Saturday, November 30, 2002

A Prayer for a Fresh Start, by Archbishop Timothy Dolan

Praise be to You, dear God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

We thank You for Your constant gift of a fresh start and new beginning!

We extol You, Lord, for the vitality of the Church here, for its fidelity to Your Son's mandate to teach, serve, and sanctify.

We seek Your grace upon the vast array of people, projects, and proprams that teach Your people, serve Your people, and sanctify Your people.

We can do no better that uniting with our archdiocesan patron St. John, in placing our heads on the shoulder of Jesus Your Son, as St. John did at that first Eucharist, and in taking Your Mother into our homes, as St. John did after Your Son entrusted her to him before He died.

Without You, Lord, we can do nothing, but with you, all things are possible.

We believe You never call us to a task without giving us sufficient grace.

Give it now, Lord, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Happy Advent!

It's a perfect time for a fresh start. From our friends the desert Christians:

Abba Poemen said about Abba Pior that every single day he made a fresh beginning.

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Friday, November 29, 2002

Dorothy, pray for us

This day in 1980, which was a Saturday and the last day in Ordinary time, just before sunset, the servant of God Dorothy Day passed from this life to life true and eternal. Deacon Tom Cornell said when he spoke at my parish earlier this year, just in time to celebrate the new year in heaven.

Dorothy was the co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, newspaper (which still sells at a penny a copy!), and communities.
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Wednesday, November 27, 2002

We must not live by fear alone

Click on the headline for a homily on the parable of the talents by Bishop Richard Sklba from November 17th. [real audio needed; 11:04]
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Tuesday, November 26, 2002

found the url for the editorial below and also for the underlying news article:

Mutiracial group cleans up after Klan

Using the Creative Broom

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How to behave when the haters come to town

This past Saturday we had a rally by three notoriously violent hate groups. There was no violence, and the editors of the Journal Sentinel published an editorial today discussing why, and why that's good. I couldn't find a url for it yet, so I'm transcribing it from my paper copy right here. Things like this make me proud of this great city I'm bound to pray for.

from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial page today, 26 Nov 2002:
Using the Creative Broom

Milwaukee has shown how to respond when apostles of hate preach their message of intolerance in public. First, the city deserves credit for what it did not do --- namely, try to deny a podium to the hate groups that soiled the steps of the federal courthouse Saturday. Such an instinctive reaction, called for by some residents, would have undermined the principle of free speech and the right to assemble, which help make America strong.

More speech, not censorship, is the answer. Accordingly, in the days before the hate rally, some residents let a placard do the talking. The placard, displayed in windows, showed a circle with a slash over the word "hate."

As for the event itself, residents divided over tactics. Some chose to send a message by staying away; others chose to send a message by attending a counterdemonstration. Which strategy was more effective is debatable. The counterprotest did carry the risk of a clash, which would have harmed the cause of racial tolerance. But no melee materialized here, as it has elsewhere. The leaders of the counterdemonstration and the police deserve credit for keeping the peace.

Finally, on Sunday, a multiracial and multicultural group of Milwaukeans showed marvelous creativity in their response. With brooms in hand, about 250 people swept the federal steps, symbolically cleansing it of the bigotry from the day before. Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan sprinkled holy water on the steps "to reclaim this section of [God's] vineyard," and an African cleansing ritual was performed.

Make no mistake about it, the sponsors of Saturday's rally --- the Ku Klux Klan, the National Socialist Movement, and the World Church of the Creator --- advocate terrorism in pursuit of their cause. The Klan boasts a long history of lynchings, mutilations, and other acts of violence designed to instill fear among African-Americans and others. The National Socialists follow Nazism, responsible for monstrous crimes against humanity. The World Church, the relatively new hate group on the block, has been linked to contemporary acts of violence.

In other words, these are vile organizations that left behind a smelly residue that needed to be swept away.

