Monday, June 30, 2003

A burden and a responsibility

In and in union with the whole Church, and with Peter, being a bishop and holding the office of metropolitan is not an award or an honor; it is a burden and a great and sacred responsibility. As a remembrance of that (as if that were forgetable!) metropolitans wear a vestment called a pallium, a symbolic yoke, given to them on the feast of SS. Peter and Paul by the one who holds the Petrine office. Our archbishop received his pallium yesterday:



May the Lord continue to bless and uphold him, and +Richard and +Rembert, and all the bishops, and also all of us.
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St. Raymond Lull, evangelizer and martyr

Today is the memorial day of St. Raymond. He was a son of a noble family in the Balearic Islands. In due time he served in the royal court, attaining the rank of majordomo of the household. However, he became more and more aware of the emptiness of his life, and set out to lead a new one. He left the royal court, renounced his property, entered the Secular Franciscan community, and determined to spread the kingdom of Christ by the conversion of the Muslims.

To advance that determination, he established a college where Friars Minor could be instructed in the various languages, especially Arabic, that they would need in the Muslim missions. Once the college began to thrive, he became a hermit, withdrawing into solitude at Mount Randa, and remaining there for nearly a decade. After that time, he became a wandering evangelizer, preaching all over Europe and establishing seminaries in many places to train Catholic missioners.

Eventually he arrived at Bougie in North Africa, and, just as he did everywhere else, preached the glories of Jesus Christ. He was arrested there, and scheduled for execution, but some merchants entreated the authorities and Raymond was released. In due time, however, there was another opportunity to go to Bougie, and he went. He was immediately recognised, thrown out of the city, and stoned by a riotous mob who left him for dead. He wasn't quite, though; the sailors of a ship newly arrived in port found him, took him aboard, and sailed to Majorca, where Raymond died of his injuries just as they arrived in port there, June 29th, 1315.
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Sunday, June 29, 2003

a week of novenas

Robert Waldrop, the keeper of the "Access to Catholic Social Justice Teaching" site linked in my sidebar, has sent this notice:

Today is the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and once again we are publishing our call to a week of novenas for justice, peace, and holiness, 63 days of intercessory prayer.

The prayers can be found online at http://www.justpeace.org/2003novena.htm .

I know I am late getting this announcement out, but I'm sure Our Lady is not a bureaucrat so if you get this a day or two or three after we've started, I'm sure it will be fine to commence these prayers whenever you see this notice. This will be the fourth summer of this devotion.

Robert Waldrop
Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House, Oklahoma City

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Thursday, June 26, 2003

St. Bonaventure on the pierced heart of Jesus, our fountain of life: from the day's Office of Readings

Take thought now, redeemed man, and consider how great and worthy is he who hangs on the cross for you. His death brings the dead to life, but at his passing heaven and earth are plunged into mourning and hard rocks are split asunder.

It was a divine decree that permitted one of the soldiers to open his sacred side with a lance. This was done so that the Church might be formed from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death on the cross, and so that the Scripture might be fulfilled:
They shall look on him whom they pierced. The blood and water which poured out at that moment were the price of our salvation. Flowing from the secret abyss of our Lord’s heart as from a fountain, this stream gave the sacraments of the Church the power to confer the life of grace, while for those already living in Christ it became a spring of living water welling up to life everlasting.

Arise, then, beloved of Christ! Imitate the dove
that nests in a hole in the cliff, keeping watch at the entrance like the sparrow that finds a home. There like the turtledove hide your little ones, the fruit of your chaste love. Press your lips to the fountain, draw water from the wells of your Saviour; for this is the spring flowing out of the middle of paradise, dividing into four rivers, inundating devout hearts, watering the whole earth and making it fertile.

Run with eager desire to this source of life and light, all you who are vowed to God’s service. Come, whoever you may be, and cry out to him with all the strength of your heart. "O indescribable beauty of the most high God and purest radiance of eternal light! Life that gives all life, light that is the source of every other light, preserving in everlasting splendour the myriad flames that have shone before the throne of your divinity from the dawn of time! Eternal and inaccessible fountain, clear and sweet stream flowing from a hidden spring, unseen by mortal eye! None can fathom your depths nor survey your boundaries, none can measure your breadth, nothing can sully your purity. From you flows
the river which gladdens the city of God and makes us cry out with joy and thanksgiving in hymns of praise to you, for we know by our own experience that with you is the source of life, and in your light we see light".
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On the steadfast love and covenant fidelity of God: Romans 8: 35 ff.

Who shall separate us from Christ's love for us? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or hunger, or nakedness, or danger, or the sword? Even as it is written: "For your sake we are put to death all the day long, we are regarded as sheep for the slaughter." But in all these things we are more than victorious, through him who has loved us. I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature can separate us from God's love for us, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
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Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

May we always be unafraid and graced to place all our troubles and faults, sins and stupidities, in our Lord and Beloved's all-good, ever-faithful, totally loving and merciful Heart.
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Wednesday, June 25, 2003

One year ago today

It was one year ago today that +Timothy Michael Dolan was named to come to us, here in Milwaukee. This coming Sunday, in Rome, he will receive the symbolic yoke worn by metropolitans, the pallium --- just in case it should ever slip his mind (how could it?) that he is a servant and a bearer of burdens. Pray for him, and the 600 or so faithful who are accompanying him to Rome for this ceremony, and for me, that I don't hold jealousy of them.

JOHN PAUL
BISHOP
SERVANT OF THE SERVANTS OF GOD

To the Venerable Brother TIMOTHY MICHAEL DOLAN, up to now titular Bishop of Natchez and also Auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis, transferred to the currently vacant Archiepiscopal See of Milwaukee, greetings and apostolic blessing.

While, indeed, it is with great joy and comfort that we think about the beauty of the City of Milwaukee and the strength of its flourishing Catholic community, yet, at the same time, we turn our solicitous attention today to the pastoral needs of that beloved flock, inasmuch as it is without its own shepherd and moderator of archdiocesan life and activity, due to the resignation on account of the age established by law of the Venerable Brother Rembert George Weakland, O.S.B., after almost twenty-five years of continuous governance. Therefore, in order that a worthy ordinary might again be provided in his place as soon as possible, we turn to you, Venerable Brother, whom just about one year ago we very confidently called to carry out important Episcopal duties in the church and whom since that time we from afar and indeed happily have observed as one who acts skillfully, discerns wisely, and ardently devotes himself to the tasks of each day.

According, accepting the opinion of the congregation for bishops, without any hesitation on our part we, by means of this letter, appoint you Metropolitan Archbishop of Milwaukee, at the same time endowing you with all the rights and privileges but also imposing the obligations and responsibilities, which the sacred canons connect with this same appointment and the administration of an archbishop.

You will, of course, at the appropriate time take care that the beloved clergy and faithful of Milwaukee are duly and publicly informed about this our will, our decision, and our appointment concerning you. And, as if present there ourselves, we encourage all of them, in proportion to the greatness of their hospitality and faith, to welcome you as benevolently as possible upon your entry into this office now and to adhere to you as your gently teach and lead them into the future.

Taking into consideration the importance of your new office and the great expectations connected to your pastoral activity, which already today Mother Church recognizes, we likewise exhort you, Venerable Brother, to embark upon your ministry with all your strength and to bring about abundant fruit in the community of Milwaukee, promoting devotion to the Eucharist, the source of all graces, and fostering the honor of Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the companion of your activity, especially under the title of “Help of Christians”, who from on high will always enlighten you with counsel, strengthen you will comfort, and prosper you with favorable outcome.

