Monday, September 30, 2002

I never thought I'd be back in deliverance ministry!

It had been more than twenty years since I had anything to do with deliverance, until last night. The Accuser of the Brethren now prowls website comment boxes seeking the ruin of souls, so it seems. Another lesson from this site's beginnings, overlooked a couple days ago:

8) The Accuser of the Brethren can have no foothold among us if we refuse to play his foul game. We must not accuse others, only ourselves. We cannot defend ourselves, even justly, by accusing anybody else of anything; not if we seek to live truly submitted lives.

So we pick up the bottle of virtual holy water and we command: Accuser of the Brethren, you have no place here. We accuse only ourselves. Be gone. And we pray: Lord Jesus, be our salvation. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.

And all my readers, pray for me.

Sunday, September 29, 2002

New and spiffy improvements

I've added a few more amenities to the site; a sitemeter and a really snazzy comments system. Have fun discussing, but I have no qualms about deleting those as can't keep a civil tongue, and getting rid of it entirely if it gets too tough to police.

Again, have fun (within reason).
An interview with my archbishop by the Journal Sentinel

What have I been telling you-all in Amy's and Mark's comments boxes about the hot hot issue of Sunday kneeling?!

Give it a read, you won't regret it.

Friday, September 27, 2002

The lessons of this blog's beginnings remain true.

1) The details of our long-ago-confessed and long-ago-forgiven sins and stupidities are the business only of God. They are not rightly the business of those who would turn them into cudgels.

2) The details of the sins of Other People are none of my business; I've enough troubles with my own.

3) Sins and stupidities do not negate goodness, wisdom, love, or generosity.

4) If we insist on having only perfect bishops who have only perfect priests, we will have neither bishops nor priests; for all of us have sinned, every single one of us has done spectacularly stupid things, and even the strongest and most faithful of us come equipped with two clay feet.

5) I have sinned and done incredibly dumb things; I have no right to ridicule, ever.

6) The judgment I judge is the judgment I will be judged by; the forgiveness I offer will be the forgiveness I receive. So how dare I even think of stringent judgment or withholding my forgiveness.

and, 7) from the last teaching of my gentle and devoted retired archbishop, who was the pariah when this website was birthed in the last week of May: . I have learned how frail my own human nature is, how in need of God’s loving embrace I am. Empty-handed for me now means a willingness to accept my humanity totally, just as Christ accepted that same human nature out of love. But for me it also means to be fully receptive to whatever God wants to place in those hands, to be ready with empty hands to receive new life.
But I am also aware much self-pity and pride remain. I must leave that pride behind. Each day I will try to leave room for God to enter into my life more and more. Ultimately I understand that the humanity God so loved and sought to redeem, including my own humanity, will be transformed by his loving embrace and grace.

These lessons will always remain the same, whether the current pariah's name is Rembert George W., or Gerard Serafin B., or Karen Marie Jochebed K. The truth endures.

Thursday, September 26, 2002

To all my readers, please pray for my friend Gerard, without whom this website would not exist; he is undergoing a great trial and needs our intercession now.

Psalm 43

Defend me, take up my cause
against people who have no pity;
from the treacherous and the cunning
rescue me, God.

It is You, God, who are my shelter;
why do You abandon me?
Why must I walk so mournfully,
oppressed by the enemy?

Send out Your light and Your truth,
let these be my guide,
to lead me to Your holy mountain
and to the place where You live.

Then I shall go to the altar of God,
to the God of my joy.
I shall rejoice, I shall praise You on the harp,
my Lord, my God.

Why so downcast, my soul?
Why do you sigh within me?
Put your hope in God: I shall praise Him yet,
my saviour, my God.


Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Back in July, when I was in Ohio for the Knapp reunion, I posted this; now it's time to refer you-all to it again. Unlike the prayer, it's too long to retype, so I'll just give you a link to the archives and hope they work now [oh, blogger!].

From the Depths: Holy Anonymous of Sachsenhausen, priest, penitent
All Holy Penitents, pray for us

An email from my archbishop has been blogged at Pete Vere's CLOG. Please go there, and read it, and pray for all of us, "them" included.

I think it's time to repost this:

A Prayer for Michael Krejci, Russell Banner, John Bertolucci, and all the others.

Lord, we pray for Your priests who must now go away from us. They have reformed their lives, they have been penitent, they have been restored and have given us Your word and Your sacraments faithfully. Yet now, for the good of the whole Church, they must go into anonymous exile.

Lord, You know them, every one. Give them the courage and strength and grace to bear this for You and Your holy Church. Support and heal them, as You did Miriam in her leprous shame, and as You did David the King after his great crimes. Let Your light shine in and through them, as it did in Margaret of Cortona and Mary of Egypt, in Your anonymous one of Sachsenhausen, and in so many of Your holy penitents through all ages.

We, who are also sinners, beg this of You, our all-good Lord. Amen.

[originally posted 07/28/2002]

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Office of Readings "On Pastors" --- how long, O Lord?!

For the last week or more and till the end of this one, our Church in her wisdom [?] has us reading Ezechiel's prophecies and the homily "On Pastors" by St. Augustine. Otherwise known as "Fifty ways your pastor and your bishop can screw up." Yes, Lord, we know how our bishops can screw up --- this year's long Lent and very early long Dormition Fast have taught us that if they've taught us nothing else. I know, these readings come around every September; but they've never been quite so oppressive before as they are this time around.

Where is the corresponding "On Parishioners" or maybe "On the Putative Faithful" to remind us of our duties and responsibilities to our pastors, and the fifty ways we can and do screw up? We have a duty to honor and care for our pastors, just as they have a duty to honor and care for us. We have a duty to actually pay attention when they try to teach us, and to work hard to understand their teaching and conform our lives to it; just like their duty to listen to us and to teach us the ways of God. We have a duty to pray for them, and not just in the Eucharistic Prayer on Sundays; just like it is their duty to pray for us. And on and on ....

As we continue praying "On Pastors" for the rest of this week, let us not gloat; let us remember that we have duties to match every one of their duties that St Augustine is taking them to task for, and in many ways we've been equal screw-ups with our pastors and bishops. It was never intended that all the holiness of the Church come from the priest, and maybe the nuns; the holiness of the Church is to come from all of us --- or more correctly, from our Lord through every single one of us. We cannot get away with or be satisfied with anything less than sanctity of life, any of us. Not just St Augustine's targets this fortnight, but me and you and all of us! Lord, have mercy; all saints of God, pray for us.

Monday, September 23, 2002

Put On the Whole Armor of God: St. Patrick's Breastplate

I bind unto myself today
the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three.

