Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Scary image

~thanks to Zadok I have a stomach ache from laughing so hard. He says something is decidedly off about this nurse. What do you think? Stepford Italian style from Ms. Adventures in Italy from the Ministero de Salute.

General Audience: St. Maximus


Pope Benedict XVI, in white under a white umbrella, greets the faithful during a rainy general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday Oct. 31, 2007. (AP Photo/Plinio Lepri)

~translated by Teresa Benedetta

Dear brothers and sisters!

Between the end of the fourth century and the beginning of the fifth, another Father of the Church, after St. Ambrose of Milan, contributed decisively to the spread and consolidation of Christianity in northern Italy.

He is St. Maximus, whom we meet as Bishop of Turin in 398, one year after the death of Ambrose. There is very little information about him. In recompense, a collection of about 90 sermons have come down to us. From these emerges the profound and vital link of the Bishop to his city, which also attests an evident point of contact between the episcopal ministry of Ambrose and that of Maximus.

At that time, serious tensions upset the normal order of civil coexistence. In this context, Maximus succeeded to consolidate the Christian population around him as pastor and teacher.

The city was threatened by scattered groups of barbarians who, having entered through the eastern passes, were pushing towards the western Alps. Because of this, Turin was permanently protected by military garrisons, which became, during critical moments, a refuge for the people fleeing the countryside and unprotected urban centers .

Maximus's interventions in the face of this situation bear witness to his commitment to do something about the civilian degradation and disaggregation.

Even if it is difficult to determine the social composition of the people that his Sermons addressed, it appears that his preaching - not risking generalities - was addressed specifically to a selected nucleus of the Christian community of Turin, consisting of rich landowners who had their possessions in the countryside and their homes in the city.

It was a clear pastoral choice by the Bishop, who saw in this kind of preaching the most effective way to maintain and reinforce his own links to the people.

To illustrate Maximus's ministry in this perspective, I wish to refer, for example, to Sermons 17 and 18, dedicated to a theme that is always topical - that of wealth and poverty in the Christian communities. Because even in this field, serious tensions ran through the city.

Wealth was accumulated and hidden. "No one thinks of the needs of others," the Bishop said bitterly in Sermon 17. "Indeed, many Christians not only do not distribute from their own properties, but plunder those of others. I sayz: not only do they fail to lay down the money they take in 'at the feet of the apostles', but even drag away from the feet of the apostles their brothers who seek assistance."

He concludes: "Many guests and pilgrims come to our city. Do what you promised," adhering to the faith, "so that what was said of Ananias may not be said of you: 'You have not lied to men but to God.'" (Sermon 17, 2-3),

In the next Sermon, the 18th, Maximus stigmatizes recurrent forms of looting and profiteering from the misfortunes of others.

"Tell me, Christian," the Bishop asked his faithful," tell me: why have you taken the plunder abandoned by the plunderers? Why have you brought to your house any 'profit', as you may think of it, which was gained by force and contaminated?"

"Perhaps," he continued, "you thought you had 'bought' it, and thereby think you can avoid being accused of avarice. But this is not the way to establish a sale. It is alright to buy things which, in times of peace, are freely sold, but not to buy that which has been looted in plunder. ...Therefore, act like Christians and as citizens who buy back things in order to return them" (Sermon 18,3).

Maximus thereby was able to preach about the profound relation between the duties of a Christian and of a citizen. In his eyes, to live a Christian life meant taking on civic commitments as well. Vice-versa, every Christian who, "although he could live through his own labor, grabs someone else's loot with the fierceness of beasts"; who "undermines (lays a trap for) his neighbor, who every day tries to gnaw at his neighbor's boundaries, to take possession of his crops" is not only like a fox who beheads chickens but a wolf who preys on pigs" (Sermon 41,4).

Compared to the prudent defensive attitude taken by Ambrose to justify his famous initiative of rescuing prisoners of war, the historical changes that have since taken place in the relations between a bishop and civic institutions emerge clearly.

Supported by a law which called on Christians to redeem prisoners of war, Maximus - with the collapse of the Roman empire's civilian authority - felt fully authorized to exercise a true and proper power of control over the city.

This power would become broader and more effective to the point of substituting for the absence of magistrates and civic institutions. In this context, Maximus did not only move to re-ignite among the faithful a traditional love for their native city, but proclaimed that it was their duty to take on fiscal responsibilities, as serious and unpleasant as they appeared to be (Sermon 26,.2).

In short, the tone and substance of his Sermons assume a mature and growing consciousness of the political responsibility of a bishop in specific historical circumstances.

He was the 'lookout' for the city. Who should be these lookouts and guardians, he asks in Sermon 92, "if not the blessed bishops, who, being mounted, so to speak, on an elevated rock of wisdom for the defense of the people, see from afar the evils that are approaching?"

In Sermon 89, the Bishop of Turin illustrates to the faithful his task, availing of a singular comparison between a bishop's function and that of bees: "Like the bee," he said, "(bishops) observe corporal chastity, offer the food of celestial life, use the sting of the law. They are pure in order to sanctify, gentle in order to restore, and severe in order to punish." That is how St. Maximus described the mission of a bishop in his time.

Ultimately, historical and literary analysis shows his growing awareness of the political responsibility that ecclesiastical authorities had, in a context when the latter was in fact substituting for absent civilian authority.

This, in fact, was how the bishop's ministry developed in northern Italy, starting with Eusebius, who lived in his Vercelli like a monk, to Maximus, situated like a sentinel on the highest rock in the city.

Obviously, the historical, cultural and social context today is profoundly different. The context today is that which my venerated predecessor, Pope John Paul II, described in his post-synodal exhortation Ecclesia in Europa, in which he offers a detailed analysis of the challenges and signs of hope for Europe today (6-22).

In any case, despite changed conditions, the duties of the believer towards his city and homeland remain valid. The interweaving of the commitment of the 'honest citizen' with that of the 'good Christian' has not grown less.

In conclusion, I wish to recall what the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes says to illuminate one of the most important aspects of the unity of Christian life: the consistency between faith and behavior, between Gospel and culture.

The Council exhorts the faithful to "strive to discharge their earthly duties conscientiously and in response he Gospel spirit. They are mistaken who, knowing that we have here no abiding city but seek one which is to come, think that they may therefore shirk their earthly responsibilities. For they are forgetting that by the faith itself they are more obliged than ever to measure up to these duties, each according to his proper vocation" (n. 43).

Following the magisterium of St. Maximus and many other Fathers of the Church, let us make the Council's hope ours as well, that the faithful may ever more "exercise all their earthly activities and their humane, domestic, professional, social and technical enterprises by gathering them into one vital synthesis with religious values, under whose supreme direction all things are harmonized unto God's glory" (ibid), and therefore, to the good of mankind.

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[The picture above reminded me of first-semester German where one of the first things I learned how to say was, "Mein Regenschirm ist kaput". I'm glad the Pope's umbrella wasn't kaput.]

Keep Mass Holy, says Confraternity of Catholic Clergy

~from the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy in response to the NoCANdo nuns' request (hat tip to the Curt Jester) for relevant Mass translations
The Confraternity of Catholic Clergy respectfully asks the Bishops of the United States (USCCB) to disregard the recent letter from the National Coalition of American Nuns on Liturgical Translations. We totally disagree with their request to reject a literal and accurate English version of the 2000 Roman Missal based on the typical Latin text. It is our contention as ordained ministers who daily celebrate the sacred liturgy and who serve the spiritual needs of the faithful that they deserve nothing less than total and complete conformity to the authentic and official texts approved by the Holy See.

Since the Eucharistic Sacrifice is the ‘source and summit of Christian life’, it is imperative that the Church’s ministers celebrate digne, atténte ac devote (worthily, with attention and devotion). Reverence is achieved not only by diligently following the rubrics but also by having accurate texts which incorporate sacred language. Ritual (gestures) and Rite (words) make proper worship. Full, conscious and active participation by the faithful in the sacred liturgy is only possible when pedestrian language and banal translations are abandoned once and for all. The congregation is more educated and sophisticated than purported by those who insist accurate and literal translations from the Latin into English would be confusing at best and frustrating at worst.

