Saturday, August 31, 2002

Another hymnal gem and its composer, Fr. Roc O'Connor, is a real gem too (he was one of our associate pastors for a while). In my parish this hymn (a version of Psalm 27) was sung for many years during the stripping of the altar on Holy Thursday, as well as other times.

In the Shadow of Your Wings

In the shadow of Your wings
I will sing Your praises, O Lord.

The Lord is my light, my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the refuge of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

In the shadow of Your wings
I will sing Your praises, O Lord.

One thing I ask of the Lord,
one thing I seek:
to dwell in the presence of my God,
to gaze on Your holy place.

In the shadow of Your wings
I will sing Your praises, O Lord.

O Lord, hear the sound of my call,
my heartfelt plea.
Your presence, O Lord, do I seek;
hide not Your face from me.

In the shadow of Your wings
I will sing Your praises, O Lord.

I believe I shall see
the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
O, wait for the Lord!
Have courage and wait,
wait for the Lord!

In the shadow of Your wings
I will sing Your praises, O Lord.

(copyright 1985 Robert F. O'Connor, S.J. and NALR)

Friday, August 30, 2002

Be faithful. Trust. Be not afraid. Cast out into the deep. Be a saint.

If you click on the headline, you will find the written version of Archbishop Dolan's homily at his installation Mass. BTW, I noticed a few minor differences between it and the version-as-delivered, so when it conflicts with quotes in the Journal Sentinel or Catholic Herald coverage, the newspapers are correct. Both www.archmil.org and www.chnonline.org are now chock-full of goodies. Happy surfing!
A response to Mr. Kubiak's 8/28 comment at Amy's

Mr. David Kubiak, responding to a link posted on Amy's blog on Wednesday, is shocked at the comportment of our new archbishop. Archbishop Dolan smiles, he hugs, he makes us laugh ---- even in the Cathedral! even on EWTN! But, most horribly of all, Archbishop Dolan dares to treat our devoted and diligent and even-more-humble-than-he-used-to-be retired archbishop with honor and care, and he openly receives submission and cooperation from Archbishop Weakland. Mr. Kubiak calls this "astonishing." Mr. Kubiak seems to hold this as some kind of sacrilege, and calls for the Second Coming to deliver him.

But why?

About the smiling and the laughter ("Oh no, Lord! I don't know how to drive in the snow!") ---- it's becoming more and more obvious to us who live in Milwaukee that Archbishop Dolan, extrovert x10, cannot do any differently even if he tries. And why should he be trying? Blatant joy is a commodity we are in special need of just now, in great heaping helpings.

And now about Milwaukee's most beloved public penitent: how else should he be but submitted and cooperative with the new archbishop, in the same way as all the rest of us faithful? This should not be astonishing at all. Timothy Dolan is the bishop, and where the bishop is, there is the Church. And, of course, the new archbishop will treat all of us with care and honorably; why should the retired archbishop have less care and honorable treatment than the rest of us? Every single one of us has done some incredibly stupid things, and have sinned. We have no right to ridicule, ever.

Mr. Kubiak, give thanks that your most embarrassing sin will never be an international headline. And pray for your bishop every day, wherever you are.
I'm back

and reasonably well-recovered from my bout of newsblogging. All that television-watching, note-taking, composing, and blogging, all done sitting up, gained me a pressure sore! So for the last day or so I've been reclining with my tush up to make it go away, and I can't do that and use the computer at the same time, so please forgive my absence.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

Filing away "-elect" for another twenty-three years or so, God willing and the creek don't rise

935 people in the Cathedral, the limit of the Fire Marshall. About 430 of them concelebrants. It took 40 minutes to process them in, before EWTN picked up the coverage. And the Archdiocesan Chorus and Orchestra. And another 400 or so guests sitting in the atrium with a large screen TV. A recipe for disaster, Murphy's Law loves crowds; yet we have survived, and Timothy Dolan is ours and we are his.

Here are the links to the stories in the Journal Sentinel on the Welcoming Vespers and on the Installation Mass. They did a decent job, so I don't have to keep newsblogging all night. Some articles are beginning to show up on the Catholic Herald Online site also.

Happy surfing, and enjoy the image of Milwaukeans trying to hide under the bed while being made to ROFL!

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

"We hate to lose him, but he's yours now; treat him well." ----Abp. Justin Rigali of St. Louis

Timothy Dolan knocked on the front door of the Cathedral, both fists (he wanted to be sure it was heard inside). The door was opened by Bishop Sklba the archdiocesan administrator, attended by Fr. Last the pastor of Cathedral Parish and by retired Abp. Weakland.
The archbishop-elect was offered a crucifix, which he kissed, then was led to the font to bless himself. An altar assistant filled three holy water buckets, and the entire congregation was sprinkled. Abp-elect Dolan did the center aisle, and Bp. Sklba and Abp. Weakland took the side aisles, while the hymn was sung by the Cathedral Parish choir and the congregation. ["Crown Him with Many Crowns"] And so began the installation of the tenth Archbishop of Milwaukee.

Since our Cathedral is so small, even with the expansions in the recent restoration it still seats less than 1000, the installation was divided into two liturgies so more people could come for at least some of it. All of the formal arrival and welcoming things tonight, with all the deacons of the archdiocese and their wives, and the reading of the apostolic letter and enthronement at tomorrow's Mass.

As is the way of things in Milwaukee, the vespers service was absolutely compliant to the rubrics but not bound up by them, and absolutely unhurried, full of prayer and tears and laughter and occasionally all three at once. Psalms and prayers and readings in English and Spanish and Latin, and an ASL interpreter for it all. The homily was by Bp. Sklba (It'll probably be available soon on the archmil website) and it ended with the same sentence his homily on Good Shepherd Sunday back in April did ---- "Let the people say Amen!" After the Magnificat sung in a beautiful Latin and English setting, petitions with an English and Spanish response, and the Our Father chanted in Latin, there were some words by and about the Abp.-elect. He asked "my boss" Abp. Justin Rigali to speak "on this last night that I can claim to be an obedient member of the clergy of the archdiocese of St. Louis." During these remarks was when Abp. Rigali said what is my headline. Then Abp.-elect Dolan said a few words, teased Bp. Sklba about still being in charge for another 18 hours or so, gave the blessing and dismissal, and went in a little procession to the shrine of Our Lady, Mother of the Church. The choir began the Salve Regina, Abp.-elect Dolan began to kneel at the shrine while Bp. Sklba, Abp. Weakland, and the altar assistants lined up out of the way against the wall. But then he stopped, turned around and beckoned; Abp.Weakland looked at Bp. Sklba in that "hey, he wants you" way, Bp. Sklba shook his head and gave Abp. Weakland a little shove, so the two of them, the ninth and the tenth Archbishops of Milwaukee, prayed together in public at Mary's shrine for the Church they both love.

