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Archive for October, 2009

Here is another reason why the American press is not worth reading or listening to anymore.  The vile, ill-informed-but-that-doesn’t-stop-her-from-spouting-off-opinions-(and getting paid for it)-which-are-hateful-as-well-as-wrong, Maureen Dowd, shows her ignorance of and outright contempt for the Catholic Church.

Dowd has never met a conservative anything that she didn’t trash.  I don’t mean “criticize” I mean “trash.”  Who reads her?  It should be declared hate speech. 

The New York Times is so consistently, liberally outrageous, it has become a joke.  Unfortunately, they lost their sense of humor when they lost their ethics and objectivity, so they haven’t gotten that the the joke is on them yet.  Perhaps when they go through a couple more cycles of firings and layoffs. 

Excuse me while I go shower off the Ick that was left on me by reading Maureen Dowd.  :-P

originally post stamp:  Published on: Oct 26, 2009 @ 13:58 Edit

UPDATE:   Well, Maureen really has done it now.  Seems Catholics Liberal and Conservative are equally offended by her rant.  Anna Arco’s Diary has the details.

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If you read through NYT’s Maureen Dowd spewing venom and rage in your face, then you may want need the antidote.  Via Without Having Seen (thanks Ryan!) comes the ever rational, ever calm, ever loving Fr. Barron to put a proper perspective on the Apostolic Visitation of U.S. Women Religious.  A perfect antidote!

 

 

Thank you Jesus for sending us lights to guide us in the darkness.  Thank you Holy Spirit for imparting Wisdom to lights like Fr Barron, that through them Truth might be known.  And thanks Fr. Barron for the right message at the right time.

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La Pieta by an evangelist named Michelangelo Buonarroti of Florence   Countless conversions have occurred at its pedestal.

La Pieta by an evangelist named Michelangelo Buonarroti of Florence. Countless conversions have occurred at its pedestal.

From Paulist Father Tom Holahan at the Catholic News Service Blog (via Intentional Disciples) comes this beautiful description of the evangelizing qualities of Rome:

Rome, in its way, is a 500-year-old evangelization machine. The buildings and art created as a response to the Protestant critique still call to people who are searching and create a mood of reflection. Just before I arrived in Rome, I met an industrial psychologist who was a Christian but now follows a Native American practice. He told me that, when he went to the Vatican, sunbeams from the dome of the church hit Michelangelo’s Pieta and brought tears to his eyes.

A week ago I heard from two nuns, dressed in habits, who were stopped on the street by a Japanese tourist. She wanted to know, could they possibly spare a few moments to explain Christianity to her? Yesterday a Syrian found his way to our English-speaking church (he knew no Italian) asking the same question. He told me he had no particular faith, but he had been impressed with the Syrian Orthodox while in his own country and now, before he had to leave the country because of a document problem, he wanted to find out more. He asked his questions urgently, “And, so, Jesus was the Son of God?” “He promised eternal life?” Searching Americans approach the faith issue differently. One recently told me he “gave up on God” when the Supreme Being did not cure his depression and taking a little pill did. I said there may come a time when something can’t be fixed, then what?

Now friends, when you hear nonsense like “the Pope should sell the Vatican and give the money away to the poor”, you know the answer for yourself.  Even if the Pope could sell off Vatican treasures (he can’t) and there were someone to buy them (who could afford the price tag of the Pauline Chapel?), why would we sell off one of the best conversion-delivery systems we have?  That is why we are here, to bring ourselves closer to our Lord and bring all the world the Good News of Jesus Christ.  The wonder that is Rome– the collection of centuries of sacred art, architecture, and culture– belongs to all of us, rich and poor alike, Italian, American, Japanese, Syrian, Catholic or Agnostic who may walk around not only Rome but within the Vatican and share in their treasures, and bask in their beauty.  It is this beauty through which God permits His grace to flow, changing minds and converting hearts.   This is what Pope John Paul the Second called “the beauty that saves.”  Fr. Holahan is right:  Rome is an evangelization machine.

The Church has long recognized the power of the sacred arts to communicate truth and to turn souls devoutly toward Christ. Throughout Christian history, the Church has commissioned great works of art, architecture, and music to advance her mission of worship, catechesis, and evangelization, inviting the world more deeply into the mysteries of the faith.–The Foundation for Sacred Arts Mission Statement

Rather than feed the poor for a day, let’s give them the food of eternal life.

