Sunday, December 30, 2007
Sermon 2, for the Eve of Epiphany
“Rise… for those who sought the child’s life are dead”
When Joseph was in exile with the child and his mother, he learnt from the angel while he was asleep that Herod was dead. But when he heard that his son, Archelaus, was reigning in that country, he nonetheless continued to be in great fear lest the child be killed. Herod, the one who pursued the child and wanted to kill him, represents the world which clearly kills off the child, the world that we must by all means flee if we want to save the child. Yet no sooner have we fled the world exteriorly… than Archelaus rises up and reigns: there is still a world within you, a world over which you will not triumph without a great deal of effort and by God’s help.
For there are three strong and bitter enemies that you have to overcome in you and it is with difficulty that we ever win the victory. You will be attacked by spiritual pride: you would like to be seen, taken note of, listened to… The second enemy is your own flesh, assailing you through bodily and spiritual impurity… The third enemy is the one that attacks by arousing malice in you, bitter thoughts, suspiciousness, ill will, hatred and the desire for revenge… Would you become ever more dear to God? You must completely forsake all such behaviour, for all this is the wicked Archelaus in person. Fear and be on your guard; he wants to kill the child indeed…
Joseph was warned by the angel and called back to the land of Israel. Israel means “land of vision”; Egypt means “darkness”… It is in sleep, it is only in genuine abandonment and true passivity that you will receive the invitation to come away, just as happened to Joseph… Then you can make your way back to Galilee, which means “way”. Here one is above all things; all has been passed through and one arrives at Nazareth, the “true flowering”, the country where the flowers of eternal life blossom. There one is sure of finding an authentic foretaste of eternal life; there is complete security, inexpressible peace, joy and rest. Only those who have abandoned themselves reach there, those who submit themselves to God until he has detached them and who make no attempt to free themselves by force. These are they who reach this peace, this flowering at Nazareth, and who there find those things that make for their eternal joy. May this be the lot of all of us. And may God, who is all worthy of love, be our helper!
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Sermon for the Annunciation
“They shall name him Emmanuel”
“Emmanuel, which means ‘God with us’.” Yes, God with us! Until now it was “God above us” or “God before us”, but today he is “Emmanuel”. Today he is God with us in our nature, with us in his grace; with us in our weakness, with us in his goodness; with us in our wretchedness, with us in his pity; with us through love, with us through familial tie, with us through tenderness, with us through compassion…
God with us! You were not able, O sons of Adam, to climb to heaven to be with God; it is God who descends from heaven to be our Emmanuel, God-with-us. He comes to us to be Emmanuel, God-with-us, yet we fail to go to God to be in him! “Men of rank, how long will you be dull of heart? Why do you love what is vain and seek after falsehood?” (Ps 4,3). Behold, the truth has come; “why love what is vain and seek after falsehood?” Behold, the true and unchanging word has come; “why seek after falsehood?” Behold Emmanuel, behold God-with-us.
How could he be with me any more than he is? Small as I am, weak as I am, naked as I am, poor as I am… he has become like me in all things, taking what is mine and giving me what is his. I was lying dead, without voice, without consciousness; not even the light of my eyes was with me any more. He came down today, this greatest of men, “this prophet mighty in deed and word,” (Lk 24,19). He placed his face on my face, his mouth on my mouth, his hands on my hands (cf. 2Kgs 4,34) and he became Emmanuel, God-with-us!
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Commentary on St Luke’s Gospel, 2, 26-27 (SC 45)
“Glorify the Lord with me” (Ps 34 ,4)
If only Mary’s soul might dwell in us all to praise the Lord; if only Mary’s spirit might dwell in us all to exult in God. If, physically speaking, there is only one Mother of Christ, Christ is the fruit of all of us through faith since every soul receives the Word of God provided it remains without fault, preserved from evil and sin, guarding its chastity in uncorrupted purity. For every soul to attain this state exalts the Lord just as Mary’s soul exalted the Lord and as her spirit rejoiced in God her Saviour.
The Lord is indeed glorified, as you have read elsewhere: “Glorify the Lord with me” (Ps 34 ,4). Not that human words can add anything to the Lord but because he is growing greater in us. For “Christ is the image of God” (2Cor 4,4) and therefore the soul who does something righteous and holy glorifies that image of God in the likeness of which it has been created. Thus too, by glorifying it, the soul participates in a certain manner in its greatness and is raised up by it. It seems to reproduce this image in itself through the brilliant colours of its good works and to imitate it in a certain way by its virtues.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
On Repentance, 1, 1 (SC 179)
Go out to others in the same way as the Lord draws near to us
Moderation is surely the most beautiful of virtues… It is to this alone that the Church, bought at the price of the Lord’s blood, owes its expansion. It mirrors the heavenly gift of universal redemption… From this it follows that whoever would apply themselves to correcting the faults of their human weakness must bear with and, in some sense, carry this weakness on their own shoulders, not rejecting it. For we read that the shepherd in the Gospel carried the exhausted sheep, not that he abandoned it (Lk 15,5)… Indeed, moderation ought to temper justice. Otherwise, how could someone towards whom you show distaste – someone who might think himself to be an object of contempt towards his doctor rather than compassion – how could such a one come to you to be healed?
That is why the Lord Jesus gave proof of his compassion towards us. What he wanted was to call us to himself and not send us flying in fear. Gentleness is the sign of his coming; his coming is marked by humility. Moreover, he has told us: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” So then, our Lord Jesus brings comfort; he does not exclude or reject. And it is with good reason that he chose as his disciples men who, as faithful interpreters of the Lord’s will, would gather together the People of God rather than turn them away.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
If Christ could see Christmas, He'd puke! I believe is the line written so long ago by JD Salinger. In truth, he's not far from the truth in my opinion. Even before Halloween had come and gone I observed Christmas decorations and Santa Claus images in various stores around town. Mail advertisements told me of needing to buy my loved one's iphones and laser guided missles (ok, so I'm stretching that one). Yet here we stand, on the threshold of Advent. The four weeks leading up to Christmas.
Advent, what does it mean?It comes from the Latin adventio -meaning to come to. It is here we prepare to celebrate God coming to the world and taking on human flesh in the divine personage of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ. Four weeks leading up to His coming and four weeks that allow us to prepare to come to Him in our collected memory as the infant born in a manger, most likely a cave amidst the barn animals when there was no room at the inn.
At the same time, we await His coming in glory. Yet given our busy lives that revolve around work, hobbies, schooling, sports, celebrity fallings, gossip, television, radio, music, games, game shows we lose ourselves. Our lives become cogs in something other, not of ourselves. Is there room for Him in our Inn? The Inn of our lives, the Inn of our hearts? Or are we still playing the inn keeper of our preschool Christmas plays, saying "we have no room" and pointing to the manger somewhere in the back of the school basement room. (Yes, I played the innkeeper...I remember it to this day. Also, my brother played the inn keeper 3 years later.)
Let us come to Advent to prepare for His coming. Oh come let us adore him. Adeste Fidelis.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
When on September 8, 1565 Pedro Menéndez de Avilés and his 800 Spanish settlers founded the settlement of St. Augustine in La Florida, the landing party celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving, and, afterward, Menéndez laid out a meal to which he invited as guests the native Seloy tribe who occupied the site.
