Saturday, February 28, 2009

Friendship of God

~by St. Irenaeus

Our Lord, the Word of God, first drew men to God as servants, but later he freed those made subject to him. He himself testified to this: I do not call you servants any longer, for a servant does not know what his master is doing. Instead I call you friends, since I have made known to you everything that I have learned from my Father. Friendship with God brings the gift of immortality to those who accept it.

In the beginning God created Adam, not because he needed man, but because he wanted to have someone on whom to bestow his blessings. Not only before Adam but also before all creation, the Word was glorifying the Father in whom he dwelt, and was himself being glorified by the Father. The Word himself said: Father, glorify me with that glory I had with you before the world was.

Nor did the Lord need our service. He commanded us to follow him, but his was the gift of salvation. To follow the Saviour is to share in salvation; to follow the light is to enjoy the light. Those who are in the light do not illuminate the light but are themselves illuminated and enlightened by the light. They add nothing to the light; rather, they are beneficiaries, for they are enlightened by the light.

The same is true of service to God: it adds nothing to God, nor does God need the service of man. Rather, he gives life and immortality and eternal glory to those who follow and serve him. He confers a benefit on his servants in return for their service and on his followers in return for their loyalty, but he receives no benefit from them. He is rich, perfect and in need of nothing.
The reason why God requires service from man is this: because he is good and merciful he desires to confer benefits on those who persevere in his service. In proportion to God’s need of nothing is man’s need for communion with God.

This is the glory of man: to persevere and remain in the service of God. For this reason the Lord told his disciples: You did not choose me but I chose you. He meant that his disciples did not glorify him by following him, but in following the Son of God they were glorified by him. As he said: I wish that where I am they also may be, that they may see my glory.

Friday, February 27, 2009


~by Pseudo-Chrysostom

The highest good is prayer and conversation with God, because it means that we are in God’s company and in union with him. When light enters our bodily eyes our eyesight is sharpened; when a soul is intent on God, God’s inextinguishable light shines into it and makes it bright and clear. I am talking, of course, of prayer that comes from the heart and not from routine: not the prayer that is assigned to particular days or particular moments in time, but the prayer that happens continuously by day and by night.

Indeed the soul should not only turn to God at times of explicit prayer. Whatever we are engaged in, whether it is care for the poor, or some other duty, or some act of generosity, we should remember God and long for God. The love of God will be as salt is to food, making our actions into a perfect dish to set before the Lord of all things. Then it is right that we should receive the fruits of our labours, overflowing onto us through all eternity, if we have been offering them to him throughout our lives.

Prayer is the light of the soul, true knowledge of God, a mediator between God and men. Prayer lifts the soul into the heavens where it hugs God in an indescribable embrace. The soul seeks the milk of God like a baby crying for the breast. It fulfils its own vows and receives in exchange gifts better than anything that can be seen or imagined.

Prayer is a go-between linking us to God. It gives joy to the soul and calms its emotions. I warn you, though: do not imagine that prayer is simply words. Prayer is the desire for God, an indescribable devotion, not given by man but brought about by God’s grace. As St Paul says: For when we cannot choose words in order to pray properly, the Spirit himself intercedes on our behalf in a way that could never be put into words.

If God gives to someone the gift of such prayer, it is a gift of imperishable riches, a heavenly food that satisfies the spirit. Whoever tastes that food catches fire and his soul burns for ever with desire for the Lord.

To begin on this path, start by adorning your house with modesty and humility. Make it shine brightly with the light of justice. Decorate it with the gold leaf of good works, with the jewels of faithfulness and greatness of heart. Finally, to make the house perfect, raise a gable above it all, a gable of prayer. Thus you will have prepared a pure and sparkling house for the Lord. Receive the Lord into this royal and splendid dwelling — in other words: receive, by his grace, his image into the temple of your soul.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Music from yesterday's Ash Wednesday Masses. The final Mass was tri-lingual in English, Spanish, and Latin.

Processional: There's a Wideness in God's Mercy (In Babilone)
Introit: Anglican Gradual
Psalm: Alstott
Gospel Acclamation: Alstott
Blessing of Ashes in Spanish
Imposition of Ashes: Parce, Domine and Attende Domine
Offertory: God is My Great Desire (Leoni)
Preface in Spanish
Sanctus in plainchant
Canon in English
Agnus Dei in chant
Communion: Ubi Caritas; Come, Ye Sinners; I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say
Post-communion prayer in Spanish
Recessional: Again We Keep this Solemn Fast

Purification of Spirit

~by St. Leo the Great

Dear friends, at every moment the earth is full of the mercy of God, and nature itself is a lesson for all the faithful in the worship of God. The heavens, the sea and all that is in them bear witness to the goodness and omnipotence of their Creator, and the marvellous beauty of the elements as they obey him demands from the intelligent creation a fitting expression of its gratitude.

But with the return of that season marked out in a special way by the mystery of our redemption, and of the days that lead up to the paschal feast, we are summoned more urgently to prepare ourselves by a purification of spirit.

The special note of the paschal feast is this: the whole Church rejoices in the forgiveness of sins. It rejoices in the forgiveness not only of those who are then reborn in holy baptism but also of those who are already numbered among God’s adopted children.

Initially, men are made new by the rebirth of baptism. Yet there still is required a daily renewal to repair the shortcomings of our mortal nature, and whatever degree of progress has been made there is no one who should not be more advanced. All must therefore strive to ensure that on the day of redemption no one may be found in the sins of his former life.

Dear friends, what the Christian should be doing at all times should be done now with greater care and devotion, so that the Lenten fast enjoined by the apostles may be fulfilled, not simply by abstinence from food but above all by the renunciation of sin.