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A Poem for Our Fair City by Frank Zeidler, who was the Mayor from just after WWII until 1960, and is still an honored elder here. His early poetry (from the depression era) has just been published. [the dots in front of the fourth lines are not in the poem; I had to put them in so blogger would hold the indentation.]

A Place for Peace and Justice
Frank Zeidler

Milwaukee, happenstance in time and place,
A settlement of types of clan and race ---
Can it be known to be a special place
. . . For peace and justice?

The settlers coming to Lake Michigan shore
Found peoples living in this site before;
And thus arose the need of old once more
. . . For peace and justice.

The tide of global immigration swelled
Since through injustice many were compelled
To seek a land where law and freedom held
. . . For peace and justice.

Milwaukee and Wisconsin thus became
The sites which earned and gained the fame
As residence of those who had the aim
. . . For peace and justice.

So let us now as those residing here
Uphold the goals and standards once held dear
And work with confidence and not with fear
. . . For peace and justice.

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Monday, November 25, 2002

A Meditation on Detachment written by St. Thomas More during his imprisonment, 1534

Give me Thy grace, good Lord
to set the world at nought;
To set my mind fast upon Thee,
and not to hang upon the blast of men’s mouths;
To be content to be solitary,
not to long for worldly company;
Little by little utterly to cast off the world,
and rid my mind of all the business thereof;
Not to long to hear of any worldly things,
but that the hearing of worldly phantasies may be to me unpleasant;
Gladly to be thinking of God,
piteously to call for His help;
To lean unto the comfort of God,
busily to labor to love Him;
To know my own vileness and wretchedness,
to be humble and meeken myself under the mighty hand of God;
To bewail my sins passed,
for the purging of them patiently to suffer adversity;
Gladly to bear my purgatory here,
to be joyful of tribulations;
To walk the narrow way that leads to life,
to bear the cross with Christ;
To have the last thing in remembrance,
to have ever before my eye my death that is ever at hand;
To make death no stranger to me,
to foresee and consider the everlasting fire of hell;
To pray for pardon before the Judge come,
to have continually in mind the passion that Christ suffered for me;
For His benefits unceasingly to give Him thanks,
to buy the time again that I before have lost;
To abstain from vain conversations,
to eschew light foolish mirth and gladness;
Recreations not necessary to cut off,
of worldly substance, friends, liberty, life and all, to set the loss as
nothing for the winning of Christ;
To think my greatest enemies my best friends,
for the brethren of Joseph could never have done him so much good
with their love and favor as they did him with their malice and hatred.
These attitudes are more to be desired of every man
than all the treasure of all the princes and kings Christian and heathen,
were it gathered and laid together all upon one heap.

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Saturday, November 23, 2002

Blaise Pascal's Memorial

On this day in 1654, Blaise Pascal had a personal experience of the uncreated light, and wrote his famous Memorial, which Gerard kindly posts for us here.
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Viva Cristo Rey: Blessed Miguel Pro, sj

Miguel Pro was a bright but not brilliant Jesuit priest, a Mexican who had gone to Europe to fulfill his vocation. In 1926, after his ordination, he returned to Mexico on mission. His duty: travel around, preach the Gospel, celebrate the sacraments for the Catholics in hiding, avoid arrest for as long as possible. This is a very traditional Jesuit job description: St. Edmund Campion is the classic model of the genre.

Father Pro was notably successful in his ministry, going from place to place in disguise, celebrating Eucharist, baptizing, and generally encouraging the persecuted believers. He took a child-like delight in the more clandestine aspects of his life; the costumes, the role-playing, the going-out-the-back window-police-at-front-door. This also seems to be the classical Jesuit way of things, as history attests with the English martyrs and as I myself remember during the Vietnam War era.

Eventually, of course, he was arrested, and after being held for several days, with no semblance of a trial, he was taken to the police firing range and executed by firing squad. The government had photographers there, and publicised the execution in an apparent attempt to frighten the Catholics into submission, but that backfired; the photos became holy cards, and the sight of their priest, arms extended, giving up his life for Christ his King, gave them courage and became the beginning of the end of the persecution.