The celebrant of the Mass was St. Augustine’s first pastor, Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, and the feast day in the church calendar was that of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. What exactly the Seloy natives thought of those strange liturgical proceedings we do not know, except that, in his personal chronicle, Father Lopez wrote that “the Indians imitated all they saw done.”
What was the meal that followed? Again we do not know. But, from our knowledge of what the Spaniards had on board their five ships, we can surmise that it was cocido, a stew made from salted pork and garbanzo beans, laced with garlic seasoning, and accompanied by hard sea biscuits and red wine. If it happened that the Seloy contributed to the meal from their own food stores, fresh or smoked, then the menu could have included as well: turkey,venison, and gopher tortoise; seafood such as mullet, drum, and sea catfish; maize (corn),beans and squash.
What is important historically about that liturgy and meal was stated by me in a 1965 book entitled The Cross in the Sand: “It was the first community act of religion and thanksgiving in the first permanent [European] settlement in the land.” The keyword in that sentence was “permanent.” Numerous thanksgivings for a safe voyage and landing had been made before in Florida, by such explorers as Juan Ponce de León, in 1513 and 1521, Pánfilo de Narváez in 1528, Hernando de Soto in 1529, Father Luis Cáncer de Barbastro in 1549, and Tristán de Luna in 1559. Indeed French Calvinists (Huguenots) who came to the St. Johns River with Jean Ribault in 1562 and René de Laudonnière in 1564 similarly offered prayers of thanksgiving for their safe arrivals. But all of those ventures, Catholic and Calvinist, failed to put down permanent roots.
St. Augustine’s ceremonies were important historically in that they took place in what would develop into a permanently occupied European city, North America’s first. They were important culturally as well in that the religious observance was accompanied by a communal meal, to which Spaniards and natives alike were invited. The thanksgiving at St. Augustine, celebrated 56 years before the Puritan-Pilgrim thanksgiving at Plymouth Plantation (Massachusetts), did not, however, become the origin of a national annual tradition, as Plymouth would. The reason is that, as the maxim holds, it is the victors who write the histories.
During the 18th and 19th centuries British forces won out over those of Spain and France for mastery over the continent. Thus, British observances, such as the annual reenactment of the Pilgrims’ harvest festival in 1621, became a national practice and holiday in the new United States, and over time obliterated knowledge of the prior Spanish experiences in Florida, particularly at St. Augustine. Indeed, as the Pilgrims’ legend grew, people of Anglo-American descent in New England came to believe that Plymouth was the first European settlement in the country and that no other Europeans were here before the arrival of the Mayflower– beliefs that are still widespread in that region.
In recent years, Jamestown, Virginia has enjoyed some success in persuading its Anglo-American cousins in Plymouth that it was founded in 1607, thirteen years before the Pilgrims’ arrival, and that there were regular ship schedules from England to Jamestown before the Mayflower’s voyage of 1620. Furthermore, Berkeley Plantation near Charles City, Virginia, has convincingly demonstrated that it conducted a thanksgiving ceremony on December 4, 1619, nearly two years before the festival at Plymouth. Thought to have been on Berkeley’s menu were oysters, shad, rockfish, and perch. Along the old Spanish borderlands provinces from Florida to California an occasional voice is heard asserting that this site or that was the first permanent Spanish settlement in the United States – a claim often made in Santa Fe, New Mexico which was founded in 1610 – or that it was the place where the first thanksgiving took place. An example of the latter claim appeared last year in the New York Times, which, while recounting the colonizing expedition of Juan de Oñate from Mexico City into what became New Mexico, stated that celebrations of Oñate’s party in 1598 “are considered [the Times did not say by whom] the United States’ first Thanksgiving.”
The historical fact remains that St. Augustine’s thanksgiving not only came earlier; it was the first to take place in a permanent settlement. The Ancient City deserves national notice for that distinction.
Perhaps most of New England is now willing to concede as much, though that was not the case in November 1985, when an Associated Press reporter built a short Thanksgiving Day story around my aforesaid sentence of 20 years before in The Cross in the Sand. When his story appeared in Boston and other papers, New England went into shock. WBZ-TV in Boston interviewed me live by satellite for its 6:00 p.m. regional news
The newsman told me that all of Massachusetts was “freaked out,” and that, as he spoke, “the Selectmen of Plymouth are holding an emergency meeting to contend with this new information that there were Spaniards in Florida before there were Englishmen in Massachusetts.”
I replied, “Fine. And you can tell them for me that, by the time the Pilgrims came to Plymouth, St. Augustine was up for urban renewal.”
The somewhat rattled chairman of the Selectmen was quoted as saying: “I hate to take the wind out of the professor’s sails, but there were no turkeys running around in Florida in the 1500s. But there may be a few loose ones down there now at the University of Florida.” So there! Within a few days of the tempest a reporter from the Boston Globe called to tell me that throughout Massachusetts I had become known as “The Grinch Who Stole Thanksgiving.” Well, let’s hope that everyone up north has settled down now. And let’s enjoy all our Thanksgivings whenever and wherever they first began.
Dr. Michael V. Gannon is a Distinguished Service Professor of History at the University of Florida. He has had a long interest in the early Spanish missions of Florida about which he has written extensively. Two of his books, Rebel Bishop (1964) and The Cross in the Sand (1965) treat of the early history of this state
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Pontiff to Stop in Washington and New York
BALTIMORE, Maryland, NOV. 12, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The dates for Benedict XVI's upcoming trip to the United States were confirmed today; the Pope's visit is scheduled for April 15-20.
Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States, confirmed the dates for the six-day trip when he participated in the opening of the U.S. episcopal conference's fall meeting under way in Baltimore.
Ban Ki-moon, U.N. secretary-general, last April officially asked the Pope to visit the United Nations.
The Holy Father will arrive in Washington on April 15. The next day, his 81st birthday, he will receive an official welcome at the White House. Later that afternoon, he will address the U.S. bishops' conference.
On April 17, after celebrating Mass at the Washington Nationals' stadium, the Pope will give an address at the Catholic University of America.
Benedict XVI will be in New York on April 18, for a visit to the United Nations in the morning and an ecumenical meeting in the afternoon. His time in New York will also include Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral on April 19, the anniversary of his papal election, and a meeting with youth. On April 20, the Holy Father will visit ground zero, where the twin towers stood. That afternoon, the trip will officially end with Mass at Yankee Stadium.
"This is a blessed moment for our nation," said Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane, president of the U.S. episcopal conference. "Pope Benedict is not just the leader of Catholics, he is also a man of inspiration for all those who work for peace."
Cardinal Edward Egan of New York said that the response of the people of his archdiocese "was both rejoicing and thanksgiving to the Lord for the great grace of the presence of the successor of St. Peter in our midst. I have assured the Holy Father of a warm and prayerful welcome. We all look forward to his visit with pleasure and anticipation."
Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington said, "Personally, and in the name of all of the clergy, religious and faithful of the archdiocese, I express our warmest welcome while renewing our sentiments of love and loyalty to our Holy Father. We all look forward to his visit as a time of renewal of our faith and pastoral ministry and an opportunity to confirm our solidarity with the Church universal made visible among us by the successor to Peter, Pope Benedict XVI."