We live in a culture where the vulgar, crass and obscene are part of everyday conversation. It proliferates the media at all levels: radio, television, movies, theater, magazines, and the internet. Yet, good taste and graceful language are not archaic. Sacred worship requires a sacred vocabulary and nomenclature which expresses the value and need for reverence for ‘the Holy’ and which transcends the secular world and allows the worshipper to approach the threshold of heaven. Accuracy demands that the word consubstantial be restored to the Creed since the Council of Nicea (325) canonized the terms homoouios (Greek) and consubstantialem (Latin). Adjectives which predicate the divinity of Christ, prominent in the Latin, need to be reinserted into the English. Holy, sacred, venerable, and immaculate, etc., are not foreign terms to Catholic vocabulary. Edified language inspires the believer to aspire to those things which are holy and sacred. Banal and pedestrian language lowers us into the gutter. One can and ought to seek a poetic sacred language that uplifts the human spirit to seek the divine rather than being content with the mediocrity of mundane.
I was going to emphasize certain passages, but the whole thing is worthy of being highlighted.

Peace and rumors of war

~From Zenit, an excerpt from Cardinal Pell's address on Politics and Religion
At the heart of this attack on the concept of exemptions for faith-based agencies lies a false analogy drawn between alleged discrimination against homosexuals and racial discrimination, and this is already beginning to appear in Australia.

This analogy allows opponents of exemptions to dismiss the objection that the law makes exceptions all the time - for example, for halal abattoirs, or for Sikhs to wear turbans, or for pacifists to avoid military service - by pointing to the legitimate absence of exceptions in laws against racial discrimination. Opposition to same-sex marriage is therefore likened to support for laws against inter-racial marriage (which continued in some US states until the 1960s), and opposition to homosexual adoptions is likened to refusing to adopt children to black parents.

The analogy is false because allowing blacks and whites to marry did not require changing the whole concept of marriage; and allowing black parents to adopt white children, or vice versa, did not require changing the whole concept of family, or for that matter, the whole concept of childhood. Same-sex marriage and adoption changes the meaning of marriage, family, parenting and childhood for everyone, not just for homosexual couples. And whatever issues of basic justice remain to be addressed, I am not sure that it is at all true to say that homosexuals today suffer the same sort of legal and civil disadvantages which blacks in the United States and elsewhere suffered forty years ago, and to some extent still suffer.

All the same, the race analogy has been very effective in casting the churches as persecutors. So, in the United Kingdom, and also in Massachusetts where a similar issue arose in 2006, warnings that the Catholic Church would be forced to close its adoption services if exemptions were not granted were described as blackmail.

* * *

English precedents remain powerful in a cultural and legal sense, especially throughout the Anglophone world, but the religious situation in Australia is somewhat closer to that of the United States rather than post-Christian Britain. Both our Prime Minister and his challenger are serious Christians. Neither the British Prime Minister nor his alternative are in this mould, and the Catholic community here is larger and with a much longer and stronger tradition of contributions to public political life than in Britain, whose history and traditions are still residually anti-Catholic.

All the same, this case shows what can happen when bills of rights are interpreted from the premises of a minority secularist mindset, especially when it is sharpened, as in Europe, by fear of home-grown Islam. Reading freedom of religion as a limited right to be offensive to which only a limited toleration is extended is not acceptable in a democracy where many more than a majority belong to the great religious traditions - even more so when it is claimed that this is “necessary for democracy”. Democracy does not need to be secular. The secularist reading of religious freedom places Christians (at least) in the position of a barely tolerated minority (even when they are the majority) whose rights must always yield to the secular agenda, although I don’t think other religious minorities will be treated the same way.

The Church is young

....ha! According to an Italian survey Italian youth prefer to read Pope Benedict XVI and older Italians prefer to read Cardinal Martini (dubbed *Loose Cannon* by moi). From La Stampa by Giacomo Galeazzi via Papa Ratzinger Forum
Right now, the most-read religious author in Italy is Mother Theresa, in a country where only one in six persons polled says he is familiar with the Gospels and where almost everyone equates spirituality with attention to the needy.

Faith, therefore, is seen most as a form of brotherhood, the Church as charity.

This emerges from an unprecedented report called Italians and religious books, a survey carried out by Coesis Research for San Paolo publishing house.

Among the interesting results is that young people appparently prefer to read Joseph Ratzinger's books, whereas adults appear to prefer the books of Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, the patron, one might say, of 'adult Catholics' [one might also say, "dissenting"].

Vultus Christi in France

~Fr. Mark, O.Cist. has been able to access the internet once more. He is writing currently from Monastère Saint Benoît, O.S.B., Nans-sous-Sainte-Anne,in France. He reminds us to pray for the Holy Souls in the month of November.
It must have been forty years ago — or more — that I opened the Latin-English missal published by the Abbey of Saint-André-de Bruges and found a stunning woodcut of a chalice turned upside down with the Precious Blood of Christ falling like a gentle rain into purgatory to bring refreshment and deliverance to the Holy Souls.
And he invites us to pray on Thursdays for Adoration and Reparation for Priests.
Are you willing to commit yourself to one hour of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament every Thursday in intercession and reparation for priests? The hour may be made before the tabernacle or before the Blessed Sacrament exposed. Should it be impossible to make it before the Blessed Sacrament, one can, from any place, offer it in spirit before the tabernacle in the world where Our Lord is most forsaken, neglected, and forgotten.
Welcome back to blogdom, Fr. Mark, you've been dearly missed.

All Hallows' Eve



Halloween or All Hallows' Eve is not a liturgical feast on the Catholic calendar, but the celebration has deep ties to the Liturgical Year. These three consecutive days: Halloween, All Saints Day and All Souls Day, illustrate the Communion of Saints. The Church Militant (those of us on earth, striving to get to heaven) pray for the Church Suffering (those souls in Purgatory) especially on All Souls Day and the month of November. We also rejoice and honor the Church Triumphant (the saints, canonized and uncanonized) in heaven. We also ask the Saints to intercede for us, and for the souls in Purgatory.

Since Vatican II, some liturgical observances have been altered, one example being "fast before the feast" is no longer required. Originally, the days preceding great solemnities, like Christmas and All Saints Day, had a penitential nature, requiring abstinence from meat and fasting and prayer. Although not required by the Church, it is a good practice to prepare spiritually before great feast days.

In England, saints or holy people are called "hallowed," hence the name "All Hallow's Day." The evening, or "e'en" before the feast became popularly known as "All Hallows' Eve" or even shorter, "Hallowe'en."

Since the night before All Saints Day, "All Hallows Eve" (now known as Hallowe'en), was the vigil and required fasting, many recipes and traditions have come down for this evening, such as pancakes, boxty bread and boxty pancakes, barmbrack (Irish fruit bread with hidden charms), colcannon (combination of cabbage and boiled potatoes). This was also known as "Nutcrack Night" in England, where the family gathered around the hearth to enjoy cider and nuts and apples.

Halloween is the preparation and combination of the two upcoming feasts. Although the demonic and witchcraft have no place for a Catholic celebration, some macabre can be incorporated into Halloween. It is good to dwell on our impending death (yes, everyone dies at one point), the Poor Souls in Purgatory, and the Sacrament of the Sick. And tied in with this theme is the saints, canonized and non-canonized. What did they do in their lives that they were able to reach heaven? How can we imitate them? How can we, like these saints, prepare our souls for death at any moment?

~from Catholic Culture

Let us follow the way of truth



~by Pope St. Clement

Let us put on unity of mind, thinking humble thoughts, exercising self-control, keeping ourselves far from all backbiting and slander, being righteous in deed, and not in word only. Scripture says: He who says much hears much in his own turn. Or does the easy talker think that he is righteous?

It is our duty then to be eager to do good, for everything is from God. He warns us: See, the Lord is coming, and the reward he brings is before him, for paying each according to his work. He urges us, who believe in him with all our heart, not to be idle or careless in any good work. Our boasting and our confidence must rest on him. Let us be subject to his will. Let us look carefully at the whole host of his angels; they stand ready and serve his will. Scripture says: Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him, and a thousand thousand served him, and cried out: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole creation is full of his glory.

We, too, dutifully gathered together in unity of mind, should cry out to him continuously as with one voice, so as to share in his great and glorious promises. It is written: Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, man’s heart has not conceived, what great things have been prepared for those who wait for him.

Beloved, how blessed, how wonderful, are God’s gifts! Life with immortality, glory with righteousness, truth with confidence, self-control with holiness: all these are the gifts that fall within our understanding. What then are those gifts that are in store for those who wait for him? Only the most holy Creator and Father of the ages knows their greatness and their splendour.

We should then strive with the greatest zeal to be found among the number of those who await him, so that we may share in the promised gifts. How will this be, beloved? If our mind is fixed on God through faith, if we are diligent in seeking what is pleasing and acceptable to him, if we fulfil what is according to his blameless will and follow the way of truth, casting away from ourselves all that is unholy.

