Sunday, December 07, 2003

I'm back [kind-of, sort-of]

We began at noontime on Thursday. I ordered in an excellent Pizza this time, since I did Chinese the other one. About an hour after the delivery, I started shaking, even though I was not cold. David sent me to bed, and promised to call me at 98% done with the formatting. That took 14 hours! Then another eleven hours of so to load Windows and find and load all the servers needed to make the beast. David figured I was ok by that time, so he went home, and I crashed.

Still running a fever, hope I get well Real Fast Now!!!!!

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

I spoke too soon!

It got hung up and I had to reset; it took eight attempts to get it restarted.

I've called KB9EWG the unmercenary cyberhealer, and he'll be over Thursday or Friday (we both have doctor appointments tomorrow). He says I need a good dose of hard drive reformatting, and maybe a great long glug of operating system. Thiswill make me lose everything stowed in this little beige box. So, instead of blogging, I get to spend the next 48 hours or so putting all the box's data on floppy disks .......... oh what fuuuuuun, not.

Be back when I'm done with backup or poor computer is permanently healed.

karen marie
Technical Difficulties --- Please Stand By

I'll probably be back later this evening. Over the weekend my computer made a bold attempt to turn itself into a very expensive doorstop, or maybe boatanchor. But thanks to David, KB9EWG, the unmercenary healer of things electronic and cyber, I'm back up and typing again, at least for now. [I ordered him in an excellent dinner of Chinese delivery for his kindness!]

Now to go sort through several days' email.....

Saturday, November 29, 2003

"Come, Lord Jesus, come!" --- a bishop's Advent prayer

one last passage from Walking on the Wings of the Wind [Paulist Press, 1980] before I put it away tonight in favor of new reading for Advent. Probably one of those nice thick books I've got from Cathedral parish library ... uhmmmmm. Remember to keep praying for your bishops, whether you like them or not. Can't be the Catholic Church without them.

"Come, Lord Jesus, come!"

How often during the Advent season I have said these words, dear Jesus. Teach me to understand what they really mean.

Come to me, Jesus, in my weakness, in my sinfulness.

That coming, I know, will be more like iodine on an open sore. My faults are so exposed, like open wounds, but after the burning sensation comes the healing lotions that soothe and mend.

Come to me, Jesus, in my moments of doubt and insecurity.

How difficult it is to be a bishop! So many demands and expectancies from these clay feet. Lord, I have my moments of self-doubt, too. Why must people think it is I who must have a solution to everything? Or are they only looking for an ear that will listen to their hurts?

Come to me, Jesus, in my moments of depression and discouragement.

I try, really, Lord, to teach your gospel and put it into practice, but my words are so often twisted against me --- sometimes even by friends, almost as if they were eager to see me tripped up. Teach me to see, Jesus, that you are able to bring good out of wrong and order out of confusion, teach me to see and understand the hurts in others that lie beneath the twists.

Come to me, Jesus, in my moments of tiredness and irritability.

Give me always, Jesus, the strength to go out to one more hurting person, one more soul in need, one more group to be touched.

Come to me, Jesus, in my moments of arrogance and pride. (It is not easy, Jesus, to say that and mean it.)

Yes, I do need to be brought down so very often. Too much adulation, too much praise is not good for a bishop. One moment of silence, though, and I see the facade crumble. Come to me in those moments, pick me up, sustain me.

Come to me, Jesus, in my moments of joy.

When I am at the altar or with good friends, or at the piano, or just walking along the streets greeting people, come to me through all these moments of pleasure and teach me to rejoice in you.

Come, Jesus, come!

What an empty life it would be, Jesus, if you did not come at Christmas and bring together into one solemn encounter all those moments of weakness and strength, depression and solace, sorrow and joy!

Come, Lord Jesus, come!


Friday, November 28, 2003

Conversion of Life and Reconciliation

click on the headline to go to a reflection [RealAudio required, 21:19] given a few Advents ago, on the way of ongoing conversion.

Without ongoing conversion in my life and true reconciliation with God and everyone else, I cannot live in a way worthy of one who is loved by God.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

St. Brigid of Kildare's table grace

I should like a great lake of the finest ale
for the King of kings.

I should like a table of the choicest food
for the Family of Heaven.

Let the ale be made from the fruits of faith,
and the food be forgiving love.

I should welcome the poor to my feast,
for they are God's children.

I should welcome the sick to my feast,
for they are God's joy.

Let the poor sit with Jesus at the Highest Place,
and the sick dance with the Angels.

God bless the poor.
God bless the sick.
God bless our human race.
God bless our food.
God bless our drink.

All homes, O God, embrace.
To give thanks

I'm back from Mass, and then Thanksgiving dinner at the Open Door Cafe. And there is so much to be thankful for.

Thanks for my warm and dry Anchor Hold, for a small dependable income sufficient for my needs, and a responsible, quiet, and helpful tenant in the upstairs who even pays his bills.

Thanks for the strength and health to strive for those "fifteen to twenty years of medically managable symptoms" that are in the paragraph after the paragraph about "incurable and fatal."

Thanks for a (mostly) peaceable life, for frequent graces and favors, for this unbelievably blessed local Church, for my three good bishops and two wonderful parishes.

For the Open Door Cafe and the Cathedral Center for Women and Children.

For my dad, my brothers and sisters and brothers-in-law, nieces and nephews, and all my kin that give me my notorious large family prejudice.

For this city, its gifts and history, its insistence, even when there's failures, on good governance.

For the snow and ice that's been staying well away. For the fine couple who shovels my snow and mows my viney yard. For the postal carrier and the oxygen delivery guy and the kind cabbies who bring my groceries all the way to the door when I go to the store, and the Transit Plus drivers.

For Medicare and Compcare Blue, and the doctors and therapists and technicians whose bills they pay for me.

For so very much --- I could type forever!

Thank you, my Lord, my Love.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Not disappointing at all

What rating is your journal?

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Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Blaze Camo Rosary, anyone?

Are you getting cold and bored sitting in that tree stand waiting for your deer? Looking for something productive to do? Praying the Rosary may be just the thing for you!

Winter is coming, and I've been preparing for that shut-in time of the year. I've checked out six fat books from the Cathedral Parish Library on a loan till spring to supplement the ones I own, and I've taken up a new craft. I've crocheted hats the past two winters, and I needed something different. So I'm taking up the making of rosaries for giving away, both the ones with beads and the knotted ones promoted by the Rosary Army. I bought three cones of twine to start; two good basic solid colors and one varigated --- I do so love orange! But when I started working it, it it became

a blaze camo rosary!

A cone of twine makes about thirty rosaries. Is there any Catholic sportsmen's group that would just _love_ to have some no rattling rosaries that match their jackets? Sure hope so!
When God appears, we shall be like Him, and we shall see Him unobscured.

from today's Office of Readings, a treastise on St. John's Gospel by St. Augustine.

We Christians are the light, at least by comparison with unbelievers. Thus the Apostle says: Once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk then as sons of the light. And elsewhere he says: The night is far spent, the day is drawing near. Let us therefore lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armour of light; let us walk uprightly as in the day.