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That sneaky Mark Shea must have seen my previous post, cause he’s writing about to me in today’s Catholic Exchange.

Moral: It is not progress to make a little bad choice and then spend years (sometimes a lifetime) reinforcing and elaborating an immense psychological, physical and moral defensive mechanism to protect that (often forgotten) choice. Progress, in such a case, is to admit that our elaborate mechanism isn’t working and to take it apart, piece by piece, and give it all back to God till we arrive at the central sin that we have been guarding and incubating like a cancer at the core of our being.

I think what Mark is saying is that sin often usually has a butterfly effect:  a small seemingly innocuous disobedience leads on to more sin, often of a greater magnitude of offensiveness and the consequences may not be seen for years if not decades later.  We must, as Mark writes, give it over to God, and we must be willing to work as He wills.  But first, we must be still as Elijah, and hear Him in the whispering wind.  Only then may we finally recognize the paths of destruction that we have willingly taken ourselves down.

These paths of destruction could also be described as Cascading Failure,  an even better description of my young adulthood. 

The truth shall set you free! 

View full article here: Dismantling the Progress Machine!

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A sign? Relics of St. Therese Ecumenical Service, Bishop George Stack, Guest Preacher Rt Rev’d Graeme Knowles, Dean Of St Paul’s Cathedral. Oct. 13, 2009

A sign? Relics of St. Therese Ecumenical Service, Bishop George Stack, Guest Preacher Rt Rev’d Graeme Knowles, Dean Of St Paul’s Cathedral. Oct. 13, 2009

 

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.  As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts.  For just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to him who sows and bread to him who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.  –Isaiah 55: 8-11

As I read about the pilgrimage of the relics of St. Thérèse across Great Britain, I remember thinking, “Wow, how incredible that such a progression should be allowed in the land of the English Reformation, in a nation which cannot have a Roman Catholic Prime Minister.”  I thought that the crowds coming to see her relics were remarkable and the fact that the relics were on view in the cathedral halls of the Church of England was very…surprising, to say the least.

Now it appears that the Little Flower, St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face has been interceding on behalf of our Anglican and Episcopalian brothers and sisters.  And she, via her relics, may have been sent to Great Britain as part of God’s plan, to ease the way for the Traditional Anglican Communion to return to the Mother Church. 

From the Catholic Key Blog:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Anglican Bishop Confirms St. Therese is Behind Anglican Ordinariate

Yesterday we conveyed the suspicion of former Episcopal and now Kansas City Catholic priest, Father Ernie Davis, that the intercession of St. Therese of Lisieux was behind the Vatican’s move to provide a structure to welcome Anglicans into full communion. Now, the Anglican Catholic Bishop of Canada strongly confirms that thought.

Father Davis, who leads St. Therese Little Flower parish in Kansas City which hosts an Anglican Use community, wrote of the news from the Vatican:

Anglicans and Catholics flocked to visit the relics of Saint Therese of Lisieux as they made a very recent pilgrimage to England. Her relics rested on her 2009 feast day at York Minster, the Cathedral of the Anglican Archbishop of York. When I read about that, I told the people here at St. Therese Little Flower that she was working on something big. In other words, preparations for this Apostolic Constitution have been in process for 170 years, and some of the preparations have been made at levels that are higher than popes.   (emphasis mine)

The Traditional Anglican Communion Bishop of Canada saw the claim and sent an email today to Father Davis with remarkable details of St. Therese’ intercession. Here’s the email:

Dear Father Davis,

Your story about the Anglican Ordinariate and St Therese (which came to me via England this morning) is very interesting. And I can tell you another connexion with her.

I am the Anglican Catholic Bishop of Canada in the TAC. I was present at the Synod of TAC Bishops in Portsmouth England in October 2007 which voted unanimously to ask for full communion, and signed the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The first full day of the Synod was October 1st, the ‘new’ date of St Therese’s feast, and the actual vote to ask for full communion was taken on October 3rd ‘old’ date of her feast.