The Beauty of Holiness

~an excerpt from the Foreward by Sheridan Gilley to The Beauty of Holiness and the Holiness of Beauty by John Saward
Protestantism secularised the image by declaring it idolatrous. The vacuum created by the Enlightenment's destruction of a Catholic culture has been filled by a secular culture whose images have become increasingly depraved and whose central icons, like the screaming popes of Francis Bacon and the pop singer Madonna, are parodies of the Catholicism they seek both to exploit and to destroy. The poverty of so much modern Catholic art, and its separation from theological study and holiness of life, together speak of a sickness at the heart of our Western culture. Only through the recovery of Angelico's holistic vision--in which eye as well as ear finds delight in divine truth, which is known not in pride, but in humility, on our knees in worship--will we recapture Angelico's realisation, in images filled with light from heaven, of the radiance of God's glory.
See related post, Enlightenment--a Christian Heresy

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What do you say to the Holy Father?

...asked of Bishop-elect William Callahan. From Catholic Herald
During the prayer service with diocesan staff, Bishop-elect Callahan shared the story when he was asked to be Milwaukee's auxiliary bishop.

"My life took a dramatic change, obviously, a week ago yesterday," he told the crowd. He was taken into the cardinals' living area, so he said he knew something big was happening, and was told, "The Holy Father has decided to name you the auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, what do you say to the Holy Father?

"What does one say," he said with a laugh. "First and foremost what shot through my head at that moment was the second sentence of the rule of St. Francis - 'Friar Francis promises obedience to the pope and his elected successors.' There was no doubt in my mind of my response to the Holy Father. It is with a great deal of respect and thanksgiving that I remember him and say 'thank you' to Pope Benedict XVI."
Well, obedience is good, too.

Basilica of St. Josaphat, Milwaukee

~from the Basilica's website. Newly-appointed Auxiliary Bishop William Patrick Callahan was rector here during the restoration. Click here to see more pictures.









If you're in the Chicago area...

...Daniel at Lion and Cardinal has posted the Mass schedule for St. John Cantius' All Saints' and All Souls observance. The music for Mass is outstanding:
31 October 2007 ~ Wednesday
Vigil of All Saints
Tridentine High Mass ~ 7:30 pm
Missa Justorum Animae ~ Scott Haynes
Justorum Animae ~ Scott Haynes
Gaudent in Caelis ~ Richard Dering

1 November 2007 ~ Thursday
Solemnity of All Saints
Tridentine Low Mass ~ 6:30 pm
Tridentine High Mass ~ 7:30 pm
Missa O Quam Gloriosum ~ Tomás Luis de Victoria
Cantabant Sacti Canticum Novum ~ Gregor Aichinger
Beati Mundo Corde ~ William Byrd
Chant de paix from Nine Pieces for Organ ~ Jean Langlais
Placare Christe Servulis from Le Tombeau de Titelouze ~ Marcel Dupré
Daniel was kind enough to post the other churches' schedules. If you are in the area, please go for those of us who have to endure Haugen's Mass of Creation.

Lego Jesus

~from The Local Church (Sweden)

A church in Västerås is asking parishioners to donate enough pieces of white Lego to create a life-size statue of Jesus. A local priest is leading the drive to construct a white plastic Jesus in the central Swedish town.

Per Wilder estimates that 20,000 Lego blocks will be needed to complete the project.

"If it works out well we could envisage pulling the statue apart regularly before building it back up again," he told newspaper Vestmanlands Läns Tidning.

Per Wilder first came up with the idea during a coffee break. And the priest was insistent that the statue should be made up only of white pieces, as anything else might be considered tasteless. From a distance, the sculpture should appear to be made from marble.

Local vocational students have now drawn up extensive plans and the priest is soon set to lay the first block.
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Ah, should go well with the Lego Processional cross captured by Gerald last spring. If you click on the article's source link above, you'll see the sidebar of related articles, including this. I think I could've gone my whole life happy without knowing this piece of information.

Newly-appointed Bp. William Patrick Callahan

~via Rocco (sorry, I'm too lazy to translate the Italian right now...need another pot of coffee)
This morning, Pope Benedict appointed Conventual Franciscan Friar Fr William Callahan, 57, as auxiliary bishop for the Wisconsin flock of 675,000. Known as "Black" Franciscans due to the color of their habit, Callahan is the first Conventual Friar to ever be raised to the episcopacy in the United States.

A native of Chicago and, since 2005, spiritual director at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, the bishop-elect is an adopted son of Milwaukee, where he served two tours at the see city's Basilica of St Josaphat, the site of his 1977 priestly ordination.

Well-loved both by the Milwaukeeans and the Gianicolo crowd -- and known to enjoy Dolan's particular trust and esteem -- the appointee is preceded by a sterling reputation; as one of Callahan's friends once summed up the bishop-elect, "I don't know anyone who loves being a priest more than Bill."

At the legendary Polish masterpiece on the city's south side, where he became the first non-Pole to serve as its rector-pastor in 1994, Callahan oversaw the $7.5 million restoration of the grand 1901 edifice, Milwaukee's largest church. A preservationist by nature, as a rookie curate at the basilica the bishop-to-be hid one of its original lamps (first used in Chicago's 19th century Main Post Office) in its attic. Returning as pastor, he returned to to find that the lamp had remained untouched since his prior encounter with it. The antique fixture was subsequently cloned, and the replicas re-adorn the basilica's walls.

When the monolithic theocrat cracks

~very amusing piece from Fr. Neuhaus in First Things where he skewers the idea of the evangelical crackup proposed by Time.
The bubble-babble of the Times is not without its charms. A couple of months ago, the lead article in the Sunday magazine was an extract from Mark Lilla’s book The Stillborn God. (There is more on the book in a forthcoming issue of First Things.) On the cover of the magazine is this: “We in the West find it incomprehensible that theological ideas still inflame the minds of men, stirring up messianic passions that can leave societies in ruin. We had assumed that this was no longer possible, that human beings had learned to separate religious questions from political ones.” If you are not among the imperial We in that assertion, be put on notice that you are most decidedly among the threatening Them.

But back to “The Evangelical Crackup.” As a scout in enemy territory, Mr. Kirkpatrick is given a certain leeway. After all, he has to show a certain measure of sympathy with the enemy in order to ingratiate himself into their tribal councils. But, decent fellow or not, the Times pays his salary. And so it is not surprising that his article ends with a less than complimentary image of the dreaded “religious right.”

He talked with an evangelical pastor by the name of Fox who lost his leadership of a megachurch over what was viewed as his excessive political partisanship. He now preaches to a much smaller congregation that meets in rented space. Mr. Fox says that liberals should not start gloating over the evangelical crackup. “Some might compare the religious right to a snake,” he said. “We may be in our hole right now, but we can come out and bite you at any time.” The inference to be drawn is that the Times will extend Mr. Kirkpatrick’s assignment to keep an eye on the snakes.
Read the whole thing.

The Art of Condescension

~Paging all Young Fogeys! From Fr. Philip, O.P., a response to Fr. Rohlheiser's "The Struggle to Bless"
I am perfectly willing to admit that I could be wrong here. . .but this is probably the one of the most condescending pieces I've ever read on the generational gap between older and younger clergy in the Church. The piece begins:
At workshop recently, as we were discussing the tension that often exists today between younger and older clergy, a middle-aged priest said: "I'd like to bless the younger priests, but they don't want my blessing! They see me as a burnt-out middle-aged ideologue and everything in their attitude and body-language tells me that they simply want me to disappear and give them space!"
Frankly, I find it very hard to believe that younger clergy are shying from a priestly blessing. It makes me wonder if there is something peculiar about the blessing itself, the form of the blessing, that is disconcerting to the younger priests. Or maybe its the attitude of the older priest that messes things up. Rolheiser continues:
Many is the parent who feels exactly that way as they stand before a sixteen year-old; the mother before her own adolescent daughter; the father before his teenage son. That's also true for many others: the teacher before her adolescent students, the priest or minister in the face of a less-than-appreciative congregation, the coach before his players, and the policeman before a paranoid and belligerent young man. It's not easy to bless someone who, seemingly, does not want your blessing, before whom it would seem a flat-out lie to say what God said to Jesus at his baptism: "In you I take delight!"
Yea. OK. Now, let's take moment to read this paragraph again. Please notice the intended parallels: younger priests who shy away from Fr. Ideologue's creepy blessing are adolescent (4 times over!), unappreciative, paranoid, and belligerent. Hmmmm. . .I wonder why Fr. Younger is reluctant to receive a blessing from a priest who considers him to be a paranoid, belligerent, unappreciative teenager?