Nevertheless, since the days in which we are now living are still dark compared to the light which we shall see, hear what the apostle Peter says. He speaks of a voice that came from the Supreme Glory and said to the Lord Jesus Christ:
You are my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. This voice, he says, we heard coming from heaven, when we were with him on the holy mountain. Because we ourselves were not present there and did not hear that voice from heaven, Peter says to us: And we possess a more certain prophetic word to which you do well to attend, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

When, therefore, our Lord Jesus Christ comes and, as the apostle Paul says,
brings to light things hidden in darkness and makes plain the secrets of the heart, so that everyone may receive his commendation from God, then lamps will no longer be needed. When that day is at hand, the prophet will not be read to us, the book of the Apostle will not be opened, we shall not require the testimony of John, we shall have no need of the Gospel itself. Therefore all Scriptures will be taken away from us, those Scriptures which in the night of this world burned like lamps so that we might not remain in darkness.

When all these things are removed as no longer necessary for our illumination, and when the men of God by whom they were ministered to us shall themselves together with us behold the true and dear light without such aids, what shall we see? With what shall our minds be nourished? What will give joy to our gaze? Where will that gladness come from,
which eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, which has not even been conceived by the heart of man? What shall we see?

I implore you to love with me and, by believing, to run with me; let us long for our heavenly country, let us sigh for our heavenly home, let us truly feel that here we are strangers. What shall we then see? Let the gospel tell us:
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. You will come to the fountain, with whose dew you have already been sprinkled. Instead of the ray of light which was sent through slanting and winding ways into the heart of your darkness, you will see the light itself in all its purity and brightness. It is to see and experience this light that you are now being cleansed. Dearly beloved, John himself says, we are the sons of God, and it has not yet been disclosed what we shall be; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

I feel that your spirits are being raised up with mine to the heavens above;
but the body which is corruptible weighs down the soul, and this earthly tent burdens the thoughtful mind. I am about to lay aside this book, and you are soon going away, each to his own business. It has been good for us to share the common light, good to have enjoyed ourselves, good to have been glad together. When we part from one another, let us not depart from him.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Two homilies appropriate to this day's feast

[of course, RealAudio is required]

This homily from this feast last year, a wonderful exhortation that includes a explication of the origins of this solemnity, which is actually quite modern. [time=8:22]

and another homily on renouncing false lords in favor of the one true Lord. [time=8:40]

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Jesus Christ is Lord. Hail, Christ the King!

We have only one Lord. Caesar is not Lord. George W. Bush is not Lord, neither is Mr Putin, nor any other head of state. Communism is not Lord, nor fascism, nor capitalism, nor representative democracy, nor any other kind is governmental system. And our one Lord is jealous; we are to put nothing else before Him. Not our cash, not our employers, not the needs of the military-industrial complex --- nothing.

And, Jesus is truly Lord and King. The Davidic king of Israel, yes; and also Melekh ha-olam, the King of the Universe, the Creator of the heavens and the earth in the beginning of time, who will preside over the end of time as well. And yet ---

He came to live among us as a baby (with all the baby's limitations, needs, and dependence).

He lived in obedience to His parents, who educated Him and taught Him a respectable trade.

He got hungry and thirsty, got tired and slept, was in turn joyful, pensive, peeved, angry, sad, grieving, and experienced every kind of emotional weather.

He let go of all the perogatives of being the Lord and Creator of the Universe.

_All_ of them.

He is the King, and yet

The only crown He ever wore on this earth,
the crown we forced upon Him,
was made of thorn-bush.

His only scepter was a stray stick
such as soldiers might have around the barracks;
which was also handy for hitting Him over the head.

And when we made Him high and lifted up,
it was not to seat Him on a throne
but to nail Him to a cross.

And all of this He accepted freely at our hands.
(He was God, and had the ability to save Himself, if He so willed.)
And He forgives us, who know not what we do.
And in His rising he conquers death forever
and bids us come, and die, and be risen up, with Him.
"You say that I am a king"

from one of St. Augustine's homilies on the Gospel of John:

Listen, everyone, Jews and Gentiles, circumcised and uncircumcised. Listen, all kings of the earth. I am no hindrance to your rule in this world, for my kingdom is not of this world. Banish the groundless fear that filled Herod the Great on hearing that Christ was born. More cruel in his fear than in his anger, he put many children to death, so that Christ also would die. But my kingdom is not of this world, says Christ. What further reassurance do you seek? Come to the kingdom not of this world. Be not enraged by fear, but come by faith. In a prophecy Christ also said: He, that is, God the Father, has made me king on Zion his holy mountain. But that Zion and that mountain are not of this world.

What in fact is Christ's kingdom? It is simply those who believe in him, those to whom he said: You are not of this world, even as I am not of this world. He willed, nevertheless, that they should be in the world, which is why he prayed to the Father: I ask you not to take them out of the world, but to protect them from the evil one. So here also he did not say: My kingdom is not in this world, but is not of this world. And when he went on to prove this by declaring: If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have fought to save me from being handed over to the Jews, he concluded by saying not "my kingdom is not here," but my kingdom is not from here.

Indeed, his kingdom is here until the end of time, and until the harvest it will contain weeds. The harvest is the end of the world, when the reapers, who are the angels, will come and gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin; and this could not happen if his kingdom were not here. But even so, it is not from here, for it is in exile in the world. Christ says to his kingdom: You are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. They were indeed of the world when they belonged to the prince of this world, before they became his kingdom. Though created by the true God, everyone born of the corrupt and accursed stock of Adam is of the world. On the other hand, everyone who is reborn in Christ becomes the kingdom which is no longer of the world. For so has God snatched us from the powers of darkness, and brought us into the kingdom of his beloved Son: that kingdom of which he said: My kingdom is not of this world; my kingly power does not come from here.


Thursday, November 20, 2003

Let there be no shame in repenting, only in sinning.

If all was right with the world, we would be full of shame when we sin, and bold and open in our repenting --- but our enemy has turned this topsy-turvy. I sin with boldness or with nonchalance, and am ashamed and furtive about my repenting. St. Seraphim of Sarov told a story about that.......

.....[there was] an anchorite who, going for water, fell into sin with a woman at the spring, and returning to his cell, acknowledged his sin and began again to lead an ascetic life as before, nor accepting the counsel of the enemy who represented to him the seriousness of the sin and would have led him away from the ascetic life. The Lord revealed this incident to a certain father, and commanded him to glorify the brother who had fallen into sin for such a victory over the devil.

Fear sickens. Secrets kill. Embarrassment liberates!

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

got to obey the bishop anyway, but it's so much easier to do when I respect and love him.

from St. Augustine's Confessions [book VI, chapter 2]

There was an occasion when my mother had brought, as was her custom in Africa, cakes and bread and wine to some of the chapels built in memory of the saints and was forbidden to do this by the doorkeeper. When she found that it was the bishop who had forbidden this practice, she accepted his ban so devoutly and so willingly that I myself was amazed to see how much more readily now she would condemn her own practice of the past than dispute the bishop's prohibition.

For her soul was not a victim to the craving for wine, and no liking for wine stimulated her into a hatred for the truth --- a thing which happens to many people of both sexes who are just as disgusted by a hymn of sobriety as drunkards are if their wine is mixed with water. But when my mother brought her basket with the usual sorts of food, which were first to be tasted by her and then given away, she never took more than one small cup well watered down to suit her sober taste, and this was just for the sake of courtesy. And if there were many memorial chapels which she thought ought to be honored in this way, she still carried this same cup around with her to be used at each place; in the end it would be not only nearly all water, but also lukewarm, and she would share this out in small sips with those around her; for she came then to look for piety, not for pleasure.