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Monday, November 05, 2007
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Commentary for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
By Father Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap
ROME, OCT. 19, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Sunday’s Gospel begins thus: “Jesus told them a parable about the need to pray always and not to lose heart.” The parable is the one about the troublesome widow. In answer to the question “How often must we pray?” Jesus answers, “Always!” Prayer, like love, does not put up with calculation. Does a mother ask how often she should love her child, or a friend how often he should love a friend? There can be different levels of deliberateness in regard to love, but there are no more or less regular intervals in loving. It is the same way with prayer.
This ideal of constant prayer is realized in different forms in the East and West. Eastern Christianity practiced it with the “Jesus Prayer”: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!” The West formulated the principle of constant prayer in a more flexible way so that it could also be proposed to those who do not lead a monastic life. St. Augustine teaches that the essence of prayer is desire. If the desire for God is constant, so also is prayer, but if there is no interior desire, then you can howl as much as you want -- to God you are mute.Now, this secret desire for God, a work of memory, of need for the infinite, of nostalgia for God, can remain alive, even when one has other things to do: “Praying for a long time is not the same thing as kneeling or folding your hands for a long time. In consists rather in awakening a constant and devout impulse of the heart toward him whom we invoke.”
Jesus himself gave us the example of unceasing prayer. Of him, it is said that he prayed during the day, in the evening, early in the morning, and sometimes he passed the whole night in prayer. Prayer was the connecting thread of his whole life.
But Christ’s example tells us something else important. We are deceiving ourselves if we think that we can pray always, make prayer a kind of respiration of the soul in the midst of daily activity, if we do not set aside fixed times for prayer, when we are free from every other preoccupation. The same Jesus who we see praying always, is also the one who, like every other Jew of his period, stopped and turned toward the temple in Jerusalem three times a day, at dawn, in the afternoon during the temple sacrifices, and at sundown, and recited ritual prayers, among which was the “Shema Yisrael!” -- “Hear, O Israel!” On the Sabbath he also participated, with his disciples, in the worship at the synagogue; different scenes in the Gospels take place precisely in this context.
The Church -- we can say, from its first moment of life -- has also set aside a special day dedicated to worship and prayer: Sunday. We all know what, unfortunately, has happened to Sunday in our society: Sports, from being something for diversion and relaxation, have often become something that poisons Sunday ... We must do whatever we can so that this day can return to being, as God intended it in commanding festive repose, a day of serene joy that strengthens our communion with God and with each other, in the family and in society.
We modern Christians should take our inspiration from the words that, in 305, St. Saturnius and his fellow martyrs addressed to the Roman judge who had them arrested for participating in the Sunday rite: “The Christian cannot live without the Sunday Eucharist. Do you not know that the Christian exists for the Eucharist and the Eucharist for the Christian?”
* * *Father Raniero Cantalamessa is the Pontifical Household preacher. The readings for this Sunday are Exodus 17:8-13a; 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2; Luke 18:1-8.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Me? Well if you want to know, I have been busy. Work, hockey, Church stuff, life stuff...the usual. Then one day I look up and it's been almost a month since I posted something.
To start, I need to give a little public service announcement. September 26th through November 4th is the 40 Days for Life sponsored by the Brazos Valley Coalition for Life. More info can be found at their website: http://www.coalitionforlife.com/custom_page.cfm?category=3&page=169&active=169. Specifically though I would like to quote from their website:
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Do you know your New Testament? Or rather, do you know your Greek? Most English speakers don't know the play on words presented to Peter by the resurrected Jesus.
In Greek the word "fileo" means the love of friendship, tender but not total and all encompassing. The word "agapao" means love without reserve, unconditional and total.
The first time Jesus asks first " Simon...do you love me (agapas-me)?"
Peter resonds "Lord; you know I love you (filo-se).
Second time Jesus asks again with agapas-me.
Again Peter responds with the "Kyrie, filo-se"
The third time Jesus asks: "Fileis-me?"
And Peter responds "Filo-se"
Simon, Peter, now is brought to understand that his poor love is enough for Christ, it is the only love Peter is capable of, though he is grieved Christ speaks to him in this way. Jesus places himself on the level of Peter, we are not seeing Peter on the level of Jesus. It is this conformity by Christ that gives hope to the Apostle and still gives hope to us today. Our love of Christ is not perfect, but it is enough, for it is all we have.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Many of you also know that I have a great admiration and deep respect for St. Benedict of Nursia, the patron of civil engineers and the founder of western monasticism. I was reflecting this afternoon on a saying attributed to him "All are to be welcomed as Christ." Not all that deep, for we all in our humanity are created in the image of the divine, in the image of Christ. Thus it leads that any visitor, heck, anyone we encounter along our lives journey should be welcomed as if we are welcoming Christ. This is easier said than done with our prejudices and ill formed ideas gunking up the heart. Which lead me to ponder another quote of St. Benedict: "Listen with ear of your heart." If only it were so easy at times. We should strive for these ideals, though often we fall short.
Then as I was pondering these things, my phone rang. A different than normal ring, a ring I assigned to a friend of mine's number. Not a close friend who knows all my inner most thoughts or even my life story, nor I know theirs, but a friend none the less. A friend I admire for their strength, courage, and testicular fortitude in following their dreams against long odds. It was a rare call and this friend asked me for help, if I could do something that they did not have time to do that would help them in a very large way. In such instance, I do not think my pondering was randome, there was a reason for why those words were in my mind and thoughts just seconds before this phone call. It is not a big thing for me to do, but to this other it is very important. I could have said no, I could have made an excuse as to why I was a bad choice, but I did neither. I offered my time and my help much to my friends relief, because they did not know how they were going to be able to sell it to me if I balked. "Listen with the ear of you heart" and welcome all as if Christ. With friends it is easy, now if we could follow this with our so called "enemies' our non-friends. Try....and if you can't do it...fake it unti you're not faking anymore because it has become habit.
And a final thought, perhaps St. Benedict's most important rule for his rules of monastic life can be found in the first word of his Rule: Listen. With all the noise in the world, if we would stop and listen, we hear much and protest less.
Saturday, August 04, 2007
I've been reading. Just finished up Boys of Winter about the 1980 Olympic Hockey team. I'm also still working through Jesus of Nazareth and The Reagan Diaries. The former I should wrap up this weekend and highly reccomend to anyone.
I've also been spending my Saturday mornings seeing movies on the cheap, it's nice to save some bucks here and there.
Now, I am going to bed so I can go see a movie in the morning, do laundry, watch NASCAR, and just do some fun stuff tomorrow.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Sunday, June 10, 2007
During this past week's Republican Presidential Debate, Rudy was asked just that question. As he began his response a bolt of lightning struck near the building and his microphone was cut off, the answer or non answer being lost. Divine Providence or political genius or somewhere in between?
Who knows, but the article written by Bishop Tobin is a fantastic read.
The article can be found here.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Speech of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State at the presentation of the book by Andrea Tornielli“PIUS XII, EUGENIO PACELLI. A MAN ON THE THRONE OF PETER”June 5, 2007
1. A “Black Legend”
The figure of Eugenio Pacelli, Pope Pius XII, by now stands at the center of decades of very intense polemics. The Roman Pontiff who guided the Church in the terrible years of the Second World War, and afterwards the Cold War, is the victim of a “black legend” which is difficult to dislodge, even though documents and witnesses have amply established its incoherence. One of the unfortunate “secondary” consequences, so to speak, of this black legend – which falsely depicts Pope Pacelli as indulgent with respect to Nazism, and insensitive to the fate of the victims of persecution – is that it’s caused the extraordinary magisterium of this Pope, which was the precursor to the Second Vatican Council, to be completely forgotten. As has happened with the other two popes of the same name – Blessed Pius IX, who is spoken of solely in relation to issues connected to the politics of the Italian Risorgimento; and Pius X, often remembered solely for his strenuous battle against Modernism – also for Pacelli, there’s a risk of reducing his entire pontificate to the question of his presumed “silences.”