Given at Rome, at St. Peter’s, on the twenty-fifth day of the month of June, in the year two thousand two, the twenty-fourth of our Pontificate.

JOHN PAUL II
Marcello Rossetti,
Protonotary Apostolic

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Tuesday, June 24, 2003

I'm kind of dry and uninspired right now, but....

.....our dear Steven of Flos Carmeli is on a roll! Go to his place and keep on reading, all the way back past the weekend. All kinds of wondrous things, on humility, on obedience, on why in the world we want to be saints, on detatchment. Not even one clinker found by me. As soon as you're finished here, go see him!

Also, for those who follow the yawlping listserv, I'm still working on that tracts idea. I'll let you know more soon.
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Sunday, June 22, 2003

St. Thomas Aquinas (teaching, not singing) on the holy Eucharist: from today's Office of Readings

Since it was the will of God’s only-begotten Son that men should share in his divinity, he assumed our nature in order that by becoming man he might make men gods. Moreover, when he took our flesh he dedicated the whole of its substance to our salvation. He offered his body to God the Father on the altar of the cross as a sacrifice for our reconciliation. He shed his blood for our ransom and purification, so that we might be redeemed from our wretched state of bondage and cleansed from all sin. But to ensure that the memory of so great a gift would abide with us for ever, he left his body as food and his blood as drink for the faithful to consume in the form of bread and wine.

O precious and wonderful banquet, that brings us salvation and contains all sweetness! Could anything be of more intrinsic value? Under the old law it was the flesh of calves and goats that was offered, but here Christ himself, the true God, is set before us as our food. What could be more wonderful than this? No other sacrament has greater healing power; through it sins are purged away, virtues are increased, and the soul is enriched with an abundance of every spiritual gift. It is offered in the Church for the living and the dead, so that what was instituted for the salvation of all may be for the benefit of all. Yet, in the end, no one can fully express the sweetness of this sacrament, in which spiritual delight is tasted at its very source, and in which we renew the memory of that surpassing love for us which Christ revealed in his passion.

It was to impress the vastness of this love more firmly upon the hearts of the faithful that our Lord instituted this sacrament at the Last Supper. As he was on the point of leaving the world to go to the Father, after celebrating the Passover with his disciples, he left it as a perpetual memorial of his passion. It was the fulfilment of ancient figures and the greatest of all his miracles, while for those who were to experience the sorrow of his departure, it was destined to be a unique and abiding consolation.

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Corpus Christi: St. Thomas Aquinas' hymn

I shall praise the Savior's glory,
of His flesh the mystery sing,
and the blood, all price excelling,
shed by our immortal King;
God made man for our salvation,
Who from virgin pure did spring.

Born for us, and for us given,
born a man like us below,
Christ as man with man residing,
lived the seed of truth to sow,
suffered bitter death unflinching,
and immortal love did show.

On the night before He suffered,
seated with His chosen band,
Jesus, when they all had feasted,
faithful to the law's command,
far more precious food provided;
gave Himself with His own hand.

Word made flesh, true bread of heaven
by His word made flesh to be;
from the wine His blood is taken,
though our senses cannot see;
faith alone which is unshaken
shows pure hearts the mystery.

Therefore we, before Him falling,
this great sacrament revere;
ancient forms are now departed,
for new acts of grace are here;
faith our feeble senses aiding,
makes the Savior's presence clear.

To the everlasting Father,
and to His Son Who reigns on high,
with the Holy Ghost proceeding
forth from each eternally,
be all honor, glory, blessing,
power and endless majesty. Amen.
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Friday, June 20, 2003

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us....."

Mother Church is very wise; she keeps telling us what we need to hear even in those times when we'd rather not hear it. I'm right now tangled in one of the listservs with a gentleman who seems to think he can read the souls of utter strangers.....and some of the newsblogs' comment boxes [roll eyeballs]....

Here's the teaching the Church assigns for us today in the Office of Readings, a continuation of the teaching of St. Cyprian that we've had all week and that I blogged earlier this week. St. Cyprian writes:

Christ has clearly added a law here, binding us to a definite condition, that we should ask for our debts to be forgiven us only as much as we ourselves forgive our debtors, knowing that we cannot obtain what we seek in respect of our own sins unless we ourselves have acted in exactly the same way to those who have sinned against us. This is why he says in another place: By whatever standard you measure, by that standard will you too be measured. And the servant who had all his debt forgiven him by his master but would not forgive his fellow-servant was cast into prison: because he would not forgive his fellow-servant, he lost the indulgence that his master had granted him.

And Christ makes this point even more strongly in his teaching:
When you stand up to pray, he says, if you have anything against anyone, forgive it, so that your Father who is in heaven may forgive your sins. But if you do not forgive, nor will your Father in heaven forgive you. On the day of judgement there are no possible excuses: you will be judged according to your own sentence, and whatever you have inflicted, that is what you will suffer.

For God commands us to be peacemakers, and to agree, and
to be of one mind in his house. What he has made us by the second birth he wishes us to continue during our infancy, that we who have begun to be children of God may abide in his peace, and that having one spirit we should also have one heart and one mind. Thus God does not accept the sacrifice of one who is in disagreement but commands him to go back from the altar and first be reconciled with his brother, so that God may be placated by the prayers of a peacemaker. Our peace and concord are the greatest possible sacrifice to God –-- a people united in the unity of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Not even when Abel and Cain were making the first sacrifice --– not even then did God pay attention to their gifts. He looked into their hearts, and the gift that was acceptable was the one offered by the one who was acceptable in his heart. Abel, peaceable and righteous in sacrificing in innocence to God, taught the rest of us that when we bring our gift to the altar we should come, like him, with the fear of God, with a heart free of deceit, with the law of righteousness, with the peace of concord. He sacrificed in such a way, and so he was worthy to become, afterwards, himself a sacrifice to God: he who bore witness through the first martyrdom, who initiated the Lord’s passion by the glory of his blood, had both the Lord’s righteousness and the Lord’s peace. Such are those who are crowned by the Lord at the end; such are those who will sit and judge with him on the day of judgement.

But he who quarrels and stirs up discord, he who is not at peace with his brethren --– the Apostle and holy Scripture together testify that even if he meets death for the sake of Christ’s name, he will still be held guilty of fraternal dissension, for it is written,
whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and the murderer cannot attain the kingdom of heaven or abide with God. No one can be with Christ who preferred to imitate Judas rather than Christ.

Hard, frightening, and _true_. Gerard is correct in what he posts today. Fast and pray today for and with our burdened bishops, and also that we ourselves not be brought to the test.
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Wednesday, June 18, 2003

We gather in the holy Presence: the time before the 8 a.m. Eucharist
(instigated by talk in Gerard's comment box)

Transit Plus was very early. It's not even seven yet.
I sit outside the doors, tell the driver he doesn't have to stay.
The doors should be open already, they will be soon.
I pound a couple of times, then open my hands to pray.

Very soon, only minutes,
and one of the Fathers Carl appears with the keys, unlocks, and lets me in.
Just inside the doors, I greet Mater Ecclesiae.
She steps forward faithfully, right off her pedestal,
following her Son, her Lord, her Redemption.
But now is not the time to linger. He calls, He draws.

I keep moving, pause to bow to His altar,
where His one offering is made always present for us.
But I don't linger there either, not right now.
There's time later for His altar. He calls, He draws.
Also time later for His ambo, where the Word's words are proclaimed.
I caress it as I pass it. He calls, He draws.

I keep moving, until I arrive.
I lock my wheels at the bottom of the steps.
Before me, in the space at the top of the few steps,
is His Tabernacle, where He deigns to dwell.
Not now as a pillar of cloud, not as a pillar of fire,
but as food for our journey;
the food is He Himself.
I am, finally, where I belong.