But when she found that that famous preacher and that great example of piety had forbidden the practice even to those who used it soberly --- so that drunkards should not be given an occasion for excess and also because this kind of anniversary funeral feast is very much like the superstitious ceremony of the pagans --- she most willingly gave up her old habit. Instead of a basket filled with the fruits of the earth, she had learned to bring to the chapels of the Martyrs a breast full of something much purer, her prayers. So she was able to give what she could spare to the poor, and so the communion of the Lord's body might be celebrated in those places where, in imitation of His passion, the martyrs had lost their lives and won their crowns.

And yet it seems to me, my Lord God --- and on this matter my heart lies open in your sight --- that in abandoning this old custom of hers my mother might possibly not have given way so easily if the prohibition had come from someone else whom she did not love as she loved Ambrose. For she loved him very greatly on account of my salvation, and he loved her for her religious way of life; for she was always doing good works, was fervent in spirit, and constantly at church. So that when he saw me he often used to burst forth in her praises, congratulating me on having such a mother, though he was unaware of what sort of son she had in me ---one who was in doubt on all these matters and who thought that there was no possibility of finding the way of life.


Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Bless the Lord at all times: Liturgy of Hours, Angelus, and the Rosary

again from Walking on the Wings of the Wind [Paulist Press, 1980]

Have you ever watched a priest recite his Office? Perhaps you saw him use all five fingers as markers to keep the place straight, while he murmured words with his lips. There was always something mysterious about that gilt-edged, black leather book and its contents. (At least it used to be black!)

In order to understand the Divine Office, three points should be kept in mind.

First of all, the Breviary is meant to be a compliment to the Mass and extend its thrust throughout the entire day. We must imagine Christ as Eternal High Priest, but attaching to himself the entire human community, continuously offering to the Father his song of praise and interceding for the salvation of the whole world. This scene is "imaged" in each diocese as the clergy and faithful unite with their bishop --- if not bodily, at least in intention --- in offering praise to the Father and petitioning for the needs of the church through Jesus. Bishops and priests are seen primarily as people of continuous prayer in union with Jesus.

Secondly, since to pray incessantly is physically impossible, moments of prayer were introduced to coincide with the changing time cycle of each day, morning and evening prayer becoming the pivotal points. A noonday prayer is also an integral part of the new Breviary. (The older devotion included a prayer break --- note, not a coffee break --- also at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. The night vigil of prayer was characteristic of the monks.)

Thirdly, the Divine Office also took advantage of the time cycle of the week and the year, in order to celebrate the mysteries of the life and death of Jesus. The cycle of nature became the hinges around which the major events in the life of our Lord pivoted. Easter, with its preparatory period of Lent, and Christmas, with its preparatory period of Advent, were central.

Thus, the Divine Office pressed the important moments of our Lord's life into yearly celebrations that compliment the Mass. It is different from the Mass, however, in having a relationship also to the cycle of each day --- sunrise, sunset --- night, daytime. One stopped working, if only for a short period of time, in order to focus on Jesus and be in his presence at the throne of the Father as the day began, in the middle of work, and as the day closed.

Two very popular forms of prayer developed as a kind of lay person's breviary: the Angelus and the Rosary. Both of these are Marian devotions in keeping with the medieval concept of the Office where the presence of Mary was always accentuated and often explicitly recalled at the end of each hour.

The Angelus is based on the principle of praying at specific moments of the day --- morning, noon, night. It remembers secondarily the mysteries of Jesus' life from birth, to grave, to resurrection.

The Rosary, on the other hand, is based on the meditation of the pivotal events in the life of Jesus and his Mother. It keeps a liturgical base --- sorrowful mysteries for Friday, glorious for Sunday.

The Rosary is a perfect prayer: it repeats, like the pleadings of a child, the same words over and over; but it also relates to the entire mystery of salvation.

Those who find the Rosary old-fashioned or outmoded will change their minds when they are sick or tired or unable to concentrate. It keeps our hands, our heads, our lips occupied --- but so gently and without tension.

Why have the Angelus and the Rosary survived so many centuries?

Because they present a perfect theology of Marian devotion, in that they are always so closely related to the whole picture of salvation through Jesus.


Monday, November 17, 2003

from the desert: can God forgive? will God forgive?

A soldier asked Abba Mius if God accepted repentance. After the old man had taught him many things he said, "Tell me, my dear, if your cloak is torn, do you throw it away?" He replied, "No, I mend it and use it again." The old man said to him, "If you are so careful about your cloak, will not God be equally careful about his creature?"

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Mea culpa. [beware, rant ahead]

[rant on]

This afternoon I went to one of those places I really should stay out of, where the usual denizens were busily hoping that the Catholic respect for all human life and for the dignity of every human being would be soon torn asunder (maybe dismembered is a better word?), the easier to ignore, neglect, reject, or offend against those parts that are perceived to be inconvenient.

May this never come to pass!

Every human has a right, given by God Himself, to life and human dignity --- EVERY HUMAN!

Even the born.
Even the disabled.
Even the sick and the dying.
Even women alone and fatherless children.
Even the alien sojourner in my land.
Even people with no money.
Even people born in other countries.
Even sinners, even criminals.
Even every other kind of human being there is.

To believe any less is unCatholic.
To believe or act upon any less is behavior unbefitting one made in the image and likeness of God.

Read St. John Chrysostom's sermons.
Read Rerum Novarum, and Laborem Exercens.
Read Evangelium Vitae.

Even the conscripts in Jesus' execution company knew better than to rip up a garment that didn't have seams! Neither are there seams that allow divisions among humans, worthy of life and dignity from the unworthy. FOR THERE ARE NO UNWORTHY!

[rant off]

at least I did my ranting in my own space, instead of his......

Friday, November 14, 2003

".... to pray for the City and the Archdiocese of Milwaukee."

Yesterday my new prayer tool arrived. Sixteen tabliod pages of small-but-not-agate print, it's called the 2004 Diocesan Directory. It lists every priest of the archdiocese from "Acker, Rev. Karl H." and "Ackeret, Rev. Dennis R." all the way to "Zwaska, Rev. Victor L.", every parish from "Allenton, Resurrection" to "Woodland, St. Mary", and every deacon and deacon's wife, "Acosta, Carlos R. (Iris)" to "Zozakiewicz, Daniel T. (Barbara)".

As I prayed through the list of our priests last night, holding each one before the Lord, so many different thoughts ----

There are so many, still, who have remained able, and devoted, and faithful, and enduring. Some of whom are listed with multiple assignments. A few of whom were ordained before I was born. May the Lord sustain and strengthen them all.

and there are names who are missing now, who were there in 2003 or 2002. Some have died; their souls are commended to God. A few have gone into the shadows as the effects of the Charter in Dallas; I pray the prayer for priest-penitents for them, that they may remain strong and faithful in this kenosis. One has been suspended about current bad acts, a few more may have just left; may the Lord be merciful to them.

Pray for your priests, and for all priests. We need them, it is by their hands that the Lord fulfills His promise to be our very food and drink, to life true and eternal, it is by their voice that we are assured of the forgiveness of our sins. And they need us, to plead for them, to give them strength to stay, for the task is so great, and their humanity so weak.

Pray for them. Hold them up, lest they crumple and fail under the load.
We have no Eucharist, and no absolution, without them.
some fun with church signs

Now if only they'd let us play with a Catholic church sign!
courtesy of the Church Sign Generator.