I bind this day to me forever,
by power of faith, Christ's Incarnation;
his baptism in the Jordan river;
his death on cross for my salvation;
his bursting from the spiced tomb;
his riding up the heavenly way;
his coming at the day of doom:
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
of the great love of cherubim;
the sweet "Well done" in judgement hour;
the service of the seraphim;
confessors' faith, apostles' word,
the patriarchs' prayers, the prophets' scrolls;
all good deeds done unto the Lord,
and purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
the virtues of the starlit heaven,
the glorious sun's life-giving ray,
the whiteness of the moon at even,
the flashing of the lightning free,
the whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
the stable earth, the deep salt sea,
around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
the power of God to hold and lead,
his eye to watch, his might to stay,
his ear to hearken to my need;
the wisdom of my God to teach,
his hand to guide, his shield to ward;
the word of God to give me speech,
his heavenly host to be my guard.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three.
Of whom all nature hath creation,
eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
praise to the Lord of my salvation,
salvation is of Christ the Lord!

Saturday, September 21, 2002

to close the autumn Ember Days: A Song of Thanksgiving found on a Society of Creative Anachronism filksong site. (It's really more a winter Ember Days or Christmas feast song, but I still couldn't resist; the Lord preserves us even if it isn't snow season quite yet, this is Wisconsin, snow won't be long away.)

A Song of Thanksgiving
Mar Yaakov HaMizrachi

[Notes from Yaakov: This popped into my head for Thanksgiving, but I don't know that it is everyone's cup of tea. It can be sung to the tune of "An Astrologer's Song" (Kippling/Fish)]

The harvest is in and the fire on the hearth.
Let cruel Borealis blow down from the North!
With fellowship, laughter and bowls of good cheer,
We'll drive out the cold and the dark of the year!

The barn brims to bursting with corn and with beast.
What we could not store we now set for our feast.
We'll sit by the fire and eat drink and sing,
While Earth sleeps in snow and prepares for the spring.

But even in revels- forget not oh man!
Nor boast that thy plenty comes by thine own hand!
Recall what you owe to the bounty of God-
His Mercy that keeps you well-fed clothed and shod.

He gave us good measure of sun and sweet rain.
He blessed all our laboir; He healed all our pain.
Give thanks that he brought us here healthy and warm.
(And pray He protects us from sickness and storm!)

Oh Lord bless this company gathered today,
And smile as we lift up our glasses and say:
"With fellowship, laughter and bowls of good cheer,
We'll drive off the cold and the dark of the year!"
Matthew Levi and his coming out party!

Today is the feast of St. Matthew, apostle and evangelist, one of Jesus' more unique characters.

For, you see, Matthew had really sunk low in the world. He calls himself Matthew, but the other gospel writers call him Levi. This meant he had a hereditary job, serving the Lord in the holy temple; or at least that was what he was supposed to be doing. What he actually was doing was collecting taxes.

Back then, tax collecting wasn't an upright or honorable profession, this was long, long before the IRS. Tax collecting was one of the least honorable trades to be had, socially on a par with prostitution as a way of life. The occupiers didn't collect their own taxes; they hired out that job to independent contractors, who were paid a percentage of the take. So the less honest and more vicious one was, the richer one got. Not only was the tax collector collaborating with those rotten Roman occupation forces, he was (almost universally) fleecing his own people besides! And this life of well-to-do outcast collaborator, public sinner, was Matthew Levi's.

Jesus came to get him at the tax collector's office. Jesus called to Matthew, and Matthew wasted no time leaving the office not only for the day but for keeps. [When tough times came later, the fisher folk occasionally went back to fishing for their support, which could be done honorably and without sinning; but Matthew never went back to the office, the temptation levels were just too high.]

But, before he left town and went out on the road with Jesus, he had Jesus over to his house and threw a rip-roaring good party with Jesus the guest of honor and the rest of the guest list being Matthew's friends, the only sort of friends a tax collector could have: other tax collectors, Roman collaborators of other occupations, and other public sinners. Not a respectable upstanding citizen in the lot of them. Yet, these were Matthew's friends. Matthew had been found by Jesus and was getting out; he wasn't going to go before all his friends got to meet Jesus also.

Here's how St. Bede preached about this party, in the passage in today's Office of Readings: This conversion of one tax collector gave many men, those from his own profession and other sinners, an example of repentance and pardon. Notice also the happy and true anticipation of his future status as apostle and teacher of the nations. No sooner was he converted than Matthew drew after him a whole crowd of sinners along the same road to salvation. He took up his appointed duties while still taking his first steps in the faith, and from that hour he fulfilled his obligations and thus grew in merit. ...

Matthew, apostle and evangelist, faithful friend, pray for us.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

A Kid Brother of St. Frank: Richard Wayne Mullins
October 21, 1955 - September 19, 1997

I have absolutely no difficulty appropriating Rich Mullins for the catholica; not only is the work of God roaringly obvious, but he was within days of his reception into the Catholic Church at the time of his death in an automobile accident.

An interview Rich Mullins gave to the Catholic Register in April, 1997

Column about Rich Mullins, his instructor in the faith, and his Catholicity.

Eternal rest grant unto him, let perpetual light shine upon him.
Oh, My Lord from the oratorio "Canticle of the Plains"

"Canticle of the Plains" is the story of Frank of Wichita, a disillusioned Civil War veteran seeking after God. (Frank of Wichita bears an awful lot of resemblance to a thirteenth century guy also named Frank.....) by Rich Mullins and two other Kid Brothers, Mitch McVicker and Beaker. The real-life 13th century St. Francis is credited with inventing the Stations of the Cross.

When I think that the world would rise to condemn You,
Oh, my Lord; oh, my Lord.
Well it makes me cry.
You know it makes me tremble.
Oh, my Lord; oh, my Lord;
Oh my Jesus, sweet lamb of God.

You emptied Yourself and became just like us.
Then You set aside Your glory
and You took up that cross.
Through the crowd, through the cursing soldiers,
oh, my Lord; oh, my Lord.
You fell to the ground with the cross upon Your shoulders.

Oh, my Lord; oh, my Lord;
oh, my Jesus; oh, Man of sorrows.
When You saw Your mother standing there upon that road,
did You feel the pain of the sword that would soon pierce her soul?
Oh, my Lord; yes, oh, my Lord.
Oh, my Lord; yes, oh, my Lord. .....

Well a man was made to help carry that weight,
and a woman was moved to wipe the blood from Your face.
And then You fell again,
and You're taking more than a man could take.