I bow before the Mystery, and stay bowed awhile.
When I rise up, I smile at Blessed John
who looks over my left shoulder.
I take off the padded pushing gloves,
unzip the Liturgy of Hours book,
and open my hands.
"O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will proclaim Your praise."

About halfway through the second psalm of Readings
there's a hand on my right shoulder.
I look up and grin. It's our burden-bearer,
the one who has to wear the purple beanie.
We exchange a few words and a blessing,
he goes up the steps and settles in the right-hand corner.
(His Liturgy of Hours book doesn't have a zipper.)
The Presence calls him, the Presence draws him.

Smile at the Presence, take a deep breath,
and return to the psalms.
Others come and go.
Some I notice, some I don't.
Some I recognize, some not.
He calls them and draws them also.

During the first Morning Prayer psalm
the lady who sells nutrition supplements arrives,
taps me on the shoulder.
I assure her "I'm recovering nicely, thank you,"
then she goes up the steps and settles in the left-hand corner.
(Her Bible has gold edges.)
My surgeon's here somewhere also;
I never see him, but he sees me.
He talks about this place when he examines the incision.
They are called, they are drawn.

So many come.
Some settle in, like Nutrition-Supplement Seller and Burden-Bearer and me.
Some just stop for a few minutes, kneeling on the prie-dieus or even on the steps.
They all are called, they all are drawn.

Soon, it will be the time for the ambo and for the altar.
"May the Lord bless us, deliver us from all evil, and bring us to everlasting life.
Let us praise the Lord and give Him thanks."
Kiss the Hours book, close it and zip it back up.
Bow again a while, then unlock my wheels and proceed.
Soon, we find our places under the corona,
around the altar of the Lord.
One family in Him, all called, all drawn,
to this place which is home to Him and home to us.
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We never pray by ourselves or for ourselves alone

This week in the Liturgy of the Hours we are presented with the teachings of St. Cyprian on the Lord's Prayer. I'm a mostly-housebound anchor hold dweller, which means that I pray all by myself a lot. So each time the Eleventh week of Ordinary Time comes, and these teachings of St Cyprian, they are particularly striking.

This from Monday's passage:
Above all, he who preaches peace and unity did not want us to pray by ourselves in private or for ourselves alone. We do not say "My Father, who art in heaven," nor "give me this day my daily bread." It is not for himself alone that each person asks to be forgiven, not to be led into temptation, or to be delivered from evil. Rather, we pray in public as a community, and not for an individual but for all. For the people of God are all one.
.....Scripture relates:
They all joined together in continuous prayer, with the women including Mary, the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. They all joined together in continuous prayer. The urgency and the unity of their prayer declares that God, who fashions a bond of unity among those who live in his home, will admit into his divine home for all eternity only those who pray in unity.

So even when I am all by myself, I am not alone. I cannot and must not be.

St Cyprian proceeds to teach on the Lord's Prayer, one clause at a time. In today's portion, we pray that "Your will be done on earth as in heaven," and he writes:

This is not that God should do what he wills, but so that we may be able to do what God wills. For who could resist God in such a way as to prevent him doing what he wills? But since the devil hinders us from obeying, by thought and by deed, God’s will in all things, we pray and ask that God’s will may be done in us. For this to happen, we need God’s good will – that is, his help and protection, since no-one is strong in and of himself but is kept safe by the grace and mercy of God. Moreover, the Lord, showing the weakness of the humanity which he bore, said Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me, and showing his disciples an example, that they should do not their own will but God’s, he went on to say nevertheless, let it not be my will, but yours.
But it is the will of God that Christ both did and taught. Humility in dealings with others; steadfastness in faith; modesty in words; justice in deeds; mercifulness in works; discipline in morals. To be unable to do a wrong, and to be able to bear a wrong when it is done; to keep peace with the brethren; to love God with all one’s heart; to love God because he is a Father but fear him because he is God; to prefer nothing whatever to Christ because he preferred nothing to us; to adhere inseparably to his love; to stand faithfully and bravely by his cross; when there is any conflict over his name and honour, to exhibit in discourse that steadfastness in which we proclaim him; in torture, to show that confidence in which we unite; in death, that patience in which we are crowned – this is what it means to want to be co-heirs with Christ, this is what it means to do what God commands, this is what it is to fulfil the will of the Father.


And as we beg it of Him, it is our Lord, always, that grants us the strength to endure, and the gift to form again, properly, our lives and our whole world.

Holy Church gives us more of this teaching right through the weekend, so later in the week I'll likely be posting more of it. Maybe when it gets to "forgive us....as we forgive...."?
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Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Be not afraid. Step forward faithfully. Cast out into the deep. Be saints

Chaos is breaking out all over again --- but that is no excuse to despair. It only means that we hold on tight to our foundations and pray all the more. Especially us Milwaukeans, who only a year ago were at the center of the firestorm ourselves, and learned to offer up our suffering as a gift, have a responsibility to pray for the faithful of Phoenix in their time of crisis. We have been there before them, and have learned, and therefore must intercede all the more. It once was us, for less cause, not very long ago.

Jesus, Lamb of God, have mercy on us.
Mary Theotokos, Mother of the Church, pray for us.
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Saturday, June 14, 2003

and even the iconographers......St. Andrei Rublev, thank you!

For your edification, two unusual icons appropriate for the feast. Unfortunately I can't bring either of them here since they do not have their own no-text jpg pages; I'll have to send you to them instead.

From Fr. Frederick Crowe's biography of Fr. Bernard Lonergan, SJ:

.....in the mystery of the trinitarian processions, and through life to Method in Theology and beyond, in the welter of words that with other theologians it was his vocation to utter, Lonergan never lost what Thomas above all theologians could teach, that theology can be done, must be done, that when it is done, we are confronted with mystery and bow our heads in adoration.

"Holy Theologian Bernard Lonergan in the Mystery of the Eternal Processions of the Most Blessed Trinity"

and,

Venerable Dorothy Day of New York City to Robert Coles: If I have accomplished anything in my life, it is because I wasn't embarrassed to talk about God.

"Venerable Dorothy Day Overseen by the Holy Visitors to Abraham"
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Trinity Sunday: just because it's a mystery......

The Trinity of God is a fact. It is also a mystery. By definition we cannot comprehend it fully in this life, and maybe not even in the next. Yet that does not keep wise and holy people from adoring and from trying to understand, in every age and place.

This is this feast's reading from the Office of Readings; St. Athanasius' attempt at speaking of this great truth and mystery:

It will not be out of place to consider the ancient tradition, teaching and faith of the Catholic Church, which was revealed by the Lord, proclaimed by the apostles and guarded by the fathers. For upon this faith the Church is built, and if anyone were to lapse from it, he would no longer be a Christian either in fact or in name.

We acknowledge the Trinity, holy and perfect, to consist of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In this Trinity there is no intrusion of any alien element or of anything from outside, nor is the Trinity a blend of creative and created being. It is a wholly creative and energising reality, self-consistent and undivided in its active power, for the Father makes all things through the Word and in the Holy Spirit, and in this way the unity of the holy Trinity is preserved. Accordingly, in the Church, one God is preached, one God who is
above all things and through all things and in all things. God is above all things as Father, for he is principle and source; he is through all things through the Word; and he is in all things in the Holy Spirit.

Writing to the Corinthians about spiritual matters, Paul traces all reality back to one God, the Father, saying:
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of service but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in everyone.