The installation continues at 2 pm tomorrow afternoon. By this time tomorrow we can toss the "-elect" for another 25 years or so, if all goes well and if God wills. Where the bishop is, there is the holy Church.
Requested prayer

At a few minutes after 7 pm this evening, Timothy Michael Dolan will knock at the doors of our beautiful Cathedral, the Archdiocesan Administrator will open them for him and offer him the crucifix to venerate, and lead him to the baptismal font to bless himself, and thus will begin his installation as the tenth Archbishop of Milwaukee. Please keep Archbishop-elect Dolan, Bishop Sklba the archdiocesan administrator, Archbishop Weakland, and all the other clergy and faithful of the archdiocese in your prayers in these days.
Beauty has been re-established, Beauty has been restored, a Dine' introduction to wisdom from St. Augustine.

Question the beauty of the earth,
the beauty of the sea,
the beauty of the wide air around you,
the beauty of the sky;
question the order of the stars,
the sun whose brightness lights the day,
the moon whose splendor softens the gloom of night;
question the living creatures that move in the waters,
that roam upon the earth,
that fly through the air;
the spirit that lies hidden,
the matter that is manifest,
the visible things that are ruled,
the invisible that rule them;
question all these.
They will answer you:
"Behold and see, we are beautiful."
Their beauty is their confession of God.
Who made these beautiful changing things,
if not one who is beautiful and changeth not?
Monica and Augustine: the child of so many tears cannot be lost

In honor of what is arguably the second most important mother-son team in all Christendom, a link to a fine essay on the two of them by the articulate Amy Welborn. The young Augustine was a strong-willed rebellious type, and his long-suffering worried mom was a yenta who was not always wise yet both never stopped growing in our Lord.

Also, let us remember fondly the mother of Augustine's son, who, when Monica convinced her it would be better for her beloved Augustine and for their little boy, went away quietly, leaving her young son behind. Whatever happened to her after, I've always wondered?

Monday, August 26, 2002

Weber and Dolan (and Dolan) 7-8 am cdt WISN-AM 1130 KHz

One hour of very fast-paced talk with lots of jokes, including some insider family kind. Bob Dolan the co-host is also the kid brother of Tim Dolan the archbishop-elect. Three pages of not-very-complete, small handwriting notes. I'm not a good enough typist to enter it all, but I will list the callers and their questions. Note that there was not even one question about clerical child abuse, sexual issues, or The Settlement: callers had other questions they held more important.

1) Deacon Jim of Greendale: the roles of deacons in the Church.
2) Monica of Brookfield: Why was the mitre getting taken off and put back on repeatedly during Irish Fest liturgy? How do you keep it straight when it's supposed to be on or off?
3) Debbie of West Allis: Are you going to put bolted-down pews in the Cathedral?
4) Dennis of Madison: How did the seminarians in Bruce Murphy's book _New_Men_ turn out in the end?
5) Debbie of Milwaukee north side: Relationship between the archdiocese and ethnic Catholics, how to improve it.
6) Mary of West Bend: Some parishes don't kneel on Sundays, shouldn't all parishes be made to be the same?
7) Mary Pat of Sheboygan: When can we fill you full of patitsa [sp? a east european delicacy]?
8) Jim of Greenfield: I'm a political and religious conservative, will the diocese become politically conservative soon?
9) Jeff of Fond du Lac: Will you continue to support Catholic education and Catholic schools?
10) Chris of South Milwaukee: You took our priest to be your secretary! Not that we're not happy for him, but who's going to replace him, with the priest shortage and all?
11) Bruce of West Allis: Every parish is different, can't uniformity be imposed, please?

Quite a collection of callers!
A new blogger with wise things to say

Robert Waldrop of the Oklahoma City Catholic Worker and the Access to Catholic Social Justice Teaching website has a blog now, Bob's Blog ---- and he's got wise words in his first post from yesterday:

Speaking of Governor Frank Keating, any doubts I had about whether the bishops were corrupt or not went right out the window when they picked him, a politician who has never passed up a chance to grind the face of the poor into the dust, as the head of their new lay review panel. So I wasn't surprised when he popped up, promoting himself to apostolic nuncio, and announcing New Doctrine: Catholics who are mad at their bishops should not go to mass, they should go to another diocese and they should also stop giving money to the church.

Right, Oklahoma City Catholics are supposed to drive to Texas or Kansas or Arkansas to go to mass? And sure, while the President says we all have to do more to help the poor, the Republican Governor of Oklahoma calls upon Oklahoma Catholics to do less, to punish the poor because of our beef with the bishop. And to think that Call to Action wants to put laymen like Keating in charge of the hierarchy. May all the saints preserve us from the folly of our own leaders!

Fortunately, even though our religious leaders have been corrupted by greed and gluttony, the Church remains the Church, the mystical bride of Christ, a sure and certain guide in a time of trouble. Yes, we have bishops and archbishops and even cardinals who are cafeteria Catholics and who advocate the murder of the poor as a necessary adjunct to US foreign policy. But we as lay Catholics are not responsible for their sins, we have our own, and we can deal with theirs with our own prayers and especially, our own acts of reparation. The bishop's foolishness and wickedness calls for a response from the Catholic laity. We must do even more works of mercy, justice, peace, and environmental stewardship to heal the damages they have caused.

"Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to that arrogant oligarchy who merely happen to be walking around." - Orthodoxy, 1908


Sunday, August 25, 2002

since I'm in Milwaukee and the great news-bloggers Amy and Mark Shea are not, I'll experiment a little with newsblogging here.

Sunday Night with Mike Gousha: Timothy Dolan ch.4, WTMJ, NBC affiliate
(notes from someone who doesn't know shorthand)

short prerecorded bio, emphasized scholarship, humor, approachability
welcome from host
said he had "lots of anticipation, lots of joy" and was "so eager to get started."
He's been reviewing Milwaukee Church history.
Happily surprised at great vitality he's seen here since his appointment; says that the Church in Milwaukee has been noted for its great vitality since its very beginning, and has always had wide open arms for everybody, from the beginning.

Said that difficult and painful times are also great times of renewal.