2. The Pastoral Activity of Pius XII
Thus I am here this evening to give a brief testimony to a man of the Church who, for his personal holiness, shines as a luminous witness to the Catholic priesthood and to the Supreme Pontificate. I have already read many interesting essays on the figure and the work of Pope Pius XII, from the well-known Actes et Documents du Saint Siège, to the biographies of Nazareno Padellaro, Sr. Marchione, Fr. Pierre Blet, among the first which come to mind. This is without speaking of the “Speeches on the War” of Pope Pacelli, which, if one desires, are available in electronic format, and which I find absolutely interesting even today for their doctrine, their pastoral inspiration, for their refined literary language, and for their human and civil strength. In sum, I already knew not a little with regard to the Pastor Angelicus et Defensor Civitatis. But one must be grateful to Andrea Tornielli, who in this full-bodied and well-documented biography, drawing on much previously unpublished material, restores to us the greatness and the fullness of the figure of Pius XII, deepening his humanity and allowing us to rediscover his magisterium. It reminds us, for example, of his encyclical on liturgy, his reform of the rites of Holy Week, his grand preparatory work which would unleash the council’s liturgical reforms. Pius XII opened the Church to the application of the historical-critical method in the study of Sacred Scripture, and in his encyclical Divino afflante Spiritu he established the doctrinal norms for the study of Sacred Scripture, emphasizing its importance and its role in the Christian life. It was also Pope Pacelli, in his encyclical Humani generis,who took into consideration, even if cautiously, evolutiionary theory. Pius XII also gave a notable impulse to missionary activity with the encyclicals Evangelii Praecones (1951) and Fidei donum (1957, which marks its 50th anniversary this year), emphasizing the duty of the Church to announce the gospel to all peoples, as Vatican II would do extensively. The Pope refused to make Christianity coextensive with Western culture, or a given political system. Even more, Pius XII remains the Pope who gave the greatest attention to women in his canonizations and beatifications: 54.4 percent of his canonizations, and fully 62.5 percent of his beatifications. For the rest, this Pontiff spoke many times about the rights of women, affirming, for example, in his radio message to the Congress of the Italian Women’s Center in Loretto in October 1957 that women are called to exercise “decisive action” in the political and legal field.
3. Unjustified Accusations
These are merely examples, which demonstrate how much there is yet to discover, indeed to rediscover, in the magisterium of the Servant of God Eugenio Pacelli. I was struck, moreover, by the many references in Tornielli’s book from which emerge both the lucidity and the wisdom of the future Pontiff in the years in which he was the Apostolic Nuncio in Munich, Bavaria, and then in Berlin, as well as the numerous instances of his humanity. Thanks to unpublished letters with his brother Francesco, we can obtain some sharp judgments from him regarding the National Socialist movement then taking shape, as well as the great and serious interior drama lived by the Pontiff during the period of the war regarding the right attitude to take about Nazi persecution. Pius XII spoke about it many times in the course of his radio messages – and therefore it’s completely out of place to accuse him of “silence” – though he chose a prudent profile. With regard to the “silences,” I willingly refer to a well-documented article by Professor Gian Maria Vian published in 2004 in the journal Archivum historiae pontificiae with the title “The Silence of Pius XII: At the Origins of the Black Legend.” In it, among other things, it’s said that the first to raise the question of the “silences of Pius XII” was Emmanuel Mournier, in 1939, just weeks after his election as Supreme Pontif, in relation to the Italian aggression in Albania. These questions gave rise to bitter polemics, later reprised in the Soviet and Communist context, as we will see, by exponents of the Russian Orthodox Church. Rolf Hocchuth, author of the drama “The Deputy,” the theatrical piece which contributed to spreading the “black legend” against Pius XII, in a recent interview defined Pope Pacelli as a man of “demonic cowardice,” while there are historians of an anti-Pius XII mindset who even regard anyone who does not think like them, who dares to express a different opinion on these events, as part of a “Pacelli brigade.” One cannot but denounce this attack on good sense and on rationality, which is often perpetrated in the pages of newspapers.
4. A Very Precise Historical Point
It seems useful to me to underline how the work of Tornielli brings to light facts already known to serious historians. One of the merits I regard as fundamental of the volume we’re discussing today, taking account of the very sad times in which Pope Pacelli lived, is that it shows how the Pope’s voice, in the turbine of the Second World War and the opposition which followed between two blocs, did not enjoy the favor of those in power. How many times was the elecriticty “missing” for Vatican Radio to make the words of the Pontiff heard; how many times was the paper “missing” to reproduce his thoughts and teachings, which made some uncomfortable; how many times did copies of L’Osservatore Romano end up “missing,” which reported his speeches, clarifications, updates, and political notes? Today, however, thanks to modern resources, these sources have been fully reproduced and are available. Tornielli has sought them out and found them, as witnessed by the large body of notes which go along with the book. In this regard, I’d like to draw attention to an important point. The figure and work of Pius XII, for which people gave praise and thanks during and after the Second World War, began to be scrutinized with a different eye in a very precise historical period, from August of 1946 to October of 1948. The desire of the martyred people of Israel to have their own land was understandable, their own secure refuge following “the persecutions of a fanatic anti-Semitism directed against the Jewish people” (allocution of August 3, 1946). But it was equally understandable that those who were already living in Palestine expected to see their rights respected, and to receive attention, justice and protection. The newspapers of the period refer amply to the state of tension which existed in the region, but because they did not want to consider the reasoning and proposals of Pope Pius XII, they began to take sides, some one one side and some on the other, thereby ideologizing a reflection that developed in a very articulated fashion, attentive to criteria of justice, equity, respect and legality. Pius XII was not only the Pope of the Second World War, but a pastor who, from March 2, 1939, to October 9, 1958, had before himself a world seduced by violent and irrational passions. From that point forward, an incomprehensible accusation began to take shape that this Pope had not intervened as he should have in favor of the persecuted Jews. In this regard, it seems important to me to recognize that anyone who is free of ideological interests and who loves the truth can understand more deeply, in full sincerity, a long, fruitful, and, in my view, heroic papacy. One example is the recent change in attitude in the great sanctuary of memory which is Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, to reconsider the figure and the work of Pope Pacelli not from a polemical point of view, but from an objective historical perspective. It’s my fervent hope that such good will, manifested publicly, can lead to an adequate outcome.