Even the gifts that the Spirit dispenses to individuals are given by the Father through the Word. For all that belongs to the Father belongs also to the Son, and so the graces given by the Son in the Spirit are true gifts of the Father. Similarly, when the Spirit dwells in us, the Word who bestows the Spirit is in us too, and the Father is present in the Word. This is the meaning of the text:
My Father and I will come to him and make our home with him. For where the light is, there also is the radiance; and where the radiance is, there too are its power and its resplendent grace.

This is also Paul’s teaching in his second letter to the Corinthians:
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. For grace and the gift of the Trinity are given by the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. Just as grace is given from the Father through the Son, so there could be no communication of the gift to us except in the Holy Spirit. But when we share in the Spirit, we posses the love of the Father, the grace of the Son and the fellowship of the Spirit himself.
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Discovering a new Catholic blog

I discovered a new blog today, kept by a young man named Nathaniel, who, it seems, could really use our prayers these days.

He is a Catholic
conscientious objector
Army Ranger
who's a student at West Point
.

See what I mean about praying?

Yesterday he blogged:

Again, God proves to me that the obstacles I forsee are the ones he has already taken care of. The flip side to it, the one that keeps me from celebrating, is knowing that he has also laid out for me his hidden disciplines. Through such assured future suffering, I have a golden opportunity to come closer to Him.

What a miracle life is!


It is reminiscent to me of a lot of deserter and conscientious objector Catholic saints all the way back to St. Maximilian the Great Martyr.

Another Catholic conscientious objector, the martyr Franz Jagerstatter, wrote to his wife and daughters not long before his execution:

Through His bitter suffering and death, Christ freed us only from eternal death, not from temporal suffering and mortal death. But Christ, too, demands a public confession of our faith, just as the Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler does from his followers. ...... I am convinced that it is still best that I speak the truth, even if it costs me my life....... I cannot and may not take an oath in favor of a government that is fighting an unjust war. ..... I thank my dear Jesus, too, that I am privileged to suffer and even die for Him ..... the heart of Jesus, the heart of Mary, and my own heart are one, united for time and eternity. Mary with Child so dear, give us all your blessings!

So, stop sometime today and pray for Nathaniel, and any other of our brothers and sisters who may be in a similar situation. And pay his blog "Eclipsoul" a visit or three, it looks like it will become quite fruitful.
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There's really much more to "accepting Jesus Christ" than coercing young nerds into apostacy.

Bishop Richard Sklba, meditating on a large pile of Confirmation letters [we didn't write confirmation letters when I was a confirmand!], wrote in Thursday's Catholic Herald on accepting Jesus as one's personal Savior.
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from the desert: sometimes you just can't escape.....

from St John Cassian's Conferences

When Pinuphius was presiding as abba and priest over a large coenobium not very far from Panephysis (in Egypt), the whole province was making so much of him because of the glory of his virtues and his miracles that he seemed to himself to have already received the reward of his labors in the remuneration of human praise, and he feared in particular that the detestable vanity of popularity might deprive him of the fruit of an eternal reward. So he secretly fled his monastery and hastened to the remote retreat of the monks of Tabenna, where he chose not the solitude of the desert and the security of a life by himself --- which even some who are imperfect pursue, often with proud presumption, not enduring the labor of obedience in the cenobia --- but rather submission in a thronging coenobium.

And when he put on worldly clothing, lest he be noticed because of anything that he was wearing, and for many days lay weeping before the doors, as the custom is in that place, and embraced the knees of everyone after having experienced the protracted disdain of those who said, in order to test his desire, that he had been compelled by hunger in his old age and was not really seeking the holiness of that chosen orientation, he at last gained admission. There, having been assigned to help a certain young brother who was in charge of the garden, he not only carried out with marvelous holy humility everything that this same overseer would order and that the work imposed on him demanded, but he also took care of certain necessary chores that were avoided by the others through disgust. This he did stealthily and at night, so that when morning broke the whole community was astonished and did not know who was performing such useful tasks.

But when he had thus spent nearly three years there, rejoicing in the longed-for labors of his burdensome submission, it happened that a certain brother who was known to him arrived from those parts of Egypt that he himself had left. This person hesitated for a long time, because of the meanness of his clothing and of his work prevented immediate recognition, but, after looking him over closely, he embraced his knees and thereupon astonished all the brothers. Then, uttering his name, which was well known among them on account of the report of his extraordinary holiness, he made them feel compunction for having assigned a man of such worth, and a priest, to such burdensome tasks.

But after he was led back to his own monastery --- weeping copiously and imputing to diabolical envy what seemed to him a grave case of betrayal --- in the honorable custody of his brothers, and had stayed there a short while, he once again grew dismayed at the attention that was being paid to his fame and his high position. So, stealthily taking passage on a boat, he went off to the province of Palestine in Syria. There he was accepted as a beginner and a novice in a house of the monastery where we were staying, and he was ordered by the abba to live in our cell. But his virtue and his worth could not remain hidden there for long, to be sure, for by a similar betrayal he was discovered and brought back to his own monastery with considerable honor and praise.

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Friday, June 13, 2003

The Pallium Lecture links I promised
(I hope this works, Blogger's being strange; I can't get into pro and the interface is downright weird tonight, no spellcheck either!)

The Catholic Herald interview with Avery Cardinal Dulles.,
and their article on George Weigel's lecture.

And, from archmil.org, the full text of Cardinal Dulles' lecture (but George Weigel's isn't posted yet!)

Have fun!
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Thursday, June 12, 2003

Urgent, but happy, prayer request!

Please hold in your prayers Todd Reitmeyer, the blogkeeper of "Musings of a Catholic Seminarian," who is being ordained to the priesthood tomorrow at 11 a.m. Central Time. The Lord said through His prophet Ezekiel that He Himself would give us shepherds.
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Amateur radio operators say it with wavelengths, and other quips about RF......

You might recall from back when that my little anchor hold has "a few antennas." This morning's The Connection radio program was about those antennas, and what people like me, amateur radio operators, do with them. Here is a web page with an audio link to the program. It was very accurate and also entertaining.

To me, it roused a duty you might wany to join me in. Please especially remember in your prayers this day W6QYI, who, in his non-ham life, is the bishop where my brothers Tom and Jim live. Reading the other bloggers, seems he could use some extra intercesion right about now, even more than the rest of our bishops.

And, a smile for today. In the world of licenced radio operation, all male operators are old men, OMs, whether they are four years old or 104, and all female operators are young ladies, YLs, whether they are 95 or only five. Therefore, thanks to the graciousness of the Federal Communications Commission, I will never grow old.

karen marie, amateur radio operator N9GNG
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Pallium Lecture III --- Avery Cardinal Dulles

I'm just about recovered from Tuesday. Not only did I attend the Pallium Lecture, but earlier in the afternoon I was at the Transit Plus office, proving to the paratransit bureaucrats that I was still qualified for service. And, waiting for the van after the lecture, I got eaten alive by the notorious Cousins Center mosquitos. A bit too much for one day.

Cardinal Dulles' lecture, on the teaching ministry of the Petrine office, was predictably excellent, and extremely dense; I didn't have to take notes as furiously even in my grad school days. There's an excellent article on it on the Catholic Herald front page today, later tonight I'll hunt for its url and link it here. If I don't find a url, I'll transcribe it; I doubt the Publisher will mind, and if he does, I'll claim it's payback for making me blush in Cardinal Dulles' reception line [big grin here]. And, of course, I still intend to post links to the full text of this lecture and of George Weigel's just as soon as archmil.org makes them available.
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Tuesday, June 10, 2003

On the Ember Days --- 11, 13, 14 June 2003

Our daily bread does not come from Cargill or from Archer Daniels Midland.
It doesn't come from General Foods, Kraft, or Nabisco,
or even from Brownberry or Natural Ovens of Manitowoc.