Asked about his agenda for the archdiocese. Said he did not have one yet; that first he has to get out, has to get to know the people of the archdiocese, get to know his priests, deacons, parish workers, collaborators, has to listen and attend. After that, then.

Comments on World Youth Day.

Asked what kind of guy he was. "Pretty simple guy; I hope I'm friendly, I hope I'm open." and about giving himself to prayer.
"There's no time in my memory I didn't want to be a priest."

Question about challenges in the Church: sex abuse scandal
says we have a good beginning but now we have to do it, and that takes time and will be painful. Has some experience from St. Louis.
Must also restore trust: "If you don't have trust, religion is shot." Meetings with victims both one-on-one and structured listening sessions must continue and will continue.

Tangent about The Settlement: cannot happen again, safeguards already put in place to make finances transparent. touched on the difference between scandal and embarrassment (not the same thing.) Not wanting to add burden to Abp. Weakland more than he already bears. He was here in Milwaukee on Apology Day, commented on it.

More challenges for Church: vocations. 28 in major seminary, more in college formation. has met and consulted with the excellent vocation director. Abp. Weakland has started the turnaround in vocations already but we have to do even more. "Priests have to be contagious." Parents need to create a climate of encouragement to their children for vocations to priesthood and to consecrated life.

Asked about his Church political position. Big theatrical wink and half-grin, claimed there was no such thing. went on to comment on Church politics, said forget about all labels except he loves the Lord and loves the Church.
Specifically asked about differences between himself and Abp. Weakland: said there will probably will be some just like there were when Abp. Weakland came to replace Abp. Cousins. But Abp. Weakland and he have so much in common: both faithful bishops of the Church, both in love with Christ and with the Church, both reading the same Scriptures and praying the same prayers.......

Last minutes question on becoming a true Milwaukean; Miller vs. Busch, Brewers vs. Cardinals, bratwurst vs. toasted raviolis. Says it won't be too hard for him. Brags about blessings of his family, that we'll see lots of all his nieces, and that it's a true blessing to get moved so near to his brother Bob and his family.

Closing courtesies and goodnight.
Wonders Never Cease!!! Miracle of Miracles!!!!!

Just a few minutes ago, EWTN [yes, EWTN!] announced that they will be picking up the installation Mass, live, on Wednesday!

The same EWTN that for almost two decades could hardly pronounce the word "Milwaukee" without squirming about.....

Maybe there _is_ real hope for the exterior unity of the Church.

[Wednesday, 3pm Eastern, is EWTN's coverage; most local coverage [ch. 4, 6, 12, & 58] will begin at 1 pm Central time]
The picture of a pretty good shepherd, by Geoffrey Chaucer

A good man was there of religioun,
And was a povre Parson of a town;
But rich he was of holy thought and work.
He was also a learned man, a clerk,
That Christes gospel truly woulde preach;
His parishfolk devoutly would he teach.
Benign he was, and wonder diligent,
And in adversity full patient;
And such he was y-proved often times.
Full loth were him to cursen for his tythes,
But rather would he give, out of doubt,
Un-to his povre parishfolk about
Of his offering, and eke of his substance.
He could in little thing have suffisance.
Wide was his parish, and houses far a-sunder,
But he neglected not, for rain or thunder,
In sickness or in mischief, to visit
The furthest in his parish, great and little,
Upon his feet, and in his hand a staff.
This noble example to his sheep he gave,
That first he wrought, and afterward he taught.
Out of the gospel he these wordes caught;
And this figure he added eke there-to,
That if gold ruste, what shall iron do?
For if a priest be foul, on whom we trust,
No wonder is a lewed man to rust;
And shame it is, if a priest take keep,
A dirty shepherd and a cleane sheep.
Well ought a priest example for to give,
By his cleanness, how that his sheep should live.
He did not set his benefice to hire,
Nor left his sheep encumbered in the mire,
And ran to London, un-to Sainte Paul's,
To seeken him a chantery for souls,
Or with a brotherhed to be enrolled;
But dwelt at home, and kepte well his fold,
So that the wolf might make it not miscarry;
He was a shepherd and no mercenary.
And though he holy were, and virtuous,
He was to sinful man not despitous,
Not of his speeche dangerous nor digne,
But in his teaching discreet and benign.
To draw his fold to heaven by fairness
By good example, was his business.
But if were any person obstinate,
What-so he were, of high or low estate,
Him would be snibben sharply for the nonce.
A better priest, I trow that nowhere none is.
He waited for no pomp and reverence,
Nor maked him a spiced conscience,
But Christes lore, and his apostles twelve,
He taught, and first he followed it himself.

Saturday, August 24, 2002

Prayer for a Fresh Start, by Archbishop-elect 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.

Friday, August 23, 2002

The Cross is the only way to Paradise: from today's Office of Readings

Today is the day of St. Rose of Lima, and today's reading is from her writings. She was one of those few saints who really _was_ syruppy sweet pious from earliest childhood. She had a special calling to penitence for all the sins and crimes of her people, the Spanish conquerors of Peru. Saints tend to flock together, and in her day Lima was one of the places they flocked; several other saints, including the famous St. Martin de Porres, were her personal friends and spiritual companions.

St. Rose wrote:

Our Lord and Savior lifted up his voice and said with incomparable majesty: "Let all men know that grace comes after tribulation. Let them know that without the burden of afflictions it is impossible to reach the height of grace. Let them know that the gifts of grace increase as the struggles increase. Let men take care not to stray and be deceived. This is the only true stairway to paradise, and without the cross they can find no road to climb to heaven."

When I heard these words, a strong force came upon me and seemed to place me in the middle of a street, so that I might say in a loud voice to people of every age, sex, and status: "Hear, O people; hear, O nations. I am warning you about the commandment of Christ by using words that came from his own lips: We cannot obtain grace unless we suffer afflictions. We must heap trouble upon trouble to attain a deep participation in the divine nature, the glory of the sons of God and perfect happiness of soul."

That same force strongly urged me to proclaim the beauty of divine grace. It pressed me so that my breath came slow and forced me to sweat and pant. I felt as if my soul could no longer be kept in the prison of the body, but that it had burst its chains and was free and alone and was going very swiftly through the whole world saying:

"If only mortals would learn how great it is to possess divine grace, how beautiful, how noble, how precious. How many riches it hides within itself, how many joys and delights! Without doubt they would devote all their care and concern to winning for themselves pains and afflictions. All men throughout the world would seek trouble, infirmities, and torments, instead of good fortune, in order to attain the unfathomable treasure of grace. This is the reward and the final gain of patience. No one would complain about his cross or about troubles that may happen to him, if he would come to know the scales on which they are weighed when they are distributed to men."