There is no more profitable practice as a companion to holy and spiritual fasting than that of almsgiving. This embraces under the single name of mercy many excellent works of devotion, so that the good intentions of all the faithful may be of equal value, even where their means are not. The love that we owe both God and man is always free from any obstacle that would prevent us from having a good intention. The angels sang: Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth. The person who shows love and compassion to those in any kind of affliction is blessed, not only with the virtue of good will but also with the gift of peace.

The works of mercy are innumerable. Their very variety brings this advantage to those who are true Christians, that in the matter of almsgiving not only the rich and affluent but also those of average means and the poor are able to play their part. Those who are unequal in their capacity to give can be equal in the love within their hearts.

Stational Church: San Giorgio Velabro

Today's Stational Church in Rome is San Giorgio Velabro, dedicated to St. George, the Great Martyr.

Pope St Gregory established a diaconia, an institution that cared for the poor, at the site of this church. The area has a special place in the history of Rome, as an ancient tradition claims that it was here that Romulus killed his brother Remus before founding the city.

According to a 10th century copy of an older document, the first church here was built in the 7th century or earlier, possibly under Pope Leo II (682-683), originally as the S Sebastiano. There is a hint of an even older church or chapel at the site in an inscription from 482 in the Catacombs of Callixtus; it mentions a lector named Augustus as "lectoris de bela bru".

The present dedication is unusual for an early church in the West, as there was little devotion to St George in the West until the Crusaders brought it with them from the East. The area was inhabited by many Greek merchants drawn to the Tiber's inlet, the Velabrum. Pope Zacharias (741-752) ordered the relics of St George to be moved here from the Lateran palace.

It was restored by Pope Gregory IV (827 - 844). A new apse was added, and the portico was added to the façade. Pope Clement IX (1667 - 1669) also restored it.

In 1347, Cola di Rienzo posted his notice warning of the coming revolt on the architrave above the portico of the church.

Pope Pius VII (1800 - 1823) granted the church to the Congregation of S Maria del Pianto.It was later given to the Order of the Holy Cross (Crocigeri), who serve it today; their generalate is adjacent to the church.

The church was restored by A. Munoz in 1926. He was commissioned by Pope Pius XI. The object of the restoration was to as far as possible turn it back to its original state.

On July 27th 1993, the portico and the generalate were damaged by a bomb. One theory is that the location of the bombing was chosen because of the legend of Romulus and Remus mentioned above; in other words, it may have been a symbolic attack on Rome as the centre of the Italian government. It was restored in 1997.

Among the former titular deacons of the church is John Henry Cardinal Newman (died 1890), one of the leaders of the Oxford Movement.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Spiritual Reading

What are you planning to read for Lent?

On my list:
1. Christ, the Life of the Soul by Bl. Columba Marmion
2. The Science of the Cross by Edith Stein (St. Theresa Benedicta)
3. Summa Theologica (this is my daily read, so I'll continue this during Lent) by St. Thomas Aquinas.
4. The Epistle to the Hebrews (slowly and using several glosses)


~by St. Clement of Rome

Let us fix our attention on the blood of Christ and recognise how precious it is to God his Father, since it was shed for our salvation and brought the grace of repentance to all the world.

If we review the various ages of history, we will see that in every generation the Lord has offered the opportunity of repentance to any who were willing to turn to him. When Noah preached God’s message of repentance, all who listened to him were saved. Jonah told the Ninevites they were going to be destroyed, but when they repented, their prayers gained God’s forgiveness for their sins, and they were saved, even though they were not of God’s people.

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the ministers of God’s grace have spoken of repentance; indeed, the Master of the whole universe himself spoke of repentance with an oath: As I live, says the Lord, I do not wish the death of the sinner but his repentance. He added this evidence of his goodness: House of Israel, repent of your wickedness. Tell the sons of my people: If their sins should reach from earth to heaven, if they are brighter than scarlet and blacker than sackcloth, you need only turn to me with your whole heart and say, “Father”, and I will listen to you as a holy people.

In other words, God wanted all his beloved ones to have the opportunity to repent and he confirmed this desire by his own almighty will. That is why we should obey his sovereign and glorious will and prayerfully entreat his mercy and kindness. We should be suppliant before him and turn to his compassion, rejecting empty works and quarrelling and jealousy which only lead to death.
Brothers, we should be humble in mind, putting aside all arrogance, pride and foolish anger. Rather, we should act in accordance with the Scriptures, as the Holy Spirit says: The wise man must not glory in his wisdom nor the strong man in his strength nor the rich man in his riches. Rather, let him who glories glory in the Lord by seeking him and doing what is right and just. Recall especially what the Lord Jesus said when he taught gentleness and forbearance. Be merciful, he said, so that you may have mercy shown to you. Forgive, so that you may be forgiven. As you treat others, so you will be treated. As you give, so you will receive. As you judge, so you will be judged. As you are kind to others, so you will be treated kindly. The measure of your giving will be the measure of your receiving.

Let these commandments and precepts strengthen us to live in humble obedience to his sacred words. As Scripture asks: Whom shall I look upon with favour except the humble, peaceful man who trembles at my words?

Sharing then in the heritage of so many vast and glorious achievements, let us hasten toward the goal of peace, set before us from the beginning. Let us keep our eyes firmly fixed on the Father and Creator of the whole universe, and hold fast to his splendid and transcendent gifts of peace and all his blessings.

Stational Church: Santa Sabina

~Santa Sabina all'Aventino

As early as the third century, the Church of Rome observed the season of Lent by journeying each day to a specific "Station Church" or one of the ancient and prominent churches of Rome. Here the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, gathered the people in prayer to celebrate the Sacred Mysteries. While the location and number of Station Churches changed over the years, this Lenten practice became an important symbol of unity as well as a pilgrimage of faith. Unfortunately, the custom ceased during the Avignon papacy in 1305 but interest was revived by Saint Leo XIII at the turn of the 20th century. Blessed John XXIII revived the custom in 1959.

Today's Stational Church is the St Sabina at the Aventine dedicated to the second centry martyr, St. Sabine. This is where Pope Benedict will preside over the imposition of ashes.