You said, "Sisters, sisters, don't you weep for me."
Oh, my Lord; oh, my Lord.
And then once again fell down to Your knees.
Oh, my Lord; oh, my Lord;
oh, my Jesus, God's only one.

Well, they stripped off Your clothes,
then they cast their lots.
Oooh, they stretched out Your arms
and nailed Your hands to that cross.

See a broken heart --- it's what made You die.
Oh, my Lord; oh, my Lord.
And the blood and the water flowed out from Your side.
Oh, my Lord; oh, my Lord;
oh, my Jesus, Giver of Grace.

You know, gentle hands they took You down
and laid You in that grave scene.
No one believed You'd be back in three short days.

Oh, my Lord; oh, my Lord.
Oh, my Lord; oh, my Lord. .....yes.

copyright 1996, Kid Brothers of St. Frank.
We Are Not As Strong As We Think We Are by Rich Mullins

Well, it took the hand of God Almighty
to part the waters of the sea,
but it only took one little lie
to separate you and me.
Oh, we are not as strong as we think we are.

And they say that one day Joshua
made the sun stand still in the sky,
but I can't even keep these thoughts of you from passing by.
Oh, we are not as strong as we think we are.

We are frail,
we are fearfully and wonderfully made;
forged in the fires of human passion,
choking on the fumes of selfish rage.
And with these our hells and our heavens
so few inches apart,
we must be awfully small
and not as strong as we think we are.

And the Master said their faith was
gonna make them mountains move;
but me, I tremble like a hill on a fault line
just at the thought of how I lost you.
Oh, we are not as strong as we think we are.

We are frail,
we are fearfully and wonderfully made;
forged in the fires of human passion,
choking on the fumes of selfish rage.
And with these our hells and our heavens
so few inches apart,
we must be awfully small
and not as strong as we think we are.

And if you make me laugh,
I know I could make you like me,
'cause when I laugh I can be a lot of fun.
But we can't do that; I know that it is frightening.
What I don't know is why we can't hold on.
We can't hold on.

It took the hand of God Almighty
to part the waters of the sea,
but it only took one little lie
to separate you and me.
Oh, we are not as strong as we think we are.

When you love you walk on the water,
just don't stumble on the waves.
We all want to go there something awful,
but to stand there it takes some grace,
'cause oh, we are not as strong
as we think we are.

No, we are not as strong
as we think we are.

Walk on the water.
Walk on the water.
If we could just hold on;
Just hold on.

copyright 1996, Class Reunion Music, Kid Brothers of St. Frank Publishing

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

"Be faithful. Trust. Be not afraid. Cast out into the deep. Be saints."

Our Lady, Mother of the Church

Stride forward faithfully, fearlessly;
following our Lord, our Beloved;
even in pursuit of Him,
setting out boldly, travelling light,
keeping our eyes on only the one thing ----
not the one thing more, but the one only thing.

"Who possesses God finds nothing is wanting.
God alone suffices."

As the mother of our Lord, our mother, ever did;
Mother of God, Mother of the Church,
in joy, in chaos, in sorrow, in glory, in all things.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Conformities --- May we be made conformable to the death of the Son, and thus share also in His resurrection.

On this day in 1224, St. Francis was fasting and praying in one of his favorite retreating places, up on Mt. Alverna, when he had a vision of his beloved Lord crucified; a vision that drew him so deeply that, when the vision went away, it now only left him glowing with love and joy in his heart, but it also left him physically marked, even the body joining in on the union with the Lord Jesus his Beloved in everything.

And, also conformed but in less dramatic fashion, this is also the feast day of St. Robert Bellarmine, the heroic Jesuit scholar, bishop, and doctor of the Church; and of St. Hildegarde of Bingen, the holy abbess and polygenius. Pray to God for us.

Monday, September 16, 2002

Reminiscent of the ladder of divine ascent...is this poem by Langston Hughes

Mother to Son

Well, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor-
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So, boy, don't you turn your back.
Don't you set down on the steps
'Cause you find it kinder hard.
Don't you fall now-
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
A Plea for the Poor, by John Woolman

The URL for the entire Plea is: http://home.earthlink.net/~quakerswfla/woolman-plea.html

Chapter Ten

“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing, and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father” [Mt. 10:29].

The way of carrying on wars, common in the world, is so far distinguishable from the purity of Christ’s religion that many scruple to join in them. Those who are so redeemed from the love of the world as to possess nothing in a selfish spirit, their “life is hid with Christ in God” [Col. 3:3], and these he preserves in resignedness, even in times of commotion. As they possess nothing but what pertains to his family, anxious thoughts about wealth or dominion hath little or nothing in them to work upon, and they learn contentment in being disposed of according to his will who, being omnipotent and always mindful of his children, causeth all things to work for their good. But where that spirit which loves riches works, and in its working gathers wealth and cleaves to customs which have their root in selfpleasing, this spirit, thus separating from universal love, seeks help from that power which stands in the separation; and whatever name it hath, it still desires to defend the treasures thus gotten. This is like a chain where the end of one link encloses the end of another. The rising up of a desire to attain wealth is the beginning. This desire being cherished moves to action, and riches thus gotten please self, and while self hath a life in them it desires to have them defended.

Wealth is attended with power, by which bargains and proceedings contrary to universal righteousness are supported; and here oppression, carried on with worldly policy and order, clothes itself with the name of justice and becomes like a seed of discord in the soil; and as this spirit which wanders from the pure habitation prevails, so the seed of war swells and sprouts and grows and becomes strong, till much fruits are ripened. Thus cometh the harvest spoken of by the prophet, which is “a heap in the day of grief, and of desperate sorrow” [Is. 17:11].

Oh, that we who declare against wars and acknowledge our trust to be in God only, may walk in the Light and therein examine our foundation and motives in holding great estates! May we look upon our treasures and the furniture of our houses and the garments in which we array ourselves and try whether the seeds of war have any nourishment in these our possessions or not. Holding treasures in the self-pleasing spirit is a strong plant, the fruit whereof ripens fast. A day of outward distress is coming and divine love calls to prepare against it! Harken then, Oh ye children who have known the Light, and come forth! Leave everything which our Lord Jesus Christ does not own. Think not his pattern too plain or too coarse for you. Think not a small portion in this life too little, but let us live in his spirit and walk as he walked, and he will preserve us in the greatest troubles.

Sunday, September 15, 2002

Remember the Ember Days

This coming Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday are the Ember Days.

The Ember Days are an ancient observance and devotion --- already in the fifth century they were well-known and described as being of apostolic origin.