Thursday, August 22, 2002

Mary's Queenship ---- as we are anointed priest, prophet, and king.....

I'm sending you all over to Fr. Jim at Dappled Things, who has posted an absolutely beautiful homily for today's celebration of the Queenship of Mary. As Mary, so the rest of the Church in fullness of time.
The Lord wills restoration for his own

from the prophet Ezekiel:

Thus says the Lord:
I will prove the holiness of my great name, profaned among the nations,
in whose midst you have profaned it.
Thus the nations shall know that I am the Lord, says the Lord God,
when in their sight I prove my holiness through you.
For I will take you away from among the nations, gather you from all the
foreign lands, and bring you back to your own land.
I will sprinkle clean water upon you to cleanse you from all your
impurities, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.
I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you,
taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts.
I will put my spirit within you and make you live by my statutes,
careful to observe my decrees.
You shall live in the land I gave your ancestors; you shall be my people,
and I will be your God.

so let us pray:

Almighty and most gentle God, who from a rock made flow a fountain of living water for your thirsting people,
draw now from the hardness of our hearts tears of sorrow, that we may weep for our sins and, by your continued mercy, be made ready to accept their pardon.
We ask this through our Lord, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

[opening prayer, Mass for the Gift of Tears]

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

The Holy Church, my mother, my teacher, that has my love through all.

Contemplating my mother's humiliated face, I will love her only twice as much. Without trading polemic for polemic, I will take pains to show her my love even in her guise of slave. While others allow themselves to be hypnotized by the wrinkles that are only natural to the features of the old, how much more truly will love show me her hidden strength, her silent dynamism ---- in a word, her perpetual youth ---- "the mighty forces issuing from her heart, finally ravishing all men's hearts."

Henri de Lubac, sj, The Church: Paradox and Mystery (via Gerard,with thanks)
St. Pius X, Giuseppe Sarto, saint for the little people of God

Your new bishop, the poorest of all, has but one ambition ---- to see all the children under his care united in one large, happy family, in the shelter of which their souls shall be safe. For the well-being of souls I shall consider no sacrifice too great, and have nothing more at heart than your salvation. I know that for the salvation of my little flock, I shall have to bear great difficulties, encounter dangers, bear insults, and struggle against the foe who seeks its ruin. But my people will find me ever at my post, always meek and full of charity.
(Giuseppe Sarto at his installation as Bishop of Mantua)

He was a man of prayer, a loving and diligent priest and bishop (of Mantua, then of Venice) and eventually pope, and one of that subspecies of fool-for-Christ saints known as "giveaway" saints ----who could not be trusted to not give away everything he touched, the exasperation of his bishop as a priest because he _would_ pawn the candlesticks and thurible, the terror of his valet as bishop and pope because he would give away his last pair of socks.

But his greatest contribution to us who come after him was the final overcoming of a rigorist heresy known as Jansenism, for which we should give thanks every time we receive the Eucharist.

Before Pius X, under Jansenist influence, lay people actually receiving communion was rare. Although first confession was at age 6 or 7, first communion was delayed into the mid-to-late teenaged years, and it would be a full year before second communion. The Church had to have a law to command people to receive communion as often as once a year! (and some pastors resisted the law, not wanting their parishioners to receive that often; dissenters are not a new phenomena.)

But Pius X saw this dire situation and set out to do some things about it. He urged frequent communion for the faithful, communion every week or even every day. He set the requirements to be admitted to communion as the ability to tell the difference between the Eucharist and ordinary food, and the ability to show reverence appropriate to one's age; he regularly admitted children as young as 3 and 4 to first communion. And he issued a regulation that children who were regularly confessing were not to be excluded from communion ---- no more confession at 6 or 7 and first communion at 15 or 16 anymore!

So, whenever you go to daily Mass and Father comes to the altar rail or communion station presuming that at least some of you will want to receive communion, thank St. Pius X, the warrior against spiritual starvation.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Hopelessly lured by Flos Carmeli, overcurious I took the test, and it claims:

what's your order?

I'm blaming it all on Archbishop Rembert Weakland and Dom Sebastian Moore! ! ! (Or was it the intercession of SS. Syncletica and Scholastica?)
O Lord, your are our hope; your truth supports us; your covenant fidelity to us is forever.

This is the prayer of the past two day's lessons.

On Sunday I went to Mass (not at my own parish, the streets are too torn up to unload safely there this summer) and arrived over an hour early, which is a standard hazard of using paratransit. I decided that I wouldn't enter the church proper right away, but find a quiet (except for the overhead speakers) corner of the atrium and pray the hours while I waited for the Eucharist before the one I was attending to conclude. And I heard the homily over those overhead speakers.

That homily was a call to arms. In the previous week the factional "reform" organizations had made their demands of the new bishop, that he announce that he's for them and against the other guys ---- as though a bishop could be the bishop for only some of the sheep! And issuing such challenges when he hasn't even been properly installed yet (that's not for another week)! But the Lord's house is a house of prayer for all people, the sacrifice is acceptable from all who believe ---- our first reading on Sunday says so. And, the pastor said, when next week comes and we sit Timothy Dolan in that big chair over there (he probably pointed, but I was only hearing this on the speaker), he will be the archbishop for _all_ the Catholics in the southeast part of Wisconsin, not just the bishop for the CUF or the bishop for the CTA but for both of those groups and all the rest of us as well. And prayers were called for, prayers for the archbishop-elect and for us in the time of trial. For the unity of the Church, and strength and courage in the Church's bishops, especially Timothy, who will soon be ours.

Which I did. Which I have been doing. When that Mass was over and I went in, I spent some time looking at the tenth oval spot in the clerestory, now a odd shade of gray but soon to bear the face of Timothy, tenth archbishop of Milwaukee, and praying espacially for his strength and courage, for we have seen here with pain what happens when fear enters a bishop's life, and we must not forget what we have learned or allow it to happen again.

In fact, at the very time I was parked in the Cathedral atrium, our archbishop-elect was about a mile away, celebrating the annual Mass for Peace and Justice at the Marcus Amphitheater for Irish Fest. He was invited many months ago, long before the appointment. And, according to what the Journal Sentinel said yesterday, there were people there from both factional groups to greet him (and put him on the spot). He handled the situation with great grace and good humor, and even stood an impromptu reception line for the 14,000+ worshippers after Mass. His shaking-and-kissing hand must have been worn out at the end.