The irony here, of course, is that Fr. Ideologue used to be the paranoid, belligerent, unappreciative teenager-priest who gleefully thumbed his nose at his elders, tossing out the ancient faith along with the beautiful vestments, the precious vessels, the transcendent language, and objective morality. And now that he is the Elder, he is deeply confused about why his "clerical children" seem so unappreciative of all his hard work to destroy the Church.
Oh, here's the link to the article.

New Auxiliary Bishop for Milwaukee

~from The Holy See's Daily Bulletin

The Holy Father has nominated as Auxiliary Bishop to Milwaukee, the Reverend Father William Patrick Callahan, O.F.M. Conv., up to the present has been the Spiritual Director of the Pontifical North American College (Rome), and is assigned the titular see of Lares.

God is faithful in his promises

~by Pope St. Clement

Consider, beloved, how the Lord keeps reminding us of the resurrection that is to come, of which he has made the Lord Jesus Christ the first fruits by raising him from the dead. Let us look, beloved, at the resurrection that occurs at its appointed time. Day and night show us a resurrection; the night lies in sleep, day rises again; the day departs, night takes its place.

Let us think about the harvest; how does the sowing take place, and in what manner? The sower goes out and casts each seed onto the ground. Dry and bare, they fall into the earth and decay. Then the greatness of the Lord’s providence raises them up again from decay, and out of one many are produced and yield fruit.

In this hope, then, let our hearts be bound fast to him who is faithful in his promises and just in his judgements. He forbade us to tell lies; still less will he himself tell a lie. Nothing is impossible for God except to tell a lie. Then let our faith in him be awakened; let us reflect that everything is close to him.

By the word of his power he established all things, and by his word he can reduce them to ruin. Who shall say to him: What have you done? Who shall stand up against the power of his might? He will accomplish everything when he wills and as he wills, and nothing that he has decreed shall pass away. All things stand in his presence, and nothing lies hidden from his counsel, if the heavens tell forth the glory of God, the firmament reveals the work of his hands, day speaks to day, and night shares knowledge with night; there are no words, no speeches, and their voices are not heard.

Since all things lie open to his eyes and ears, let us hold him in awe and rid ourselves of impure desires to do works of evil, so that we may be protected by his mercy from the judgement that is to come. Which of us can escape his mighty hand? What world will give asylum to one who deserts him? Where will I go, where will I hide from your face? If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go to the limits of the earth, your right hand is there; if I lie down in the deep, your spirit is there. Where, then, can one go, where can one escape to, from the presence of him whose hands embrace the universe?

Let us then approach him in holiness of soul, raising up to him hands pure and undefiled, out of love for our good and merciful Father who made us a chosen portion for himself.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Christ in the streets


~from National Catholic Register about Eucharistic processions in secular colleges
The November night air was crisp as the fraternities at the University of Nebraska prepared to outdo each other with their homecoming lawn displays.

Stereos blasted. Hammers pounded. Electric saws screeched.

Then the faint sound of singing began to filter down “Greek row” as a candle-carrying army approached.

One by one, radios were turned down, power tools switched off and fraternity brothers stood in silence as 200 college students walked past. They were led by priests, seminarians, religious sisters and Knights of Columbus. A four-posted canopy covered the Blessed Sacrament.

The hour-long Eucharistic procession in Lincoln, Neb., began at St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center several blocks away and included stops at three altars set up on campus — the Student Union, Memorial Stadium and a field at the edge of Greek row.

That was All Saints’ Day 2006, and the students plan to repeat the event this year.

If it sounds like an unusual event — a Eucharistic procession on the campus of a public university — you’re right. It’s rare. But not unique.

Just over a month after that procession, nearly 100 students at North Dakota State University marched in a similar fashion led by Fargo Bishop Samuel Aquila — continuing a five-year tradition in celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe as patroness of the unborn.

Starting at St. Paul’s Newman Center, their procession proceeded along a candle-lined path and included prayers for faculty and students at the administration building, the library and a women’s dorm before returning to St. Paul’s for a pro-life speaker and Mexican fiesta.

The inspiration for such public displays of faith on campus came from different sources. North Dakota State University graduate Lisa Gray read John Paul II’s encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharista (The Eucharist in Its Relationship to the Church) where he emphasizes the importance of processions in parish life. She said that “knowing that the direction of education is at the forefront of shaping the philosophy and ideology today” made the collegiate procession a great fit.

In Nebraska, Newman Center staff members were impressed by “God in the Streets” — a video of a procession through New York City streets by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.
More

Jewish Converts tonight on Journey Home

...a roundtable discussion with Jewish converts to the Catholic Faith with Marcus Grodi. 8 PM on EWTN.

The Spanish Martyrs


...click here to read their names and their religious orders.

Omnes sancti martyres Hispaniae, orate pro nobis!

Introducing the new Parousians Website

~from the group 'blog Arrival: The Parousians Weblog. The 'blog is "dedicated to redeeming intellectual life and recreating the culture". The contributors are mainly from Louisiana State University, University of Florida, and University of Louisiana, Lafayette.

From Toby Danna:
Many of the divisions in the Church today are created by people who impose false dichotomies in place of the transcendent unity that is inherent in God's revelation to man. Some contend there is a division between orthopraxy (right action) and orthodoxy (right belief). Those concerned with matters of orthodoxy are portrayed as fundamentalists or Pharisees (sadly, sometimes a true accusation), and people are encouraged to do what is right. But without a grounding in what is right (a foundation in orthodoxy), these social activities carry people away from orthopraxy as they are co-opted by people with a similar recognition of social injustice and a lack of a Christian anthropology. True orthodoxy insists on orthopraxy, and orthopraxy is only possible if orthodoxy precedes it.

Indeed any work of true liberation of persons is dependent on the transmission of knowledge. Jesus said (John 8:32), "you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."
From Ryan Hallford:
The personal good of an individual is tied within the good of the community. Where is the context of virtue ethics that will associate personal achievement with communal living? Happiness is not in material possessions but in relationships- to God and neighbor. I believe it is too often thought, “I must become rich in order to be a philanthropist and help my neighbor”. On the contrary the opposite is true. “I must help and love my neighbor in order to truly become rich.”
From Philip de Mahy
A major obstacle in engaging the culture and the today is the problem of Atheistic relativism. In the academy, fields like Philosophy and Ethics are marginalized and often dominated by traditions that reject the possibility of objective moral standards. In this post, I’m critiquing a short argument from contemporary ethics that is often used against the objective account morality that Catholicism is founded on.

J.L Mackie’s work, The Subjectivity of Values, sets out to develop an argument against the objectivity of value claims. He establishes from the start that his project is a wholly negative one, aiming mainly at showing what isn’t true without making claims about what follows from his critiques. The groundwork of his case relies on supplemented versions of what he calls the “the argument from queerness”. This argument existed prior to Mackie’s work in different forms, but his versions contain notable distinctions from claims made before him.

The argument from queerness stated plainly is that objective values, if they existed, would have to be something very outlandish in order to truly motivate our actions. Mackie writes that “If there were objective values, then they would be entities or qualities or relations of a very strange sort, utterly different from anything else in the universe”. His definition of a moral value is an entity that is undeniable and wholly self-evident to individuals who posses it. Something that unique could not be reasonably thought to exist by his naturalist account. He continues by stating that in order to be aware of something as otherworldly as objective values, human beings would have to possess some kind of special intuitive powers (which would be equally ridiculous).
These are just from the first couple of days of the 'blog. Do yourself a favor and bookmark this site.

On the Meaning of Being


~Food for thought this Monday morning from Fr. James Schall, S.J.
"Philosophy means reflecting on the entirety of what is encountered in experience from every conceivable standpoint and with regard to its unique meaning. The philosophizing person is thus not so much someone who has formed a well-rounded worldview as he is someone who keeps a question alive and thinks it through methodically." -- Josef Pieper, "Tradition: Its Sense and Aspiration"
The citation above from Josef Pieper concerns what it is we philosophize about. In a passage that might otherwise seem innocent enough, Pieper has really targeted those whose definition of reason is limited to what can be known by mathematically based "science" or "reason" taken in its most narrow sense of excluding almost anything that does not come under our own power of making or calculating. In his Regensburg Lecture, the pope called this latter restriction the "self-limitation" of reason. He implied that this "limitation" was a "self-imposed" one, not something that corresponded to the full nature of things. John Paul II called it "reductionism"; that is, we accept the method's own presuppositions; to wit, only that part of reality will be admitted as real that is amenable to a method based on matter and mathematics. Not all of reality is composed of matter.