I also accompanied the Primate and Bishop Robert Mercer CR to deliver the Letter to the CDF where we had been directed by the Holy Father. My friend Mother Teresa of the Carmel in Edmonton had given me some holy cards with a piece of cloth touched to her relics. Each of us carried one of these cards, and we asked St Therese’s prayers on our venture. We also had similar cards from Poland of the Servant of God John Paul II.

I have continued ‘to bother her’ about a favourable response to our request, and now thanks to the generosity and love of the Holy Father who has taken a personal interest in us for many years, and the prayers of St Therese, something wonderful has come about.

God bless you,

+Peter Wilkinson, OSG
Bishop Ordinary
Anglican Catholic Church of Canada
TAC

Father Davis has posted the letter at his blog, which is also on our blog roll. He’s been quiet for a while, working on a book, but I’ll bet it’ll be worth checking in there as things progress.

It would seem that St. Thérèse is fulfilling her desire to be a missionary and her promise to shower the world with roses.  From the St. Thérèse Relics Blog (chronicling the visit across England and Wales), here is what Most Reverend Fernando Millán (Prior General– Order of Carmelites) had to say during the homily at the Farewell Mass at the Friars, Aylesford.  After remarking on the success of the visit in terms of number of pilgrims who attended and reported personal conversions that occurred, he said: 

– The second success is no less important. Many have underlined the ecumenical importance of this visit. Not only Catholics, but also Anglicans, Methodists, Buddhists, and people without religious affiliation… came to visit the relics. There is something so basic, so fundamental, so essential in the message of Therese that many people, no matter what their religious confession, feel she has something to say to them.

Perhaps (among many other elements of her spiritual teaching) we find with Therese that God is not a God of fear, a God of implacable Justice, a God before whom we feel afraid. When Therese listened to talk of the justice of God, instead of being sad and fearful… she was quite happy: “God knows how weak we are!” When Therese was writing this, in France there was still a very strong influence from Jansenism. That was a religious group or movement, with very good people and very committed Christians, who were worried about the level and the quality of religious life in France. They were asking for a greater seriousness, more commitment, and they were always stressing the justice of God and the gravity of sin. That is fine and there is nothing wrong with it. But, Jansenism forgotten the key point, the essential element, the basis of the Gospel and Christian life is not rules, justice, norms for punishment… but that it is about grace, love, mercy and freedom. That is the secret of Therese; that is perhaps also the secret of her success…

If, after this visit we are a little bit closer to the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ; if we have been able to forgive somebody; if we have decided to remove form our hearts hatred and prejudice; if we trust more in God, even when we are suffering; if we are ready to feel the love of God in our lives… if only one person has received that message and is willing to live it… the visit has been a great, great success, and we can say that it was worthy to bring the relics of this Carmelite to this country. I am sure that not only one person, but a lot of people today are a little bit closer to God, and so a bit closer to others around them. I am sure that we all have grown these days in faith, in humanity, in tenderness in solidarity

THANK YOU, LITTLE THERESE, FOR BEING WITH US. YOU SAID THAT YOU WOULDN’T BE PASSIVE IN HEAVEN, BUT VERY ACTIVE. PLEASE, INTERCEDE FOR US, FOR OUR FAMILIES, FOR OUR COUNTRIES, FOR PEACE AROUND THE WORLD. INTERCEDE ESPECIALLY FOR ALL THOSE WHO SUFFER, ALL THOSE WHO ARE SICK AND LONELY, ALL THOSE WHO NEED MORE OF OUR LOVE AND OUR PRAYER… AMEN

Emphasis mine.

We cannot know in what ways God is acting in the world, we cannot see as He sees but in hindsight, when we view how miraculously events unfold, we can see His Hand.  The convergence of the many known (and the countless unknown) events leading up to the Vatican announcement suggest a larger plan unfolding.  Providence?  We shall have to wait and see.  In the meantime, let us all pray that we the Church and our Holy Father Pope Benedict be guided by the Holy Spirit, that God’s will be done on earth.   We can be assured that God’s word will indeed achieve His Will. 

How awesome is our God! 

Anglican Bishop Confirms St. Therese is Behind Anglican Ordinariate.

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St. Stephens Cathedral in Metz.

St. Stephen's Cathedral in Metz.

I came across this picture tonight.  It is an interior photo of the very tall nave in the Metz Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Metz).  The nave it shows is over 40 meters high!   That’s impressive, but that fact is not why I am posting this photo. 