Our daily bread is given us by the Lord,
the creator of the heavens and the earth.
It comes from the fertility of the good earth;
it is nourished by the sunlight
and by the snows and the rains in the proper seasons;
it is nurtured and gathered and prepared
by our sisters and our brothers
who work very hard for very little
on our farms and ranches and in our gardens,
in our canneries and bakeries and dairies and slaughterhouses.

This we must remember:
Our food does not come from Pick 'n Save or from Sentry Foods or from Jewel-Osco.
Costco and Sam's Club cannot create a single green bean or tomato.
Only God can.

God created the earth, and He created the earthworms, and the soil microbes.
God created the plants, and also the trees that bear nuts and fruits.
God created the bees, the hummingbirds, and all the other little pollinating creatures.
God created us, and commanded us to nurture the plants and the animals, to care for His garden.
He told us to have dominion and to subdue them, shaping them to our needs.

We can plant seeds. We can tend animals.
Yet, only God can make a plant grow.
Only God can create calves, chicks, lambs, ducklings, and piglets.
Only God has power over the often-chaotic patterns of the weather.

So, four times each year,
at the turning of the seasons,
Mother Church, being very wise,
gives us some days to fast and pray
that the earth may be fruitful,
that our plants and our livestock will stay healthy,
that the rains and the dry times and the snow cover come at the proper times,
that the cyclones and the floods and the insect swarms stay far away from us,
that our sisters and our brothers who do the work
that takes our food from a seed planted to a can on the grocery store shelf
will always be treated with respect and with justice.

These days, the Ember Days, are this week.
Let us not forget.
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Monday, June 09, 2003

St. Ephrem's Great Prayer



[Making a prostration]

O LORD, Master of my life, grant that I may not be infected with the spirit of slothfulness and inquisitiveness, with the spirit of ambition and vain talking.

[Making a prostration]

Grant instead to me, your servant, the spirit of purity and of humility, the spirit of patience and neighborly love.

[Making a prostration]

O Lord and King, grant me the grace of being aware of my sins and of not thinking evil of those of my brethren.

For you are blessed, now and ever, and forever.

Amen.

Lord Jesus Christ, King of Kings, You have power over life and death. You know what is secret and hidden, and neither our thoughts nor our feelings are concealed from You. Cure me of duplicity; I have done evil before You.

Now my life declines from day to day and my sins increase. O Lord, God of souls and bodies, You know the extreme frailty of my soul and my flesh. Grant me strength in my weakness, O Lord, and sustain me in my misery.

Give me a grateful soul that I may never cease to recall Your benefits, O Lord most bountiful. Be not mindful of my many sins, but forgive me all my misdeeds.

O Lord, disdain not my prayer --- the prayer of a wretched sinner; sustain me with Your grace until the end, that it may protect me as in the past. It is Your grace which has taught me wisdom; blessed are they who follow her ways, for they shall receive the crown of glory.

In spite of my unworthiness, I praise You and I glorify You, O Lord, for Your mercy to me is without limit. You have been my help and my protection. May the name of Your majesty be praised forever. To you, our God, be glory. Amen.
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"Lord, grant me to see my own sins, and not to judge my brother": St. Ephrem the Syrian

The other of today's two great saints is Ephrem the Syrian, deacon, desert father, poet-mystic, doctor of the Church. His work The Pearl can be found in the Christian Classics Ethereal Library linked in my sidebar. His great prayer, partially quoted in the headline, has always been considered a great gift to the Church and has been heavily used in liturgy in the Churches of the east, especially in Great Lent. It also, for myself personally, made a very good life-ring during the chaos and confusion that began Milwaukee's long Dormition Fast last year. Also pray for the blogger known as Dylan Tenelux, who is still hospitalized. He has, in the past, mentioned having a special devotion to St Ephrem.

In today's Office of Readings, our Church offers us a passage from a sermon by Ephrem:

Lord, shed upon our darkened souls the brilliant light of your wisdom so that we may be enlightened and serve you with renewed purity. Sunrise marks the hour for men to begin their toil, but in our souls, Lord, prepare a dwelling for the day that will never end. Grant that we may come to know the risen life and that nothing may distract us from the delights you offer. Through our unremitting zeal for you, Lord, set upon us the sign of your day that is not measured by the sun.

In your sacrament we daily embrace you and receive you into our bodies; make us worthy to experience the resurrection for which we hope. We have had your treasure hidden within us ever since we received baptismal grace; it grows ever richer at your sacramental table. Teach us to find our joy in your favor! Lord, we have within us your memorial, received at your spiritual table; let us possess it in its full reality when all things shall be made new.

We glimpse the beauty that is laid up for us when we gaze upon the spiritual beauty your immortal will now creates within our mortal selves.

Savior, your crucifixion marked the end of your mortal life; teach us to crucify ourselves and make way for our life in the Spirit. May your resurrection, Jesus, bring true greatness to our spiritual self and may your sacraments be the mirror wherein we may know that self.

Savior, your divine plan for the world is a mirror for the spiritual world; teach us to walk in that world as spiritual men.

Lord, do not deprive our souls of the spiritual vision of you nor our bodies of your warmth and sweetness. The mortality lurking in our bodies spreads corruption through us; may the spiritual waters of your love cleanse the effects of mortality from our hearts. Grant, Lord, that we may hasten to our true city and, like Moses on the mountaintop, possess it now in vision.

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St. Columba of Iona: the one who loved books



Today is the memorial day of two great saints. One of them is Columba, bard, monk, missioner, and penitent, and just plain interesting character.

He was born in Ireland, at about the same time that the young Patrick was a slave there, to a noble family, direct descendants of the great Niall. He had a great love for all kinds of learning from childhood. The legendary version of his life attributes this to the toddler Columba having eaten a cake with the alphabet letters baked inside it. He studied the bardic arts, and then, after he became a Christian, apprenticed in the monastic life under two hermits who also became saints, both of them named Finian. Then, he took up the life of a wandering bard, monastic variety, going all over Ireland wherever there were souls to be saved and new books to be read, priorities not necessarily in that order.

Now word came to Columba that a new book had arrived at the hermitage of Finian (who may have been one of the two he apprenticed under --- but Finian was a very common name at that time). So he went to the place where Finian, and his new book, dwelled; publically preaching and praying and reading the new book during the day, and secretly copying the book at night, against the command of Finian, who was very attached to having an only copy. On the night Columba finished copying the last page of the book, he was discovered, and Finian claimed the copy for himself, since there was no permission to copy. After much arguing, the case was appealed to the High King of all Ireland, who ruled in favor of Finian in this very first copyright case --- "To every cow its calf, and to every book its child book."

Columba lost his temper entirely, and called down the wrath of the O'Neills (his ancestral clan) against the High King and his armies. There was a great battle, which was won by the O'Neill forces, but at the cost of a thousand dead. Every soul of whom was a millstone on the soul of Columba. One thousand souls killed, for the sake of a book and bruised pride. In penitence, he vowed to never look upon his beloved land again. With a few companions, he sailed away; and kept sailing until they came to an island where, even at the top of the highest hill on the clearest day, there was no sight of Ireland --- Iona. There, he did penance, and he established a monastic community. From there, he sent missionaries to spread the Christian faith among the Picts and the Angles in the place now called Scotland.