How did we in Milwaukee come to such a gift? Some bishops are administrators, some are schmoozing fund-raisers, some few are totally incompetent idiots or power-thirsty politicians. Some are prayerful men of shepherd's heart, who love their people. And for as long as I've lived in this city, we have had only the last of these, not the former, and it appears from all evidence that we have been blessed with yet another prayerful, loving shepherd who will care for us and love us and defend us.

Even the Office of Readings readings have been confirmations, Monday's from St. Gregory the Great about how to endure the trials, and today's teachings from St. Bernard on steadfast love.

The Lord's covenant fidelity _is_ forever. Teach us to be ever more faithful.

Sunday, August 18, 2002

The things Catholics do (and no, I don't mean the backbiting or the bishop baiting!)

Feed the hungry.
Give drink to the thirsty.
Clothe the naked.
Visit the imprisoned.
Shelter the homeless.
Visit the sick.
Bury the dead.
Admonish the sinner (but themselves first).
Instruct the ignorant.
Counsel the doubtful.
Comfort the sorrowful.
Bear wrongs patiently.
Forgive all injuries.
Pray for both the living and the dead.

These are the things Catholics do. In my experience, the best way of finding the people who have right faith is to look for the people who have right behaviour.

Orthopraxy is as important as orthodoxy, and is a major (though not infallible) sign of orthodoxy ---- orthodoxy is not found without orthopraxy. In fact, orthopraxy can even bring one to more complete orthodoxy if one's not already there, for the Lord honors even the tiniest first halting steps to please and obey him, and pours out his grace plentiously. There is truth to the old saws "Behave as if you believed" and "Fake it until you make it."

Or, even sassier for early on a Sunday morning, the formulation of one of our more recent famous late catechumens:

Faith without works is like a song you can't sing,
it's about as useless as a screen door on a submarine. (Rich Mullins, "Screen Door")

Saturday, August 17, 2002

Interconnections with the blog world

John/Tom of Disputations and Mark of Minute Particulars have extended commentary at their sites set off by my little reflection on the Assumption/Dormition the other day. You will want to wander over to them, they both are excellent. An emailer has also raised the issue about whether all doctrine has to be formally defined, and if it would ease tensions with other apostolic churches, whether there can be un-definitions, returning unchallenged common universal beliefs to just that status. I'll have to chew a while on that one before I make comment or opinion.

And Terrence of the Provincial Emails takes noted exception to my lament yesterday about the return of our divisive ways here in Milwaukee. Terrence and I have to agree to disagree, but you can go over there and see his exception yourself. He has also adorned his post with complete links to all the mentioned groups, so if you _really_ want to expose yourself to Wanderer Forum or Call to Action, he's got the links. As for me: Lord, deliver us from the Wandering Actionites, please!

Friday, August 16, 2002

I guess peace and unity couldn't last forever

According to the cover story of Thursday's Catholic Herald, also reported elsewhere, local CUF activist Mr. Al Szews [the acknowledged leader of the local Bishop Bashing Brigade for many years] has made his first demand [or is it challenge?] of the new archbishop-elect. According to Mr. Szews, the new archbishop must prove his true Catholicity by denouncing the Call to Action (CTA), one of two "reform" groups (the other being Wanderer Forum) which have made a tradition of plaguing the city of Milwaukee almost every year.

The strange thing about this is that the recently retired archbishop regularly called CTA on the carpet for its incorrect positions, not-Catholic attitudes, and neglect of the holy Tradition, and he publicly refused to make even token appearances at their conferences. Yet still Mr. Szews hated the last archbishop.

Why would Mr. Szews love the new archbishop for doing the same things as he hated the last archbishop for?

Thursday, August 15, 2002

He has lifted up the lowly: the Assumption/Dormition

Everything that the holy Church defines about Mary either has to do with who Jesus is, or has to do with who we his Church are. So, what is this doubly-named feast we celebrate today, and what does it teach us about the Lord or his Church that our Church has defined it?

The Assumption, aka the Dormition, of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Mary, at the end of her life on earth, was taken up to heaven by her Son, both soul and body. There she lives forever in the glory of the Presence of God in her resurrection body.

There is a pious disagreement among believers about the details, which is part of why this feast has two names. Some say that Mary died, and was resurrected from death to be taken into heaven by her Son; others say that she was just taken when her time came, like Enoch and Elijah (and, some say, Moses) were. The Church has refused to define this part, since it truly makes no difference; both opinions are legitimate.

Just as Mary was the very first believer, totally obedient to the will of God, totally faithful to the way of her Son, being our model and example in all of her life, she is also our example in her passing over from this life to the next. Where she is now, in the glorious Presence in heaven, both soul and glorified resurrection body together, is where we are called to be ourselves, and where in time's fullness we will be. Mary has already been taken up by her Son; we all will be resurrected and taken into the presence of God at the last days.

We live in hope. We live in active fruitful faith.

Our Lady, Mother of God, Mother of the Church,
Assumed into heaven, body and soul together,
Pray for us both now and when we meet death
that we be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

The Bishops' Fast: they should not repent alone

At the USCCB meeting in June, our bishops declared for themselves a fast today, the vigil of the Assumption/Dormition, to do penance for their responsibility for the current Scandal over the Situation. They say that we may join with them if we desire. In some places, there will be holy hours, penance services, vigils, or other gatherings for special prayer. (Summa Contra Mundum posted yesterday a letter about such a vigil in the Cathedral in Chicago.)

Our bishops need us, just as we need them. We are only the Church if we are the Church together, we do not stand alone. We make our bishops stand alone too much, and that can weaken faith, weaken trust, and let fear enter in, let self-pity enter in. Then stupid and sinful and scandalous things are done. They lose the ability to discern between true scandal and ordinary public embarrassment, and do dumb overprotective things, forgetting that secrets kill but embarrassment sets free.

We have a duty to honor and attend to and obey and nurture and care for our bishops, just as they have a responsibility to teach and guide and shelter and protect and respect and love us. And we have, in large part, failed in our part of our relationship with our bishops. Some of us have even blogged that they "can't recall two words" their bishop taught, or that Osama bin Laden has more effect on their life than their bishop.

So our bishops should not be repenting alone today. We all need to repent with them, and change our lives in firm purpose of amendment.