Viva Cristo Rey!
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Thursday, November 21, 2002

The story of today's memorial: The Presentation of Mary

this is from a second-century document called the Protoevangelium of James [thanks to Christopher Haas, who emailed this to me this morning]

6. And the child (Mary) grew strong day by day; and when she was six months old, her mother (Anna) set her on the ground to try whether she could stand, and she walked seven steps and came into her bosom; and she snatched her up, saying: As the Lord my God liveth, thou shall not walk on this earth until I bring thee into the temple of the Lord. And she made a sanctuary in her bed-chamber, and allowed nothing common or unclean to pass through her… And when she was a year old, Joachim made a great feast, and invited the priests, and the scribes, and the elders, and all the people of Israel. And Joachim brought the child to the priests; and they blessed her, saying: O God of our fathers, bless this child, and give her an everlasting name to be named in all generations. And all the people said: So be it, so be it, amen. And he brought her to the chief priests; and they blessed her, saying: O God most high, look upon this child, and bless her with the utmost blessing, which shall be for ever. And her mother snatched her up, and took her into the sanctuary of her bed-chamber, and gave her the breast. And Anna made a song to the Lord God, saying: I will sing a song to the Lord my God, for He hath looked upon me, and hath taken away the reproach of mine enemies; and the Lord hath given the fruit of His righteousness, singular in its kind, and richly endowed before Him. Who will tell the sons of Rubim that Anna gives suck? Hear, hear, ye twelve tribes of Israel, that Anna gives suck. And she laid her to rest in the bed-chamber of her sanctuary, and went out and ministered unto them. And when the supper was ended, they went down rejoicing, and glorifying the God of Israel.

7. And her months were added to the child. And the child was two years old, and Joachim said: Let us take her up to the temple of the Lord, that we may pay the vow that we have vowed, lest perchance the Lord send to us, and our offering be not received. And Anna said: Let us wait for the third year, in order that the child may not seek for father or mother. And Joachim said: So let us wait. And the child was three years old, and Joachim said: Invite the daughters of the Hebrews that are undefiled, and let them take each a lamp, and let them stand with the lamps burning, that the child may not turn back, and her heart be captivated from the temple of the Lord. And they did so until they went up into the temple of the Lord. And the priest received her, and kissed her, and blessed her, saying: The Lord has magnified thy name in all generations. In thee, on the last of the days, the Lord will manifest His redemption to the sons of Israel. And he set her down upon the third step of the altar, and the Lord God sent grace upon her; and she danced with her feet, and all the house of Israel loved her.

8. And her parents went down marvelling, and praising the Lord God, because the child had not turned back. And Mary was in the temple of the Lord as if she were a dove that dwelt there, and she received food from the hand of an angel.

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Wednesday, November 20, 2002

from the desert: a particularly persistent temptation

An old man said: For nine years a brother was tempted in thought to the point of despairing of his salvation, and being scrupulous, he condemned himself, saying, "I have lost my soul, and since I am lost, I shall go back to the world." But while he was on the way, a voice came to him on the road, which said, "These nine years during which you have been tempted have been crowns for you; go back to your place, and I will allay these thoughts." Understand that it is not good for someone to despair of himself because of his temptations; rather temptations procure crowns for us if we use them well.
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Monday, November 18, 2002

The Institution by Lisa Basarab.

Like a wrench turned inward
Flashing pain, and gone
Then squeezing, pounding
All of life

A grip of fear so real
That all becomes hell
Swirling, mashing black
In dreams

Nightmares without release
With jeering, fractured finger
Seeping unholy accusation
Pointing, pointing

Like a knife backstabbing
Like a serpent striking
Like a nail in my heart
A plea

To kill my God in me
To sever bonds with Him
And make of me a shade
Pulled so down

Down in mire so weak and pale
The squalid self abyss,
Marrow-deep fatigue (and
Endless night)

No light, no piercing stream of light
No hint of water
For me on a jury's slate
Only guilt

Of my own making, breaking a
Heart so cold from stone
Jabbing guilt, always guilt
Never mercy

Never.