Scientific reason is legitimate enough in its own area, of course, but it is not coextensive with all of reason's scope, with all we really know and can know. Before there is reason (the same faculty) that calculates and orders, there is reason that intuits, that sees directly into things. Pieper is cautious about a "well-rounded" intellectual worldview. He is aware of how easy it is to close everything off because our system seems to be so complete, so coherent by our reckoning. All human knowing, with its search for knowledge of the whole, with its love of wisdom, awaits and expects a new light from what is. Even when we know--and know that we know--we are aware that we do not yet see even the tiniest thing in its fullness. The fact that we do not know everything by our methods does not mean that we know nothing by them. What we do know does not necessarily militate against what we seek to know, but incites us to seek more light.

Elsewhere, in discussing Plato, Pieper observes that at any moment something unexpected--something we know nothing about--can come crashing into our self-contained world: a person, an idea, a crime, a book, a song, a sickness, a love, or even the Word of God itself. It makes us vividly aware that we are not in charge of everything, a knowledge that can, in fact, be a consolation. This newness of being can utterly undermine our own "worlds." Yet, in being so "undermined," we become more aware of a reality that we did not anticipate with our theories.

We are pleased that, after all, there is something more of reality than we at first suspected. All loves are really of this nature, as are all gifts, which in their essence are signs of love, of giving oneself. The greatness of being a human, I sometimes think, is the fact that, though we know much, we still remain aware that we do not know everything. The mystery is that we still want to "know" and experience everything. Why is this? How did such a being as ourselves ever come to be in the first place?

Philosophy means not only that all of our experience, all of what is (not just some of it), is the object of our knowing powers, but it includes "reflecting" on this reality. We do want to understand what it means, where it came from. Indeed, reality does not seem sufficiently real or complete unless someone understands it, unless in the universe itself a being exists with a power to do so. We assume that if the universe was created by God, He appreciates it. But that is no more than saying that God knows Himself and His works. If God created the universe solely because He just wanted to see it, as it were, floating out there, there would be no real reason for Him to create it. He must have had something else in mind.

Aquinas explains what it means to cite from "authority." It means, to be sure, that if someone like Plato, Aristotle, or Augustine said something, we should pay attention because each of these men knows what he is talking about. But more profoundly, it means that we should be familiar with the argument that is being cited and its relation to the point of our concern. The author is not especially important--but his argument is. And arguments are not themselves merely spectacles or displays of intellectual finesse. They are designed to know the truth; they are designed to be settled. And what settled argument means, at bottom, is to arrive at the truth of what is.

One of the principal sources of what we come to know, or at least of our personal coming to know it, is through the guidance of others who have thought through an issue often before we ourselves were ever born. We must be "teachable." We really can learn from others if they know how to teach us and have something to say. But what they are teaching us is not their personal doctrine or possession but what is true--what is. We do not go to college to learn the opinions of the professors. We go to the university to learn the truth of things, in the pursuit of which, hopefully, the opinions of professors are helpful. They are not always, to be sure. If I assist a student in arriving at the truth of something through his own reflection so that he sees the point for what it is, he does not end up knowing "my" truth, but truth itself. Truth is free. No one "owns" it. This is the glory of our kind. This is why, ultimately, we can all live in the same world that we did not make. Indeed, this is why we can ultimately be "given" all things.

After Aquinas tells us about the status of authority, which is useful and helpful, or can be, in knowing the truth, he goes to the heart of the matter. What is important finally is "how things are in reality." We do well to ponder such a phrase. It says, in effect, that what exists out there in reality is already there without our having anything to do with it.
Read the whole thing.

Pope Benedict's US Trip

~from Rocco. The Washington leg is still on the April agenda which includes a visit to The Catholic University of America. Mark your calendars, my friends at CUA and the DC area. With all the VIPs descending on the place, who knows, I might be calling you for bedspace. ;)
...it's emerged that the Washington leg of Benedict XVI's journey will see what promises to be the trek's most significant ad intra moment: a meeting with the bishops of the United States, papal address included.

As all but a few members of the US hierarchy have gotten little direct exposure to Benedict's mind, aside from the routine practice of a brief baciamano greeting following his General Audiences, the foreseen speech would serve as this pontificate's first in-depth public assessment of the state of American Catholicism.

What's more, the timing of the talk will also provide an advance glimpse into what the church in the States can expect to hear in greater detail shortly down the line; the quinquennial ad limina visit of the American bishops begins early in 2009. By that time, the US hierarchy will be the last major group to make the five-yearly pilgrimage to Rome in Benedict's reign.

Crisis of Truth

~by Archbishop Joseph Naumann from First Things...tolerance and diversity as the new absolutes
Without the acceptance of objective truth, everything becomes negotiable. The moral conscience of society and the individual are impaired. There is confusion in the recognition of good and evil. We become uncertain about such fundamental institutions for family and society as marriage. From the denial of natural truth, a nihilism emerges that we find expressing itself today in art, literature, and films. We become confused about what is good and noble. We question what is worth devoting our life to. This confusion results in a great interior emptiness. We try to distract ourselves with more and more things, divert our attention with more and more entertainment, and numb ourselves with drugs and other addictions.

I remember watching, as a child, an episode of The Twilight Zone. It began with doctors and nurses with surgical masks gathered around a hospital bed of a female patient whose face was completely bandaged except for her eyes and nose. From their conversation, it became apparent that this woman suffered from a hideous disfigurement which a series of plastic surgeries had failed to correct. They had attempted one final surgery that the doctors were optimistic would solve the problem, but they would not know for certain until they unbandaged her face several days later.

They finally come to the moment of truth—the unwrapping of the bandages—and we see that the woman’s face is stunningly beautiful. The doctors and nurses shake their heads with disappointment and apologize for their failure. For the first time they remove their surgical masks revealing grotesquely hideous features. That is how it is in The Twilight Zone: The beautiful is ugly, and the ugly is beautiful.

This is a helpful image for the consequence of relativism that impairs a culture from recognizing what is objectively good, beautiful, and true. In The Gospel of Life, Pope John Paul had this to say about objective truth: “The Gospel of Life is not for believers alone: It is for everyone. The issue of life and its defense and promotion is not a concern of the Christian alone. Although faith provides special light and strength, this question arises in every human conscience which seeks the truth and which cares about the future of humanity. Life certainly has a sacred and religious value, but in no way is that value a concern only of believers. The value at stake is one which every human being can grasp by the light of reason; thus it necessarily concerns everyone.”

This battle for the reality and existence of truth is not a new one, although the strength of secular relativism today is undermining the foundations of culture and society in a unique and devastating manner. We can find the battle between truth and its denial right in the Passion, when the accused prisoner, Jesus, asserts: “I came into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice,” while his earthly judge, Pontius Pilate, feebly responds with the classic relativist’s question: “What is truth?”

I prefer to be a disciple of Jesus rather than of Pontius Pilate.

Let us not be fugitives from the will of God

~by Pope St Clement

My dear friends, take care to do good and virtuous deeds in unity before him, and be citizens worthy of him; or his many good works towards us may become a judgement on us all. For, as he says somewhere, The spirit of the Lord is a lamp searching the inward parts.

Let us observe how near he is, and that nothing escapes him: not the thoughts we think, not the arguments we construct. It is right, therefore, that we should not be deserters from his will. Let us offend foolish and thoughtless men, men who puff themselves up and boast in the pride of their words, rather than offending God.

Let us reverence the Lord Jesus Christ, whose blood was given for us. Let us respect those who rule us; let us honour the aged; let us instruct the young in the fear of God.

Let us lead our wives to what is good: let them exhibit the lovely habit of purity, let them show forth the innocent will of meekness, let them make the gentleness of their tongue manifest by their silence, let them give their affection without favouritism but in holiness equally to all who fear God.

Let our children share in the instruction which is in Christ, let them learn the strength of humility before God, the power of pure love before God, how beautiful and great is his fear and how it gives salvation to all who live holily in it with a pure mind. For he is a searcher of thoughts and desires; his breath is in us, and he chooses when to take it away from us.

Now the faith which is in Christ confirms all these things, for he himself through his Holy Spirit calls us: Come, Children, hearken to me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Who is the man that desires life, that loves to see good days? Make your tongue cease from evil, make your lips speak no guile. Depart from evil, and do good. Seek peace, and pursue it.