The Ember Days are observed on the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday following St. Lucy's day (December 13), following Ash Wednesday, following Pentecost Sunday, and following the feast of the Triumph of the Cross (yesterday, September 14th). Roughly at the turning of each season, we fast and abstain, and give alms, and pray, to thank God for sustaining us with the gifts of nature through the cycle of the seasons, to help us learn to use those gifts wisely and moderately, and to assist the needy.

We don't have to give up the Ember Days. We need them in some ways more than ever in our times, to remind us that our daily food doesn't really come from the supermarket --- it comes from our earth, from the hard work of farming people, from rain and sun and snow cover at the proper times, and from proper stewardship of the earth's goods by the proper use of the land and the water and the air.

So we pray, we fast, we do works of reparation and mercy. We remind ourselves that we depend on God --- not on Kraft, Nabisco, and General Mills --- to sustain us always.

(Thanks to CINJustAnn listserv for the reminder.... more info can be found at the Access to Catholic Social Justice Teaching site in the sidebar links)

Saturday, September 14, 2002

The Triumph of the Cross

It requires great self-denial and resignation of ourselves to God to attain that state wherein we freely cease from fighting. ....Whoever rightly attains to it, does in some degree feel that Spirit in which our Redeemer gave His life for us. (John Woolman)

Behold, behold, the wood of the cross,
on which is hung our Salvation;
O come, let us adore!
(Liturgy of Good Friday)

We adore You, O Christ, and we bless You,
for by Your holy cross You have redeemed the world.

O my Lord, Messiah and (truly!) King,
You have been lifted up, and have triumphed.
You Yourself mend our lives, and draw us to Yourself,
and make Yourself our greatest yearning, greatest gift.

We who lifted You up from the earth ---
not far, not nearly to the sky, let alone the heavens ---
intending only evil; or not intending at all, "just following orders,"
just another execution in a busy day

It was for us that You took everything we gave,
that You offered Yourself, unresisting,
(and You, our Messiah and Lord, are God;
You had the power to save Yourself)
so that when we had done our very worst
Your forgiveness and Your triumph would rescue us,
very thankful and truly humble.

We know what we have done.
We know of what we are capable.
We look upon Your cross
and our sin remains before us,
we cannot ignore the truth of ourselves.

We deny You. We are cowards and run away from You.
We drag You all over the city, from courtroom to courtroom.
For You, our King, we weave a crown of thornbush to force upon Your head.
We beat You. We mock You. We parade You through the streets.
We disdignify You, stripping You of everything.
And, clothed only in welts and bruises and Your own blood,
we nail You to a cross to torture You to death.

Our sin is always before us,
and yet,
and yet,
so also is Your mercy,
so also Your forgiveness,
so also Your great offering.

And, in time's fullness,
the sign of Jonah ---
even Death itself is conquered, vanquished;
so we might proceed from life to Life true and eternal,
Life that knows no end.

Friday, September 13, 2002

How to properly honor Christ by St. John Chrysostom, whose feast is today. [via Gerard's Blog for Lovers]

Do you want to honor Christ's Body? Then do not scorn him in his rags, nor honor him here in the church with silken garments while neglecting him outside where he is cold and naked. For he who said: "This is My Body" and made it so by his words, also said: "You saw me hungry and did not feed me" and "inasmuch as you did not do it for one of these, the least of my brethren, you did not do it for me." What we do here in the church requires a pure heart, not special garments; for God does not want golden vessels but golden hearts.

Of what use is it to weigh down Christ's table with golden cups, when he himself is dying of hunger? First, fill him when he is hungry; then use the means you have left to adorn his table. Will you have a golden cup made but not give a cup of water? What is the use of providing the table with cloths woven of gold thread, and not providing Christ himself with the clothes he needs?...

You provide silver chains for the lamps, but you cannot bear to even look at him as he lies chained in prison....

Therefore do not adorn the church and ignore your afflicted brother, for he is the most precious temple of all.

(St John Chrysostom, Homily on Matthew, PG 58, 508-509)

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

The War Prayer, by Mark Twain

It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and sputtering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spreads of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country and invoked the God of Battles, beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpouring of fervid eloquence which moved every listener.

It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety's sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.

Sunday morning came-next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their faces alight with material dreams -- visions of a stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender!-then home from the war, bronzed heros, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation -- "God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest, Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!"

Then came the "long" prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was that an ever--merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory ---

An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness.

With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher's side and stood there, waiting.

With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in
fervent appeal, "Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!"

The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside -- which the startled minister did -- and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said:

"I come from the Throne-bearing a message from Almighty God!" The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. "He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd and will grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import -- that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of -- except he pause and think.

"God's servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two -- one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of His Who hearth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this -- keep it in mind. If you beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor's crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.

"You have heard your servant's prayer -- the uttered part of it. I am commissioned by God to put into words the other part of it -- that
part which the pastor, and also you in your hearts, fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory -- must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God the Father fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

The prayer, as translated by the stranger:

"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle -- be Thou near them! With them, in spirit, we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe.

"O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it -- for our sakes who adore Thee.

"Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

(After a pause)

"Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits."

It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said..

On this yahrzeit day for thousands, as war drums pound....

A Prayer for Enemies

Lord Jesus Christ, Who didst command us to love our enemies, and those who defame and injure us, and to pray for them and forgive them; Who Thyself didst pray for Thine enemies, who crucified thee: grant us, we pray, the spirit of Christian reconciliation and meekness, that we may heartily forgive every injury and be reconciled with our enemies. Grant us to overcome the malevolence and offences of people with Christian meekness and true love of our neighbor. We further beseech Thee, O Lord, to grant to our enemies true peace and forgiveness of sins; and do not allow them to leave this life without true faith and sincere conversion. And help us repay evil with goodness, and to remain safe from the temptations of the devil and from all the perils which threaten us, in the form of visible and invisible enemies. Amen.

Monday, September 09, 2002

The Price of the Pearl

I'm rather old-fashioned in my computing habits; I still participate in listserv groups. On the FreeCatholic listserv, we got to talking about blogging, and my listserv acquaintance Abigail was writing about her pleasure in reading blogs, especially the blog of a certain major Catholic newsblogger. I gave her an invitation:

When you get tired of all the bad news all the time at [newsblogger], come visit my blog sometime.

and she answered back in a way that shook me:

Your blog is very focused on God --- that makes it a bit scary.....

My blog --- scary? The Suscipe is scary, the scariest hymn in the hymnal. St. Rose of Lima, Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha, _they're_ scary. But my little blog? I can't even manage to keep a fly scared away!