The church was built in the 5th century, presumably at the site of the original Titulus Sabinae, a church in the home of Sabina who had been martyred c. 114. The tituli were the first parish churches in Rome. The exact date of the foundation is believed to be 422-423, and it is known that it was founded by an Illyrian priest named Peter.

It was restored in the 8th and 9th centuries.

In 1218, the church was given to the Dominicans by Pope Honorius III, who had approved the foundation of the order. They still serve the church, although since 1370 Santa Maria sopra Minerva has been their main church in Rome. The Pope was of the Savelli family, whose palace was next to the church.

St Dominic lived in the adjacent monastery for a period soon before his death in 1221. Among other residents of the monastery is St Thomas Aquinas.

During the Renaissance and Baroque periods, some additions were made. In the 20th century, most of these were removed to restore the church back to its original state. The restorations took place 1914-1919 and 1936-1938, and were led by A. Muzo and P. Berthier.

Ash Wednesday

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mardi Gras

I woke up early this morning to make the family some Lemon Ricotta Pancakes and Sausage links to start our Mardi Gras. Tuesday are normally busy for our family with members going off in all directions. Our Mardi Gras tradition is to wake up early and have a huge pancake breakfast together before dispersing. A couple of days ago, I was Twittering with Dom Bettinelli and he posted a recipe for the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes. So this morning we tried them out and, needless to say, I don't need to eat anything else today.

Here's the recipe (I doubled it to feed everyone in my family):
6 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup flour
4 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Grated rind of 2 lemons

1. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks, ricotta cheese, and butter.

2. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, salt, and lemon rind. Stir the flour mixture into the ricotta mixture just until blended; the batter will be thick.

3. In an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gently fold the whites into the batter. (It's better to leave some white streaks rather than overmix the batter.)

4. Heat a stove-top griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Ladle the batter onto the hot pan to form 4-inch rounds. Cook until the bottoms are golden. Turn and cook again until the bottoms are golden. Makes 12.

Adapted from the Four Seasons Hotel Boston

Pictures of Requiem Mass

...For me, this is why the traditional Requiem Mass stands head and shoulders over the newer rite. Pictures from Fr. Adrian Ckuj's Solemn Requiem Mass in Rome via Orbis Catholicus. The prayers are incomparable, the solemn nature is profound and majestic. Requiem aeternam, Dies Irae, Libera me, and In Paradisum are some of the Propers that express much more than "On Eagle's Wings" ever could.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Emptying holy water fonts during Lent

Last night, after the Traditional Mass, my pastor called me aside. Here's a snippet of that conversation:
Father: Before the Ash Wednesday Mass at 9, we're going to have a brief ceremony.

Me: Oh?

Father: We're going to dump all the holy water from the holy water fonts.

Me: eyebrows rising while panic starts to set in

Father: We'll be putting sand in its place.

Me: (getting it and without batting an eye) I can bring cactus plants. (turning to my husband) Remind me to stop by the nursery and pick up some cacti.

Father: laughs out loud

Me: Do you want some round smooth stones, too? (pleased with myself that Father was the first to crack)
So what is your parish's practice with regards to holy water during Lent? Is your pastor one who teaches that Lent is to be desert experience therefore draining the holy water fonts creates a sense of thirst for the baptismal waters of Easter Vigil? Here's what the Congregation for Divine Worship wrote in 2000:
This Dicastery is able to respond that the removing of Holy Water from the fonts during the season of Lent is not permitted, in particular, for two reasons:

1. The liturgical legislation in force does not foresee this innovation, which in addition to being praeter legem is contrary to a balanced understanding of the season of Lent, which though truly being a season of penance, is also a season rich in the symbolism of water and baptism, constantly evoked in liturgical texts.

2. The encouragement of the Church that the faithful avail themselves frequently of the [sic] of her sacraments and sacramentals is to be understood to apply also to the season of Lent. The "fast" and "abstinence" which the faithful embrace in this season does not extend to abstaining from the sacraments or sacramentals of the Church. The practice of the Church has been to empty the Holy Water fonts on the days of the Sacred Triduum in preparation of the blessing of the water at the Easter Vigil, and it corresponds to those days on which the Eucharist is not celebrated (i.e., Good Friday and Holy Saturday).
Got that? I got into an argument with someone once about emptying holy water fonts during Lent. After I quoted from the CDW, this person angrily said to me, "You think you know more than the Church!" I laughed at the incongruity of that ad hominem.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

40 Days for Life Spring Campaign

This Wednesday, the spring prayer campaign for 40 Days for Life begins. Click here to the main website to find the nearest prayer venue. Please consider signing up to pray for at least one hour at the nearest abortuary. Praying the rosary for one hour can be a very powerful experience. Let me say that our little parish stepped out in faith last year and organized the Lenten campaign for our diocese. It was a worthwhile sacrifice and our parishioners stepped up to the plate, many praying at least a half-dozen times. We met many wonderful people around the diocese and also from other denominations who were moved by this human rights issue of our time. The Silent Holocaust must come to an end.

Goodbye to Alleluia

Today, in the Ordinary Form of the Mass, we said goodbye to Alleluia. In the Old Calendar, we have been without the Alleluia or the Gloria since Septuagesima, three Sundays ago.

At the end of the principal Mass, we buried in the church courtyard a little straw man with the word "Alleluia" on his chest. We'll resurrect him at Easter Vigil.

The liturgy was full of Alleluias. The worship bulletin had a short paragraph on the reasons for saying farewell to Alleluia. A lot of people came up to me afterwards and most said, "I never knew that!"