Thursday, November 13, 2003

A fourth-century morning prayer from St. Paisios "the Great"

O Lord Jesus Christ my God,
give me a good, sinless, and spotless day.
O Lord, forsake me not.
O Lord, do not stand afar off from me.
O Lord, stretch out to me a helping hand.
O Lord, support me with the fear of you.
O Lord, plant this fear
and the love for you in my heart.
O Lord, teach me to do your will.
O Lord, grant mourning and humility to my heart.
O Lord, give me unceasing tears,
and remembrance of death.
O Lord, free me from every temptation of soul and body.
O Lord, expel from me every unclean thought,
and every shameful and improper imagination.
O Lord, wipe out of me the negligence,
the indolence,
the sorrow,
the forgetfulness,
the insensitivity,
the hardness,
and the captivity of my mind.
O Lord, have mercy on me,
as you know and as you wish,
and forgive all my transgressions.
And grant that my pitiful soul
may depart from my wretched body
in quietude,
in good repentance,
in unhesitating confession,
and in pure and spotless faith. Amen.


Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Wisdom from the desert on liturgical abuses, from the Spiritual Meadow

Yes, there were liturgical deviations in the desert days also.......

One of the fathers said that there was one of the elders who was pure and holy; who, when he was celebrating the Eucharist, used to see angels standing to his right hand and to his left. He had learned the eucharistic rite from heretics but, as he was unlearned in theological matters, when he offered the Eucharist he spoke the prayer in all simplicity and innocence, unaware that he was at fault.

By the providence of God, there came to him a brother who was skilled in theology and it happened that the elder offered the Eucharist in his presence. The brother, who was a deacon, said to him, "Father, these things which you say at the Eucharist are not in accordance with the orthodox faith. They are not orthodox but kakadox. Since the elder could see angels when he was celebrating, he paid no attention to what was said, and thought nothing of it. But the deacon went on saying, "You are at fault, good elder; the Church does not allow these things to be said."

When the elder realized that he was being accused and blamed by the deacon, the next time he saw the angels, he asked them, "When the deacon speaks to me like this, what am I to make of it?" They said to him, "Pay attention to him; he is giving good counsel." The elder said to them, "Then why did you not tell me so?" They said, "Because God has ordained that men should be corrected by men," and from that time forth, he accepted correction, giving thanks to God and to the brother.


Monday, November 10, 2003

Prayer on a foggy day, for the USCCB meeting

When my now retired archbishop was examining his ministry in the last few months leading to his 75th birthday, he stated that one of the things he was most looking forward to in retirement was not having to go to the USCCB meetings any more. Time to pray and time to write and no more committees!

But, the USCCB meeting decades before had set him to reflecting.......

Today, dear Lord Jesus, during this meeting of all the bishops of the U.S.A., I am reminded more than ever of my duties as a bishop.

One bishop this morning recalled to us a famous passage St. Augustine addressed to his flock. He said to them, "When I am frightened by what I am to you, then I am consoled by what I am with you. To you, I am the bishop; with you, I am a Christian. The first is an office, the second a grace; the first a danger, the second salvation."

All of the tasks of a bishop frighten me this morning, dear Jesus --- perhaps because it is rainy and dreary out, perhaps because our meetings seem to touch lightly on a thousand aspects of the church in the U.S. today and we hesitate to scratch deeply for fear of not being able to put it all back together.

Perhaps, however, it is all a bit simpler to analyze: perhaps I just sense that people expect too much of me. They cry out for spiritual leadership, when I am just struggling to keep head above water. They expect me to be a model of kindness and patience, and I become easily irritated and impatient. They expect me to be an example of prayer, and this morning, Lord, my mind is distracted and foggy like the weather.

They expect me to inspire each time I open my mouth or to have new and striking insights in every discussion. They believe I can talk on any subject at any time without preparation. They believe they can program me like a machine.

Surely, Lord, they don't think I have the stamina of Pope John Paul II, or the pastoral touch of John Paul I, or the sharp intellect of Paul VI, or the mellow, paternal heart of John XXIII. What models, Lord, you have given them to match me against!

Then there are the many wounds out there to be healed, and I am reaching so very few. How many have been "turned off" by the church and its lifestyle! How many have been hurt by caustic words or signs of coldness! How many are bitter because no one seemed to care when they were in need or in grief!

But, Lord, even if you gave me a 30 hour day and all of the stamina of John Paul II, and all the pastoral insights of John Paul I, and all the intellectual reflections of Paul VI, and all the warmth and kindness of John XXIII, still it would not be enough.

What a foggy morning, Lord!

Help me to see that it really does not all depend on me. I guess it will always remain foggy, until I can see more clearly what I am "with you, Lord," and what I am "with them": grace, a Christian, salvation, consolation.

I keep forgetting, Lord: the kingdom is yours. The flock is yours and you can do without me. You can do more with me than I could ever do myself. You have the calculator, I just punch keys.

You are the source of hope and consolation and salvation; I am but the conduit.

With your flock, I am one who has been touched by your love and brought to the saving water. I am one with them in that baptismal water.

I was not sent alone, but with them, Lord, with your chosen ones --- that royal priesthood, your people.

Of course, we become discouraged and foggy when we think we can do it alone. Being sent is a part of being Christian: you made that clear, Jesus, before you left this earth.

My episcopal ministry is to minister to the baptismal ministry of others which I also share. It is so complicated, Lord --- but consoling.

And so, I can thank you for the fog this morning. It made me realize, Lord, how much depends on you and how much we Christians, bishops or not, depend on each other.

Take care of your people, Lord!

[Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland, O.S.B., Walking on the Wings of the Wind, Paulist Press, 1980]

Sunday, November 09, 2003


the Conference on Fully Catholic Living, a.k.a. Great Gathering of Just Plain Catholics, originally planned for March of 2004, has been cancelled, or at least delayed until, possibly, sometime in 2005. There was a failure to raise sufficient treasure to go along with the time and talent, and these kind of things _do_ require significant quantities of treasure.
Milwaukee the persistently faithful --- 460 months ago, and now continuing

I did promise an answer to yesterday's quiz question.

One of the many multitudinous signs of the faithfulness, vitality and vigor of this oft-maligned Church is its faithfulness in little things, and in constant prayer.

About 460 months ago, the Holy Father, then Paul VI, asked the entire world to undertake Eucharistic vigils, to pray for justice and peace in the world, and preparatory to the Pope's upcoming admonition to the United Nations. And many places held vigil on that first Saturday. Quite a few places kept up that prayer until after the United Nations address. Some continued for a while, until life intruded. Milwaukee still does, for, after all, there is not yet overwhelming justice or peace in our world, and the forces of death are still putting up a fight, so how can we stop the defence until the war is won?

So, the All-Night Vigil I went to on Hallowe'en night, that then had me sleep through All Saint's Day after, was the 459th consecutive one. Yes, Vietnam is over, and the Berlin Wall is down, and our pet South American oligarchs and dictators are killing believers now by handfuls instead of hundreds. But, we've got a whole new set of wars and persecutions and oppressions and societies (including our own) that believe that killing people solves problems. So we, faithfully and obediently, continue to pray and plead in the Presence, for pece and for justice and for the restoration of a culture that loves and respects human life, every human life.
The Dedication of the Cathedral of St. John Lateran

In honor of this celebration, a teaching on how and why we dedicate cathedrals. Unfortunately, it requires Real Audio.

According to Father at Mass this morning, our Cathedral's groundbreaking was during the celebration of the 1600th anniversary of the dedication of that most cathedrally of all cathedrals, the mother church of us all, St. John Lateran.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

It looks like I'll be back.....