....because everything in it's a call, and I have to ask myself why I find it more pleasant to read arguments and bad news than to hear the good news proclaimed. I guess the answer is in the parable of the pearl of great price. I don't want to ask myself if I'm willing to pay it.

and then a little further on, about one of the passages on contrition I posted on Tuesday 3rd September:

I hadn't read the Dear Paul letter until I saw it on your blog --- that is, I read up to the part where he muses that he probably shouldn't be writing these things and taking the risk of their becoming public someday, and then I took the high road and stopped reading. But I've read it now (I can never keep my balance on the high road for very long) and it's scary for the same reason: it's about the price of the pearl.

I'd never that I could remember sat myself down to think just about the pearl of great price; but dear Abigail's nudged me into it.

The pearl we want so desperately is our Lord, Himself.
The price of the pearl is absolutely every thing.
But, the pearl itself _is_ absolutely Everything, All in All.

As St. Teresa de Jesus said (in Nada te turbe):
The one who possesses God finds nothing is wanting.
God alone suffices.

The price is not just every thing one time,
but it's everything over and over again.
Just now we have a promise of the pearl,
we have a covenant about the pearl,
we get glimpses of the pearl.
If we are extraordinarily fortunate,
we have visitation with the pearl.

But the time will come when we take full possession of the pearl
(or it of us! )
and when that time comes,
we must arrive empty.
Having given everything over and over again ---
making installment payments on the pearl ---
we have to arrive empty of self-will, empty of self-pity,
empty of pride, empty of sin,
empty of our works and merits and deserving,
empty of all the trivia and stuff we collect and cling to.

The pearl is Everything.
There's no room in our selves for it
and for any thing else at all.

The other St. Therese, the Little Flower, said to God:
In the evening of this life, I shall appear before You with empty hands,
for I do not ask You, Lord, to count my works....
I wish, then, to be clothed in Your own Justice
and to receive from Your Love the eternal possession of Yourself.

And the author of the Dear Paul Letter, decades later, had this to say to the Church he renounced the friendship of Paul to love and to serve single-heartedly:
She [St. Therese of Lisieux] once wrote that she wanted to go to God empty-handed. I think I know now personally what she meant by that phrase. I have learned how frail my own human nature is, how in need of God's loving embrace I am. Empty-handed for me now means a willingness to accept my humanity totally, just as Christ accepted that same human nature out of love. But for me it also means to be fully receptive to whatever God wants to place in those hands, to be ready with empty hands to receive new life.
But I am also aware much self-pity and pride remain. I must leave that pride behind. Each day I will try to leave room for God to enter into my life more and more. Ultimately I understand that the humanity God so loved and sought to redeem, including my own humanity, will be transformed by His loving embrace and grace.

The price of the pearl is everything, over and over again;
it also requires all of the space in our hearts.
Yet the pearl is Everything: once we take full possession, there will be no voids and no thing lacking.

Our Lady, Mother of the Church,
as she's imaged in our wonderful Cathedral,
strides forward faithfully, determinedly, right off her pedestal,
to follow her Son, her Lord, her Beloved.

Lord, to whom can we go? There is no other way.
We have to dare to follow her example.

I emailed Abigail to get her permission to quote her (since she's a listserv person, not a blogger, I thought just using Welborn Protocol was unfair) and she sent to me a few more words of Abigail-wisdom. Giving up one's self-will to the service and will of infants is excellent discipline I'll never have, and Abigail does.

...something is tugging at my mind about The Price of the Pearl (wouldn't that be a great name for a blog?). But I can't think what it could possibly be, because the whole point of the parable is that once you acquire the pearl, its price is precisely what's not important: just like labor pains after the baby's born. Maybe it's that in this life, we're still in the process of paying the price. The pearl's only promised, we've only seen the baby by ultrasound (through a mirror darkly). So we can't _really_ forget it yet. Or something like that.

And, of course, she's right. God alone suffices.
On Scandal and "scandals"

First of all, we've got terms to define, because most of what we call "scandals" aren't scandal at all, but merely sensational facts or public embarrassments. And our reactions to real scandal and to "scandals" will also differ, have to differ, since the two have so little to do with each other beyond that word.

True scandal (CCC 2284-2287) is always extremely serious and, if intentional, gravely sinful --- Jesus had things to say about it having to do with millstones and large bodies of water. True scandal is saying or doing things that lead other people to sin or to become separated from God. Some, names removed, examples from current events: adults or near-adults getting younger children or the mentally handicapped to do their illegal activities for them; authoritative person publicly stating that if someone's p.o.'ed at their bishop over something they should stop assisting at Eucharist; abusing or manipulating another so that they can no longer exhibit trust or cannot tolerate being in the Church; teaching that name-your-popular-vice (e.g., fornication, civilian-targeting, etc., etc.....) is virtue or even duty.

Yes, true scandal is abysmal, and the solution is to be non-scandalizible. There are people out there in our money and sex and power crazed society looking to give scandal all the time --- and it is our duty not to take it. Our relationship with God has to become strong enough, through prayer and discipline, that the scandal-monger does not have any market among us. One of the reformation-era saints, I think it was St. Francis de Sales, made the argument that just because there are soul-murderers out there doesn't make it right to commit spiritual suicide. So work on building up faith so that "though all hell should endeavor to shake, I'll never, no never, no never forsake!"

Now for the rest of the stuff, the "scandals" --- meaning the sensational attention-grabbers or the publicly embarrassing --- we have to remember that embarrassment, even the public kind, does not kill. In fact, in the long term, it sets free. (It's secrets that bind and maim and kill the spirit, and sometimes even the body.) So when (more current-events examples) the pastor inserts foot firmly in mouth with a reporter nearby and cameras rolling; honourable government official gets caught harrassing the secretary or fingering the petty cash; your bishop's an extortion victim; or your skivvies lose their elastic and fall around your ankles in some very public place --- charity and patient endurance is the key. "Scandals" generally fade with time; they either get put in a more realistic perspective or they get superceded by fresher targets and tales. [After a few years you may be laughing yourself about your undies on your ankles in the communion line...]

There are dangers in "scandals" to be watched for and to be avoided. To make public or to spread publicly embarrassing things can easily become sins against the target's human dignity, or against the truth. Detraction, slander, and rash judgement are often involved when "scandals" are revealed or propagated. (CCC 2475-2479) And, when the target is unfavored, it is very easy to fall into the vice called schadenfreude, which is when one takes pleasure or delight in the troubles or downfall of someone else. So, we have to avoid ridicule at all costs. Remember and contemplate the spectacularly stupid doings tucked in one's own past, and _know_, not just wonder about, that "there but for the grace of God....." Pray for the poor target, and if you're in a position to give support or comfort in the trial, do so. Comforting the afflicted is one of those things Catholics do, and becoming the pariah-of-the-week is definitely an affliction.