Why no priestly absolution,
Just a toll to pay and pay?
A slim, tortuous road bending
So far, so far

You promised in His words to me
A feast on my return
A fatted calf
Not noose

To string along and up a swaying
Body in surreal ease
Poked like a child on a swing
Whee!

But the glee of games is gone
For my heart's hunt-ripped effigy
Searing, burning,
Flamed

On the spit of upright clerics
Turning folly into shame
Shame, shame!
(An ancient game.)

And so, alone, I hurt
Slipping into nowhere else to go
Except a shrinking Body
Tree-hung

Battered limbs, blood-splashed
Spittle-strewn and slung
With friends looking up
In misery

Save me, sweet Convicted One
In faint aches of rage I spew
that steal Your breath
From mine

Lift the noose away, heal the ache around
To squelch only every urge to bolt
And not Your pain
In me
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Sunday, November 17, 2002

from the desert: "....as we forgive those who trespass against us...."

One of the high officials bore a grudge against another. Great John (the Almsgiver) heard of this and admonished him several times, but could not persuade him to be reconciled with his enemy. One day therefore the saint sent and had him fetched on the pretext of some public business, and as soon as he had come the patriarch held a service in his oratory, no one else being present save his syncellus. After the patriarch had said the prayer of consecration and had pronounced the opening words of the Lord's Prayer, the three of them began to repeat the Prayer. When they got to the sentence, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us" the patriarch made a sign to the syncellus to stop, and he himself stopped too, and the magistrate commenced saying all by himself, "Forgive us as we forgive." At once the saint turned towards him and said in a gentle voice, "Consider in what an awful moment you are saying to God 'As I forgive, do Thou forgive me'!" Immediately, as though tormented by fire, the magistrate fell on his face at the saint's feet crying, "Whatever you command, my lord, your servant will do." And from that time he was reconciled to his enemy in all sincerity.
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Saturday, November 16, 2002

Wisdom from the Kairos Guy

This is such simple advice, but it always bears remembering. The point of Christianity is not that we stop sinning. The point is that we become the sort of people for whom sinning would be alien. Ultimately, "not sinning" is the effect of becoming such a person, not the cause. All the rules, all the dogmas and doctrines are aimed at this one goal, and irrelevant if they don't help us get there.
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Friday, November 15, 2002

Morning Prayer to the Holy Trinity: from St. John Chrysostom

Glory to You, our God, glory to You.
Glory to You, O Lord our God, Who always overlooks our sins.
Glory to You, O Lord our God, Who enabled me to see this day.
Glory to You, O most-holy Trinity, our God.
I venerate Your ineffable goodness.
I praise Your inexplorable forbearance.
I thank and glorify Your infinite mercy.
For although I deserve every chastisement and punishment,
You have mercy and do good to me
with myriads of blessings.
Glory to You,
O Lord my God,
for everything.
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Thursday, November 14, 2002

A Litany of Humility, composed by Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val, who was secretary of state for St Pius X.

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart,
Hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being loved,
Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled,
Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being honored,
Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being praised,
Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others,
Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted,
Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being approved,
Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the fear of being humiliated,
Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being despised,
Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes,
Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated,
Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten,
Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed,
Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged,
Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected,
Deliver me, O Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I go unnoticed,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I,
provided that I may become as holy as I should,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
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Tuesday, November 12, 2002

The USCCB: the Lord working through Roberts' Rules

Torture by Roberts' Rules. That's what we say when some organization or other to which we belong has to make decisions in the formal way. Yet, it is the simplest way we have to do things "decently and in order." Boring and occasionally a bit esoteric, but clear and in right order.

Our fathers the bishops have been subjecting themselves to great doses of Roberts' Rules these past few days, and for a few more to come, to accomplish those things that need to get accomplished. So much to get done, so little time to do it; motion, second, amendment, second, discuss, vote, motion, second......