And, he did once visit Ireland again, blindfolded. Many years after his exile, messengers came to him, informing him that the High King was attempting to outlaw the bardic arrts, upset at certain bards' misbehavior and also peeved at the bards' parodies of his exalted self. After much pleading, Columba agreed to be taken back to his land, to defend its stories and songs and the people who created and preserved them before the throne of the High King. Having successfully defended the bards, and having read the riot act to those individual bards who had triggered the trouble, never having looked upon the land he still loved, he returned to his exile, and lived in holiness and penitence to a revered old age.

For a book on this, go to your local public library, to the children's section, and borrow The Man Who Loved Books, by Jean Fritz. And smile.
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Sunday, June 08, 2003

St. Irenaeus on the Holy Spirit, from today's Office of Readings

When the Lord told his disciples to go and teach all nations and baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, he conferred on them the power of giving men new life in God.

He had promised through the prophets that in these last days he would pour out his Spirit on his servants and handmaids, and that they would prophesy. So when the Son of God became the Son of Man, the Spirit also descended upon him, becoming accustomed in this way to dwelling with the human race, to living in men and to inhabiting God’s creation. The Spirit accomplished the Father’s will in men who had grown old in sin, and gave them new life in Christ.

Luke says that the Spirit came down on the disciples at Pentecost, after the Lord’s ascension, with power to open the gates of life to all nations and to make known to them the new covenant. So it was that men of every language joined in singing one song of praise to God, and scattered tribes, restored to unity by the Spirit, were offered to the Father as the first-fruits of all the nations.

This was why the Lord had promised to send the Advocate: he was to prepare us as an offering to God. Like dry flour, which cannot become one lump of dough, one loaf of broad, without moisture, we who are many could not become one in Christ Jesus without the water that comes down from heaven. And like parched ground, which yields no harvest unless it receives moisture, we who were once like a waterless tree could never have lived and borne fruit without this abundant rainfall from above. Through the baptism that liberates us from change and decay we have become one in body; through the Spirit we have become one in soul.

The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and strength, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of God came down upon the Lord, and the Lord in turn gave this Spirit to his Church, sending the Advocate from heaven into all the world into which, according to his own words, the devil too had been cast down like lightning.

If we are not to be scorched and made unfruitful, we need the dew of God. Since we have our accuser, we need an advocate as well. And so the Lord in his pity for man, who had fallen into the hands of brigands, having himself bound up his wounds and left for his care two coins bearing the royal image, entrusted him to the Holy Spirit. Now, through the Spirit, the image and inscription of the Father and the Son have been given to us, and it is our duty to use the coin committed to our charge and make it yield a rich profit for the Lord.
The Cathedral Center: "Let this house proclaim from floor to rafters: all are welcome in this place"

This morning, the Cathedral Project was completed. After Mass, +Timothy and +Richard and a goodly portion of the congregation marched to the other end of the cathedral block, and the Cathedral Center for Women and their Families was blessed. [Afterwards, there was a reception for staff and certain donors --- being poor and retired I wasn't in on that --- where they distributed the "wish list" of things they still need. I've got that list in hand, in case any of my readers might be wealthy.....] They will receive their first guests tomorrow morning. [Capacity is 36 single women and 8 families]

The place is beautifully rebuilt; the years of work and millions of dollars were spent well. There's something they need, though, that isn't on their wish list. Every bed had sheets and a good, warm, but depressingly institutional grey, blanket, and no coverlet. So, tonight I get out the crochet hook and start a twin bed afghan. Maybe in a few years, if others noticed the same thing I did, there will be a full set of afghans, quilts, comforters, and bright colored coverlets to help reduce that institutionalized feeling, especially for the littler guests. I can't donate $5000 worth of washers and dryers, but I can still crochet some pretty nifty granny squares!

Here are the blessing prayers:

Lord, our God,
You whose home is in heaven and on earth,
and in that undiscovered beyond,
come and bless this shelter;
surround it with Your Holy Spirit.

Encompass all its four sides
with the power of Your protection
so that no evil or harm will come near.

May that divine blessing
shield this home from destruction, storm, sickness,
and from all that might bring evil
to those who shall live within these walls.

[sprinkle front of building w/ holy water. Make sign of Cross on the doors.]

Blessed be this doorway.
May all who come to it
be treated with respect and kindness.
May all comings and goings
be under the seal of God's loving care.

[open doors, enter]

Blessed be the offices and interview rooms.
May all who work in them
be models of God's love, care, and compassion.

Blessed be those rooms where nourishment takes place.
May all meals served here
be sacraments of the Presence of God.

Blessed be the bathrooms.
May the spirit of health and healing abide here,
teaching how to honor and love our bodies.
Blessed be the bedrooms,
for here shall all find rest, refreshment, and renewal.

May the spirit of love and affection,
together with the spirit of angelic care,
touch all who shall use these rooms.

Lord our God,
may Your divine Name be always Holy within this dwelling.
May Your Kingdom come in this place,
teaching those who live here love and respect
for themselves and for each other.

May the doors be always open to all women and children in need.
May friends who come in times of trouble and sorrow
find these doors open to them and to their needs.
May the Holy Light of God's Presence
shine forth brightly in this home,
and be a blessing for everyone who shall come to this door.

May God's blessing rest upon this shelter and all who shall dwell here
in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

[Hymn "All Are Welcome." Bishops go through building, sprinkling all areas on all floors ....]

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Our great Pentecost song: the Sequence

Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And, from thy celestial home,
shed a ray of light divine.
Come, Father of the poor.
Come, source of all our store.
Come, within our bosoms shine.

Thou, of comforters the best;
Thou, the soul's most welcome guest;
sweet refreshment here below.
In our labor, rest most sweet;
grateful coolness in the heat;
solace in the midst of woe.

Oh, most blessed Light divine,
shine within these hearts of Thine,
and our inmost being fill.
Where Thou art not, we have naught;
nothing good in deed or thought;
nothing free of taint of ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
on our dryness pour Thy dew;
wash the stains of guilt away.
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
melt the frozen, warm the chill;
guide the steps that go astray.

On the faithful, who adore
and confess Thee, evermore
in Thy sevenfold gift descend.
Give them virtue's sure reward.
Give them Thy salvation, Lord.
Give them joys that never end.
Amen! Alleluia!
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The Holy Spirit has come, the curse of Babel has been reversed!

Here you will find an interesting take on this from Jen of Meditatio.
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Saturday, June 07, 2003

more on George Weigel's Pallium Lecture

the text isn't up at archmil yet, but here is the coverage by the Journal Sentinel, and it includes an audio link to click (Real Audio, 1:12:46) for a complete recording of the lecture, for those of you who have patience with audio and don't want to wait for archmil to get around to posting the text.
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a cute one from the email box this morning:
See Jane Repent: Repentance in pre-primer

See sin?
God hates sin.
Run, Jane, run!
Go to priest.
Tell him about sin.
Priest will help.
You ask God.
God runs to you.
You run with God.
Leave sin behind.
We like God.
He helps us. :-)

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Friday, June 06, 2003

Those special priests, III
Dom Sebastian Moore OSB, Marquette University Campus Ministry, Milwaukee WI, mid-1970's to early 80's.

During the winter of 1974-75, in my freshman year at Marquette University, I joined a Campus Ministry discussion group that was reading St Teresa'a Interior Castle. Its facilitator was an elderly monk called Dom Sebastian. He was gentle, soft-spoken, and he really knew his Teresa of Avila. And, he didn't attend to academic rank --- each of us, from the doctoral candidates to the youngest freshman had his attention and respect, so long as we had done our reading and our praying, and came prepared and willing to contribute. I lapped it up like a thirsty kitten does a saucer of milk. Then I re-upped for St. John of the Cross and Dark Night of the Soul. When I returned to campus that fall for sophomore year, I sought out Dom Sebastian's Eucharist, and discovered insights in his homilies, which he would mimeograph and hand out after Mass; his congregants were expected to read them, pray with them, mark them up, catch any problems or errors, and get back to Dom Sebastian about them. These homily-essays were what was to become the books The Crucified Is No Stranger and The Fire and the Rose Are One.