Here's what we sang:

Processional hymn: Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones
Introit: from the Anglican Gradual
Kyrie: chanted
Gloria: Proulx
Psalm: from Chabanel Psalms
Offertory hymn: Alleluia, Sing to Jesus
Communion hymns: Adoro te devote; Draw Us in the Spirit's Tether
Post-communion: Triple-fold Alleluia set to a Psalm tone
Recessional hymn: Alleluia, Song of Gladness

During Lent, the organ will be very spare, no prelude or postlude. We'll return to chanting the Ordinary. The plan is to re-introduce the Communion Antiphon during Lent.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Kmiec antics

~What is the deal with Doug Kmiec? Is the lure of an ambassadorship to the Vatican so enticing that he's willing to totally lose his perspective (whatever shred he had left....the mental gymnastics in support of pro-abort Obama were spectacular)? Here's his latest screed from NewsBusters
Douglas Kmiec used to have a certain reputation as a serious man of the law and a man of religious conviction. Apparently that reputation is no longer important to him if this display of name-calling is any indication.

Kmiec unleashes a false premise in the very first paragraph by taking the Democrat's position that the so-called stimulus bill actually does anything to stimulate the economy. But even Kmiec agrees that the bill is also a massive welfare bill by pointing out the new provisions that are directed at "basic health care, job training, and in the near term, unemployment benefits and food."

Following that admission -- a thing he paints as a positive good -- Kmiec then rips into the motives of Senator Judd Gregg, the man that recently turned down President Obama's offer of a cabinet position. Kmeic decides that the "only reason" that Senator Gregg could possibly have turned down the cabinet position is because Gregg doesn't "want to help" the country.

One wonders how Mr. Kmiec could have gotten into Senator Gregg's head to know this? Apparently how Kmiec infers this disinterest in "helping" the country is via a purposeful misinterpretation of Gregg's stated refusal of the position offered by Obama. What Gregg said was that his governing philosophies clashed with Obama's and because of that he didn't think they would make a good team. Gregg's position is clear. He stands on the opposite side of the issues with Obama and, therefore, could not in good conscience be subservient to Obama, the man that would be running the show.

Gregg's is a principled position to take. After all, when one joins a team run by a strong team captain, one will be required to abide by that captain's directions. But if you know ahead of time that said captain holds ideas you are firmly against, well it's best not to even join the team in the first place.

But this isn't good enough for Kmiec. He thinks Gregg should have thrown away his principles -- like Kmiec himself has done, I guess -- and signed onto the winning team or risk being from the party that is known for "denigrating the values, hopes and planning of others."
Someone on another forum asked, "Are there pictures of him in a house of ill-repute?" What can explain this intellectual whoring?

Pope and Pelosi

~a fantasy conversation via the NRO
Pelosi: Well, I’m glad we are in agreement. I AM an ardent, practicing Catholic and I myself have studied all of these issues very, very carefully.

Pope: Perhaps this will aid your studies. (The papal secretary hands the Pope a book). Some light reading for your flight home. It is the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which I edited. Do you have a copy?

Pelosi: No. I mean — not one that I have read. (Nervously looking to Rep. George Miller for help) Yes, I have a copy that is still in its cellophane wrapper.

Pope: I have taken the liberty of marking a few passages for you. I believe this section which reads, “Human life must be respected and protected from the moment of conception,” might interest you.

Pelosi: Excuse me your Holiness, but . . . I, I, I don’t have to read that, I’ve been studying this issue for a long time. The National Catholic Reporter, and the New York Times, also, each had wonderful pieces on this back in the early 80’s, I believe. And over the centuries the Church has not been able to define when life begins. You know — when it actually starts.

Pope: The Church does not need to define such a thing; science has defined it for us. Regardless of one’s belief: Life begins at conception, Madame Speaker. This is a fact.

Pelosi: I knew you were going to say that. And I have to protest — uh . . . We are in a new era in America, your Holiness. It is a time of change. With President Obama’s election we are rediscovering many things . . .

Pope: Has there been some new discovery regarding when life begins?

Pelosi: Well, whatever it is — the Church — Senator, uh, Saint Augustine said it was three months. Life begins at three months. We just don’t know. But whenever it is, it has no bearing on a woman’s right to choose.

Pope: Right to choose what?

Pelosi: Right to choooooose.

Pope: Choooooose what?

Pelosi: Well, to terminate the . . . uh. The abortion. The fetus. The control of our bodies to terminate the choice . . . abortion.

Pope: To abort one that does not yet exist? Didn’t you just say life didn’t begin until three months after birth?

Pelosi: I knew you were going to say that. I said, the Church has not defined when life begins.

Pope: Science has definitively proven that life begins at conception. This is not matter of faith, but of fact.

Pelosi: Well, I have free will, you know.

Pope: I can see that.

Pelosi: In the United States we want abortions to be safe and rare and reduce the number of abortions.

Pope: By permitting more of them?

Pelosi: Yes. Uh. Legal and rare. We want them to be (raising her voice, the mantilla slipping) reduced. We want the numbers of abortions to reduce.
Plausible, no?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Brave New World

~hat tip to Adoro via Twitter. Screening embryos at Slate:
Two months ago, the Fertility Institutes, an assisted reproduction company headquartered in Los Angeles, began advertising the "pending availability" of genetic tests that would offer "a preselected choice of gender, eye color, hair color and complexion" in artificially conceived children. On Thursday, Gautam Naik of the Wall Street Journal reported that "half a dozen" potential clients had contacted the company to request such tests. As of today, the tests still aren't for sale. But several trends are converging to make aesthetic trait selection an impending business.

1. Embryo screening has become permanently entrenched. By now, tens of thousands of embryos have been screened for quality and potential disease, thanks to preimplantation genetic diagnosis. Culturally and politically, there's no going back.

2. Screening is steadily expanding to traits that are less medically important. We're examining and discarding embryos for flaws that are less lethal, less harmful, less likely to cause disease, and less likely to strike early in life. Two years ago, British regulators approved PGD to get rid of embryos that might become grotesquely cross-eyed. At the time, the head of the clinic that pioneered this use of PGD predicted, "We will increasingly see the use of embryo screening for severe cosmetic conditions."