Remember to keep praying for them. These few days they're being allowed precious little time to pray for themselves. They need us.
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On the Pomodoro Corona and Crucifix

The altar of God:
square, as the heavenly Jerusalem is square;
erected over the relics of the saints of God;
the center of the Church;
the center of life.
Stone, permanent, not to be moved.
Above it, a corona,
"a form of honor canopy suspended from the ceiling, without pillars."
And, in this case, truly a corona, a crown.
A crown of thorns to acknowledge our King,
our crucified Lord and Redeemer.
I look up and see
those golden nails that hold Him fast
as He gives His very spirit to His Father.
"Into Your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit."
It flies away like a dove.
And those thorns, first meant for degradation,
yet becoming glory;
for He is the King, the Lord.
On the cross, and on the altar.
In the tabernacle, and in our own hearts.
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Sunday, November 10, 2002

it didn't quite get done for Saturday, but here it is:

Spiritual Fitness Level Two, for advanced beginners

If you still need to see and start level one, the program is here, and the reasons behind the program are here.

I did promise to provide a level two exercise program. But, please, promise me in return, especially those of you who are real beginners at praying, that you'll stick with level one for at least a couple of months before proceeding? Please? Those of you for whom this is a refresher course or rehab may be ready sooner. Do not proceed until you are praying morning offering and night review without difficulty either in the praying or in the remembering-to. Let the prayer habit get solidly established --- don't go running ahead before the foundation's solid.

That said: here's level two, spiritual workout for advanced beginners.

First: continue all the exercises of level one. The goal is to build a lifelong habit pattern; don't stop now! Also, is it time for Confession again? Is there some problem that keeps coming up when you review your day each bedtime, some besetting sin or fault, that needs or could use some confessional grace?

Second: find a fifteen minute piece of time after breakfast and well before bedtime. We're looking for prime, well-awake time for this. Also, consider a time where, after a while, the fifteen minutes can expand to a half-hour. Seated comfortably with good lighting for reading [eyestrain is not the goal!], read, slowly and thoughtfully, the Sacred Scriptures. Read them out loud if that's what it takes in order to slow down. A good way to begin is with the lectionary readings for each day. These are available on the internet at "the journey" (citations only, grab your favorite Bible) and at the USCCB site (full text, NAB). There's also a wonderful little magazine called Magnificat, the world's best missalette, available by subscription, that has all the readings in full text and lots of other helpful stuff besides. _Do_not_ just pick up a Bible and start at Genesis 1:1. People who try that tend to give up somewhere in Leviticus' rubrics or in Numbers' censuses, and we do not want to give up.

The goals of this exercise are to spend even more time with the One we want to love and to learn about Him and His ways, His history and promises, what He likes and what is detestable to Him. How can we come to live in a way pleasing to our Beloved if we don't even know what might please Him? So we're going to spend some time observing and studying and learning and watching, then we will begin to know.

Third: find a spiritual friend and/or a regular confessor. There's only so far that an unknown disenbodied internet voice can take you. There's only so far you can go with a book. To proceed beyond this point, you need a guide who knows you. Every one of us is different, and the way we will love and serve the Lord will be as different as we are. The person you are looking for is someone you can trust, therefore you will not lie to them or pretend things are okay when they aren't. They need to be discrete, not prone to gossipping; and wise enough to admit when they don't have an answer; and they should be at least one step ahead of you on this journey, if possible. Be patient, it may take a while to find the person who can help you in this way, but when you find that person, you will know it.

You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart and your whole soul, and your whole mind.

Why did God make me? God made me to know Him, and to love Him, and to serve Him, and to be happy with Him forever and ever in heaven.
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Friday, November 08, 2002

The Spiritual Fitness Program: Clarifications, Explanations

Thanks to all the folk who have let me know that they appreciated the original proposal, or are actually trying it out. I've discovered something that needs clarifying, because I made a presumption I should not have. Then, I'll explain a little about why I suggested certain things and just what the goal of it all is.

