of Sixtus IV (1471-1484), by an unknown architect; the records were lost in the sack of 1527. It is thought that Bramante may have helped at a late stage, possibly designing the beautiful courtyard. Since the sixteenth century it has housed the presiding cardinal and the offices of the papal chancellery, which has given it its name of Cancelleria. The palace is still the property of the Vatican and contains the offices of the various Tribunals of the Roman Curia: the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, and the Tribunal of the Roman Rota.

The present basilica is incorporated into the fabric of the palace. It does not occupy the same site as the original San Lorenzo did; not only is it farther west than the former, but neither does it face onto the Via del Pellegrino. Nevertheless, the Renaissance church is large and spacious, having a nave, two aisles, apse, and an interesting double portico in the front forming a vestibule; perhaps this alludes to Saint Damasus’ porticoes that surrounded his ancient church. During a restoration after a fire in 1944, inscriptions were found indicating that this was the ancient site of the barracks of the Green Company of Charioteers, thus explaining another ancient name for the church, “San Lorenzo in Prasino” since prasinus, as you probably know, means “leek green” in Latin.

Under the high altar, which is a work of Bernini, are the remains of Pope St. Damasus and many others, including the martyr St. Eutychius and St. John Calybites and St. Hippolytus. At the rear of the left aisle is venerated a beloved image of the Black Madonna, of Byzantine origin. In a chapel off the right aisle is a miraculous, 14th century crucifix before which St. Bridget of Sweden often prayed while she lived here for a period of time. Above the colonnades is an interesting row of paintings depicting scenes from the life of St. Lawrence. ~From Pontifical North American College, Station Churches of Rome

Monday, March 27, 2006

Mobile faith

Church in Scotland launches text message service
Glasgow, Mar. 27, 2006 (CNA) - The Catholic Church in Scotland has launched a new text message service, which will include Church news and requests to pray, reported the Sunday Scotsman Newspaper.

The service will also seek to mobilize Catholics by advising them of radio and television talk shows on moral issues, urging them to call in. It also intends to prepare weekly audio and video services for download. It is the first church in the United Kingdom to offer such a service. It already offers a text message Bible verse service.

The Church will distribute 100,000 flyers over the next month to promote the new service, which will be free to subscribers and operated by volunteers in Glasgow. Costs of the service will be shouldered by the Church's communications budget.

For the first time, the text message service will offer both audio and video podcasts of the Scottish Church’s General Assembly in May. The podcasts will consist of edited highlights from the daily worship and debates. The debates will also be streamed to the latest mobile phones.

Scotland has about 700,000 Roman Catholics; about 230,000 attend church regularly. Church officials estimate that about 20,000 people will subscribe to the new service.

Abdul Rahman Update


Afghans rally during a demonstration in the northern city of Mazar-i-Shariff, Afghanistan March 27, 2006. In the first protest over the case of Afghan man, Abdur Rahman who converted from Islam to Christianity, several hundred people led by clerics demonstrated in Mazar-i-Shariff, demanding Rahman be tried under Islamic law. REUTERS/Tahir Qadiry
--------
Update 2:45 PM EST

~From Reuters
"He will be released," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters. "I understand now that the details of his release and any potential onward travel are being handled as a private matter."

Report of the Subcommittee on Music and the Liturgy

I don't know if you've seen this document from the USCCB. It's worthwhile to share it here since liturgy is one of main interests. In addition, we are expecting Pope Benedict's exhortation on the renewal of liturgy. Click here for the link to the Power Point presentation

The subcommittee's mission:
Sung texts and liturgical hymns have a particular importance and efficacy. Especially on Sunday, the “Day of the Lord”, the singing of the faithful gathered for the celebration of Holy Mass, no less than the prayers, the readings and the homily, express in an authentic way the message of the Liturgy while fostering a sense of common faith and communion in charity. If they are used widely by the faithful, they should remain relatively fixed so that confusion among the people may be avoided.

Within five years from the publication of this Instruction, the Conferences of Bishops, necessarily in collaboration with the national and diocesan Commissions and with other experts, shall provide for the publication of a directory or repertory of texts intended for liturgical singing. This document shall be transmitted for the necessary recognitio to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

The two main concerns:
*Individual songs should be consonant with Catholic teaching and free from theological error

*The repertoire of liturgical songs in any given setting should not manifest a collective bias against Catholic theological elements.
Theological concerns:
*Is there a sufficient attention to the Trinity and to the Trinitarian structure of Catholic beliefs and teachings?