3. Aesthetic screening is spreading. Once you're screening for "severe" cosmetic conditions, you can no longer rule out other cosmetic criteria. The principal gateway to aesthetic use of PGD is sex selection. Worldwide, the number of embryos and fetuses discarded for being the wrong sex is in the millions. In this country, the number of clients paying for sex-selective PGD is in the thousands and growing. Nearly half of U.S. clinics that offer PGD have used it for nonmedical sex selection, and 40 percent of Americans approve of this practice. The Fertility Institutes explicitly frames eye, hair, and skin color selection as an extension of sex selection. Read more
Is there any way of stopping this rush to jump into the precipice?

Dancing around

~La Pelosi has released a statement (via Fr. Z):
"It is with great joy that my husband, Paul, and I met with his Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI today.

"In our conversation, I had the opportunity to praise the Church’s leadership in fighting poverty, hunger, and global warming, as well as the Holy Father’s dedication to religious freedom and his upcoming trip and message to Israel.

"I was proud to show his Holiness a photograph of my family’s Papal visit in the 1950s, as well as a recent picture of our children and grandchildren."
Something to think about from The Anchoress
If anyone was expecting any sort of insta-conversion on Pelosi’s part, that was a foolish wish. Tough and proud, there was no way the Speaker was ever going to walk out and proclaim her views “changed” on anything. But to me, it is telling that Pelosi did not even acknowledge the pope’s remarks on the sanctity of life - it suggests that his words hit their mark, and that the loving wound of instruction is too tender for her to touch.

The things that singe our consciences are the things we try to dance around, or ignore outright.

Sin in different ways

~from BBC
Women are prouder than men, but men are more lustful, according to a Vatican report which states that the two sexes sin differently.

A Catholic survey found that the most common sin for women was pride, while for men, the urge for food was only surpassed by the urge for sex.

The report was based on a study of confessions carried out by Fr Roberto Busa, a 95-year-old Jesuit scholar.

The Pope's personal theologian backed up the report in the Vatican newspaper.

"Men and women sin in different ways," Msgr Wojciech Giertych, theologian to the papal household, wrote in L'Osservatore Romano.

"When you look at vices from the point of view of the difficulties they create you find that men experiment in a different way from women."

Msgr Giertych said the most difficult sin for men to face was lust, followed by gluttony, sloth, anger, pride, envy and greed.

For women, the most dangerous sins were pride, envy, anger, lust, and sloth, he added.
But in the end, it's all the same: sin. Confess it. Hear the absolution and do the penance.

Closed-door meeting

~via AP, the meeting with Pelosi was closed door.

No photo op. Good.

Official Statement on Pelosi Visit

~from the Holy See's Press Office

Following the General Audience the Holy Father briefly greeted Mrs Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the United States House of Representatives, together with her entourage.

His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Ardent Catholic to visit Pope Benedict

Will she wear a veil? If so, white or black? Will she genuflect with left knee and kiss His Holiness' ring?

Oh, to be a fly on the wall at the Apostolic Palace when Madame Speaker Pelosi, self-styled ardent Catholic visits with Papa tomorrow. Yes, a budding Thomist meets with the Vicar of Christ. Will she compare her notes on Aquinas with those of Papa's on Augustine and Bonaventure? What an invigorating discourse they will surely have.

Holy Land Pilgrimage

Follow along with parishioners of the Anglo-Catholic parish of St. John the Baptist, Sevenoaks, in England as they are on pilgrimage in the Holy Land. How marvelous that they are able to do this during the remote preparations for Easter of Septuagesima. Check out the pictures at the weblog.


I was driving through a section of town this morning that I rarely occasion and noticed a new storefront. It's called Gold Teeth. That's right, teeth grill. At the old Caesar's Pizza site. My immediate reaction was to laugh out loud and think, "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and render unto the dental god...."

Yesterday, I noticed that a new picture of my niece has been posted and tagged on Facebook in which she is sporting a rather oddly-shaped lip ring on her lower lip. To my Philistine eyes, it look liked she had an ugly tick on her bottom lip.

I've been reflecting on what is our current age's fascination with self-mutilation as an expression of beauty. Gold teeth and lip rings and the like just don't exemplify beauty. No aesthetic rationalizing can possibly convince me otherwise.

At last weekend's Ignited by Truth Conference, Joseph Pearce, spoke passionately about the evangelizing power of Beauty. In an age where Truth is whatever one makes of it (relativism) and Goodness has been turned upside down (pursuit of self as the ultimate good), he said that Beauty still has the power to move people's minds and hearts to God.

When we see a sunrise, we are pierced by its beauty overcoming our jadedness. There is nothing that we can do to create a sunrise, it is entirely beyond our control. It is a truly hardened person who cannot be moved by the beauty of nature. Joseph Pearce talked about humility as a necessary ingredient for being moved by Beauty quoting some U2 lyrics: "If you want to kiss the sky, you better learn how to kneel..." Humility is hard. We naturally tend to prideful ways, embracing freedom as something unencumbered and unrestrained. Woe to anyone who stands in our way. Freedom of expression without regard for consequences is the a measure of having arrived.

Which brings me back to gold teeth and lip rings. After the shock value is attained, what then? I am left staring at my niece's lip thinking about the tick-like attachment that is there. Perhaps I need to work on being less judgmental. But I think of her life and the constant pursuit of happiness though never quite finding it. There is nothing particularly unique about her story other than it's the same story of too many of her generation: the ennui with life, in spite of all the trappings of wealth and consequence.

I wonder in what ways I, too, wear the spiritual equivalent of a lip ring, my self-mutilation that detracts from the Beauty of the imageness of Christ in me. Sin is mutilation. It mars however small it might be. I am looking forward to Lent with its austerity and simplicity. The Old Calendar with its three Sundays of pre-Lenten preparation is helping me sort through my own spiritual detritus.