But even more, I was learning from watching him. He was as eccentric and absent-minded as theologians come, and he was brilliant, yet he seemed to be very comfortable in his own skin. I envied him. I had spent lots of energy, for as long as I could remember, trying to get normal and average, and when it became obvious even to me that was never going to happen, trying to at least "pass" normal and average. The not-very-successful facades were getting harder and harder to maintain; after all, it was my abnormality that was making it possible even to be in Milwaukee and to attend college, the side-effect of talent for standardized multiple-choice exams like the PSAT/NMSQT and the SATs was providing the money for tuition. Dom Sebastian was obviously at least as "abnormal" as me, probably much more so, but he had no need to cover it up or brush it off, or even to flaunt it; it was just a part of who he was. I wanted to find out how he did that.

So I started dropping into his office, at first to discuss points from the latest purple mimeograph (or at least on that pretext), and eventually he became my spiritual director for my last two years as an undergrad and during my time in graduate school, until he (and Fr. Matt Lamb) moved to Boston for the Lonergan Institute.

And I learned that humility doesn't mean denying who you are. It doesn't imply getting normal and average, or pretending to. It means accepting and even embracing the full truth of my life as a gift, without pretense, and being grateful. Being a socially-inept bright pious nerd is not a sin, it is just a fact. There's no need to object strenuously when people point out one or another of my abnormalities (though I still blushed when Gerard added "seems to be something of a contemplative" to my listing on the Great Catholic Blog List.....).

How to live comfortably, joyously, and without fear, in the body and mind, soul and spirit, with the particular mix of abilities and disabilities, gifts, talents, and callings granted by God, was the lesson. The example of that one-of-a-kind (but aren't we all originals?) Benedictine monk in a Jesuit world, Dom Sebastian Moore, was the textbook.
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The Novena for priests continues through the weekend. Please continue to pray for them, and especially for those who have been instrumental in your own life. Scroll down to the post with pictures to find the suggested novena prayer.
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Thursday, June 05, 2003

Archbishop Dolan Evangelizes Marquette U Graduating Class!
(click on this headline for more)
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Those special priests, II
Father Russell Banner, associate pastor, St Martha, Akron OH, early to mid 1970's

A couple of years after we moved into Akron, a new associate came to our parish. He was ex-career-military. He had a name that wasn't a saint's name, people said he was a convert. He came to us from a year of monastic retreat --- a whole year! Before that, he had helped run a place for unwanted kids called Parmadale, and there had been a financial and church-political type disaster and scandal, after which he had spent a year with the Trappists putting his soul and spirit back together again, then he came to us.

Now St Martha's, like most parishes in Akron at that time, had seen its share of characters. We had an associate who habitually picketed the local newspaper, and another who ran away one night, got married, and opened a Jesus People coffeehouse. The pastor, "Monsignor," whose last name I don't remember anymore, was a virtual recluse who we only saw at his Sunday Mass; after I left for college, I've been told, he also ran off one night, leaving behind an empty parish checking account and a set of overcooked books. But Father Banner was the good kind of character. Outspoken, yes, which may have been part of his trouble at Parmadale and what got him reassigned to Akron, but also humble, wise, solidly common-sensical, and absolutely convinced that he could be wrong and somebody else right.

In my first year of high school, I rode in a particular car pool one night that turned into a spiritual disaster ---- Fr. Banner was the priest who helped put Humpty-Dumpty back together again afterwards. He was the one who put me to work when I turned 16, taught me about liturgy and rubrics, encouraged me to learn manuscript illumination and calligraphy, and gave me my first copy of the complete Documents of the Second Vatican Council. And I still have a painting of his that was a present when I got my BA in Theology, "....and a little child shall lead them."

I settled in Milwaukee and lost contact with him; he went on to pastor several parishes in Cleveland Diocese. This past summer his name came back into my life --- as a designated pariah on Cleveland's Scarlet List, one of the pastors who was removed after the Dallas bishops' meeting for having been at some time accused. It's mostly for him that I composed the Prayer for Priest-penitents. I will always owe him a great debt, my soul's healing after That Horrid Night. Please pray for him, and for all the exiled ones.
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Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Those special priests, I
Monsignor Michael Murphy, (unofficial) associate, Guardian Angels, Copley OH, mid to late 1960's

Back then, I was a precocious elementary-school student. Guardian Angels Parish was brand-new, carved out of rural farmland just starting to sprout subdivisions, that previously had been studiously neglected by the in-the-city parish it supposedly had belonged to. Father O'Neill had been sent to build a church, round up the Catholics, and turn this spot on the map into a parish, a community of faith. And he did. When I was a little kid, I thought Guardian Angels was the prettiest church, with its wooden roof rafters and woven wood screens behind the statues of Mary and Joseph, and the big room underneath with the movable walls so eight grades of religious ed could go on at the same time. (It takes very little to impress a pious six-year-old......)

But there really was too much work for one priest alone. Copley Township had been neglected for a very long time; besides the multitudinous children, there were plenty of grownups who had very little knowledge of their faith, many who had even missed getting confirmed, who were coming to the new little church. ( I was in Guardian Angel's first Confirmation class, as a fifth grader, and there seemed to be nearly as many grownups as kids.) Fr. O'Neill needed help. So his good buddy came to lend a hand. Monsignor Murphy wanted to work in a parish bad enough to taste it, but thanks to his special talents that wasn't going to be; his Monday-Friday job was as the rector of the seminary in Cleveland. But come Saturday morning, he was in Copley, at his best friend's parish, for two days of associate-pastoring.

He was dignified, but not somber. He said the Latin at Mass loud enough and slow enough that you could really follow along in the Missal, and when the Mass changed to English, he enunciated all the words and could be heard all the way to the rear even before there were microphones installed. He was an excellent confessor from the grade-schooler perspective, wise and gentle, and he never yelled at us. And, he never ever brushed off any of us nuisancy kids. I had questions and problems that I thought were huge, and they were huge in my little-kid world, and he spoke with me about them as seriously as if I were already a grownup. He even helped out when Jenny (one of my friends) and I discovered a wonderfully complex book and got entirely confused in it --- a volume of the Summa that Jenny borrowed from the library of her grandpa the Protestant minister. Sixth-graders, even precocious ones, shouldn't be playing with St. Thomas Aquinas!

I moved into the city, out of Guardian Angels, Copley, after sixth grade. A few years later, Monsignor Murphy couldn't play associate pastor any more because he'd been made a bishop. But I still remember him with fondness.

The novena for priests continues. Scroll down to the illustrated post for the novena prayers.
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Pallium Lecture II: George Weigel on the legacy of John Paul II

On Monday night, I attended the second Pallium Lecture, given by George Weigel. He detailed ten things that this pope will be remembered for far into the future.

The full text of the first Pallium Lecture has been posted on the archmil website, and I am hopeful this one will be also --- I will post its link when it becomes available.