I've been spending my last few day's free time playing lots of games of FreeCell and Solitaire, learning how to control this poor spastic mouse. I still am having trouble dragging things and highlighting text for cutting and pasting, but I've learned to point at just about any target in only two or three tries, so I'm back at last. Blogroll link updates, new posts, etc. by tomorrow after church.

Coming features trivia question: what happened in the Catholic Church 460 months ago, and what does it have to do with the current life of the Church in Milwaukee specifically? [Answer tomorrow afternoon}

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

While I'm distracted fighting with my recalcitrant virtual mouse

(am I being rebukes by St. Martin for putting warfarin out for the four-footed mouse?), I saw that Steven of Flos Carmeli noted in the comments boxes at the blog of Crystal Who Builds Zion that he likes to see his fellow bloggers' smiling faces. (sorry, Crystal, for lack of link; I don't have your url memorized and the mouse isn't working well enough to use it to prompt my memory.)

So, Steven, and any others who don't think they'll get transformed into stone:

Me. at an amateur radio club picnic this summer; courtesy of the "amateurradiomilwaukee" MSN community site.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Unscheduled hiatus ahead

Last night I dropped my computer's mouse. Now it takes me several minutes to get it to point at any particular thing; it moves jerkily and will without warning move to the extreme lower right corner. So until 1) I can replace the mouse, or 2) the mouse fixes itself (I've already done what I can, like looking for busted parts and cleaning the ball and rollers), or 3) I learn a way to use Blogger without using the mouse, posting will be few and far between. BTW, my email still works; Eudora is very keyboard-friendly, and though I haven't done it much, I still remembered the keyboard commands this morning. I'll keep on praying and writing, and posting as the frustration can be endured, or after this little problem resolves.

Today is the memorial of St. Martin de Porres. I do hope someone's telling his story today.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Entering our Father's house

We are told in the holy Scriptures that our Father's house is huge, and has many dwelling places, and is beyond and outside time, ans is glorious with streets of gold and seas of glass --- but I think also that it bears some through-the-mirror-dimly resemblance to my grandma's house. Especially when it comes to the mercy of God.

Grandma's house had two entrances. There was the front dor, the formal entryway into the sitting room. That was where the postal carrier came, and the UPS guy, and the police, the folk for whom one inclined one's head and says ma'am and sir and would you please; it was also the door of the unwelcome visitors, the door-to-door peddlers and preachers, who received usually well-earned not-interesteds and go-aways and get-losts, depart from me! It was possible to enter or leave the house there ---- the police officer might be invited in to the sitting room and offered a cup of coffee ---- but hardly anyone ever did, except for the highest of high state occasions. [There's a photo of my mom, eldest daughter of the house, leaving by that door with my dad for their honeymoon.]

Then, there was the other door, the door for the family, for the people who belonged there, with a big messy working porch and coming into the kitchen; some, but not hers, had a mud room with a little sink. No sirs and ma'ams here, no depart-from-me either. More like a good loud howdy, and maybe a few quick reminders ---- take off those muddy boots and leave then out there, and shake off your coat, too, come on over to the sink and wash up before you track on the carpet! The oven's on, so just sit here by till you warm up and dry out!....... and the troubles one came here from can be taken care of, no longer muddy or drippy, warm and dry and full of nice hot coffee (or apple cider or chicken boullion), ready to proceed to the parts of the house with the carpeting.

Only the perfectly holy can endure the unmediated Presence of God, just like only the clean and the dry are allowed to tred on the carpeting. But both grandma and God will, in their great lovingkindness, present every opportunity to attain to glories, to become ready to attain the freedom of the house.

Friday, October 31, 2003

A Recipe for All Hallow's Eve, from eldest younger brother Tom

[is the St. Blog's Cookbook still active?]

Fowl Flesh in Grimy Green Guts with Toadstools
A new recipe for Hallowe'en
Thomas E. Knapp


5 boneless-skinless chicken breasts
1 lb Gemelli Pasta
2 7-oz containers Genova Pesto (Trader Joe’s)
1 8-oz box white mushrooms
2 medium size Portobello mushrooms
½ C grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbl garlic powder
White pepper, to taste


1) Get a 6-8 quart pot, and put 6 quarts of lightly salted water on to boil.

2) While the water’s getting hot, cut the white mushrooms into quarters, reserving 4-6 of the smallest, whole, for decoration.

3) Slice one of the Portobello mushrooms.

4) Slice the chicken breasts into strips. Think fajita, or stir-fry.

5) By now, the water should be boiling. Add the pasta, and cook according to the package instructions.

6) Drain the pasta. Put half a container of the pesto in the pot, while it’s still warm. As soon as the pasta is reasonably drained, put it back in the pot, add the rest of the first package of pesto, and stir it up until the pesto is evenly distributed. The oil in the pesto should keep the pasta from sticking together.

7) In a LARGE fry pan or sauterne, add enough olive oil to cover the bottom. Heat the pan, and sauté the chicken strips with the garlic powder and white pepper, to taste, cooking them all the way. Remove the chicken, and add another shot of olive oil. Sauté the sliced portobello and the white mushrooms, just til the Portobello slices are cooked. Reduce the heat to a very low simmer.

8) Add the chicken back into the fry pan. Stir it to mix with the mushrooms. Add most of the second container of pesto, and stir til everything is a pretty green.

9) Add the chicken and mushrooms to the pasta, in the big pot, stirring to make sure everything gets off the bottom. Add the grated Parmesan at this point, so it gets mixed in.

10) In a small sauté pan, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil, and put the seasoned whole Portobello mushroom in, gill side down, to cook. Turn down the heat so it doesn’t scorch.

11) Transfer the pasta mixture to your serving dish or crock pot. Place the whole cooked Portobello in the center, and the reserved whole white mushrooms along the edge for decoration.

12) Mangia!
long but good: Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver on Women's Work, to the Catholic Daughters

something to keep everybody here well-nourished while I get some beauty sleep --- for the first time since I became disabled, I'm going to the All-Night Vigil tonight! Article via the Catholic Declaration of Faith Listserv.

WORLD, WORK AND FAMILY: The role of women in building a culture of life
October 19, 2003
Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Denver

I want to talk about women today. So naturally I'm going to start by talking about men – not because they're more important than women, but because they're not.

Back in June I had the pleasure of viewing an early version of Mel Gibson's new movie, The Passion of Christ. It's really a wonderful film. I hope all of you will see it and bring others to see it -- although I need to warn you that it's not for young children. It's too real and too violent.

But it's also very moving. I saw it with five other men, just a small group in a small room. When the movie ended, it took at least a minute for anybody to say anything. The emotions were so strong that none of us could come up with the right words.

Now as a bishop, I talk about Jesus a lot, so I began to wonder why this one film had affected me so deeply. I began to notice that other men who saw the film had the same experience. I've known a lot of faithful Catholic men in my life. But I know a lot more who don't know how to articulate their faith, and many others who simply delegate the "religion thing" off to their wives and daughters. The Passion of Christ does something unusual to men. Some can't get the film out of their head for weeks after seeing it. And now I think I know why. There are two reasons.

A lot of us grow up with a mental picture of Jesus that's really very strange. It doesn't correspond to His reality at all. Some of us tend to imagine Jesus as either an unearthly miracle-maker or a vaguely effeminate holy man. We don't know how to resolve who Christ is. We believe that Jesus is fully God and fully man. We say that publicly at every Sunday Mass in the Creed. But we have nothing to look at to help us see what that means.