What will I render unto God?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Teddy Bear the Terrorist

Hamas' new genocidal mascot. What's next, Barney the Jihadist?

Weekend Doings

I attended the Ignited by Truth Conference this past weekend at the new venue, the Raleigh Convention Center. In previous years, it was held at Cardinal Gibbons High School. One of the first people I greeted was Bishop Burbidge who was standing by the Raleigh Diocese Office of Vocations table. It was awesome to express my filial affection and also to say hello to Fr. Ned Schlesinger and Brad Watkins of the Office of Vocations. And what joy to see our seminarians there in their sage green polo shirts with the diocesan logo.

To top off the weekend, a couple of the seminarians served at our Sunday Masses including the traditional Mass. There is nothing more invigorating than to see them in their cassocks and beautiful surplices (with lace, uh, huh!). I look forward to seeing them at the upcoming Chrism Mass and, Lord willing, the Bishop will send one or two of them to our parish for Easter Vigil.

Funeral Music

One of the hardest parts of my job is planning out Funeral Masses with the grieving families. The Extraordinary Form of the Requiem Mass is straightforward which is a freedom for me.

In the Ordinary Form, there is one request and one request only that is common to every single family and it is "On Eagle's Wings". It is not easy to tell the families that, "No, this is not appropriate for the Mass and we don't allow it here at our parish."

Most families are understanding after I explain that the Mass has prescribed music and that we can't just put whatever we want because we have an emotional attachment to a particular song.

This past week, I had to deal with a family that was very insistent on their choice of music. Our pastor tried to direct their choices, but they were not listening. So by the time they spoke with me, they presented a program that was entirely inappropriate for the Mass. Hint, "Danny Boy" and "When Irish Eyes are Smiling". When I explained that I couldn't allow these choices, I was confronted with outright hostility. I understood and felt compassion for them in their grief. Sadly, their previous experiences of funeral Masses had this music. And I felt like I was being maneuvered, triangulated and pitted against our pastor, the cantor and organist. This is not a position you would want to find me in because I will fight back and it ends up not being pretty whatsoever.

I don't know how, but in the end, we were able to work out the music that was dignified and proper to the Mass. The music they wanted was either played or sung at the Viewing of the Body and at the graveside.

Processional hymn: Praise to the Lord the Almighty
Psalm 23, Alstott from Respond and Acclaim
Gospel Acclamation from Chabanel Psalms Music for Funerals
Offertory Music: Schubert Ave Maria
Communion Music: I Come with Joy to Meet My Lord; I Received the Living God
Final Commendation: In Paradisum (plainchant)
Recessional hymn: Holy God, We Praise Thy Name

I think my friends' prayers sustained me throughout the trying week for which I am grateful.

Lenten discipline

In the Old Calendar, we've begun preparations for Easter. Hangings and vestments are purple. Yesterday's Propers for Sexagesima focused on the sufferings of Paul for the sake of the Gospel and the Parable of the Sower and the Seed. Father's sermon yesterday helped us to meditate on what kind of soil we are, how our lives reflect the Gospel. Do we wilt under temptation and hardships? Or are we steadfast?

Have you thought about your Lenten discipline? What are your reasons for choosing that particular mortification?

The Offertory Verse yesterday was this:
Perfect Thou my goings in Thy paths, that my footsteps be not moved: incline Thine ear, and hear my owrds: show forth Thy wonderful mercies, Thou who savest them that trust in Thee, O Lord.
One of the prayers of Prime today was this:
O LORD God almighty, who hast brought us to the beginning of this day: defend us in the same by thy power; that we may not fall this day into any sin, but that all our thoughts, words and works may be directed to the fulfillment of thy will. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son: Who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost God: world without end.
Both prayers have this intense awareness that we stand in the presence of God and each passing moment is the time of salvation, of responding to the call of holiness.

May your week be lived walking that narrow path that leads to life.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Funerals, tomorrow, and Saturday.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Media's Blatant Failure to Report March for Life.

...Thine Eyes is a project whose aim is to accurately report on the March for Life. Check out this trailer.

On Hans Kung's ObamaPope dream

...Carl Olson of Ignatius Insight says this:
It's simply impossible to spoof or satirize the inanities that come forth from Hans Küng. He is living proof that intellectual brilliance (yes, the man has a thick CV and is very learned) does not equal wisdom and certainly does not insure humble loyalty to the Church and her teachings. I dare say (okay, it's not very daring) that "humility" is not a word that hangs out, let alone associates, with Küng.

Other qualities lacking in Küng's various public utterances are originality and creativity; in direct contrast to Pope Benedict XVI, who he continually insults, he might just be the most clichéd Stuck-In-The-Mythical-Sixties-Forever "thinker" around.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Obama would make a better Pope?

Hans Kung thinks so.
The dissident theologian Hans Küng has suggested that Barack Obama would be a better pope than Benedict XVI. “The mood in the church is oppressive," Küng told a German outlet. “Benedict is unteachable in matters of birth control and abortion, arrogant and without transparency and restrictive of freedom and human rights." The theologian who once argued for greater democracy in the Church suggested that the Pope should follow Obama's example and issue executive orders to bring about radical changes in Church doctrine and discipline, "using the power of his executive office to issue decrees."
More here.

Newsweek Cover

We Are All Socialists Now

Fasting is Spiritual Armor

Thought Police Strike Again

~via Island Breezes. When reason is absconded and tolerance only goes one way:
"Lesley-Anne Steeleworthy, who is chairwoman of the board at the women’s centre at the university, said the lecture topic was “anti-choice” and offensive on “a number of levels.”

“It is shocking,” Ms. Steeleworthy said Sunday. “It’s comparing women who want the right to choose to being as evil as Hitler.”