Save us, spare us, have mercy on us, O Lord!
Jesus' obedience and ours from a letter of Maximilian Kolbe in today's Office of Readings:

Dear brothers, see the greatness of man's dignity conferred by God's mercy. By obedience we surmount, so to speak, the limits imposed upon us by our weakness, we are made conformable to God's will which in his infinite wisdom and prudence guides us to act correctly. As a matter of fact by clinging to God's will ---- and no creature can resist it ---- we surpass everything in power.

This is the way of wisdom and prudence, this is the only way we can render the greatest glory to God. If there were another and more suitable way Christ surely would have showed it to us by his own words and example. But Sacred Scripture described his long sojourn in Nazareth in these words: He was subject to them and painted the picture of the rest of his life for us in the colors of obedience thus showing that he had come upon earth to do the will of his Father.

Therefore, my brothers, let us love our most loving Father in heaven with the greatest love and let our obedience be the proof of our perfect love which we put into practice especially when we are asked to give up our own will. There is no more authoritative book to teach us how to grow in God's love than the book of Jesus crucified.
St. Maximilian Kolbe, who gave himself away.

Today is the memorial of St. Maximilian Kolbe. Remarkable in so many ways, even before we get to the part he's famous about. As a child he has a vision/dream of Our Lady offering him either of two crowns to be his, one representing perfect holy chastity, the other the blessing of martyrdom; in his 11-year-old's innocence he asks if he can have them both, please. And, as it turned out, he did have them both.

After successful university studies in mathematics and physics, he joined the Conventual Franciscans, earned two doctorate degrees, and taught seminary for a while, then launched out into an apostolate evangelizing by the press and radio, in both Poland and Japan. At the outbreak of hostilities, he was the superior of a very large community in Poland; and because he was a priest, and Polish, and intellectual, and outspoken in the press, he was a prime target of the Nazi occupiers. He was arrested and released several times, the final straw for the Nazis was his sheltering between 3 and 4 thousand Polish refugees in his friary, at least a third of them Jewish. This earned him a one-way pass to Auschwitz. Where he continued to minister and evangelize despite extreme hardships.

Then came a particular day in the last week of July, 1941. Someone had escaped from Block 14A, and according to the rules, 10 prisoners from the same block were to be killed by starvation for every escapee. So 10 men from 14A were selected to be killed, one of them cried out in mourning for his wife and children. Fr. Kolbe stepped out and petitioned the commander to take the place of one of the selected, the one who cried out. Asked who he thought he was, he said he was a priest. Then he offered the officer a reason on the officer's level ---- "I am old and frail, he is young and strong and has a family." And his offer was accepted. He was locked away in the starvation bunker with the other nine from 14A and twenty others from the blocks of two other escapees. He ministered to his 29 fellow victims, leading them in prayers and hymns and offering meditations on the passion and last things, and helping each one to die in peace with God. After two weeks or so, the camp personnel were getting impatient; five of the prisoners were still alive and one, Fr. Kolbe, was still conscious. They needed the room for a new set of victims, so on August 14th they killed Fr. Kolbe and the others still alive by lethal injection.

Most loving Father, whose Son Jesus Christ came to give his life as a ransom for many: Grant to us the grace, as you did grant it to your servant and priest Maximilian Kolbe, to be always ready to come to the aid of those in need or distress, not counting the cost; so that we may follow in the footsteps of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and with the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Let your hearts be broken, not your garments torn..... the words of the prophet Joel for us in these days:

But now, now ---- it is the LORD who speaks ----
come back to me with all your heart,
fasting, weeping, mourning.
Let your hearts be broken, not your garments torn,
turn to the LORD your God again,
for he is all tenderness and compassion,
slow to anger, rich in graciousness,
and ready to relent.
Who knows if he will not turn again, will not relent,
will not leave a blessing as he passes,
oblation and libation
for the LORD your God?

Sound a trumpet in Zion!
Order a fast,
proclaim a solemn assembly,
call the people together,
summon the community,
assemble the elders,
gather the children,
even the infants at the breast.
Let the bridegroom leave his bedroom
and the bride her alcove.
Between the vestibule and altar let the priests,
the ministers of the LORD, lament.
Let them say,
"Spare your people, LORD!
Do not make your heritage a thing of shame,
a byword for the nations.
Why should it be said among the nations,
'Where is their God?' "

Sunday, August 11, 2002

From today's Office of Readings, from one of the dialogues of St. Catherine of Siena, doctor of the Church (and my name-saint):

My sweet Lord, look with mercy upon your people and especially upon the mystical body of your Church. Greater glory is given to your name for pardoning a multitude of your creatures than if I alone were pardoned for my great sins against your majesty. It would be no consolation for me to enjoy your life if your holy people stood in death. For I see that sin darkens the life of your bride the Church ---- my sin and the sin of others.

It is a special grace I ask for, this pardon for the creatures you have made in your image and likeness. When you created man, you were moved by love to make him in your own image. Surely only love could so dignify your creatures. But I know very well that man lost the dignity you gave him; he deserved to lose it, since he had committed sin.

Moved by love and wishing to reconcile the human race to yourself, you gave us your only-begotten Son. He became our mediator and our justice by taking on all our injustice and sin out of obedience to your will, eternal Father, just as you willed that he take on our human nature. What an immeasurably profound love! Your Son went down from the heights of his divinity to the depths of our humanity. Can anyone's heart remain closed and hardened after this?

We image your divinity, but you image our humanity in that union of the two which you have worked in a man. You have veiled the Godhead in a cloud, in the clay of our humanity. Only your love could so dignify the flesh of Adam. And so by reason of this immeasurable love I beg, with all the strength of my soul, that you freely extend your mercy to all your lowly creatures.

Saturday, August 10, 2002

Getting Clobbered by the Word

As sometimes happens, a passage of the Scriptures jumps out as though one has never seen it before.

I had one of those this afternoon.

I was going through the epistles looking for passages for prayer to go with the Penitential Psalms these last few days of our very early and long Dormition Fast. [You might remember from my blogs in early June that some of us in Milwaukee were drawn to prayer and penance and offering up the pain from our little local crisis for the entire miserable national "Situation" until at least the bishops' fast and the Assumption/Dormition.]