The all-merciful and beneficent Father has compassion on those that fear him, and kindly and lovingly bestows his favours on those that draw near to him with a sincere intention. So let us not be in two minds, and let us have no doubts about his excellent and glorious gifts.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Holy Smokes

~hat tip to The Lion and the Cardinal


Unknown Goldsmith, The Netherlands
c. 1500
Silver, diameter 12 cm
Chapel of Bishop's Palace, Haarlem

Today is Priesthood Sunday



~from Serra Club (no, not the environmental conservancy group)

Priesthood Sunday, Oct. 28, 2007, is a special day set aside to honor priesthood in the United States. It is a day to reflect upon and affirm the role of the priesthood in the life of the Church as a central one. This nationwide event is coordinated and sponsored by the USA Council of Serra International.

Priesthood Sunday offers an opportunity for priests and their parishioners to build a stronger working relationship. Together, they can dialogue to take an honest look at the challenges of the future and how they can collaborate to meet those challenges as a united force.

What is the Serra Club?
The USA Council of Serra International is an organization of lay men and women whose mission is to foster and affirm vocations to the ministerial priesthood and vowed religious life in the USA. More than 12,500 Serrans in over 300 clubs nationwide collaborate with their bishops, parishes and vocation directors to fulfill this mission. Through this ministry, Serrans work to further their common Catholic faith. Visit the USA Council at www.serraus.org.

On Beethoven's Ninth Symphony


REUTERS/Osservatore Romano (VATICAN)


REUTERS/Chris Helgren (VATICAN)


REUTERS/Chris Helgren (VATICAN)

~Last night, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Choir performed for Pope Benedict XVI in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican. Here are some of the Pope's remarks (via Papa Ratzinger Forum)
"After years of self-isolation and retreat, during which he fought internal and external difficulties which brought him depression and profound bitterness, threatening to suffocate his artistic creativity, the composer - who was by now almost totally deaf - surprised the public in 1824 with a composition that broke with the traditional form of the symphony, and in a collaboration between orchestra, choir and soloists, rises to an extraordinary finale of optimism and joy."

"The overwhelming sense of joy transformed to music is not something light and superficial - it is a sentiment that was won with much effort," said the Pope.

The composer had learned a new way of hearing, he noted. "What comes to my mind is a mysterious statement by the prophet Isaiah who, speaking of the victory of truth and right, said: "On that day the deaf will hear the words of a book [that is, words that are simply written); liberated from darkness and shadows, the eyes of the blind will see" [cfr 29,18024). He is referring tothe perception received as a gift from God by whoever obtains the grace of an internal as well as external liberation."

In conclusion, the Pope recalled something that took place in the memorable year of 1989, when this same Orchestra and Choir, under the direction of Leonard Bernstein, celebrated the fall of the Berlin Wall by playing Beethoven's 9th.

He observed that for that occasion, the choir changed the first word of the opening line in the 'Ode to Joy' from "Freude, schoener Goetterfunken" [Joy, beautiful spark of God") to "Freiheit...." (Freedom...), because "true joy is rooted in that freedom which only God can give."

"God," said the Pope, " - often in times of emptiness and internal isolation - wants to make us attentive and capable of sensing his silent presence not only 'under the starry skies' but even in the most intimate part of our soul. It is there that the spark of divine love burns which can liberate us into what we truly are."

Before performing the symphony, the musicians played Palestrina's motet "TU ES PETRUS', reportedly at the special request of the Pope.

Angelus: Beatification of Spanish Martyrs


(AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Benedict XVI delivers his blessing during the Angelus noon prayer he celebrated from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2007. The Vatican staged its largest mass beatification ceremony ever Sunday, putting 498 victims of religious persecution before and during Spain's civil war on the path to possible sainthood. The ceremony was celebrated by Portuguese Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

~translated by Teresa Benedetta of Papa Ratzinger Forum

Dear brothers and sisters!

This morning, here in St. Peter's Square, 498 martyrs killed in Spain during the 1930s were proclaimed Blessed. I thank Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, Prefect of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints, who presided at the celebration and I address my cordial greeting to the pilgrims gathered here for this joyful event.

The enrolment at one time of such a great number of martyrs in the Book of the Blessed shows that the supreme testimony of blood is not an exception reserved only for some individuals, but a realistic eventuality for the entire Christian people.

These martyrs are men and women - very diverse in age, vocation and social condition - who paid with their lives for their loyalty to Christ and to his Church. We can well say of them the statements of St. Paul which echo in this Sunday's liturgy: "I am already being poured out like a libation," he writes to Timothy, "and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith" (2 Tim 4,6-7),

Paul, detained in Rome, sees death approaching, and traces a balance full of acknowledgment and hope. He is at peace with God and faces death serenely, with the consciousness of having spent all his life sparing nothing in the service of the Gospel.

This month of October, dedicated particularly to missionary commitment, thus closes with the luminous witness of the Spanish martyrs, who join the martyrs Albertina Berkenbrock, Emmanuel Gómez Gonzáles and Adilio Daronche, as well as Franz Jägerstätter - all proclaimed Blessed in recent days in Brazil and Austria.

Their example bears witness that Baptism commits Christians to participate with courage in spreading the Kingdom of God - if necessary, with the sacrifice of life itself.

Of course, not everyone is called to a bloody martyrdom. There is also a bloodless martyrdom, which is not less significant, such as that of Celina Chludzińska Borzźcka - wife, mother, widow and religious - who was beatified here in Rome yesterday. She typifies the silent and heroic testimony of so many Christians who live the Gospel without compromises, fulfilling their duty and dedicating themselves generously to the service of the poor.

This martyrdom of ordinary life is testimony that is even more important in the secularized society of our time. It is the pacific battle of love that every Christian, like Paul, should wage tirelessly - the path of spreading the Gospel to which we are committed till we die.

In this daily testimony, may the Virgin Mary, Queen of Martyrs and Star of Evangelization, help and assist us.

Act of Thanksgiving after Holy Communion



My Lord Jesus Christ, most sweet and most kind, who even now, of Thy great goodness, hast entered into this poor and humble abode, adorn it and enrich it with Thy treasures, that it may be made worthy of Thine indwelling. Take up Thy rest therein, that my heart may find its rest in Thee alone. Let it not suffice Thee, O Lord, to have given me Thy sacred Body; give me also the treasures of grace which Thou bringest with Thee; for it will profit me little to eat the Bread of life, if I remain unfed by Thy grace. Give me, O Lord, a heart completely transformed into Thee by love; give me a life that shall be all Thine, a quiet death that shall be the beginning of eternal life. That is what I look for, pray and hope for from Thee, my eternal God, by virtue of this Blessed Sacrament.

In his goodness to all, God gives order and harmony to the world


~by Pope St. Clement I

Let us fix our gaze on the Father and Creator of the whole world, and let us hold on to his peace and blessings, his splendid and surpassing gifts. Let us contemplate him in our thoughts and with our mind’s eye reflect upon the peaceful and restrained unfolding of his plan; let us consider the care with which he provides for the whole of his creation.

By his direction the heavens are in motion, and they are subject to him in peace. Day and night fulfil the course he has established without interfering with each other. The sun, the moon and the choirs of stars revolve in harmony at his command in their appointed paths without deviation. By his will the earth blossoms in the proper seasons and produces abundant food for men and animals and all the living things on it without reluctance and without any violation of what he has arranged.

Yet unexplored regions of the abysses and inexpressible realms of the deep are subject to his laws. The mass of the boundless sea, joined together by his ordinance in a single expanse, does not overflow its prescribed limits but flows as he commanded it. For he said: Thus far shall you come, and your waves will be halted here. The ocean, impassable for men, and the worlds beyond it are governed by the same edicts of the Lord.

The seasons, spring, summer, autumn and winter, follow one another in harmony. The quarters from which the winds blow function in due season without the least deviation. And the ever-flowing springs, created for our health as well as our enjoyment, unfailingly offer their breasts to sustain human life. The tiniest of living creatures meet together in harmony and peace. The great Creator and Lord of the universe commanded all these things to be established in peace and harmony, in his goodness to all, and in overflowing measure to us who seek refuge in his mercies through our Lord Jesus Christ; to him be glory and majesty for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Wonder of Gregorian Chant


~from Christian Science Monitor

This was in the days before Internet travel: pre-MapQuest, pre-Travelocity, preglobal-positioning systems, pre-cellphones. You located a spot on a map, got there one way or another, and began asking questions.

Yes, the abbey was two miles away. No, there were no buses or trains. Is there a town nearby called Solesmes? Well, yes, but it's mostly just the abbey and a hotel for Catholic tour buses making the rounds of French religious sites.

Okey-doke. Not having anything better in mind, I started walking. I was on a pleasant, gentle country road, like something out of a Truffaut movie, with lines of swaying trees, an easy breeze, a narrow little river I walked beside, and no hills to speak of. My rucksack was intentionally light.