As a result, her group is considering a human rights complaint against the university chaplain for participating in the event. The chaplain is in his first year in the position..."
This happened at St. Mary's University, Halifax, Canada. Note the irony of the uni's name. We're not too far away from this kind of thought policing. Note how these complainers all use the word "offensive" or "offended". It's all about sensibilities.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

An Open Letter to Pope Benedict XVI

~by Eric Wilson in the DC Catholic Examiner, here's an excerpt
We support you, we appreciate your efforts in bringing about unity, and we hope you won't be phased by those who are angry at you. Who are we?

We're the millions of faithful Catholics who fill the pews at Mass every Saturday evening and Sunday morning. We're the Catholic families who send our children to parochial schools, who follow the Church's teaching on contraception, and who continue to support the Church financially during this difficult time.

We're the young people who give up promising secular careers to enter a life of service to our Holy Mother Church. We're the sinners who go to the confessionals seeking God's forgiveness. We're the Church Militant who seek the prayers of our brothers and sisters in the Church Triumphant. Most importantly, we are the people who pray for you, our Holy Father, every day.

The enemies of the Church, both within and without, don't speak for us. We embrace a return to Tradition. We want to be part of a counter-cultural movement that affirms life and love in a world set on death and utility. We welcome a return to Catholic culture and identity. We appreciate the "hermeneutic of continuity."

While others hurl insults at you because you challenge them, we will cling to our lifeboat, the unsinkable Bark of Peter and continue to pray for your health and ministry.

The Coming Evangelical Collapse

Now this is fascinating. I see signs of it here and there. From The Internet Monk:
1) Evangelicals have identified their movement with the culture war and with political conservatism. This was a mistake that will have brutal consequences. They are not only going to suffer in losing causes, they will be blamed as the primary movers of those causes. Evangelicals will become synonymous with those who oppose the direction of the culture in the next several decades. That opposition will be increasingly viewed as a threat, and there will be increasing pressure to consider evangelicals bad for America, bad for education, bad for children and bad for society.

The investment of evangelicals in the culture war will prove out to be one of the most costly mistakes in our history. The coming evangelical collapse will come about, largely, because our investment in moral, social and political issues has depleted our resources and exposed our weaknesses. We’re going to find out that being against gay marriage and rhetorically pro-life (yes, that’s what I said) will not make up for the fact that massive majorities of evangelicals can’t articulate the Gospel with any coherence and are believing in a cause more than a faith.

2) Evangelicals have failed to pass on to our young people the evangelical Christian faith in an orthodox form that can take root and survive the secular onslaught. In what must be the most ironic of all possible factors, an evangelical culture that has spent billions of youth ministers, Christian music, Christian publishing and Christian media has produced an entire burgeoning culture of young Christians who know next to nothing about their own faith except how they feel about it. Our young people have deep beliefs about the culture war, but do not know why they should obey scripture, the essentials of theology or the experience of spiritual discipline and community. Coming generations of Christians are going to be monumentally ignorant and unprepared for culture-wide pressures that they will endure.

Do not be deceived by conferences or movements that are theological in nature. These are a tiny minority of evangelicalism. A strong core of evangelical beliefs is not present in most of our young people, and will be less present in the future. This loss of “the core” has been at work for some time, and the fruit of this vacancy is about to become obvious.
Do read the whole thing. Part Two here and Part Three here.

Abp. Rowan Calls....

....for more, are you ready for this? I bet you'll be surprised. No, really. Ruth Gledhill reports:
The Archbishop of Canterbury has criticised churches that have too many events on their noticeboards.

Churches should concentrate less on activities and more on "praying" he said at a service in Egypt, where is chairing the meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion.
He was speaking to a meeting of Primates of the Anglican Communion.
When you looked at that church you would have thought, what a lot of things they do there. But I'm still wondering if anyone ever asked, does God do things here? It seemed to be just a slight risk that there was hardly any room in the week for God to find his way in among all these activities."
He does have a point. Where is God in all the doing? And then he also criticized people who back-stab and undermine each other:
"The person sitting next to me praying next to me is someone in whom Jesus is praying. I try to listen to the voice of Jesus at prayer in them. I try to see the force and energy of Jesus's life in them," he said.

"And when I try to dismiss them or make little of them when I speak harshly to them or about them I am in danger of destroying that place which is a place where Jesus is."
Ack! Gobbledygook.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Update on Chicago Cathedral Fire

~from College News. Grrrr on the spelling errors....alter? sacristy?
Though the Cathedral’s roof will definitely have to be re-built, other areas of the church, including the sanctuary. Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford remarked to the Trib that while the floor of the sanctuary had flooded with several inches of water, the actual alter (sic) experienced no damage at all.

Another Church official said that holy sacristy (sic) [Ed. the writer meant the Blessed Sacrament] at the cathedral was removed. It was also reported that the rectory, which contained marriage and birth records from the 1800s, had been evacuated, but also saw no damage from the fire.
Blessed Sacrament was saved and the organ is safe via Twitter reports.

Prevention First Act

Alerting you to Senate Bill S.21 authored by Sen. Harry Reid (NV), the Prevention First Act. Read at GovTrack. Some of the titles of this bill:
-- At-Risk Communities Teen Pregnancy Prevention Act of 2009
-- Compassionate Assistance for Rape Emergencies Act of 2009
-- Emergency Contraception Education Act of 2009
-- Equity in Prescription Insurance and Contraceptive Coverage Act of 2007
-- Prevention Through Affordable Access Act
-- Responsible Education About Life Act of 2009
-- Title X Family Planning Services Act of 2009
-- Truth in Contraception Act of 2009
-- Unintended Pregnancy Reduction Act of 2009
It was read and referred to committee where it is currently. Call your representatives to defeat this bill. Some people were decrying the mobilization against FOCA because it distracted from the sneaky stuff being pushed here and there. Maybe so. But the mobilization did one thing, to raise awareness to the extent of the pro-death agenda that this new administration is promoting under the guise of compassion.