When I proposed the "spiritual exercises for the out-of-shape," I presumed that the basics of "church law" were happening already: going to Mass on Sundays and following the rules on fasting and abstaining; but as I was writing about going to confession, it dawned on me that I really ought to say it, just in case --- if you're not going to Mass on Sunday, or you're making a point of going out for steak dinner on Lenten Fridays, cut it out! Go to Sunday Mass, and eat fish fry! It may seem odd or really minor, but it truly does make a difference.

Now, for just why I proposed what I did, above and beyond "morning offering and night examination of conscience is how Catholics have always done it" --- which is true.

The long-term goal is to become totally in love with the God who never stops loving us. How can we let our love grow for God if we don't bother to spend any time with Him? By doing the exercises I proposed, what we are doing is establishing a habit of spending time with God. Eventually, we want "offering our day to God" to be just as natural a part of morning as washing face, brushing hair, and starting the coffee pot, and "looking over the day with God" to be as routine as checking that the door's locked and putting on the pajamas. That's why I said to do it for a couple of months; so the habit would form.

In the morning, in addition to the morning offering, I suggested praying the Benedictus, and at night the Magnificat. This is a tiny way of being connected with the whole Church that prays. In the Liturgy of the Hours, the Benedictus is prayed every morning in Morning Prayer ("Lauds") and the Magnificat every night in Evening Prayer ("Vespers"). For us to pray them also helps us to be united with everybody else in all the Lord's Church in our prayer. It's also very traditional to close the day with a Marian prayer; thepart of the Hours called Night Prayer or Compline ends with a Marian hymn. Plus, it just feels so good to have Our Lady and all the saints looking out for us as we sleep.

Psalm 51 on Friday morning is another tiny reminder of a great truth. Friday is a special day. Our Lord Jesus gave up His life, at our hands, for our salvation, on a Friday. Every Friday can be an occasion to remember that great gift especially. [Here in Milwaukee, the ways of Catholics to remember Friday has sprouted a local secular tradition and industry --- the Friday Fish Fry]

Just like we are forming a habit of spending time with God, we are also in need of a habit of behaving like a Catholic, which is why I proposed a merciful act every day. It is my hope that by the end of two months and the sixtieth day and sixtieth act of mercy, we will have developed a taste for acting mercifully, and be, at least sometimes, doing the merciful thing without planning it or having to think about it. This is a big step toward acting like a Catholic, a state the theologians call "orthopraxy," which is just as important as believing rightly, "orthodoxy."

And, going to Confession (and getting to Mass on Sunday): We have been given the sacraments for a very good reason.(we need them!) and therefore we ought to be taking full advantage of them and the graces they contain for us. Why spurn such great gifts? Grab them instead! This is one part of life where being greedy can work as a goodness.

Now that you know _why_ you're doing what you're doing, you'll keep it up and get those good Catholic habits well-established.

Then, we can proceed to "Spiritual Fitness for Advanced Beginners," which I hope to post sometime tomorrow.
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Thursday, November 07, 2002

About vengeance: from the desert

A brother who was insulted by another brother came to Abba Sisoes, and said to him: I was hurt by my brother, and I want to avenge myself. The old man tried to console him and said: Don't do that, my child. Rather leave vengeance to God. But he said: I will not quit until I avenge myself. Then the old man said: Let us pray, brother; and standing up, he said: O God, we no longer need you to take care of us since we now avenge ourselves. Hearing these words, the brother fell at the feet of the old man and said: I am not going to fight with my brother any more. Forgive me, Abba.
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Wednesday, November 06, 2002

To Give Glory to God in All Things

Discovered in yet another crevice of Gerard's Catholic Pages for Lovers, a prayer for all of us who are overcome by the endless mercy of God.
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Vocation: where our great passion and the world's great need meet

This article is from the inSPIRIT Journal, October 2002 issue. Ryan O'Rourke is a third-year theology student at Saint Francis Seminary who works for the Faith Community for Worker Justice and is a live-in volunteer at Casa Maria, Milwaukee's Catholic Worker community.