Do our liturgical songs fail at times to present the Trinity as the central mystery of the Christian faith? Does the language used in referring to the Persons of the Trinity contribute at times to a lack of clarity? Is there a reluctance to use “Father” for the first person of the Blessed Trinity? Is the relationship between Jesus and the Father stressed sufficiently? Are there times when the word “God” is placed in a sentence where one would expect to find “Father” or “God the Father” since the reference is precisely to the relationship between the first and second persons of the Trinity?

*Is there an obscured presentation of the centrality of Christ in salvation history and an insufficient emphasis on the divinity of Christ? Do our liturgical songs present Jesus as the culmination of the Old Testament and the fulfillment of God’s plan for our salvation? Is the indispensable place of the incarnation in the plan of salvation sufficiently presented?

Is Jesus the Savior often overshadowed by Jesus the teacher, model, friend, and brother? Is there an appropriate balance? Is there an imbalance in our emphasis on the humanity or divinity of Jesus Christ? At times, can we detect a negative undertone in speaking of the divine nature of Christ, as if divinity is equated with being “distant and unreal.”

Other theological concerns
*An indistinct treatment of the ecclesial context of Catholic beliefs and magisterial teachings?

*Do the texts give insufficient emphasis to God’s initiative in the world with a corresponding overemphasis on human action?

*Is there a sufficient recognition of the transforming effects of grace?
More here. I commend the document to you.

Brian at Christus Vincit has been podcasting a 'white list' of liturgical songs in the current missal that express the Catholic faith more authentically. He and fellow bloggers Jason and Nicholas post the Sunday music at their respective churches where they serve as Music Directors. They have launched a new feature called "Choral Anthem Review". Do visit them.

Stational Church: Santi Quattro Coronati al Celio


By far one of the most structurally interesting churches in Rome, the Quattro Coronati may be linked to the ancient titulus Aemilianae, referred to by the First Roman Council of 499. It would then be one of the original twenty-five parishes of Rome. Scholars are uncertain about this, but they are sure about the reference to the church by the Roman Council of 595. It is also on the list of stational churches by Gregory the Great.

Unfortunately, nothing remains of the original church. The present structure was built in the ninth century by Leo IV, who brought the relics of four martyrs to the church from the catacombs of Saints Peter and Marcellinus. They were four brothers, Severus, Severinus, Carpophorus, and Victorius, all Roman officials who were scourged to death under Diocletian (284-305) for refusing to honor a statue of the god Aesculapius.

In 1084 Robert Guiscard sacked and burned the building. In 1111 Paschal II began restoring the church, but he decided to reduce its size, incorporating much of the old nave and its Ionic columns into a large courtyard, leaving the old atrium to form a forecourt. He also built the squat campanile which gives the approach to the church a fortress-like effect. Inside the church, the apse is now somewhat out of proportion with the present nave of the church. Paschal also added the galleries above the aisles which further reduce the sense of spaciousness.

Of special note is the courtyard to the side of the church, entered through a door on the left side. An addition of Paschal, it is serene and contains a 12th century fountain, probably originally in front of the church. Now it the cloister for a nun’s convent and is not usually shown to the public, except on special days like today. Also to be seen is the Chapel of St. Sylvester which is located in the portico and right aisle of Leo’s old nave. It was built by Innocent IV (1243-1254) and has frescoes depicting the Last Judgment; also note the eight panels, in Byzantine style, recounting the legend of Constantine’s cure from leprosy by St. Sylvester, and the (inaccurate) tradition that Constantine was baptized by Sylvester. The cycle depicts the supremacy of papal power over imperial power, represented by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II. The chapel belongs to the confraternity of stonecutters and sculptors and is now rarely open. On the right side is the matronea, a gallery for women in Eastern style. Finally, do not miss the beautiful cosmatesque floor and coffered ceiling.

In the Middle Ages this church and its surrounding monastery formed the only fortified abbey in Rome and was often the temporary papal residence. Leo IV was proclaimed pope here in 847, but not, the story goes, until after the true identity of the infamous “Papessa Giovanna” was discovered. The discredited legend of Pope Joan is still linked to the church, because it lies on the old route of the papal cavalcade. Besides the relics of the Four Crowned Martyrs, the church also preserves the skull of St. Sebastian in an altar on the left side.