5. The Duty of Charity to All
On June 2, 1943, on the occassion of the Feast of St. Eugene, Pius XII publicly explained the reasons for his attitude. First of all, Pope Pacelli spoke again of the Jews: “The leaders of peoples must not forget that those who, to use the language of Sacred Scripture, ‘carry the sword,’ may not dispose of the life and death of human beings except according to the law of God, from whom all power comes.” Pius XII went on: “You might expect that we would describe here all that we have sought to do, and been able to do, to lessen their suffering, to improve their moral and legal conditions, to preserve their inalienable religious rights, and to meet their needs and their shortages. Every word addressed by us on these matters to the competent authorities and every one of our public references has to be pondered seriously by us, measured against the interests of the suffering people themselves, in order not to render their situation, without intending to, even more grave and intolerable. Sadly, the visible improvements obtained do not satisfy the maternal concern of the Church in favor of these particular groups, who are subject to the most bitter fate ... and the Vicar, though asking only compassion and a return to the elementary norms of law and of humanity, has found himself before a door that no key seems to open.” We therefore find here already presented, in the middle of 1943, the explanation for the prudence with which Pacelli moved in terms of public denunciations: “In the interests of the suffering people themselves, in order not to render their situation even worse.” These are words of which I seem to hear echoes in the brief speech of Paul VI on September 12, 1964, in the Catacombs of Saint Domitilla. On that occassion, Pope Montini said: “The Holy See abstains from raising the voice of legitimate protest and deploration with greater frequency and vehemence, not because it ignores or minimizes the reality of the situation, but out of Christian patience and for not provoking even worse evils.” Paul VI, in the middle of the 1960s, was referring to the countries behind the Iron Curtain, governed by Communist totalitarianism. Thus he, who was a close collaborator of Cardinal Pacelli and then of Pope Pius XII, gave the same explanation. When popes speak, they’re not thinking about assembling a positive image for posterity. They know that their every word could affect the destiny of millions of Christians, and they take to heart the welfare of men and women of flesh and bone, not the applause of historians. For the rest, Robert Kempner, a Jewish judge and a public minister for the Nuremberg Trials, wrote in January 1964, after the release of “the Deputy” by Hocchuth: “Any propagandistic position from the Church against the government of Hitler would not only have been a form of premeditated suicide ... but it would have accelerated the assassination of a greater number of Jews and priests.”
6. “Action, not Lament, is the Rule of the Hour”
This said, after having taken into view the 11 volumes (in 12 books) of the Actes et Documents du Saint Siège regarding the Second World War; having read dozens of folders with hundreds of documents regarding the thinking and the acts of the Apostolic See during the Second World War; and given the violent partisan polemics (expressed in innumerable volumes, full of violent and false ideology), it seems to me that the work of the Actes, published by order of Paul VI (the Substitute of the Secretary of State in the terrible circumstances of 1939-1945), could be usefully completed by the documents which are listed under the archival entry of “Stati Ecclesiastici,” which contain papers regarding the obligations of the Holy See and the Catholic Church to undertake the duty of charity towards all. It’s an archival sector not sufficiently explored, given that it’s a matter of thousands of personal cases. For each case, the smallest State in the world, neutral in an absolute sense, gave attention on an individual basis, hearing every voice that asked for help, even giving audiences. It’s an immense amount of documentation, unfortunately still not available because it hasn’t been put in order. Maybe it would be possible, with the ad hoc help of some charitable foundation, to catalogue in a brief amount of time these papers which are stored in the Archives of the Holy See! The directives given via radio, print, and diplomatic channels by Pope Pius XII in 1942 were clear. He said to everyone during the tragic year of 1942, that: “Action, not lament, is the rule of the hour.” The wisdom of that affirmation is attested to by myriad sources: diplomatic notes, urgent meetings, specific interbentions (for example, with Cardinal Bertram, Cardinal Innitzer, Cardinal Schuster, etc., etc.), all urging them to do everything possible to save people while preserving the neutrality of the Apostolic See.That situation of neutrality allowed the Pope to save not only Europeans, but also prisoners who were not part of the Axis. We think of the very sad situation in Poland, or the humanitarian interventions in Southeast Asia. Pius XII never signed circulars or proclamations. He said quietly what had to be done. Bishops, priests, religious and laity understood very well the mind of the Pope, and what was urgent to do. Among others, evidence of this are the innumerable records of audiences with Cardinals Maglione and Tardini, with their comments. Afterwards, protests and various “no’s” arrived in response to the humanitarian requests of the Holy See.
7. Denounce or Act?
Allow me to recount a small episode which took place in the Vatican in October of 1943. At the time, beyond the Gendarmes (around 150 people) and the Swiss Guard (about 110 people), there was also the Palatine Guard. In that period, beyond these roughly 300 people to protect the Vatican and its extraterritorial property, there were 575 Palatine Guards. Well then, the Secrtariat of State asked the occupying powers in Italy for permission to insert another 4,425 people into the Palatine Guard. The Jewish Ghetto was just two paces away ...The editors of the Actes et Documents could not print all the thousands of personal cases. The Pope, at that time, had other priorities: he could not make known his “desires”; he wanted to act, within the limits imposed upon him by the circumstances, according to a clear program. For honest people, however, legitimate questions arise: When did Pius XII meet Mussolini? He did so as the Cardinal Secretary of State in 1932, but never as pope! When did Cardinal Pacelli meet Chancellor Hitler? Never! When did the Pope meet Mussolini and Hitler together? Never! If that never happened, it could mean that the two states decided not to speak to the Pope, so what should the Pontiff have done: make declarations of denunciation, or act?Pius XII chose the second option, with is witnessed by many Jewish sources from all over Europe. Perhaps it would help to make copies of the abundant Jewish expressions of gratitude and esteem to the human and spiritual ministry of this great Pope. The book which we can read today adds some extra elements not only to the figure of a great Pontiff, but also to all the silent, but effective, work throughout the life of Eugenio Pacelli, a pastor who passed through the storms of two world wars (he had been the nuncio in Bavaria since 1917) and the tragic construction of the Iron Curtain, within which millions of children of God perished. Heir to the Church of the Apostles, the Church of Pius XII continued to work not only through a prophetic word, but above all through daily prophetic action.
8. A Concluding Note
Lastly, I would like to thank Andrea Tornielli for this work, which contributes to a better understanding of the luminous apostolic action and the figure of the Servant of God, Pius XII. This is a useful service to the Church, and a useful service to the truth. It’s proper to discuss it, to deepen it, to debate, and to exchange views. But it’s important to guard against the most grave error for the historian, which is anachronism, judging the reality of that time with the eyes and the mentality of today. Thus it’s profoundly unjust to judge the work of Pius XII during the war with a veil of prejudice, forgetting not only the historical context but also the enormous work of charity which the Pope promoted, opening the doors of seminaries and religious institutes, welcoming refugees and the persecuted, helping all.
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
I've been reading quite a bit. Just finished up reading Ratzinger's "God is Near Us" and just started in Pope Benedict XVI's " Jesus of Nazareth". Both are well written and naturally of the highest scholarship. The latter being a breath of fresh air in reading and learning.
I am also reading "The Reagan Diaries", another good read about the terms of President Ronald Reagan. Even early on, the complicated matters of today are foreshadowed (though hindsight is 20/20, things can be seen in their early stages.)
I'm also enjoying the Red Sox season so far as they are teasing the Sox Nation that they may runaway and hide from the AL East before the All Star Game.
Hockey is also going quite well. Summer season is here and at the end of the month, our rink is hosting the Independence Day Tournament....4 games in under 48 hours capped off with ice cream sundaes. Yummy!
I'm also working into the 3rd season of JAG on DVD. I love that show...well and Catherine Bell, who is now starring in "Army Wives" which I need to find on TV...if anyone can direct me to night and channel and time....I will be forever grateful.