Some things Mr. Weigel spoke of that particularly struck me:

-----> Back in 1960, the commission in charge of preparations for the Ecumenical Council wrote every bishop in the world, seeking suggestions for the agenda. The responses to this request are the first 7 or 8 volumes of the Acts of the Council. Most of these responses are housekeeping details and laundry lists: change this rule, tweak that practice, let this or that dispensation be granted by the local ordinary without having to go to the Curia, etc., etc. One of them, however, stuck out of the crowd; it was no list of housekeeping details. The very junior auxiliary bishop of Krakow had sent in a philosophical treatise: Why had the twentieth century, which had started with so much promise, produced two world wars and dozens of local ones, three distinct totalitarian systems, and so on? He proposed that it was because the very idea of the human person had gone awry, and that the Council needed to rescue the idea of the worth of the human person, made in God's own image and redeemed by Christ. When he became pope, he wrote Redemptor hominis on just this subject, that so many years before he had proposed for the Ecumenical Council.

-----> In 1968, Pope Paul VI published Humanae vitae, which was prophetic in its assertions but which triggered a crisis in the Church. In addresses from 1979-1984, Pope John Paul II developed his response to this crisis in the form of a unified theology of the human body, with both philosophical and theological cores that are bombshells when taken seriously. Philosophically: There is a law of self-giving built into the nature of human beings. Human sex is not solely instinct bodily function, or such; but human sex is a manifestation of that self-giving love. Chastity makes us free to make this complete gift of self. Theologically: Humans and the world are sacramental in nature. Our embodiedness as male and female, and our mutuality, teach us about the nature of God. Married life is an icon of the internal life of the Trinity, and marital union is an act of worship. To sum it up, human sexuality is far greater than generally imagined.

-----> a few caught lines:
The Petrine office is an evangelical calling to be pastor, evangelizer, witness....._not_ the CEO of Catholicism, Inc.
Freedom is ordered to truth and finds its fulfilment in goodness.
Hope is not optimism; it is the assurance given by faith.
Jesus Christ is the answer to the question that is every human life.

The third and final Pallium Lecture will be on Tuesday the tenth, by Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ. I already have my van scheduled, only getting dumped in the hospital again will keep me away.
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prayer request update: Dad

Just got word from my sister Laura about the outcome of Dad's heart cath today; keep on praying. She writes:

Since Sue and Christine are vacationing this week it's my job to keep you posted on Dad. Well, his heart cath went ok today. Somehow he has a good heart muscle that functions quite well considering the clogged arteries elsewhere in his body. The one artery is totally blocked but miraculously has its own little bypass helping it along. The one other blockage he has can not be angioplasty at this time because of risk factor of his legs. The leg artery is the "escape route" out of the heart and we know that road is closed. So----the heart Dr. recommends that the Leg Dr. do his thing first with moderate risk and we worry about the heart issue after the legs are in the clear. Surgery is still risky but if not done soon quality of life will soon deteriorate faster. Dad is home and being fiesty as usual. No seen side effects of today's procedure. When Sue returns from vacation she will begin bugging the Dr. for a surgery date. That will be a long recovery process as the surgery will be 6-8 hrs. long anyway. Rehab will be needed and possible full time home care for awhile. $$$$$$$. Will keep you posted.

About my own recovery, I saw the surgeon again yesterday and he loves what he's seeing; everything is nearly-healed dry scabbies and he says I can stop putting dressings on in about a week. Hip hip hooray! Now to get blue jeans and a tank suit, and start arranging for water aerobics.....
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Happy birthday, dear Gerard!

Today is Gerard Serafin's 60th birthday; rejoice with him (and his twin sister).

Without the example and encouragement of Gerard, this blog would never have come to be. The good example he has set in my sight for many years, here in St. Blog's and also in the listserv world, has inspired me. And he does, in my opinion, keep the most numinous site in cyberspace.

"We wish you very many, many years!"
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Tuesday, June 03, 2003

We cannot do without them: pray for them!

Just as the people Israel was a priestly people and a holy nation and a people set apart for God,
yet still they needed Aaron and Aaron's sons
to serve in the Lord's holy Temple and offer to God fitting sacrifice for and with them;
so we also, we who are baptised to be priests, prophets, and kings,
still need the presbyters and the bishops,
chosen to make Christ's one great sacrifice always present in our midst,
and to feed us, as was promised and commanded,
with Christ's very body and Christ's very blood.
We cannot do without this great gift.

The novena for priests continues through this week, please scroll down a little to find the novena prayers. And, just because the ninth day is Sunday, please don't use that as a reason to stop praying; our pastors always need our prayers, even when there isn't a novena going on.
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Monday, June 02, 2003

more on the work of priests: pray for them

This is Fr. C John McCloskey III, who runs Washington DC's Catholic Information Center, as quoted in by Terry Mattingly in his column email-distributed on his list this morning:

"All I am doing is what Catholic priests must do," said McCloskey. "I'm sharing the Gospel of Christ, offering people spiritual direction and, when they are ready, bringing them into the church. .......It's a matter of always proposing, never imposing, never coercing and merely proclaiming that we have something to offer to all Christians and to all people.

"Call it evangelism. Call it evangelization. It's just what we're supposed to do."

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Sunday, June 01, 2003

A priest's calling

to help us in our prayers this week for our priests, click on the headline for a reflection on just what it means to be a priest in the Church, from the Herald of Hope column in the Catholic Herald.
An excerpt:

......I believe we priests are indeed "set apart," not because we are better or holier but because we are different. That "ontological" difference gives us a unique role.

We are not different because we are celibate. At any given moment in the U.S. society over one-third of the adult population is unmarried. Many people choose that form of life because of other roles they feel called to perform. Being celibate doesn't make one better or holier.

We may be different ontologically but that is not verifiable under a microscope. It is important to accept that difference for our self-identity and how we view our inner being, but it is not to be flaunted by us to prove we are better.

We are different because we are set apart to mediate between God and God's people. Whether we like it or not that is our role. The ontological reality within is there so that we can minister to others in a unique way.

We are the ones who dare to approach the altar to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass, yes, in the person of Christ and in the name of the church. No one else can step forward to do so and that is what makes us different. We must step forward to baptize those entering the church, babies and adults. We do so because it is our duty, our role. We do so in the person of Christ and in the name of the church. It does not make us better than anyone else -- just different.

We step forward to break open the Scriptures for God's people, trying to relate Christ's message to their human situation today. We do so, not because we are more learned than others, but because it is our role and duty to do so.

We step forward, in the person of Christ and in the name of the church, to witness the commitment of two of our members in marriage. We gather our people around the bed of the sick to anoint one of our members in need. We come forward and act in the name of Christ and the church when one among us asks for reconciliation with God and the community. No one else has these roles. We do so, not because we are better than others, but because we are called to do so.

We are set apart to minister between the human and the divine, the secular and the sacred......

We priests must have one foot in the reality of the human condition and one in the reality of the divine healing. The mystery of the Incarnation -- that miraculous and inimitable union between the divine and the human -- is played out today and in every century of the church. Jesus was that perfect union between the two (one person, two natures they would later call it). The Apostles were expected to be instruments of this mysterious union and then pass on that instrumentality to the next generation and to all times. Their calling and our calling is to mediate the salvation brought by Jesus Christ to all God's people of all times. The union of the divine and human begins in baptism, is nurtured in the Eucharist, and restored and strengthened in every other sacrament. Priests are God's instruments so he can be one with his people.

The priest stands at the point of union, the one set apart to mediate, the one called to have one foot in both worlds, to be a form of bridge between the divine and the human, the circuit through which the current passes. The priest is not better because he does so; he is just doing what God has called him to do and will call him to do to the end of time.

When the community gathers to worship and you as priest must step forward to act in the name of Christ and the community, do so willingly and with confidence, not because you are better, but because you are called to do so........


[Rembert G. Weakland, "Herald of Hope" column, Catholic Herald, 04/04/2002]
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