I think one reason men remember The Passion of Christ is because Jim Caviezel -- who gives just an astonishing performance -- shows us Jesus as someone who is absolutely real, both in the divinity of His person, and in the humanity of His nature, friendships and suffering. And that manliness of Jesus, that heroism, is something men can respect and love and want to follow.

But of course, manliness and heroism don't exist in a vacuum. They're shaped by many things, but especially by examples of courage. They're formed by a daily, intimate experience of love, with all the little moments of joy and sorrow, teasing, correction and encouragement that are part of real life. And that's the second reason men remember The Passion of Christ. Not every man has a wife or sisters, but almost every man has the memory of his mother's unconditional love. Every man knows in his heart that the best of what he is comes through his parents, and especially from his mother. And what Maya Morgenstern shows us so movingly as Mary in The Passion of Christ is how the love of a mother touched the life of Jesus Christ. Jesus shared exactly the same moments of maternal tenderness and humor that every son thrives on.

In our piety sometimes we tend to think of Mary as a "means to an end," the vehicle God used to bring His son into the world. But God chose Mary not to "use" her like an instrument, but because He loved her. He saw in her the beauty and character of a woman who would freely and lovingly shape His son into the man He needed to be. We can't understand Jesus outside the love of His mother, any more than we can understand ourselves outside the experience of our families.

When we listen to the Sermon of Jesus on the Mount -- "Blessed are you who are poor; the kingdom of God is yours" (Lk 6:20) -- we're also hearing Mary: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior . . . [for] He has lifted up the lowly; the hungry He has filled with good things, while the rich He has sent away empty" (Lk 1:46-47, 52-53). Out of the faith and the flesh of Mary, the woman, God fashions the Redeemer of the world. Without Mary, there is no story of redemption. Without Mary, the woman of faith, there is no Jesus, the Son of God.

Over the last few months, I've wondered many times why a film like The Passion of Christ would trigger so much controversy even before it gets to the theaters. Maybe you've heard about it in the media. One allegation against the film is anti-Semitism, which is a very serious sin. The Jewish community has good reason to always be alert for it. As Catholics, we need to understand and respect that concern. And we need to do everything we can to resist any prejudice against the Jewish people.

But having seen the film, I don't think anything in The Passion of Christ qualifies as anti-Semitism. I think that secular hostility to the film comes from something deeper and more inarticulate than any worries about religious prejudice. We might even track the source of that hostility to one particular moment in the film that every Christian already knows, whether we've seen the movie or not.

Near the very end of The Passion of Christ, soldiers take the body of Jesus down from the cross. They place Him in the arms of His mother. It's an image we all remember from the 13th Station of the Cross, and from Michelangelo's great sculpture, the Pieta. And we're left with a picture of a man who -- out of love -- has accepted betrayal, beatings, humiliation and death on the cross; and a woman who -- out of love – has stayed with Him as He suffered and died, and who now cradles her dead son in her arms, in the same way she held him as an infant.

I think we find the greatness of Mary right here, in this moment. She's lost everything. She's an image of humiliation and powerlessness. But she's also a picture of what Job meant when he said, "Though [God] slay me, yet will I trust in Him" (Jb 13:15, KJV). Mary's kind of faith is unreasonable. Mary's kind of love is too deep, too strong and too unselfish -- and it offends the pride of the modern world.

The reason the secular world hates films like The Passion of Christ is because they persuade the heart with the logic of love. The reason the secular world seeks to reinvent or reinterpret Mary is because she's dangerous. She's the model of mature human character --a human being who co-creates a new world not through power, but through unselfish love, faith in God, and the rejection of power.

That kind of witness goes against the spirit that dominates our world -- the immaturity and selfishness in our personal consumption, our politics and our workplaces, and even within our families. André Malraux once asked a priest to name the single biggest lesson he had learned from hearing confessions. Without skipping a heartbeat the priest said, "There are no grown-up people."

The struggle for power is what the modern world is all about. It really doesn't take very long to go from Francis Bacon saying, "Knowledge is power;" to Napoleon Bonaparte saying, "I love power. But I love it as an artist. I love it as a musician loves his violin, to draw on its sounds and chords and harmonies;" to Josef Stalin saying, "One death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic."

Just read the newspapers. The result of our immaturity and selfishness at every level of American daily life is a competition that breeds an anger that breeds violence -- the violence of open warfare; of religious terrorism; of unjust wages and unjust immigration policies; of simply putting our own comfort above the needs of others; the violence of abuse and infidelity between spouses; and even the polite violence of the language we use to smooth over the killing of new life.

On October 8, the Associated Press reported that "a new combination of blood tests and ultrasound can detect fetuses with Down syndrome sooner, and more accurately, than standard U.S. screening tests, offering women more peace of mind and more time to decide whether to end a pregnancy." The article quoted one researcher as saying that, "The absolute biggest advantage is that this allows women to make private decisions" before they're visibly pregnant.

Peace of mind and the power to decide are good things, but not if the price tag is a human life. Children with Down syndrome are not a mistake or a failure. Imagining them that way only reveals our own lack of humanity. A friend of mine who's the mother of a son with a disability likes to say that the only difference between German doctors in the 1930s and some of our own medical establishment today is that now we have better PR firms. The hostility to human weakness, the anger at human imperfection, is exactly the same now, as it was then.

Children with Down syndrome are children of God. They can live happy and fruitful lives. They give far more love back to their parents than they ever take. And because they belong first to God, killing them can never be a "private decision." It always has wider consequences -- beginning with the grief of the mother. It's the woman who bears the spiritual cost of an abortion. Not the doctor, not the researcher, and too often, not even the father. That's the lie in sanitized language like "peace of mind" and "private decision." The mother always bears the cost, because every mother is always a part of her child.

I've spoken a lot, over the years, about our culture of selfishness -- the unrest that forces us to keep feeding our appetites to prove that we control the world around us – but it bears repeating here, because our immaturity and self-absorption have created four big problems.

The first problem is our inability to reason. Reasoning takes time. It needs a vocabulary of ideas. Reasoning forces us to test and compare competing arguments. But the America we live in today is a culture built on marketing, and marketing works in just the opposite way. Marketing feeds our desires and emotions, and it suppresses critical thought, because thinking gets in the way of buying the product or the message. That's why marketing is tied so tightly to images -- like fast cars on an empty road. Images work on our appetites, quickly and very effectively, at the subconscious level.

Here's a second problem: our inability to remember. The historian Christopher Lasch once said that Americans are a people stranded in the present moment. We like nostalgia, because it's a kind of entertainment. But we really don't like history because the past -- as it really happened -- burdens us with all sorts of unfinished business. It's a pain in the neck. History imposes obligations on the present, but Americans prefer to think that we invent ourselves, and that anything is possible. The result is that Americans usually have a very poor grasp of history, and we learn too little, too late, from the lessons of the past.

The third problem is our inability to imagine and hope. Americans like immediate results. We're practical. We're very good at making money, and we're very, very good at science and technology. But technology always comes with a price. Edward Tenner called this the "revenge of unintended consequences." And one of the unintended consequences of our science is that we're now the victims of our own power.

When Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua retired earlier this month, I had the privilege of succeeding him as interim chair of the bishops' Pro-Life Activities Committee. And one of my first jobs was reviewing a proposed letter to congressional leaders that objected to granting patents on human beings and embryos. Thirty years ago, "manufacturing" a human person was unimaginable. Now it's plausible. Now it's in the neighborhood, and what's worse, we've lost the moral vocabulary to deal with it. We've forgotten how to talk about the soul, and why the human person is more than just another animal or product.