Speaking of yummy, if you are in the Bryan/College Station area next Saturday, June 16th, swing by downtown Bryan for the Steak and Wine Festival capped off with a free concert by the Bellamy Brothers and Bonnie Bishop. Yummy indeed!
Oh and for the record....there are no spotted owls living in the Brazos Valley despite what some folks want you to believe.
Ta Ta for now....I'm back to reading.
Saturday, May 05, 2007
Mr. Beckwith is the President of the Evangelical Theological Society. The news ironically broke on the blog of Mr. James White. Yes, the Mr. White who spends a lot of his time trying to refute all things Catholic.
Mr. White's posting can be found here.
More informtion can be found on the blog of Jimmy Akin.
This also made the Aggie Catholic Blog, linked on the left of this blog.
It also brought a post from Kacy on her blog....which drew comments from Mr. White of all folks reading the blog of a soon to be graduating college senior in Texas.
Feel free to mosey on over to all these sites to read all the electrons on this news. Finally, I'd like to extend and Aggie Howdy and New England...welcahm hohm to the Beckwith's.
In other news, I was fortunate enough to go to Cypress last night and visited the Cypress saloon. A music venue that could be great, but that had one of the poorest and rudest audiences I have ever seen. Pay a 10 buck cover and just act like the band is the background music. That said, I did get a song dedicated to me. The leader of the band, who I had told a long time ago that I loved this song ever since I heard it on the radio during an interview in January of 2006, finally pulled it out and sang it...for me. It was a sweet though and was probably brought on by the fact that I was the only one really listening to the band, but still...it is a great song that I really relate to on a lot of levels even after not hearing it since that one time on the radio during Super Bowl XL. Thank you Bonnie!
Also, I don't plug to many things here, but this is an exception. Texas Burning will be happening Memorial Day weekend, on Thursday, May 24, 2007 at the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio at 7 PM. It will be an event honoring our Troops and their families and saluting those who have given their last full measure in service to our country. If you can make it, please go. Some great musicians doing a great thing for our boys and girls. More info can be found at the Texas Burning website.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Click the following link for a short (but great read):
End-of-life decisions require respect for human life by Bishop Gregory Aymond
Print it out and share it with your friend, family, and maybe even a random person you know who may be dealing with such issues.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Sunday, March 25, 2007
It is always warming to my heart and encouraging to my spirit to read and hear about the faith journey's of folks who come to the Catholic Church. The ways and means the Lord has used to bring them to that point are as varied as the journey's and yet they all share a common thread of God's grace being the means that the journey moves from one step to the next.
It is an interesting parallel in the Catholic faith that the faith journey's are so different-so many and so varied- yet lead to the same place, just as within the Church there are so many different models of spirituality (Marian, Dominican, Franciscan, Thomist, etc) and all are within the Catholic Church.
Please pray for all those on their journey and may they all one day find their way home. Either in this world, or the lfe to come.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
As was the custom at Passover one prisoner was to be released and pardoned for his crimes. Pilate gave the assembled crowd a choice, Jesus Christ or Barabbas. The crowd chose Barabbas.
In reading Ratzinger's "On the Way to Christ" I found out an interesting historical twist on this moment that I never before knew about.
Some of the Syriac translation of Matthew's account Barrabas' first name is revealed to also be Jesus. So we have Jesus bar-abbas, or literally translated as Jesus Son of the Father being set up against Jesus Christ. John 18:40 refers to Barabbas as a lēstēs, "bandit;" Mark and Luke further refer to Barabbas as one involved in a stasis, a riot. Mark 15:7; Luke 23:19. Matthew refers to Barabbas only as a "notorious prisoner." Matthew 27:16. Some scholars have linked these notions to Barabbas was a member of the sicarii, a militant Jewish movement that sought to overthrow the Roman occupiers of their land by force, noting that Mark (15:7) mentions that he had committed murder in an insurrection. Though some historians do trace this uprising to the 40s-50s. Many though agree that evidence is strong to point to Barabbas being a terrorist pitted agains the Roman Empire, which in sense would make him popular amongst some of the populous for the ending of Roman occupation and reestablishing the Jewish Kingdom.
So we go back to the temptation in the dessert where the tempter takes Jesus Christ to a high mountain top and offers Christ rule over all the kingdoms of the Earth if He bows to the tempter. The illusion of ruling while submitting to the tempter offered to the one who rules the Kingdom of Heaven.
Back to the crowd...so we have the crowd choosing Barrabas. Jesus Son of the Father, who is apparently out to rid Israel of the Romans and reestablish the Jewish Kingdom on Earth. Jesus the Christ, Son of the Father in a very real way, King of the Heavenly Kingdom rejected as scripture foretold, lead to the cross.
This is a very interesting and new, to me anyways, look at this moment in the life of Christ and in it find a deeper meaning and something new to meditate upon. The doppelganger notion is quite profound, popular on modern tv, but right there in the ancient texts of the Bible.
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Pray for my family during this tough time, I am unable to make my way north for the wake and funeral. Pray that God would strengthen them in this time and for the repose of my cousin's soul.
He was only a few months older than me...it's kind of a shock.
The obit can be found here: http://www.legacy.com/providence/Obituaries.asp?Page=Lifestory&PersonId=86649095
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Life is short, to often we don't give thought to death, especially when we're young and thing we still have a lot of years ahead of us. But when someone is taken unexpectedly and young it gives us pause. For all we know today may be our last, tomorrow may never come. In that mind we should always be prepared to meet our maker, yet how often do we think that? How often do we start our day asking "What do I want to do today if this is to be my last?"
Think about it my friends and pray for the souls of the departed.
This will have to do for now....more when I have more to post:
I've had the fortunate opportunity of late to be involved in two short survey courses focusing upon Catholicism in the United States. One a history of the Catholic Church in the United Stated and the other the history of antiCatholicism in the United States. Both, when taken together gave a very interesting picture of the Catholic experience in America. particularly in the United States during the early colonial through the Civil War period. As with all history, economic, social, political, and geographical reasons could be seen clearly. The height of Catholic migration to the United States and subsequently the height of antiCatholicism both can be traced to the Irish migration during the 1800s. If you've seen Gangs of New York, the Irish/Nativist (read White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestants) clashed throughout the country. Yet what piqued my interest was the Irish immigaration. All I could recall was a scene from the film, Gods and Generals, where the Southern Irish Brigade is firing upon the Union Irish brigade at Fredicksburg and the sadness they have of firing on their Irish brothers.