The first non-Italian titular, Dietrich of Trier, was given this church in 975 by Pope Benedict VII. In 1914, Giacomo della Chiesa, who became Pope Benedict XV, was the titular here. ~From Pontifical North American College, Station Churches of Rome

Christ the High Priest makes atonement for our sins

~by Origen

Once a year the high priest, leaving the people outside, entered that place where no one except the high priest might enter. In it was the mercy-seat, and above the mercy-seat the cherubim, as well as the ark of the covenant and the altar of incense.

Let me turn to my true high priest, the Lord Jesus Christ. In our human nature he spent the whole year in the company of the people, the year that he spoke of when he said: He sent me to bring good news to the poor, to announce the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of forgiveness. Notice how once in that year, on the day of atonement, he enters into the holy of holies. Having fulfilled God’s plan, he passes through the heavens and enters into the presence of the Father to make him turn in mercy to the human race and to pray for all who believe in him.
John the apostle, knowing of the atonement that Christ makes to the Father for all men, says this: Little children, I say these things so that you may not sin. But if we have sinned we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the just one. He is the atonement for our sins in his blood, through faith. We have then a day of atonement that remains until the world comes to an end.

God’s word tells us: The high priest shall put incense on the fire in the sight of the Lord. The smoke of the incense shall cover the mercy-seat above the tokens of the covenant, so that he may not die. He shall take some of the blood of the bull-calf and sprinkle it with his finger over the mercy-seat toward the east.

God taught the people of the old covenant how to celebrate the ritual offered to him in atonement for the sins of men. But you have come to Christ, the true high priest. Through his blood he has made God turn to you in mercy and has reconciled you with the Father. You must not think simply of ordinary blood but you must learn to recognise instead the blood of the Word. Listen to him as he tells you: This is my blood, which will be shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.

There is a deeper meaning in the fact that the high priest sprinkles the blood toward the east. Atonement comes to you from the east. From the east comes the one whose name is Dayspring, he who is mediator between God and men. You are invited then to look always to the east: it is there that the sun of righteousness rises for you, it is there that the light is always being born for you. You are never to walk in darkness; the great and final day is not to enfold you in darkness. Do not let the night and mist of ignorance steal upon you. So that you may always enjoy the light of knowledge, keep always in the daylight of faith, hold fast always to the light of love and peace.

Jean Therapy


Want the perfect-fitting jeans? Well, now you can have yours custom-made by a company named mejeans.com. Have a try--guys have their own line, too. From the website:
Welcome to mejeans…

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Base price of $89.99! All sorts of options to choose from. Even a jean shield. (does it come with a squeegee?) My head's spinning.

They do caution when measuring oneself: Be honest to yourself (and us) with your measurements. The truer the measurements given, the better fitting your jeans will be. (Kind of in the "duh" department).

Sunday, March 26, 2006

UConn vs George Mason

Aaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrgggggggghhhhhhh!!

Not another tied game.

My guys are back so the tension level is pretty high. March Madness indeed.

I.Have.Chewed.Off.All.My.Nails.

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Update 5:12 PM

Whoa. That was some game. Off to console my UConn friend.

GMU 86; UConn 84

Angelus: Spiritual richness of collegiality

~From Asia News
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Benedict XVI once more talked about the Consistory and the “spiritual richness of collegiality” in “being among brothers of different origin, all sharing a common love for Christ and for his Church”. But he dwelt especially on a “providential coincidence”: 24 March, the day he conferred the red hat on 15 bishops and archbishops, was the day of prayer and fasting for missionary martyrs, “who in the past year fell on the frontline of evangelization and in the service of mankind in different parts of the world”. He said: “The Consistory was an opportunity to feel closer than ever to all those Christians who suffer persecution because of their faith. Their witness, which we are informed of daily, and above all the sacrifice of those who were killed, are edifying for us and urge us to an ever more sincere and generous Gospel commitment.” The pope also recalled that the red colour of the Cardinal’s vestments, “the colour of blood”, indicated the “fidelity” and readiness of cardinals to spread the Gospel “to the point of sacrificing one’s life”...

...Ending his reflections before the Angelus prayer, Benedict XVI said: “The Church advances in history and is spreading across the earth, accompanied by Mary, Queen of the Apostles. As in the Cenacolo, the Blessed Virgin remains, for Christians, the living memory of Jesus. It is she who animates our prayer and sustains hope. We ask her to guide us in our daily journey and to protect especially those Christian communities in conditions of greater difficulties and suffering.”
More here

Caption Time


You put your red hat in,
You put your red hat out,
You put your red hat in
And shake it all about...