As I was admiring the beauty of the cathedral, I noted that it has chairs instead of pews.  My very first thought was about how hard it would be to set out all of those chairs.  My next thought was, boy, I sure bet it’s difficult to keep all them straightly aligned, they must be knocked about pretty constantly….My next thought (stick with me, my thought process is rather tangential) was remembering that all the great churches of Europe lacked pews and chairs, and I immediately went into my next thought about how many thousands millions of Catholics through the centuries got down on their knees on the cold stone floor to pray and worship our Lord.   Not for timed “one hour masses.”  No, these were full on liturgical, Gregorian chanted, only the ordained priests touched the sacrament, loooong affairs.  Several times a dayEveryday.  When it was time to kneel, our predecessors got down on the stone…or tile…or bare floor.  On. Their. Knees.  And NOW we come to the reason why I posted the picture of the beautiful Metz Cathedral.  Seeing this picture reminded me….  

I remembered something my mom told me when I was a little girl.  It was a moment that will stay with me all of my life.  We were getting ready to go to church for Good Friday.  My mom told me that when she herself was a girl, she was moved to see, every Good Friday, all the faithful Polish men of her parish approaching the Wood of the Cross on their knees, and weeping profusely.  She told me, “Crying, they were crying.  Gruff men, men like Grandpa!”  And she repeated, shaking her head in awe, “They went the whole way on their knees!  on the hard floor!”  Though decades had passed, I could still hear the awe and emotion in my mom’s voice.

I remark this kind of faith and adoration, to approach our Lord in humility, in suffering, in sacrifice, in total gratitude.   Would that today we see such faith! 

I don’t know when I became aware that Protestants don’t kneel.  I do not know when I noticed a lack of kneelers in their churches.  But Catholics kneel.  I have always thought of our kneeling-ness.  And that reminds me of another family story.   Whenever we would see my mom’s extended family, my dad would tell the story of attending Mass early in my parents’ marriage with my mom’s cousin, the nun.   She stood next to my dad (then a Lutheran) and throughout the Mass “barked orders under her breath like a drill sergeant –‘Sit!Kneel!Stand!’”  I still think of that story at odd times and hear in my head, “Sit! Kneel! Stand!”  It makes me smile.  I love the kneeling.  I love the Church for kneeling.  It makes us special because it makes us submissive.   But over the decades, I have noticed a sad trend away from kneeling during Mass, even before and after Eucharist.   

Because of that story my mom told me when I was a kid, my attitude about kneeling during the Mass is completely different than most modern Catholics.  For instance, at my parish we have a few pew sections where there are no kneelers.  So,  I make sure that my family is the one which gets one of the ‘no kneeler pews’.  We are kneelers in my family, and I would just as soon that it be my kids and me on our knees on the uncomfortable floor, than another family which most likely would then feel permitted to sit all through the Mass.  I tell my kids, “With all Christ suffered for us, we can kneel on the carpet for 15 minutes.”  When our knees hurt, we know to think, “Thank you, Lord, for letting us share in your suffering.”  (When we first started doing this, the kids weren’t too happy but now they never complain.)    I have found that our example sometimes seems to affect others in ‘no kneeler pews’, although that is not why we are doing it.  We do it because we can choose to do it, we do it as a love offering to our fellow parishioners so that they don’t have to, and even more importantly, we do it so that they will not be tempted to ‘sit out’ the worship.  We are helping them avoid this near occasion of …ingratitude and complacency

In our modern society, we might think it is undignified to kneel.  We might feel like it is uncomfortable and unnecessary.  But kneeling has never been comfortable or dignified.  The whole point, in fact the very reason why kneeling is NECESSARY, is because it demonstrates physically that we honor God, and submit to His Will.  When we worship God, a necessary part of the worship is to acknowledge that He is great, and we are…not.  If we cannot prostrate ourselves before our Lord, I fear our faith is shallow and our self-importance deep. 

We are not doing God a favor by being in church on Sunday.  We are not working our way into God’s good graces.  We are allowed, through God’s infinite mercy, to be filled with all the blessings that the Mass imparts, to witness a miracle every Eucharist, to join in Christ’s divinity through it.  We are honored and we are humbled and we say, “For you alone are the Holy One!  You alone are the Lord!  You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ!” 