Saturday, September 07, 2002

Some illustrations?

Encouraged and inspired by the adventures of Dylan of error503, I'm going to try to place a couple of pictures of my own. In honor of my last week's attempt at newsblogging, a pair of pictures I printed out last week for prayer cards. (let's hope this works!)

If it works, they're Archbishop Dolan receiving the crozier, and one of the few really good pictures of all three of the bishops in Milwaukee together.
"Rebuild My Church, which you can see is falling into ruin."

When the icon at St. Damian's spoke this to St. Francis, Francis took it at face value. St. Damian's _was_ half fallen down, after all. So he started begging for stone and mortar and building supplies, and set himself to rebuilding the Lord's Church --- i. e., St. Damian's. Then Our Lady of the Angels at Little Portion. Then about a half-dozen other small churches in the countryside near his hometown. It took years of apprenticeship rebuilding the Lord's churches --- the buildings --- before he became aware that he was also to rebuild The Lord's Church --- singular, capitalized article --- which in his thirteenth century was in utterly miserable condition. He needed the hard stonemasonry work and the disciplined life to make him sufficiently strong to do the larger task.
"Repairer of the Breach, Restorer of Ruined Homes"

Isaiah in chapter 58 tells us what we need to do if we want to earn those honored titles Repairer of the Breach and Restorer of Ruined Homes, and to help to rebuild The Lord's Church in our day.

They seek Me day after day,
they long to know My ways,
like a nation that wants to act with integrity
and not ignore the law of its God.

They ask Me for laws that are just,
they long for God to draw near:
"Why should we fast if You never see it,
why do penance if You never notice?"

Look, you do business on your fastdays,
you oppress all your workmen;
look, you quarrel and squabble when you fast
and strike the poor man with your fist.

Fasting like yours today
will never make your voice heard on high.
Is that the sort of fast that pleases Me,
a truly penitential day for men?

Hanging your head like a reed,
lying down on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call fasting,
a day acceptable to the LORD?

Is not this the sort of fast that pleases Me
--- it is the LORD God who speaks ---
to break unjust fetters
and undo the thongs of the yoke,

to let the oppressed go free,
and break every yoke,
to share your bread with the hungry,
and shelter the homeless poor,

to clothe the man you see to be naked
and not turn from your own kin?
Then will your light shine like the dawn
and your wound be quickly healed over.

Your integrity will go before you
and the glory of the LORD behind you.
Cry, and the LORD will answer;
call, and He will say, "I am here."

If you do away with the yoke,
the clenched fist, the wicked word,
if you give your bread to the hungry,
and relief to the oppressed,

your light will rise in the darkness,
and your shadows become like noon.
The LORD will always guide you,
giving you relief in desert places.

He will give strength to your bones
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water
whose waters never run dry.

You will rebuild the ancient ruins,
build up on the old foundations.
You will be called "Breach-mender",
"Restorer of ruined houses".


Friday, September 06, 2002

A Word from the Desert

A layman of devout life came to see Abba Poemen. Now it happened that there were other brethren with the old man, asking to hear a word from him. The old man said to the faithful secular, "Say a word to the brothers." When he insisted, the layman said, "Please excuse me, abba; I myself have come to learn." But he was urged on by the old man and so he said, "I am a secular. I sell vegetables and do business. I make bundles into pieces, and make smaller ones; I buy cheap and sell dear. What is more, I do not know how to speak of the Scriptures, so I will tell you a parable. A man said to his friends, `"I want to go to see the emperor. Come with me." One friend said to him, "I will go with you half the way." Then he said to another friend, "Come and go with me to the emperor," and he said to him, "I will take you as far as the emperor's palace." He said to a third friend, "Come with me to the emperor." He said, "I will come and take you to the palace and I will stay and speak and assist you to approach the emperor."' They asked the layman what was the point of the parable. He answered them, "The first friend is asceticism, which leads the way; the second is chastity which takes us to Heaven; and the third is almsgiving which with confidence presents us to God our King." And the brethren went away edified.

Thursday, September 05, 2002

Yesterday, dear Steven of Flos Carmeli posted an utterly beautiful meditation on the proper dwelling place of God, which I am very highly recommending. [Yes, he does cite me in it, but he manages that without detracting from the wonders of his meditation, somehow.]

Also, he has admitted me to his Glorious Seventeenth Century Poets' Society, a great honor to one like me, who has no idea which post-reformation pre-industrial-revolution poets are when without the textbook open before me. Is he trying to make me blush continually? :-)

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

Musings on Conversion of Life

Yesterday I posted all manner of things, ranging from a sermon preached by a pope from the most illustrious pulpit in Christendom through the spectrum to a painfully personal letter intended to be seen by only one pair of eyes in the whole world. Yet, all of them share the same cry; the cry of contrition, the yearning for restoration, for the way of God.

I know that cry also, for I have cried it. I have sinned. I've done really dumb things I knew I shouldn't do. I've avoided doing quite a few of the smart things I know I'm supposed to do ---- and I know that in all of this I'm not alone. Every single day I have to turn, every day reform my life, and every day renew my determination to live the holy Gospel.

Every single day. Simply. Singly. Submittedly. Watchful, lest I fall (again).

The very first signs that the original sin had happened were attempting to hide from God, and then, blaming someone else. But I'm supposed to be redeemed, and to be behaving like I'm redeemed, so I should have nothing to do with either one of them.

Hiding from God just plain isn't possible. God knows everything anyhow. So why waste precious time or energy even trying to do that? Plus, I'm in the same bind as Jeremiah ---- God is, truly and awe-fully, inside me, and will not let me rest ignoring Him; He _will_ be honored and glorified and confessed, His truth _will_ be spoken. Here's how Jeremiah put it:
You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped;
You were too strong for me, and You triumphed. ....
I say to myself, I will not mention Him,
I will speak in His name no more.
But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart,
imprisoned in my bones;
I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.

And blaming someone else is the clear work of the evil one. To keep us deceived, to make us squabble, to divide us into continually fighting factions, is that abysmal one's doings, it's how he gets his jollies. Satan isn't called the Accuser of the Brethren for nothing. This blaming game I just have to flee, as seriously as one flees wildfire or tornado or pestilence. Lord, keep me away, far away, from this. Protect me, Lord, from ever accusing anyone other than myself of anything. Help me to be honest in everything, and humble, and ever emptier of the stuff I collect and cling to instead of Your grace. Make me empty, Lord, then fill me with Yourself, Your love, Your grace.