Eventually I arrived at the edge of a small village – it was about 5 or 5:30 in the afternoon and I could hear bells ringing somewhere ahead.

In my high-school French, I asked a face in a window where the abbey was, and I was pointed farther ahead, up the single main road. The face shouted after me, "Hurry up, you can make vespers, if you run."

It appeared that I was in a typical, small rural French village – at the center of which was a walled collection of stone buildings. One of the buildings was clearly a church. Soon I found a main entrance, a sort of gatehouse with some signs and tourist information.

Inside, I spoke to my first monk – nondescript, amiable, middle-aged. Yes, of course, just throw your backpack under this table and hurry, hurry, you can go out that way, there, yes, toward that door.

Pushing open the massive door to the church was like entering a movie set. Inside, I found seats in the dim light and waited, not knowing anything. There were no other visitors.

The sound began quietly – literally from far away. From somewhere on my left, the sound grew in volume as it approached, then a door opened and the monks arrived, walking in pairs in a long, slow line, singing as they walked.

They wore black robes – no special dress or vestments – this was a simple vespers service. They filed their way past me and settled into their own places up front – in two halves, facing each other. The singing was in Latin – unaccompanied.

The old cliché was true: I had never heard anything like it in my life. Maybe clichés are about all one has at such unearthly, beautiful, inexpressible moments.

I carefully watched the faces of the men as they trooped past at the end of the service. They could have been a collection of Rotarians at any mid-size city in America – young, old, ordinary, grizzled, unremarkable.

It was not until a year later that I read up on the abbey. Without knowing it, I had visited one of the world centers of Gregorian study – renowned to musicians, historians, believers, unbelievers, any and all. Not only was I hearing this sublimely beautiful music for the first time, I was hearing it sung by its premier practitioners.

Friday, October 26, 2007

How to resist patriarchal approaches to church leadership

...got your attention? Dear Sister, resistance is futile...from California Catholic Daily
Burlingame Mercy Sister Eloise Rosenblatt, who gave a keynote address for the Northern California Lay Convocation at St. Francisco’s St. Mary’s Cathedral in June, will speak on “Countering and Challenging Patriarchy in the Church” on Oct. 27 at Our Lady of the Rosary Church Hall in Palo Alto.

The event, sponsored by the Thomas Merton Center in Palo Alto, was advertised in the Oct. 16 Valley Catholic, the newspaper of the San Jose diocese.

According to the Oct. 14 Thomas Merton Center bulletin, Sister Eloise will address the question: “How do progressive Catholics, who wish to stay members of the Roman church, change the entrenched patriarchal church systems that disempower the laity in general, and women in particular?” Sister “will take a broad analytical approach and recognize how subordination works culturally and doctrinally,” said the bulletin. “She proposes long-term strategies for resisting and reforming patriarchal approaches to church leadership, by invoking the church’s own teaching.”

Sister Eloise, both a feminist theologian and a doctor of law, directs ELOROS Inc. (Education, Law, and Religious Organizations), which, says the bulletin, is “a non-profit organization that provides parish in-service education about employment issues and California’s mandatory anti-discrimination training.”

In the past, Sister Eloise has addressed other “progressive” gatherings. She offered workshops at the 1998 and 2005 Call to Action West Coast Conferences on the topics, “Keeping your church job,” church law, and clergy sexual exploitation of adult women. Call to Action is a group that promotes public dissent against Church teaching on women’s ordination, homosexuality, birth control, and other matters.

In 1997, Sister Eloise was a workshop presenter at the Catholic Women Network’s Annual Conference, where attendees learned about eastern spiritualities, “Goddess qualities,” mandalas, and “Holistic/Ecofeminist Spirituality.”

In her 2005 book, ”While the Bridegroom is with them”: Marriage, Family, Gender and Violence in the Gospel of Matthew, Marianne Blickenstaff describes Sister Eloise’s interpretation of the parable of the wise and foolish virgins in Matthew’s Gospel. According to Blickenstaff, Sister Eloise sees the parable as directed at women in the “Matthean community,” exhorting women to choose to be “‘wise’ by conforming to certain behaviors prescribed by those in power (whom Rosenblatt identifies as primarily the men in the community.” The “choice between ‘wise’ and ‘foolish’” for Sister Eloise, says Blickenstaff, “serves not only to keep the women in line, but to divide the women against each other, and thus reduce any power they might have had as a group.”
Run away!!!

Ratzinger effect on tourism

~from Corriere della Sera via Papa Ratzinger Forum
The man who was pejoratively labelled by the Communist newspaper Il Manifesto "the German shepherd' has been conquering even the most skeptical day after day.

The proof? Since that day, religious tourism to Rome has grown. One example suffices: The 'Roma Cristiana' tours on double-decker buses were 300% more in 2006 than they were in 2005.

Brevivet, one of the leading Catholic tour agencies, estimates an increase in customers this year of 20%. SPI, the secretariat for Italian Catholic tourist agencies, expects an overall increment of at least 15%. Unitalsi expects 18% more. And Opera Romana Pellegrini, the Vatican's own tourist agency, had 4.6 million 'religious tourists' in 2006 compared to 2.2 million in 2004. The Wall Street Journal estimated that 7 million US tourists came to the Vatican in 2006.

Let's look at reporting in the world press. Bitlab, which monitors the image of tourism to Italy, has monitored 21,202 newspaper reports on tourism published from January 2006 to September 2007 in Australia, Austria, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, the Middle East, Russia, Spain, Switzerland and the USA alone. Of these, 17,452 were about tourism to Italy, and 17% was dedicated to 'religious' tourism.

And now, shall we reconsider Benedict XVI? He is far from the Wojtyla who instantly seduced Italians, shocked by the fact of having a non-Italian Pope, by telling them the day of his election "Se mi sbaglio, mi corrigerete" ('If I make a mistake, you will correct me', referring to his spoken Italian). And he, Benedict, will never twirl a baton a la Charlie Chapiln as his predecessor once did before an audience of children in Castel Gandolfo....

But there is undoubtedly a Ratzinger effect if, in the second year of his Pontificate, 3,368,200 pilgrims came to St. Peter's to see him in 2006. Already in 2005, he registered a record number of 3,222,820 visitors, far greater than figures registered even in his peak years by the 'great communicator' John Paul II.

"Definitely, the attendances at the Vatican have increased remarkably, and not only because of devotion to John Paul II, universally considered 'family' by pilgrims," says Fr. Caesare Attuire, administrator of the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi. "The phenomenon is more complex. There's the fact that the Pontificate is new.

Cardinal Biffi's memoirs

~from Chiesa (thanks to Dan H for the link!)
On the eve of his eightieth birthday, cardinal Giacomo Biffi is sending out to the bookstores an extensive autobiographical volume, entitled "Memorie e digressioni di un italiano cardinale [Memories and Digressions of an Italian Cardinal]."

Biffi is remembered above all as the archbishop of Bologna, from 1984 to 2003. But in the book, he reviews his entire life, from his birth in working-class Milan to when he became a priest, then a professor of theology, a pastor, a bishop, and finally a cardinal.

In the foreword, Biffi quotes these words of saint Ambrose, the great fourth-century bishop of Milan, his beloved "father and teacher":

"A bishop can do nothing more perilous before God, and nothing more shameful before men, than fail to proclaim freely his own thoughts." ...

...For Biffi, a bishop is great when he governs the Church "with the warmth and the certainty of the faith, the concreteness of projects and initiatives, the capacity to respond to the issues of the time, not with surrender and accommodation, but by drawing upon the unalienable patrimony of the faith." Evidently, in Biffi's view, neither Martini nor Tettamanzi fits this profile....

...But the Italian spiritual leader who, in Biffi's judgment, saw with the greatest clarity the mission of the Church in the modern world and the threats that it faces, was Fr. Divo Barsotti, who is repeatedly recalled with admiration in the book.

Cardinal Biffi's memoirs are obligatory reading for those who want to survey the current conditions of the Church from a viewpoint that is outside of the standard interpretations, and at the same time authoritative. But it also makes for a captivating read, gripping the reader from the first pages with the brilliance of its writing, which is always restrained and unembellished.
Read an excerpt from the book (scroll down)

Inaugurating Roman academic year


In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper l'Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict greets students at a Mass for the inauguration of the academic year of pontifical universities in Rome, inside St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Thursday, Oct. 25, 2007. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano)


L'Osservatore Romano

Okay, Fr. B, where are you in all of this splendor?