I think if one takes a step back, the Civil War can be viewed as more than a fight about slavery, more than states right, more than a country. I think a case can be made at it's core that the Civil War can be seen as a theological battle that found itself a battlefield. Quite simply, ministers disagreed about how to read the Bible—and as much as it was a result of fierce disagreements about slavery or Union, Noll says, the Civil War was a crisis over biblical interpretation. The Bible's apparent acceptance of slavery led Christians into bitter debates, with Southern proslavery theologians detailing an elaborate defense of the "peculiar institution" and Northern antislavery clerics arguing that the slavery found in the Old Testament bore no resemblance to the chattel slavery of Southern plantations. Toss into the mix the nativist mind set on both sides of the line, we find Catholics in the North and South having very different struggles to overcome. Despite being antislavery, very few Catholics are seen today as being prominent abolitionists because many of the Protestant abolitionists where also antiCatholic, to the point of not considering Catholics to be Christian. It's a very interesting time period
Still, we flash forward to today and look at the religious breakdown of this country in the realms of Christianity. By and large we see the major Catholic population centers (save for areas that were major Spanish and French colonial holdings) tend to be seen in states and territories that were loyal to the Union. The major Protestant population centers are seen in those states and territories that were aligned with the Confederacy. I find it fascinating that this breakdown exists. I wonder how much is fall out from the Civil War and how much is due to other factors. If any one out there has read anything on this subject that has some good detail. Feel free to let me know, I'd be interested in adding to my reading list.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
“They shall look on Him whom they have pierced” (Jn 19:37)
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
“They shall look on Him whom they have pierced” (Jn 19:37). This is the biblical theme that this year guides our Lenten reflection. Lent is a favourable time to learn to stay with Mary and John, the beloved disciple, close to Him who on the Cross, consummated for all mankind the sacrifice of His life (cf. Jn 19:25). With a more fervent participation let us direct our gaze, therefore, in this time of penance and prayer, at Christ crucified who, dying on Calvary, revealed fully for us the love of God. In the Encyclical Deus caritas est, I dwelt upon this theme of love, highlighting its two fundamental forms: agape and eros.
God’s love: agape and eros
The term agape, which appears many times in the New Testament, indicates the self-giving love of one who looks exclusively for the good of the other. The word eros, on the other hand, denotes the love of one who desires to possess what he or she lacks and yearns for union with the beloved. The love with which God surrounds us is undoubtedly agape. Indeed, can man give to God some good that He does not already possess? All that the human creature is and has is divine gift. It is the creature then, who is in need of God in everything. But God’s love is also eros. In the Old Testament, the Creator of the universe manifests toward the people whom He has chosen as His own a predilection that transcends every human motivation. The prophet Hosea expresses this divine passion with daring images such as the love of a man for an adulterous woman (cf. 3:1-3). For his part, Ezekiel, speaking of God’s relationship with the people of Israel, is not afraid to use strong and passionate language (cf. 16:1-22). These biblical texts indicate that eros is part of God’s very heart: the Almighty awaits the “yes” of His creatures as a young bridegroom that of his bride. Unfortunately, from its very origins, mankind, seduced by the lies of the Evil One, rejected God’s love in the illusion of a self-sufficiency that is impossible (cf. Gn 3:1-7). Turning in on himself, Adam withdrew from that source of life who is God Himself, and became the first of “those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage” (Heb 2:15). God, however, did not give up. On the contrary, man’s “no” was the decisive impulse that moved Him to manifest His love in all of its redeeming strength.
The Cross reveals the fullness of God’s love
It is in the mystery of the Cross that the overwhelming power of the heavenly Father’s mercy is revealed in all of its fullness. In order to win back the love of His creature, He accepted to pay a very high price: the blood of His only begotten Son. Death, which for the first Adam was an extreme sign of loneliness and powerlessness, was thus transformed in the supreme act of love and freedom of the new Adam. One could very well assert, therefore, together with Saint Maximus the Confessor, that Christ “died, if one could say so, divinely, because He died freely” (Ambigua, 91, 1956). On the Cross, God’s eros for us is made manifest. Eros is indeed – as Pseudo-Dionysius expresses it – that force “that does not allow the lover to remain in himself but moves him to become one with the beloved” (De divinis nominibus, IV, 13: PG 3, 712). Is there more “mad eros” (N. Cabasilas, Vita in Cristo, 648) than that which led the Son of God to make Himself one with us even to the point of suffering as His own the consequences of our offences?
“Him whom they have pierced”
Dear brothers and sisters, let us look at Christ pierced in the Cross! He is the unsurpassing revelation of God’s love, a love in which eros and agape, far from being opposed, enlighten each other. On the Cross, it is God Himself who begs the love of His creature: He is thirsty for the love of every one of us. The Apostle Thomas recognized Jesus as “Lord and God” when he put his hand into the wound of His side. Not surprisingly, many of the saints found in the Heart of Jesus the deepest expression of this mystery of love. One could rightly say that the revelation of God’s eros toward man is, in reality, the supreme expression of His agape. In all truth, only the love that unites the free gift of oneself with the impassioned desire for reciprocity instills a joy, which eases the heaviest of burdens. Jesus said: “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself” (Jn 12:32). The response the Lord ardently desires of us is above all that we welcome His love and allow ourselves to be drawn to Him. Accepting His love, however, is not enough. We need to respond to such love and devote ourselves to communicating it to others. Christ “draws me to Himself” in order to unite Himself to me, so that I learn to love the brothers with His own love.
Blood and water
“They shall look on Him whom they have pierced.” Let us look with trust at the pierced side of Jesus from which flow “blood and water” (Jn 19:34)! The Fathers of the Church considered these elements as symbols of the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist. Through the water of Baptism, thanks to the action of the Holy Spirit, we are given access to the intimacy of Trinitarian love. In the Lenten journey, memorial of our Baptism, we are exhorted to come out of ourselves in order to open ourselves, in trustful abandonment, to the merciful embrace of the Father (cf. Saint John Chrysostom, Catecheses, 3,14ff). Blood, symbol of the love of the Good Shepherd, flows into us especially in the Eucharistic mystery: “The Eucharist draws us into Jesus’ act of self-oblation … we enter into the very dynamic of His self-giving” (Encyclical Deus caritas est, 13). Let us live Lent then, as a “Eucharistic” time in which, welcoming the love of Jesus, we learn to spread it around us with every word and deed. Contemplating “Him whom they have pierced” moves us in this way to open our hearts to others, recognizing the wounds inflicted upon the dignity of the human person; it moves us, in particular, to fight every form of contempt for life and human exploitation and to alleviate the tragedies of loneliness and abandonment of so many people. May Lent be for every Christian a renewed experience of God’s love given to us in Christ, a love that each day we, in turn, must “regive” to our neighbour, especially to the one who suffers most and is in need. Only in this way will we be able to participate fully in the joy of Easter. May Mary, Mother of Beautiful Love, guide us in this Lenten journey, a journey of authentic conversion to the love of Christ. I wish you, dear brothers and sisters, a fruitful Lenten journey, imparting with affection to all of you, a special Apostolic Blessing.
From the Vatican, 21 November 2006.
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
"It is not possible to share in the mission of Jesus, in the mission of the Gospel, without sharing in the desert experience, its poverty, its hunger.... The desert is a place of silence, of solitude. It is the absence of the daily exchanges of daily life, its noise and its superficiality. The desert is the place of the absolute, the place of freedom.... It is a place of grace. In putting aside all preoccupations we encounter our Creator."
Pope Benedict XVI
Friday, February 16, 2007
First off a warm Texas welcome to the newest member of the family, who I won't meet until Christmas, but welcome Cricket. A two year old wire hair fox terrier my Nana and Pa recently adopted from a rescue league.
For those wondering, Valentine's came and went, uneventfully. I did get one, yes one card, from a woman who was not family, so it's an infinite improvement over every other valentine's day. It's not as big a thing as you might think or want to think, but it was nice to be thought of.
I'm alive and kicking and skating. Things are rough in some areas and really great in others. It's life, what can ya do? Other than pray, constantly.