And this one, 2 Cor 1:23-2:11, jumped out of the pages and clobbered me over the head:

By my life, I call God to witness that the reason why I did not come to Corinth after all was to spare your feelings. We are not dictators over your faith, but are fellow workers with you for your happiness; in the faith you are steady enough. Well then, I made up my mind not to pay you a second distressing visit. I may have hurt you, but if so I have hurt the only people who could give me any pleasure. I wrote as I did to make sure that, when I came, I should not be distressed by the very people who should have made me happy. I am sure you all know that I could never be happy unless you were. When I wrote to you, in deep distress and anguish of mind, and in tears, it was not to make you feel hurt but to let you know how much love I have for you.

Someone has been the cause of pain; and the cause of pain not to me, but to some degree ---- not to overstate it ---- to all of you. The punishment already imposed by the majority on the man in question is enough; and the best thing now is to give him your forgiveness and encouragement, or he might break down from so much misery. So I am asking you to give some definite proof of your love for him. What I really wrote for, after all, was to test you and see whether you are completely obedient. Anybody that you forgive, I forgive; and as for my forgiving anything ---- if there has been anything to be forgiven, I have forgiven it for your sake in the presence of Christ. And so we will not be outwitted by Satan ---- we know well enough what Satan's intentions are.

All the Church's riches

Lawrence the deacon, the last surviving deacon of the Church in Rome ---- the bishop, Sixtus, all the other deacons, and the vast majority of the presbyters having been executed a few days before ---- was ordered to appear before the rulers at a assigned time and place, bearing all the wealth of the Church.

So he gathered all the Church's wealth and brought it to the appointed place.

He gathered together every widow, every orphan, every beggar and street kid, all the blind and deaf and lame and lunatic ---- all the riches of Christ's Church ---- and presented the riches to the emperor's representative, as he had been commanded.

But the riches of the Church were not the riches that the rulers were seeking; they were seeking jewels and precious metals and manuscripts of forbidden writings. So Lawrence was condemned to death ---- death by torture, by being cooked on a grill. According to the tradition, Lawrence kept his good humor even in dying. After some time, he informed his executioners that it was time to turn him over, since he was done on that side!

Holy St. Lawrence, help us to remember what and where the Church's riches really are, and pray for us that we may truly cherish them and never ever lose heart.

Friday, August 09, 2002

August 9 ---- the martyrs, confessors, and innocents of WWII

August 9 is one of those days when a lot of commemorations come together "by chance" that are related; it could be called the day of all the WWII era saints someday. Today is the anniversary of the deaths of St. Edith Stein (Teresa Benedicta a Cruce) in 1942, of the servant of God Franz Jagerstatter in 1943, and also the anniversary of the destruction of Nagasaki in 1945.

St. Edith Stein was a philosopher, a Carmelite monastic, a Jewish convert, who died in Auschwitz for being "non-Aryan." She was living in a convent in the Netherlands when the bishop there publicly denounced National Socialism and its pomps and works, including its racial policies. In retaliation, the Nazi occupation forces arrested and sent to extermination camps all the "non-Aryan" Catholic clergy and religious, including St. Edith. The Catholics were the first to be taken from the Netherlands.

Franz Jagerstatter was a farmer in a small town in the mountains of Austria, who, after a very rowdy youth, reformed his life and set out to live the Gospel, fully supported by his wife. It was noted by the others in the village that even though he was "too religious," that his duties to the farm and to his wife and daughters were always well fulfilled. When the Nazis took over, he continued to greet people with the traditional "Bless God" and not with "Heil Hitler," and he would not contribute to any of the Nazi collections except the police pension fund (he said he'd worked them too hard in his youth!). Eventually the draft came even for married men with children, and Franz had to tell them that heavens no, he couldn't go; he was executed for that refusal on this day in 1943.

And on this day in 1945, the second of the two chosen cities was destroyed in an instant, in the blinking of an eye. See my post on the 6th for details. If the goal had been to destroy the Catholic faith in Japan, they could not have chosen more shrewdly; but that was not the goal, that was only accidental.

All the martyrs and confessors and innocents of the Second World War, remember us.

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

Where the bishop is, there is the Catholic Church.

Dave of Pompous Ponderings posted a query about "Independent Catholic" communities, such as Spiritus Christi and Jesus Our Shepherd, that function outside any bishop's protection, unsubmitted.

I hold that such communities cannot long survive and remain recognisably Catholic ---- because one of the earliest and most basic definitions of being Catholic is being where the bishop is. To claim to make a church where the bishop is not is to expose oneself to every dogmatic whim, every howling wind, every marauding predator. It is to cut oneself off from the rest of the believers ---- literally to be in schism. Those very few groups that have separated in the past and have remained recognisably Catholic and Christian only managed because either they took their bishops with them (like the Polish National Catholics) or they immediately put themselves under the shelter of another bishop (like Fr. Toth's parishes that became the core of the OCA). They did not make any claim to "independence" or to direct pastoring by Jesus Christ ---- that is a pride trap. Soon they will fall apart, or become excuses for fancy wedding chapels, or wander into strange and false beliefs. There are no foundations, and no accountability.

We need our bishops. We need to be taught, to be guided, to be chastened, to see that we are loved, to be shepherded, to shelter "under the bishop's cape." We are one body in Christ, and we cannot stand alone. To gather as one people around the bishop given to us, not allowing ourselves to be divided; submitting, not accusing; clinging, not dividing. A few days ago I posted a passage from St. Ignatius of Antioch about our union with our bishop; all things are to be done in order and in union with the bishop, and he with us.

We remember this every time we celebrate the Eucharist. We offer our sacrifice remembering "your servant Pope John Paul, our apostolic administrator Richard, Timothy our archbishop-elect, Rembert, and all the bishops...." as we prayed this past Sunday here, a little complicatedly since our diocese is still officially vacant until the 28th. We always pray in union with our shepherds, our teachers, our fathers in Christ.

As long as the "Independent" groups refuse to acknowledge that they need a father-in-Christ, a protective shepherd, they will fall prey to every whim and every prowler.

We who are Catholic Christians have no business wandering in the howling wilderness where the bishop is not. Where the bishop is, there is the Catholic Church. And there is the only place where we can be certain of that.

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

A Transfiguration of Glory and a Transfiguration of Horror

Today, August 6, is the Feast of the Transfiguration, when Peter, James, and John saw Jesus as he truly was, glorious with uncreated Light, conversing with Moses and Elijah. Flabbergasted, they said dumb things about staying there always, but were told they all had to go back down the mountain, back to "real life" ---- though what was at the top of Tabor was more real than the "real life" down below.