Finally, the prayer of St. Ephrem the Syrian, to which I clung like a life ring through our little local crisis and still hold dear:
O Lord and Master of my life,
take from me the spirit of sloth, meddling, lust of power, and idle talk;
but give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant.
Yea, O Lord and King,
grant me to see my own sins and not to judge my brother,
for Thou art blessed unto ages of ages. Amen.


Tuesday, September 03, 2002

Intercession please for the people of Ladysmith, Wisconsin, where yesterday evening a tornado destroyed two residential neighborhoods and the downtown business district. There are many injured, but the last report I've heard indicates that all people are now accounted for and there are no fatalities. [but lots of months of hard work ahead.]
"I do not deny my responsibility, I recognize that I am slothful and negligent...." ---St. Gregory the Great

The job of Pope has always been difficult, dangerous to the soul, and thankless --- at least if we can believe St. Gregory the Great on that point! This is the lesson from today's Office of Readings, St. Gregory's day.

"Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel." Note that a man whom the Lord sends out as a preacher is called a watchman. A watchman always stands on a height so he can see from afar what is coming. Anyone appointed to be a watchman for the people must stand on a height for all his life to help them by his foresight.

How hard it is for me to say this, for by these very words I denounce myself. I cannot preach with any competence, and yet insofar as I do succeed, still I myself do not live my life according to my own preaching.

I do not deny my responsibility; I recognize that I am slothful and negligent, but perhaps the acknowledgement of my fault will win me pardon from my just judge. Indeed when I was in the monastery I could curb my idle talk and usually be absorbed in my prayers. Since I assumed the burden of pastoral care, my mind can no longer be collected; it is concerned with so many matters.

I am forced to consider the affairs of the Church and of the monasteries. I must weigh the lives and acts of individuals. I am responsible for the concerns of our citizens. I must worry about the invasions of roving bands of barbarians, and beware of the wolves who lie in wait for my flock. I must become an administrator lest the religious go in want. I must put up with certain robbers without losing patience and at times I must deal with them in all charity.

With my mind divided and torn to pieces by so many problems, how can I meditate or preach wholeheartedly without neglecting the ministry of proclaiming the Gospel? Moreover, in my position I must often communicate with worldly men. At times I let my tongue run, for if I am always severe in my judgements, the worldly will avoid me, and I can never attack them as I would. As a result I often listen patiently to chatter. And because I too am weak, I find myself drawn little by little into idle conversation, and I begin to talk freely about matters which once I would have avoided. What once I found tedious I now enjoy.

So who am I to be a watchman, for I do not stand on the mountain of action but lie down in the valley of weakness? Truly the all-powerful Creator and Redeemer of mankind can give me in spite of my weaknesses a higher life and effective speech; because I love him, I do not spare myself in speaking of him.

Yet another testimony of desire for God and His will

This is an excerpt of a document known as the Dear Paul Letter, written by someone who has become entangled in a particular friendship and is confessing his fault and withdrawing from the relationship, for he has to be free for God alone if he is to fulfill the commitments he has made.

.....During the last months I have come to know how strained I was, tense, pensive, without much joy. I couldn't pray at all. I just did not seem to be honest with God. I felt I was fleeing from Him, from facing Him. I know what the trouble was: I was letting your conscience take over for me and I couldn't live with it. I felt like the world's worst hypocrite. So gradually I came back to the importance of celibacy in my life -- not just a physical celibacy but the freedom the celibate commitment gives. I knew I would have to face up to it and take seriously that commitment I first made thirty-four years ago. I found my task as priest-archbishop almost unbearable these months and I came to realize that I was at a crossroads -- and I knew I had to get the courage to decide. There is no other way for me to live, Paul. Ridicule me if you must -- I am expecting it. .....There is no other way. I have to be free and unencumbered, if I want to give total service to His Church. There is no other way for me. I have neglected -- not just prayer -- these months but so many people as well because my life was so caught up in yours. The strain and tension in being bishop today, Paul, is greater than one would ever imagine -- at least for me. I cannot give to you for this reason the kind of friendship you seem to need.

I cry as I write this: they are personally the greatest renunciations the Lord has asked me to make for His Kingdom. I don't ask you to understand -- but I do ask you not to ridicule.

.....I will need time to get over this past week. I felt humiliated, manipulated -- a total complete failure on all counts. I failed you, I failed myself. I failed as a friend, I failed as priest. I just psychologically collapsed and froze. I did nothing but cry and try to pray in Boston. I only asked for some light of the Lord -- the cruel punishment you gave me I deserved. .....I begged for forgiveness for having failed you and for the grace of standing up again and trying to be -- not a bishop -- just a Christian.

Paul, God is good.
I love you.

Testimonies of the longing for God

first: "A Hymn to God the Father" by Ben Jonson

Hear me, O God!
. A broken heart
. Is my best part:
Use still thy rod
. That I may prove
. Therein, thy love.

If thou hadst not
. Been stern to me,
. But left me free,
I had forgot
. Myself and thee.

For sin's so sweet,
. As minds ill bent
. Rarely repent,
Until they meet
. Their punishment.

Who more can crave
. Than thou hast done:
. That gav'st a Son,
To free a slave?
. First made of nought;
. With all since bought.

Sin, Death, and Hell
. His glorious Name
. Quite overcame;
Yet I rebel,
. And slight the same.

But I'll come in,
. Before my loss,
. Me farther toss,
As sure to sin
. Under His Cross.

Second, "Discipline," by George Herbert, very much on the same theme:

Throw away the rod,
Throw away thy wrath:
. . . O my God,
Take the gentle path.

For my heart's desire
Unto thine is bent:
. . . I aspire
To a full consent.

Though I fail, I weep:
Though I halt in pace,
. . . Yet I creep
To the throne of grace.

Then let wrath remove;
Love will do the deed:
. . . For with love
Stony hearts will bleed.

Love is swift of foot;
Love's a man of war,
. . . And can shoot,
And can hit from far.

Who can scape his bow?
That which wrought on thee,
. . . Brought thee low,
Needs must work on me.

Throw away thy rod;
Though man frailties hath,
. . . Thou art God:
Throw away thy wrath.