Prayer for Devoted Laity in the Church
- by Rev. Lawrence G. Lovasik, S.V.DO
Lord, our God, You called Your people to be Your Church. As they gather together in Your Name, may they love, honour, and follow Your Son to eternal life in the Kingdom He promised. Let their worship always be sincere, and help them to find Your saving Love in the Church and its Sacraments. Fill with the Spirit of Christ those whom You call to live in the midst of the world and its concern. Help them by their work on earth to build up Your eternal Kingdom. May they be effective witnesses to the Truth of the Gospel and make Your Church a living presence in the midst of the world.Increase the gifts You have given Your Church that Your faithful people may continue to grow in holiness and in imitation of Your Beloved Son.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
First the not so good news. The Texas Board of Professional Engineers denied my application to take the PE exam, reason given that sunk it was that my work in and around Boston is considered technician work and not engineering. Am I upset about it? Your damn right I am, but there does not appear to be any appeals to be had. I'm pretty much caught in a legal problem between what one state says is acceptable and what another doesn't say is acceptable.
So, I am trying my hardest to not crack open my nice bottle of JD and finish it (it's unopened right now). So I've just done the only thing one can do in this situation, I've been praying, for calmness and understanding. This happened for a reason, so it's time to be patient and find out why. No one said life is fair, but I'm not going to worry about it. I'm reminded of the recent movie Rocky Balboa, I being the Rocky freak that I am would like to share a quote from that film that gives me a little inspiration, for I've been through rougher times than this.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Often I am asked or come to ponder some of the differences between Catholics and nonCatholics. One of the more interesting aspects is the traditional Protestant denial of having crosses of any kind or more recently a bare cross versus the Corpus Christi displayed in Catholic Churches. The protestant will contend that the Corpus Christi on the cross is gloomy and that it should not be there. The contention of no cross or a bare cross is focused upon the resurrection and Christ enthroned now in heaven. The Catholic would point out that the crucifix is an important symbol and fixture of the paschal mystery.
However, the key idea there is "now". For what is "now" to God, the divine now as it were? Though Christ died on the cross, His divine nature, being eternal did not. Given the divine nature, would not every moment be the now for the divine? The crucifixtion is as much now to the divine at our current moment than it was 2,000 or so years ago. Same goes for the resurrection. So there really shouldn't be a problem between Catholics and traditional protestants over the crucifix or the bare cross (or no cross), all are part of the divine now, just viewed from a dfferent aspect of the human concept of time.
It is also this divine now that brings together the whole Catholic understanding of the sacrament of communion. It is how Christ can proclaim the bread and wine as His body and blood even though He has not, in human time, been put to death. It is a divine happening and at the moment of the Last Supper and the consecration, the sacrifice of the cross and the resurrection and even His whole life are as much a part of the moment as what is occurring and visible to the human's at the table. It is also that divine now that allows that sacrifice to re-presented in communion today as validly as it was then. It is not a re-crucifixition of Christ, because to the divine nature it is still then, now.
So when will then be now? Soon. Because we're at now, now. Hmmm, the Theology of Spaceballs...might be a good selling book?
Thursday, January 18, 2007
I have a good number of friends who would call themselves Calvinists, which on the surface is a very logical approach to theology. One question that arises frequently is whether or not Calvinist soteriology actually says that God has created some people only to send them to hell. This is a clear teaching of Calvin and the only logical conclusion of reformed thought on predestination. In other words, there is no room for any other belief that God created some folks for heaven and others for hell.
Think about, if God is totally soveriegn, then it is safe to say He knew those whom He did not choose, because afterall He did create them and by not choosing them He made a choice concerning them. After all, from the reformed mindset, God could have saved them had He so chosen.
Yet, God did not so choose. Though we all dserve damnation since the Fall, the Fall itself did not take God by surprise. Man in a state of grace was either capable of rejecting grace or God predestined man's fall. The calvinist can not have it both ways, for if the fall was presdestined, God condemns to hell His own will by creating souls He will not save.
As is the case with most heresy, Scripture refutes this concept. How can man, made in the image and likeness of God, possesing intrinsic goodness be destined for hell from the moment God creates him/her (Gen1:26-31)?
Though there is much mystery involved in the relationship between God's gift of salvation and man's free will, the mystery is more prefectly understood when considered in the light of God as Love. Love, despite what modern culture tells us, is the willing to sacrifice self for the betterment of others. You know, "for God so loved the world..." and "greater love has no man than this", love is more than the twinge in the groinal region...that is nothing more than lust. I digress, I made my point. Love though always leaves the one loved free to accept or reject the love offered. The acceptance or rejection does not alter the love itself, but it does change the one loved. God can not alter His nature and thus can not create a human soul to which He can not offer His love. The Greek verb we translate in the notion the "God is love" actually means to be wholly and fully be. God being infinite must be infinite love. Thus when confronted with our questions of salvation, our reply should be simple and focused on God Himself, who is Love and calls all to love.
Father Paul over at AtonementOnline has published some traditional prayers on his blog.
It's a nice little blog that I found through Kacy's blog, so a biretta tip to her. I'll copy and paste it here, but feel free to go take a look at his blog and also take a stop at Kacy's, who has her own link over there on the left handside of the page.
ANTIPHON: That they all may be one, as Thou, Father, in me and I in Thee; that they also may be one in Us; that the world may believe that Thou hast sent me.
V. I say unto thee, thou art Peter;
R. And upon this rock I will build my Church.[Here is brought to mind the intention for the day's prayer.]
January 18: For the return of the "other sheep" to the One Fold of our Lord Jesus Christ.
January 19: For the return of the Eastern Orthodox Christians to communion with the Apostolic See.
January 20: For the return of the Anglicans to the authority of the Vicar of Christ.
January 21: For the return of all Protestants throughout the world to the unity of the Catholic Church.
January 22: That Christians in America may be one, in union with the Chair of Saint Peter.
January 23: That lapsed Catholics will return to the Sacraments of the Church.
January 24: That the Jewish people will be converted to the Catholic Faith.
January 25: That missionary zeal will conquer the world for Christ.
Let us pray. O Lord Jesus Christ, who saidst unto Thine Apostles: Peace I leave you, My peace I give to you; regard not our sins, but the faith of Thy Church, and grant unto her that peace and unity which are agreeable to Thy Will; Who livest and reignest ever, one God, world without end. Amen.
When Catholics speak of unity, it is not an invisible unity but a visible unity. Part of the Church Militant (Ecclesia Militans) here on Earth, united with the Church Triumphant (Ecclesia Triumphans) in heaven, and the Church Suffering (Ecclesia Penitens). Now some of you are wondering what I am rambling on about...well though we are separated by death, the Apostolic teaching of the Catholic Church is that we are still united to one another in one Church, and support each other in prayer. This is summed up nicely as believing in the Communion of Saints.
So does this mean I don't respect other Christian sects? Of course not, they are brothers and sisters in Christ, but I will hold that the fullness of faith is found in the teachings of the Catholic Church. That does not mean that I contain it for I know many of Protestant brothers and siters who have a better understanding of some aspects of the faith that I do not. I also know that I probably have a better understanding in some areas that they don't. It washes out there, but according to the creed the Church is to be one. It can not be one if it is splintered. The concept of invisible and visible that some hold to, holds some weight, but even they must be one as I wrote of above. One Church, One Faith.
UT UNUN SINT