The LORD’S fire came down and consumed the holocaust, wood, stones, and dust, and it lapped up the water in the trench.  Seeing this, all the people fell prostrate and said, “The LORD is God! The LORD is God!”  — 1 Kings 18:39

Prayer:   Jesus, You graciously and mercifully bore our sins upon Your back, suffering not only torture and death, but humiliation and scorn.  Thank you!  Lord, I beg You to work in me a miracle–convert my heart to love You with a fullness that drives out selfish thoughts for myself.  Do not permit that my pride keep me from worshipping You in true love, as You deserve.  Lord, You bring all sinners who seek You to forgiveness and grace.  Fill me with grace now, I humbly ask.  Amen.

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Via Mark Shea’s Catholic and Enjoying It! blog comes this enlightening overview of ‘the immeasurable wealth’ of the Vatican. 

I’ve been re-reading The Fellowship of the Ring and the immeasurable wealth of Bilbo is mentioned as one of the fixed myths of the folk of Hobbiton. At one point, sundry residents of the town flood into Bag End, nosing about for treasure, convinced that there’s no end to it.

Something similar obtains in the world of ignorant popular anti-Catholicism in the English-speaking world concerning the limitless wealth of the Vatican (and, by the way, that world of ignorant anti-Catholicism extends to not a few Catholics in the US). The notion is that the Vatican is a sumptuous treasure house worth enough instantly end world poverty if those greedy prelate would just sell off their wealth (you know, the way the nationalization of the Russian Churches, instantly ended the state-created famines of the Stalin era).

Here’s the actual story from the intrepid John Allen:

In the public’s imagination, the Vatican is awash in priceless art, hidden Nazi gold, plundered treasures from around the world, and vast assets tucked away from prying eyes in the Vatican Bank. Reality is far more prosaic. To put it bluntly, the Vatican is not rich. It has an annual operating budget of $260 million, which would not place it on any Top 500 list of major social institutions. To draw a comparison in the non-profit sector, Harvard University has an annual operating budget of a little over $1.3 billion, which means it could run the equivalent of five Vaticans every year and still have pocket change left over. The Holy See’s budget would qualify it as a mid-sized American Catholic college. It’s bigger than Loyola-Marymount in Los Angeles (annual budget of $150 million) or Saint Louis University ($174 million), but substantially less than the University of Notre Dame ($500 million).

The total patrimony of the Holy See, meaning its property holdings (including some 30 buildings and 1,700 apartments in Rome), its investments, its stock portfolios and capital funds, and whatever it has storied up in a piggy bank for a rainy day, comes to roughly $770 million. This is substantial, but once again one has to apply a sense of scale. What the Holy See calls “patrimony” is roughly what American universities mean by an “endowment” – in other words, funds and other assets designed to support the institution if operating funds fall short. The University of Notre Dame has an endowment of $3.5 billion, meaning a total 4.5 times as great as the Vatican’s.

But what of the some 18,000 artistic treasures in the Holy See, such as the Pietà, that don’t show up on these ledgers? From the Holy See’s point of view, these artworks are part of the artistic heritage of the world, and may never be sold or borrowed against. Michelangeo’s famous Pieta statue, the Sistine Chapel, or Raphael’s famous frescoes in the Apostolic Palace are thus listed at a value of 1 Euro each. In fact, those treasures amount to a net drain on the Holy See’s budget, because millions of Euros have to be allocated every year for maintenance and restoration.

It was that notorious enemy of the poor, Dorothy Day**, who opposed stupid schemes to take art out of the Churches because she was perfectly aware of the fact that it was actually a scheme to make even more art the private property of a few rich people. At present, the “treasures of the Vatican” are the property of every beggar in Rome who wishes for something to alleviate the pain of his life and lift his thoughts to God. Under the Judas Iscariot Plan for Wealth Redistribution (Motto: Why were these things not sold and the proceeds given to the poor?”) the “treasures of the Vatican” become treasures in some guy’s villa or in some pricey museum where cultured despisers can go to sneer at the stuff people used to believe.

**Luce’s note:  I believe that Mark is being sardonic here.  If you do not know who Dorothy Day was, she was a lifelong champion for the poor.

Bilbo‘s Immeasurable Wealth.

update:  see related post  Rome: The Beauty That Saves.

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