Also today, August 6, is the Commemoration Day of the destruction of Hiroshima, when the first of two cities, chosen because they had no military significance (therefore had no previous bomb damage to complicate the before-and-after photos), was utterly destroyed by a single bomb, its people transformed in an instant from living embodied ones to etched shadows on the pavements, and others left to slowly die over weeks and months from radiation-related illnesses unknown before. Those two cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, were not chosen because they were the heart of Japanese Catholicism; _that_ was accidental.

So, we celebrate this feast of our Lord, and remember our brothers and sisters who were doing the same in the Hiroshima Cathedral when they themselves were transformed in a single instant, to see the Lord for eternity as he truly is.

May the perpetual Light, which we celebrate especially on this day, shine upon them all.
In Memory of Paul VI, who died this day in 1978.

Paul VI, Giovanni Battista Montini, was the pope of my growing-up. He shepherded the ecumenical council to a happy and productive conclusion, he was the first pope of modern times to come all over the world to be with the Catholic people, he was a man of prayer and did not hide it, he left us many teachings, some of them daring and prophetic in their depth and breadth (like Humanae Vitae!).

And in 1977, he was inspired to find new archbishops from the monasteries, what some of us call "the season of Basil Who? and Rember' Wha?". It seemed for a while quite problematic, but became for those of us in Westminster and Milwaukee and the other places that were sent monks for bishops a true beyond-all-deserving blessing, to have these bishops of shepherds' hearts and deep prayer to be with us and for us and guide us.

For today's inspiration, here is a link to an exhortation of Paul VI on Christian Joy ("Gaudete in Domino") and also a link to his Last Will and Testament.

Monday, August 05, 2002

See the New Link to Cruciform Chronicles, where there's a wonderful sermon posted today on the passage "rather, he emptied himself..." that I found to be a gift, and you may also.

Sunday, August 04, 2002

From a letter attributed to St. Barnabas (from today's Office of Readings)

When evil days are upon us and the worker of malice gains power, we must attend to our own souls and seek to know the ways of the Lord. In those times reverential fear and perserverance will sustain our faith, and we will find need of forebearance and self-restraint as well. Provided that we hold fast to these virtues and look to the Lord, then wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and insight will make joyous company with them.
Lord, I hate pain.
I know pain is your gift; we cannot survive without it.
Thank you for your gift.
But I still utterly detest pain.
Pain makes it hard to do the things that need doing.
Pain scares other people.
It is hard to show your joy with gritted teeth and tears,
fighting not to weep or scream in public.
Pain lets me know when something's wrong,
but some things will never be right again in this life.
Pain lets me share with you, I know, I have seen it.
You are my help.
It still does not make it less detestable.
I've offered it up for a long long time
and I'm tired and sick of being sick and tired.
Help, Lord.
I hate pain.

Saturday, August 03, 2002

Being together with the bishop: from a letter from St. Ignatius of Antioch to St. Polycarp, while St. Ignatius was travelling to Rome to be martyred.

If anyone can remain chaste in honor of the Savior's flesh, then let him do so without boasting. For if he boasts of it, he is lost; and if he thinks himself for this reason better than the bishop, he is lost. ....... .......Let everything be done for God's honor.

Hear your bishop, that God may hear you. My life is a sacrifice for those who are obedient to the bishop, the presbyters, and the deacons; and may it be my lot to share with them in God. Work together in harmony, struggle together, run together, suffer together, rest together, rise together, as stewards, advisors, and servants of God. Seek to please him whose soldiers you are and from whom you draw your pay; let none of you prove a deserter. Let your baptism be your armor, your faith your helmet, your charity your spear, your patience your panoply. Let your good works be your deposits, so that you may draw out well-earned savings. So be patient and gentle with one another, as God is with you. May I have joy in you for ever!

If you are looking for resources to help you pray in union with your bishop in his upcoming fast on August 14th, there are helps available here, http://www.nccbuscc.org/liturgy/dop.htm .

Thursday, August 01, 2002

Emergency notice from Gerard Serafin

According to Gerard, there is major trouble with the Catholic Blog for Lovers. He cannot post to it or access it at all, though we-all can still see it.

Until he regains access, he's set up an annex, so he can keep on blogging. The annex address is


and he'll merge the content after things get fixed. May they get fixed very very soon.

[update 08/02 6:40 am cdt: the original Blog for Lovers is back in business!!!!!! Now for it to stay that way. kmk]
From today's Office of Readings for our local feast today: from a sermon by St. Augustine.

We are gathered together to celebrate the dedication of a house of prayer. This is our house of prayer, but we too are a house of God. If we are a house of God, its construction goes on in time so that it may be dedicated at the end of time. The house, in its construction, involves hard work, while its dedication is an occasion for rejoicing.

What was done when this church was being built is similar to what is done when believers are built up into Christ. When they first come to believe they are like timber and stone taken from woods and mountains. In their instruction, baptism, and formation they are, so to speak, shaped, leveled, and smoothed by the hands of carpenters and craftsmen.

But Christians do not make a house of God until they are one in charity. The timber and stone must fit together in an orderly plan, must be joined in perfect harmony, must give each other the support as it were of love, or no one would enter the building. When you see the stones and beams of a building holding together securely, you enter the building with an easy mind; you are not afraid of its falling down in ruins.

Christ the Lord wants to come in to us and dwell in us. Like a good builder he says: A new commandment I give you: love one another. He says: I give you a commandment. He means: Before, you were not engaged in building a house for me, but you lay in ruins. Therefore, to be raised up from your former state of ruin you must love one another.

Dear brethren, remember that this house is still in process of being built in the whole world: this is the promise of prophecy. When God's house was being built after the Exile, it was prophesied, in the words of a psalm: Sing a new song to the Lord; sing to the Lord, all the earth. For a new song our Lord speaks of a new commandment. A new song implies a new inspiration of love. To sing is a sign of love. The singer of this new song is full of the warmth of God's love.

The work we see complete in this building is physical; it should find its spiritual counterpart in your hearts. We see here the finished product of stone and wood; so too your lives should reveal the handiwork of God's grace.

Let us then offer our thanksgiving above all to the Lord our God, from whom every best and perfect gift comes. Let us praise his goodness with our whole hearts. He it was who inspired in his faithful people the will to build this house of prayer; he stirred up their desire and gave them his help. He awakened enthusiasm among those who were at first unconvinced, and guided to a successful conclusion the efforts of men of good will. So God, who gives to those of good will both the desire and the accomplishment of the things that belong to him, is the one who began this work, the one who has brought it to completion.