Hope and imagination flow out of a belief in a higher purpose to our lives. If we're nothing more than very intelligent carbon atoms, then hope and imagination are just quirks of our species. They don't really mean anything. And any talk about the "sanctity of the human person" is just a lot of beautiful but empty words.

The fourth and final problem is our inability to live real freedom. Freedom is more than an endless supply of choices. Choice for its own sake is just another form of idolatry. Real freedom is the ability to see -- and the courage to do -- what's right. But when we begin to doubt that right and wrong exist, we also lose our ability to talk about things like freedom, truth and the sanctity of the human person in a common vocabulary.

What we get instead of freedom is a kind of anarchy of pressure groups and personal agendas held together by just one thing: the economy we all share . . . and that's not the basis of a community or even a good conversation. In fact our economy, more than anything else in modern life, teaches us to see almost everything as an object to be bought or sold. This is what Jeremy Rifkin means when he describes American culture as more and more a "paid-for experience" based on the commodification of passion, ideals, relationships and even time. If we want freedom, we buy it by purchasing this car or that computer. If we want romance, we buy it by purchasing this cruise or that hotel package.

The trouble is, the more that our advertising misuses the language of our dreams and ideals to sell consumer goods . . . the more confused our dreams and ideals become. We trick ourselves to the point where we no longer recognize what real love, honest work, freedom, truth, family, patriotism -- and even life itself -- look like.

This is the world American women face in 2003. And they have two ways to deal with it. The first is to compete head on with men for a piece of the power. That means beating men at their own game. And of course, the record of the last 50 years shows that women have all of the same intellectual skills as men and many of the same physical abilities. In some areas, even in the military, women clearly outperform men.

But there's a catch. There's a cost. The price tag of this kind of "equality" too often means denying the differences between women and men. It can mean being just as competitive and aggressive as men. It can mean putting career first. It can mean fearing the things that make up the feminine genius -- the acts that make women, women. That's why so much of today's secular feminism hates fertility. That's why abortion and contraception are such important secular icons, even though they attack human sexuality at its roots. Fertility is seen as a weakness. Children mean taking responsibility for somebody else. Children mean -- or should mean – that a woman will depend on the love of a husband. And that's frightening, because too many men today never learned how to be men.

This kind of false "equality" doesn't work because it tries to escape who we are. It makes us look at and interpret the world through a broken piece of glass. Germans in the 1930s looked at everything through the lens of race. Marx saw the world through the lens of class struggle. And now we have a generation of new thinkers making exactly the same mistake, not with some bad racial or economic theory as their lens, but with gender.

Not one of these tools for understanding human experience works. All of them always lead to somebody suffering. The reason is pretty simple. We can't explain the human person without including God in the conversation. And God has something to say to us about ourselves, both in Scripture and through His Church.

Genesis tells us that, "God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (Gen 1:27). That one simple truth about the equality of men and women flows through 4,000 years of faith. Sometimes we've forgotten it. Many times we haven't lived it well. But it underpins all of Catholic culture so strongly that even Christianity's greatest enemies have seen it.

In 1665, right at the peak of Muslim conquest in Europe, a Turkish writer and diplomat -- Evliya Celebi -- visited Vienna. In his report home he wrote:

"In this country I saw a most extraordinary spectacle. Whenever the emperor meets a woman in the street, if he is riding, he brings his horse to a standstill and lets her pass. If the emperor is on foot and meets a woman, he stands in a posture of politeness. The woman greets the emperor, who then takes his hat off his head to show respect for the woman. After the woman has passed, the emperor continues on his way. In this country and in general in the land of the [Christians], women have the main say. They are honored and respected out of love for Mother Mary."

Bernard Lewis, the great Middle East scholar, once said that the status of women is the single most profound difference between Christian and Muslim civilization. He noted that early "Muslim visitors to Europe [spoke] with astonishment, often with horror . . . of the incredible freedom [and] deference" shown to Western women.

Of course, that little history lesson doesn't do a lot for women experiencing bias or mistreatment right here, right now. But it does show us two things.

First, no movement, ideology, political party or institution anywhere, in any country, can match the Christian faith in promoting the dignity of women. And second, women should always turn to the Church as their mother and defender, because in her arms, in her strength, they can begin to re-humanize the world.

People who criticize the Church for not ordaining women to the priesthood ignore her record of promoting the dignity of women. They also misunderstand the nature of the Church herself, the sacramental nature of the priesthood and the Christian understanding of equality based on different but complementary gifts from God.

Pope Paul VI once said that, "Within Christianity, more than in any other religion and since its very beginning, women have had a special dignity." The Closing Message of the Second Vatican Council said that,

"The hour is coming, in fact has already come, when the vocation of women is being acknowledged in its fullness; the hour in which women acquire in the world an influence, an effect and a power never hitherto achieved."

What that influence means and how that power is used -- those are the questions that every woman in this audience will help answer.

"Man and woman He created them." God made men and women equal but different for a reason -- to love each other, to help and complete and depend on each other in the family and in the world. The genius of women is different from the genius of men. Every few months I visit my mother in Kansas, and each time it's a little more difficult because she's 93 now, and I know I won't have her for much longer. But even now I can still look in her eyes, and beneath all the age and the cares and the memories, I can still see the young woman my father loved, and why he loved her.

Women express their genius through mercy, patience, endurance and forgiveness -- a hunger to embrace and protect what Edith Stein described as the "living, personal and whole." But they also have a realism that comes from the labor of bearing new life. I think women, better than men, know what's true and important about the world. Sigrid Undset, the great Norwegian woman writer, once said that, "Facts may be true, but they are not truths -- just as wooden crates or fence posts or doors or furniture are not 'wood' in the same way a forest is, since it consists of the living and growing material from which these things are made." Men usually understand the facts of their daily life. But I think women more easily see the truth of the people and the relationships hidden behind the facts.

The genius of every woman is to love; to protect and nourish the lives entrusted to her; and to support the full development of life in others. It's the same whether you're a mother, or a consecrated religious, or a woman who lives the single vocation. It was true for Dorothy Day in all of her political organizing. Day once described her radicalism as "works of mercy." And in converting to the Catholic faith she said, "I loved, [and] like all women in love, I wanted to be united to my love." The genius for love is written on the heart of every woman, and it's the same whether you're a teacher or lawyer, a scientist or secretary.

St. Teresa of Avila, one of the great doctors of the Church and the intellectual equal of any man of her day, reminded herself and her Carmelite sisters every morning to, "Accustom yourself continually to many acts of love, for they enkindle and melt the soul." Teresa knew what was true and important. Women who love well become real women. And in becoming real women, they draw men into being true men.

When the Catholic Daughters of the Americas began 100 years ago, the world was a very different place. As I was browsing through my copy of A Century in Review – which is a wonderful history of the Daughters, and if you don't have a copy, I hope you can get one – I was struck by the character I found in so many of the faces of the women who have led and served the Daughters over the years.

These were strong, intelligent women. They deeply loved their faith. Each of their lives was a seed that bore fruit in service to the Church, defense of the family, religious education, help for the poor, support for the missions -- in other words, in almost every form of Catholic apostolic action in the world. Their legacy now belongs to this assembly today. And believe me, the Church needs you. Mother Church needs Catholic Daughters. And the world urgently needs the witness of Catholic women -- because the next 100 years will be even more challenging, than the last.