Monday, September 02, 2002

What I'd tell my new bishop , if I had an appropriate chance

Please, my father, if anything ever goes terribly horribly wrong, or if you ever discover you've done something really dumb or spectacularly stupid, do not waste any time or effort or money to protect us from it, just tell us. We have a duty to honor and care for you, as you do to honor and care for us. Embarrassment, even the public kind, does not kill; in fact it liberates in the long term. It's secrets that bind and maim and fester and kill. When there's bad news, we need to hear about it from you first, not from some church-political faction looking to use it as a cudgel, and not from some media outlet distorting and exploiting it for a circulation boost or extra Nielsen point. We Milwaukeans are strong and resilient people, and we easily fall in love with our shepherds if permitted to at all. We can handle bad news. We can survive the trials and embarrassments of life. Be not afraid, my father, for yourself or for us; stand straight and step forward faithfully.
the fourth attempt's the charm!

Easter ---- yet more hymnal wisdom

This, and a related song called "The Call," are regulars at my parish. The sheet music from which I learned them credits them to Ralph Vaughn Williams and a cycle named "Five Mystical Songs." However, I've never even heard of Vaughn Williams writing lyrics, only music. So to whom do these words really belong?

update fron email: Katherine from Berea (KY, not OH) wrote and let me know that "Easter" and "The Call" were written by George Herbert, and also warmed my heart by telling me she knew what an anchorhold is!

Rise, heart, thy Lord is risen;
thy Lord is risen.
Sing His praise;
sing His praise without delays.
Sing His praise without delays
Who takes thee by the hand,
that thou likewise with Him
mayest rise.

That, as His death
calcined thee to dust,
His life may make thee bold,
and, much more, just.

The cross taught all wood
to resound His name
Who bore the same.
His stretched sinews taught all strings
what key is best to celebrate
His most high name.

Exult, both heart and lute.
Exult, both heart and lute,
and twist a song pleasant and long;
or, since all music
is but three parts vied and multiplied,
oh, let the blessed Spirit bear a part
and make up our defects
with His sweet art.
Statement from Oklahoma City Catholic Worker on the Scandals and our duty via the CINJust listserv.

Governor Frank Keating and the United States Catholic Bishops
by Robert Waldrop, Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House in Oklahoma City

The controversy between Governor Keating and the bishops over his advice to boycott parishes and dioceses has been front page news here in Oklahoma City and our local conservative commentariat is loudly defending the governor. The Daily Oklahoman has featured many letters to the editor about the situation. Much of this seems to be from Protestants, and the rhetoric is very harsh. Many of his defenders don’t know much about how the Catholic Church works and what we believe, and there’s been too much slander directed at priests. If I was Frank Keating, I would be deeply ashamed of some of the things people were saying in my defense, especially the vicious accusation that the members of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City’s Council of Priests all have “something to hide.”

The proximate cause of the present scandal was priests and bishops not living up to their moral duty to teach and practice the Catholic faith, full strength, without compromise. And thus, the answer to the problem of “bishops who don’t do their job” is not for more bishops to not do their jobs. The responses of the archbishop and the council of priests to Keating’s remarks were required by their calling and vocation. Advising Oklahoma Catholics to attend mass in another diocese is just not very helpful, and the archbishop had a duty to publicly correct the Governor. Besides being spiritually dangerous, the Governor’s advice was absurd. What are we all supposed to do, drive to Wichita, Kansas or Wichita Falls, Texas to go to church?

Mr. Keating’s response, and that of his political cronies, to criticism of his remarks suggests that the governor is the one who can’t accept criticism. Further, he has never passed up a chance to grind the face of the poor into the dust, and that indeed is a mortal
sin according to the Catechism. He is the most notorious and public cafeteria Catholic in the state, and the decision to appoint him
president of the review panel was about par for the course for the bishops these past few years.

It bears repeating that the present scandal is not only that priests were disobedient to their vows, but also that the US Catholic bishops failed to do their moral duty as bishops with responsibilities for governance, discipline, and catechesis, and thus more innocent people were gravely harmed. Everything thus far addresses the situation with the priests; there’s nothing on the table to deal with the bishops’ own corruption.

In fact, the primary actor in the correction of bishops, which is the Vatican Curia, has apparently abdicated its responsibilities to the Church in America. It is self evident from this situation that their system of selecting bishops has completely broken down and needs
attention, from both Rome and the US bishops, but there seems to be no evidence that this is happening. Rome owes American Catholics duties of governance and collegiality; the See of Peter is supposed to be the visible sign of unity and orthodoxy of faith and practice. The bishops who have been countenancing and enabling sexual predators have by their own deeds separated themselves from the unity and orthodoxy of the Catholic faith. The Vatican should replace them with holy pastors who are orthodox in faith and practice. The refusal to do so brings this scandal to Rome.

What’s to be done? Catholics believe in the virtue of prayer coupled with “works of reparation.” These are good, beautiful, and merciful
actions we can do to repair and bring healing to situations caused and/or complicated by evil. The more wicked the bishop, the more we should pray and the more acts of beauty, mercy, and reparation lay Catholics are called to commit.

That’s what we the laity can contribute to the resolution of this crisis. We are Catholics, we do believe in miracles, and the dangerous amount of radical evil, violence, and sin in the world can be nothing but a call to equally radical faith, hope, love, mercy, goodness, and beauty. Our vocation is to live our faith with greater and deeper intensity and meaning, not (as Governor Keating suggests) to commit spiritual suicide. If anybody wants to “get even” with any Catholic bishops or priests, they should do so by doing good to others in their homes, schools, parishes, neighborhoods, businesses, factories, farms, communities, state, nation, and world. The more radical the good they do, and the more faithful the prayer, and the more hopeful the heart, the better and sweeter will be the “revenge”.

Bishops and governors come and go, the Catholic Church remains, a faith which teaches that the future does not belong to the wealthy and powerful, but rather to the humble, the faithful, and the poor. It was Jesus who said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to be saved.” And as the saying goes around these parts, “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.” RMW

This document may be freely forwarded and reprinted.

Sunday, September 01, 2002

The trials of obedience

Just arrived home from the Cathedral, where Archbishop Dolan is continuing the tradition of celebrating the "Radio Mass" each Sunday in the Cathedral. [The Radio Mass has been nearly forever, but the tradition of it being the bishop's Mass was begun in 1977 when Archbishop Weakland came.] There was a social after Mass, so we could all meet the new archbishop.

But I have to be obedient to those in authority over me, and that includes obedience to the Transit Express driver. I was nowhere near the front of the line when the Transit Express guy arrived to take me away, and he was only 3 minutes early, so I had to be obedient and leave. Oh well, maybe next week at the Cousins Center Mass and picnic.......

And he's still eutrapeliac, it wasn't just the celebration doing it; thanks to Dylan of error503 for that very accurate and exact word.