A Catholic worker
Ryan O'Rourke

Fr. Joe would always tell us that a vocation is where "....your great passion and the world's great need meet." Those of us in the college seminary and its director Fr. Joe would often gather in the evening to talk philosophy, theology, politics, and argue about whose turn it was to wash the kitchen floor. But mostly we talked about callings and how to fulfill them.

Such is the nature of college seminary. The college seminary is for men searching for their niche in life who think there is a possibility that niche might be the Roman Catholic priesthood. During the day we would go off to our different universities, and in the evening gather for dinner, prayer, and discussion. Some went on to the major seminary; others followed God's call to other places and occupations.

It has been several years since college and I still think often of Fr. Joe's words. I continue to search for that place where my great passion and the world's great need come together. The only problem is that, in my particular case, I am quite certain that particular lifestyle won't pay the rent. At 27 years old, no longer covered under the health insurance plan of my parents, I am starting to think more practically. What I really feel God is calling me to do with my life is no longer the only voice I hear. The voice of realism has crept in and now controls a certain sphere of influence in my decision making process where the voice of idealism once ruled supreme.

I find myself, like many my age, in the midst of a spiritual battle that marks the passage from one stage of adulthood to another. I feel faced with the choice of either following what I believe to be my calling or choosing the security that a good paying job with a benefits package will provide. As I look to the scripture for advice and inspiration, the answer seems obvious --- follow the calling and ditch the security. The scripture passage that has consumed my consciousness the past year has been Mt 6:31-33 that says, "So do not start worrying: where will my food come from? Or my drink? Or my clothes? Your Father in heaven knows that you need these things. Instead, give first place to his kingdom and to what he requires, and he will provide you with all these other things." I have come to the conclusion that next to "Love your enemies," this passage is the most difficult tp live out. Most of us try hard not to make a choice between our calling and our security --- determined to have our cake and eat it too.

When Fr. Joe told us that a vocation was where our great passion and the world's great need meet, he never told us that the world would not necessarily recognize its great need and compensate those who provide it. He never told us that the world would not recognize that it needs more poets than bankers, more musicians than insurance providers, or more peace activists than soldiers. He never told us that the world might indeed be hostile to what it needs the most. I believe there lies the most noble and difficult of callings --- the calling to provide a much needed service to the world without receiving anything in return.
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Monday, November 04, 2002

Letting the Lord Be Lord

If you click on the headline, there is a fabulous sermon by Archbishop Dolan from October 27th. (Real Audio needed; 8:40)
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Sunday, November 03, 2002

Martin de Porres, lover of all in need, lover of God

We'd be celebrating St. Martin today, except that, unfortunately, it's Sunday. But I'm not waiting a whole year to sing his praises; no way!

From the homily of Blessed John XXIII at St. Martin's canonization:

The example of Martin's life is ample evidence that we can strive for holiness and salvation as Christ Jesus has shown us: first, by loving God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind; and second, by loving your neighbor as yourself.

When Martin had come to realize that Christ Jesus
suffered for us and that he carried our sins on his body to the cross, he would meditate with remarkable ardor and affection about Christ on the cross. Whenever he would contemplate Christ's terrible torture he would be reduced to tears. He had an exceptional love for the great sacrament of the eucharist and often spent long hours in prayer before the blessed sacrament. His desire was to receive the sacrament in communion as often as he could.

Saint Martin, always obedient and inspired by his divine teacher, dealt with his brothers with that profound love which comes from pure faith and humility of spirit. He loved people because he honestly looked on them as God's children and as his own brothers and sisters. Such was his humility that he loved them even more than himself and considered them to be better and more righteous than he was.