Anglicans swimming the Tiber

~Diogenesis has this very funny article on Off the Record about the suspicion over Anglicans converting:
Catholic News Service has an unsigned article about three Anglican parishes in Ireland that have asked to be received into full communion with the Catholic Church. For the most part the piece is factual and objective, if somewhat stiff. Then we come upon the following paragraph:
Pope Benedict XVI and top Vatican officials have expressed their hope that the Anglican Communion would find a structure able to keep Anglicans united [my emphasis] while strengthening the faith and doctrinal heritage they share with the Roman Catholic Church in order to continue moving Roman Catholics and Anglicans toward full unity.
Get the drift? We're supposed to view the three Romeward bound parishes as acting contrary to the "hope" of Pope Benedict and the Vatican. Rather than celebrate the move, Catholics (presumably) should feel chagrined that the converts jumped the gun instead of waiting until the Anglican Communion is reconciled en bloc.

It's no secret that many progressivist Catholics feel ill-at-ease in a Church they find too old-fashioned and peer wistfully across the fence into the Anglican pasture, where gays may safely graze and women wear chasubles. These Catholics are dismayed by Anglican conversions, both because the converts prize in the Catholic Church those very characteristics the progressivists want to throw overboard, and because these new brethren raise the number of orthodox Catholics against whom the libs will have to do battle. The headline of the Irish Independent article on the same story -- "300 Anglicans Defect to Rome" -- betrays the same consternation. So they're "defectors" now?

During and after World War II, Leftists in Britain and America were enthusiastic about welcoming refugees from Hitler's Germany and distinctly unenthusiastic about receiving refugees from Soviet persecution: refugees who cherished all the wrong things about their adopted country. By the same token, the frigid welcome accorded Anglicans fleeing the territory of Bishops Robinson and Jefferts Schori is due to the fact that many of their new hosts share more kinship with Gene and Katharine than with Benedict, and want to import the most divisive of their Anglican innovations into the Catholic household. Small wonder they prefer the newcomers had not converted in the first place, but stayed put in order to -- what's the line? -- right, right: to help "keep Anglicans united."

Evangelization must penetrate culture, Pope tells students

~from CWN. Our dear friend, Fr. B. was one of the concelebrants and boy, do wish I could have been there, but also hope that Quantitative Metathesis attended and took lots of pictures. Post pictures, Q!

Effective evangelization involves making the Gospel "penetrate deeply into the way people think," Pope Benedict XVI told students at Rome's pontifical universities.

Hundreds of students at the pontifical universities gathered on October 26 for a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, with Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, the prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, presiding. After the Eucharistic celebration the Holy Father spoke to the congregation, emphasizing to the students that "all culture of modern man must be permeated by the Gospel." ?

For young people spending a few formative years in Rome, the Pope said, the city offers "eloquent Christian testimony" in the works of art, architecture, and institutions built up over the centuries. The pontifical universities have their own rich history, he added, noting that in those schools "entire generations of priests and pastoral workers were formed, including many great saints and illustrious men of the Church."

Encouraging the students to diligence in both their studies and their spiritual lives, Pope Benedict told them that they should recognize their academic work as preparation for their priestly mission. The Gospel must be proclaimed in new ways to a new culture, he said, and the ability to state ancient truths in new ways is "more pressing than ever in our post-modern age, in which the need is felt for a new evangelization, and which needs masters of faith and appropriately trained heralds and witnesses of the Gospel."

Identity and willingness to defend faith keys to culture war

~by Maurizio Crippa of Il Foglio via Papa Ratzinger Forum on the roundtable discussion about media reporting on Pope Benedict XVI's pontificate. Notice again the observation about Catholic identity
"It is true that the presence of the Pope in the international press is less compared to that of John Paul II, but we must also acknowledge the communicative gains that Benedict XVI achieves every day in using language that is very clear even if he speaks about complex issues."

Those were words from Diego Contreras, professor of communications, at a roundtable discussion in Roma-3 University deidcated to Pope Benedict and the mass media.

The issue of 'how (well or not) the Pope communicates' and in parallel, or at times subordinate, how and how much the Church communicates, is decidedly a polestar in the minds of the Catholic intelligentsia, and perhaps even more, of the hierarchy, to judge from the volumes that have been said about it in Italy and around the world, and the media dedicated to reporting Papal and church events.

In the press and on TV, from traditional news agencies to independent ones and new online services like ZENIT, from traditional media like radio to the new ones [the swekly diocesan newspaper of Taranto has just inaugurated the first experiemn of TV on demand by Internet yet attempted by any Catholic organization], there is a vitality in reporting that is not disputed.

But the question is: what are they reporting? What is the core of this religious reporting which should be addressed towards the lay world, ad extra, rather than to the Church itself, ad intra.

Indirectly, a decisive response came from Benedict XVI himself a few days ago, with the interview he gave in November 2006 which constitutes the preface to a book by the German theologian, the late Cardinal Leo Sheffzyck, which was previewed in Corriere della Sera.

Recalling the years of agitation following Vatican-II, Benedict XVI says, "We became aware that we were together fighting for the vitality of the faith in our time, for its expression and comprehensibility by the men of our time, staying faithful to the profound identity of that faith."

To make understandable the 'profound identity' of the faith - for Joseph Ratzinger, that is the cultural battle that must be waged. And the then 40-year-old Bavarian theologian understood that 40 years ago.

The problem today is the kind of 'reception' - to use a term dear to Vatican-II - by the Catholic information media of the reasons inherent in this cultural battle which the professor-Pope is leading against contemporary secular thinking.

Beyond the conclusions they may draw from it, many opinion makers see that this is the crucial point, one that is no longer understated but rather confronted with all its implications...

...In this search for an adequate 'grammar and syntax', Jesus published an interview last July with Cardinal Angelo Scola in which the Patriarch of Venice said a rapprochement was timely and appropriate between the teaching of theology and the state university system in Italy.

"One must acknowledge reality - that there is a massive comeback of the 'religious', no longer falsely and merely as a discipline discarded from so-called 'human sciences'," Scola said. "This cultural challenge must be accepted - and it could constitute the sense and even the fascination of a Christian presence in the universities."

Beyond theology, Marras notes that the question of relationship with lay culture is still marked by "an aphasia, that we have often lamented, on the part of Catholic intellectuals."

"But we understand that it depends on us, on our ability to listen or not to the prophetic voices in the Church itself."

Marras says that the cultural confrontation "should come within evangelical logic, about the Church as salt and yeast, which does not mean spreading salt all over the earth. Rather it means that Christians should be among other peoples in sympathy."

But on the part of believers, this also means having a better knowledge of the Gospel, of scriptures, of the roots of the faith. "It requires full awareness of one's identity, but identity is by nature a dialog with others [affirming one's identity to others who do not have the same identity]."

Marras cites Mons. Gianfranco Ravasi, newly named president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, and one of the closest collaborators of the San Paolo publishing family, who has said "Dialog does not mean duelling."

Marras advocates the 'Ravasi model' of dialog for the Church - a capacity to disseminate information with rigorous adherence to the identity of the faith. At the same time, he says, secular laymen need to pay more attention and be serious, because "all the contemporary talk about religion and God means there is a strong spiritual demand."

This demand and the need for the Church to respond to it clearly has also been articulated by Roberto Righetto, edtior of Avvenire's cultural section Agora, as well as coordinator of the Catholic University of Milan's journal Vita e Pensiero, a major player in the culture wars.

"Today, Europe's clergy are exhausted, they tend to practice a widespread conformism, and are impoverished of projects, ideas and ideals. Consider the 'isolation' of Norberto Bobbio in the last years of his life....

..."This overturns the secular stereotype," Righetto continues. " It is often the secular world that lacks the power of argument using daring thought, as though even secularists who do not fear to search for truth lack any points of reference."

So, what should be the role of an 'aggressive' Catholic media?

"We should be able to emerge from an inferiority complex which for years Christians have suffered from, with the result that one hardly finds prominent Christian thinkers taking part in the main forum of cultural debate.

"In part, that is due to the arrogance of the dominant secularist culture, but on the part of the Catholics, it is also due to their inability to appreciate the power and the originality of Christian culture. Having a definite cultural identity is not a handicap, not something to be regarded as a condition of inferiority. It is something that should confer strength, given an ability to know how to communicate with others, even those most remote from our identity."

Perhaps, the paradigm of the relationship between Catholics and secularists is changing more profoundly in the world of information and publishing than in academe, in the sense proposed by Righetto.

Identity and a willingness to defend it, to cite Ratzinger, are the new key words in the cultural war....