Committee Members of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions:

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Chair
Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY)
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)

Prayer for the Pope

O God, the Shepherd and Ruler of all the faithful, graciously look upon Thy servant Benedict whom Thou has been pleased to appoint pastor over Thy Church: grant, we beseech Thee, that by both word and example he may edify those over whom he is set, and together with the flock committed to his care, may attain to eternal life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

Tired of the White House

...that's what our new President told second graders.
"We were just tired of being in the White House," the president candidly told the gleeful second-graders at Capital City Public Charter School.

"We got out! They let us out!" Mrs. Obama said as the kids and their teachers laughed.

The White House said the Obamas' trip had been planned, just not publicly announced.

The surprise timing, though, gave the feel of two different worlds.
So, it was planned, they say. Foot-in-mouth disease.

Live TV stream of Chicago cathedral fire

Click here.

Does anyone else feel that the confluence of all the bad news is Satan attacking? Seriously consider it if you haven't thought about it.


....again. Two-hour delay. And at Sevenoaks in England, beautiful snow pictures.

Way of Beauty

~via the New Liturgical Movement. Thomas More College launches a Sacred Arts Program.
The Thomas More College officially launched its Way of Beauty Art Program with the arrival of its new Artist-in-Residence last week.

David Clayton, a leading artist from Great Britain, is trained as both an iconographer and in the Western naturalistic tradition. He will spearhead the program, which will include on-campus lectures and mentorships, and may ultimately evolve into a fine arts major being offered at the College.

"The preservation of the sacred Catholic artistic tradition will be my guiding light as I serve Thomas More College and the Holy Catholic Church. I am especially looking forward to mentoring this generation of Catholic artists so that they can contribute to a new flourishing of the traditions of their predecessors, producing art that adheres to the timeless and sacred principles that comprise beautiful art, and which moves the hearts of those who see it to love of God and fellow man," Clayton said.

...The Way of Beauty Program will explore the vital role art plays in developing human spirituality. The Program will work toward creating a new generation of aspiring artists and patrons of the arts by teaching them practical art skills, the talent to apprehend beauty, and the ability to open up to inspiration from God. It will foster an understanding and appreciation of naturalism, iconography, abstract art, and art theory.
This is especially good news for one of my children who has the gift of art. Ever since she was a baby, she and I have pored over art books and I have collected a large image base of the lives of Jesus and Mary through masterpieces. She has been writing icons since she was five and her constant companion is an art journal. She has a devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and composes many pictures, a visual litany to Our Lady, so to speak. I have worried about where to send her to receive training so this particular news has gladdened my heart. Here is one of hers that she did at the age of seven. And no, she has not received one formal art lesson.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Media Watch

One of the reasons why I despise the media is stuff like this. Via Yahoo New Photos. See the captions? Nice. Not! That German bishops are outraged, fine. But that the Pope has become an embarrassment? Let us label this for what it is: Pope Derangement Syndrome (PDS). They did it to Sarah Palin. They did it to George Bush. And let's not forget Ronald Reagan. Well do I remember the press bitterness over his popular presidency.

Candlemas Missa Cantata

I meant to take more pictures than I was able to of last night's Candlemas. Though the whole celebration was two hours long, the time went by quickly due to all the details that needed my attention. Missa Cantata requires a good deal of concentration, watching Father's back and catching all the little clues as to what happens next. We had a guest schola, Schola Vox Clara directed by Dr. Patricia Warren. It would not have looked good for the parish Music Director to be neglecting our guests.

The above picture is of Father reading the prayers of Blessing of the Candles prior to distribution of candles. Here's a brief sound clip of the schola chanting Arcadelt's Ave Maria. I forgot to turn the recorder on at the beginning of the motet. Click on the link and your default media player will play the sound clip.

Ave Maria by Arcadelt

Turbo Tax

Quotes of the Day

~via Twitter. Had your daily dose of humor yet?
If Obama's appointees keep paying their back taxes we may soon be able to balance the budget.
Daschle's response to a question about paying taxes: I forgot! Yo, dude, if I tried that I'd be in jail. And this one from Curt Jester:
This year instead of a tax return I am tempted to send in a picture of Geithner and Daschle.
There you go.

Media Blitz

The President wants to go on a media blitz to promote the S-package. My question is: Why? They're carrying his water now without him asking. It's embarrassing watching them fall all over themselves. Instead of the vaunted "Fourth Estate" they are the Fifth Column except pretty blatant, nothing clandestine about their agenda.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Nunc Dimittis

It was a year ago that one of our parish priests died in the early morning hours of Candlemas. His dying words were, "Let thy servant go in peace." Here was the podcast from last year in honor of that beloved priest.

Click here to listen

The poem that I read is T.S. Eliot's A Song for Simeon from the Ariel Poems.

Happy Candlemas!

While the secular world is celebrating a silly rodent, we are marking the official end of the Christmas cycle. The Christmas tree came down yesterday and the house feels rather bare. This coming Sunday is Septuagesima Sunday, the countdown to Lent begins. So the bareness of the house is a reminder of the great fast which is soon to arrive.

Tonight, our parish celebrates Candlemas with Missa Cantata, a guest schola is coming to assist in presenting a worthy and glorious offering to the Lord. Father will bless all the candles to be used this year after which we will process outside and chant the antiphons Lumen ad revelationem gentium within which is the beautiful Nunc dimittis canticle, Adorna thalamum, and Responsum accepit. Once we enter the church, the schola will sing Obtulerunt pro eo Domino as the priest and acolytes process to the sanctuary. This chant is especially beautiful since it remembers Mary and Joseph buying a pair of turtledoves to present to the priest at the Temple for Mary's purification.

We have kept our creche set up by the baptismal font as a reminder that while the world has gone on to other pursuits, we live under a very different calendar and that our seasons are tied to the life of Christ.