He did not blame others for their shortcomings. Certain that he deserved more severe punishment for his sins than others did, he would overlook their worst offenses. He was tireless in his efforts to reform the criminal, and he would sit up with the sick to bring them comfort. For the poor he would provide food, clothing, and medicine. He did all he could to provide for poor farmhands, blacks and mulattoes who were looked down upon as slaves, the dregs of society in their time. Common people responded by calling him "Martin the charitable."

The virtuous example and even the conversation of this saintly man exerted a powerful influence in drawing people to religion. It is remarkable how even today his influence can still move us toward the things of heaven. Sad to say, not all of us understand these spiritual values as well as we should, nor do we give them a proper place in our lives. Many of us, in fact, strongly attracted by sin, may look upon these values as of little moment, even something of a nuisance, or we ignore them altogether. It is deeply rewarding for people striving for salvation to follow in Christ's footsteps and to obey God's commandments. If only everyone could learn this lesson from the example that Martin gave us.

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Saturday, November 02, 2002

Let us pray for all who have gone before us: the Kaddish

Let His great Name be magnified and sanctified
in the world which He created according to His will.
And may He establish His Kingdom
in your life and in your days,
and in the life of all Israel,
speedily, and at a near time.

Let us say, Amen.

Let His great Name be blessed
for ever and in all eternity.
Let be blessed
and praised
and glorified
and extolled
and exalted
and honored
and elevated
and lauded,
the Name of the Holy One.

Blessed be He
above all the blessings and hymns,
praises and consolations,
which are said in the world.

Let us say, Amen.

May there be abundant peace from heaven,
and life for us and for all Israel.

Let us say, Amen.

He who makes peace in His high heavens,
may He make peace for us
and for all Israel.

Let us say, Amen.
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The best writing on Purgatory I've seen
is by C. S. Lewis and is currently posted over at Gerard's blog. Go there and read it. Rejoice in the Lord's mudroom, and in the full and complete restoration we are promised in Christ.
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Friday, November 01, 2002

Your wish is my command: some morning offerings

I've been requested to explain what the prayers are that I mention by name in the post on spiritual exercise programs. Here goes!

The morning offering comes in many flavors, composed over many centuries; here are three samples to choose from. After you've had some experience with prayer, you might end up composing your own version, who knows?

version one:
My Lord, my God, thank you for giving me another day in which to praise and serve You. I offer this new day and everything in it back to You, my Lord, for Your honor and Your glory, and so You may make me more conformed to You. Help me in my weakness, Lord, that I may be made worthy of the glorious promises You have made. Keep me faithful to You this day, for Your love and Your covenant fidelity are forever. Amen.

version two [I'm pretty sure this was the one on Grandma Falter's mirror]:
Most holy and adorable Trinity, one God in three Persons, I firmly believe that You are here present; I adore You with the most profound humility; I praise You and give You thanks with all my heart for the favors You have bestowed on me. Your goodness has brought me safely to the beginning of this day. Behold, O Lord, I offer You my whole being and in particular all my thoughts, words, and actions, together with such crosses and contradictions as I may meet with in the course of this day. Give them, O Lord, Your blessing; may Your divine Love animate them and may they tend to the greater honor and glory of Your sovereign majesty. Amen.

version three [short and sweet]:
O my God, I offer to You all my thoughts, works, joys, and sufferings of this day. And I beg You to grant me Your grace that I may not offend You this day; but may faithfully serve You and do Your holy will in all things. Amen.

The Benedictus canticle is Luke 1:68-79, the song Zachariah sang to and about his newborn son, John the Baptist.

Psalm 51 is also called the "Miserere," after its first word in Latin.
Psalm 130 is also called the "De profundis" or "Out of the depths," also after its first words.

The Magnificat canticle is Luke 1: 46-55, Mary's song when Elizabeth greets her at the visitation.

Thanks for your questions. There's a level two coming, and I'm not going to wait a full two months before posting it, but I will wait a week or two --- just like physical training, if you jump ahead too fast you can hurt yourself, or get discouraged and give up, which is no good. Slow, steady, easy is the way to proceed.
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