For each of us, the future belongs to the plan of God. He made each of us different to do different parts of His work, and to be saints by different paths. Earlier today Pope John Paul II beatified another Teresa, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and I think in her understanding of love -- the same unconditional love Mary had at the foot of the cross -- we can end our words and begin our actions.

Blessed Teresa said,

"Stay where you are. Find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering and the lonely right there where you are -- in your own homes and in your own families, in your workplaces and in your schools . . . You can find Calcutta all over the world, if you have the eyes to see. Everywhere, wherever you go, you find people who are unwanted, unloved, uncared for, just rejected by society -- completely forgotten, completely left alone."

So beginning here, today, right now, may God grant us the courage to be the women and men He created us to be. May God grant us the courage to love.

Thank you for the privilege of being with you today.
Another intriguing quiz

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?


Thursday, October 30, 2003

Another desert mother story, from a source known as "The Spiritual Meadow"

Amma Damiana told us this too:
Once, I went to the Church of Sts. Cosmas and Damian and spent the whole night there. In the evening, there came an old woman, a native of Phrygian Galatia, and she gave two copper coins to everybody who was in the church. I knew her because she had often given some to me.

One day, a kinswoman of mine and of the most faithful emperor Maurice came to pray at the Holy City and stayed there for a year. Taking her with me, I went to Sts. Cosmas and Damian. While we were in the oratory, I said to my kinswoman, "Look, my lady, when an old woman comes distributing two coins to each person, please swallow your pride and accept them." With obvious distaste, she said, "Do I have to accept them?" "Yes," I said. "Take them, for the woman is great in the eyes of God. She fasts through the week, and whatever she is able to gain by this discipline she distributes it among those who are found in the church. She is a widow of about eighty years of age. Take the coins she offers you and give them to somebody else. Do not refuse the sacrifice of this old woman."

As we were speaking in this way, the old woman came in and began her almsgiving. In silence and with serenity she came and gave me some coins. She gave some to my kinswoman too, saying, "Take these, and eat." When she had gone, we realized that God had revealed to her that I had said, "Take them and give them to a poor person." My kinswoman therefore sent a servant of hers to get vegetables with the two coins. These she ate, and she affirmed before God that they were as sweet as honey. This both astonished her, and led her to give thanks to God who endows His servants with grace.


Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Divine Liturgy VI: Go, you are sent.

Why do we call the Mass the Mass? Because "missa est". Now that we have received Eucharist, we are commanded to take Eucharist with us outside the walls, beyond the walls, to all and everywhere.

That command, "Ite, missa est" is clear enough in just plain translation, but it's even clearer when we remember that it was military jargon, a command roughly equivalent to the modern command "fall out". The military company comes together for morning roll call, receives the orders of the day, their duty assignments, and then they "fall out" to go do them. We, the members of the Body of Christ, have received the Body of Christ, and more deeply become the Body of Christ, our general orders to be holy; now there is a time where any "special orders of the day" can be presented --- the announcements. Then we are blessed for our further strengthening, and then we are sent, and we begin the adventure of being the Body of Christ outside the church walls, beyond the church realm, every place we are and in every situation we may be in, throughout the entire world.

The mission is ours; may we accept it and fulfill it with joy.
Divine Liturgy V: We become what we receive, amen, amen.

It's an old, old truism that "you are what you eat." Before us, appearing in the lowly form of bread, is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, and we are invited to come and eat. We know we are not worthy of such a great and awe-filled privilege, but we also know that it's not so much an invitation as it is a command --- we must eat and drink if we are to live. So, as we begged at the very beginning, we ask again, only say the word, my Lord, and I shall be healed. And we come, and bow, and eat. I, a member of the body of Christ, receive the body of Christ. Receiving the body of Christ, we become the body of Christ. And, just as Christ shared in our humanity, we shall share in His divinity.

We are filled with Him, and may be even overcome with awe; there's a reason that many of us bury our face in our hands when we return to our places and pray and await as the other members of Christ's body who are gathered here with us receive the body of Christ also. And in respect, when physically possible, we stay kneeling or standing, not sitting down, until everyone has received and any leftover Hosts have been reposed. And we abide in the closest personal relationship possible with the Lord Jesus Christ, in great recognition of His Body, and we give thanks.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Divine Liturgy IV: The Mystery of Faith!

Now, after our offering is prepared, we are again called to strict attention: "Lift up your hearts!" "We lift them up to the Lord!"

And, kneeling at attention, or standing at attention, depending on whether it's a Sunday or a weekday and whether our parish is Nicea-ed or GIRM-ed, our priest, our bishop, prays, and us with him, our great Eucharistic prayer, our hymn of thanksgiving. And we know, by our own experience, that our Lord's one great offering did not happen two millenia ago to our long-unremembered ancestors ---- that great offering is here among us, is always and forever now. Jesus promised us that He Himself would be our true foor and drink, and He is God, who always keeps His promises.

Christ is, now and forever, risen; not in the past but now. We dealt death to Him, and He eternally conquers.

And that which had been the plainest of bread and wine is now, by this great gift, His own body and blood, that we might eat and drink and live life true and eternal.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Divine Liturgy III: What earth has given and human hands have made

Even from the beginnings, there has been a collection as part of Mass. For, there's a necessity. The Eucharist is not only a gift granted, willy-nilly ---- though Eucharist would not be without the Lord's continual generosity. The Eucharist begins as the good that we gather and offer to God for Him to use. There is no Bread of Life nor Cup of Eternal Salvation, no body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ really present, without there first being bread and wine that we provide, our gift to God. Our God has chosen, in this case, not to create His gifts from nothing, but to transform the gifts, small as they may be, that we give to Him, into His great gift to us.

"He took the bread and blessed it." How did He bless it? The gospels don't tell us. They didn't have to say, because everybody knew that; every time bread was eaten, all their life from infancy, they had heard the blessing. "Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth." And so we bless and offer up that bread, and that wine, that we give and that the Lord will transform for us from ordinary food that nourishes this life to the true food and true drink that nourishes eternal life.
Divine Liturgy II: Wisdom! Attend!

Now that we have prepared, we turn to the ambo, the table where we are nourished by the Lord's words in the Sacred Scripture. We are nourished, we are strengthened, we are enlightened; we learn of the Lord's works and glories, and give Him thanks for His great generosity in giving us the Word's words.

We give especial honor to the Book of the Gospels. We stand. We sign ourselves, asking the Lord that we may be opened to hear and to proclaim. The risen Christ is truly with us in His holy Gospels.

Then our priest or our bishop teaches us, that we may more fully understand God's holy words, just as St. Philip explained the Scriptures to the Ethiopian on the road. We do not want to be ignorant. St. Jerome was correct when he said: Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.

Friday, October 24, 2003

On the Divine Liturgy I: I will go unto the altar of God, the God who gives joy to my youth.

Before we begin, we call ourselves to attention. My headline is from the Mass of my childhood, and was the beginning of the penitential rite in thoes days, and, though the words have changed, what we do is the same. We are called to attention, and prepare ourselves, by begging the forgiveness of our sins. We place to one side for this time all the distractions and troubles and trials in order to do this timeless work. All liturgy is the work of the faithful --- that is what the very word "liturgy" means.

Knowing our weakness and faults, but knowing also the faithfulness and the mercy of God, we draw near, both because we love and because we are commanded to do so. As our bishop or our priest ascends those three steps that separate the altar from everywhere else, to reverence the altar; as we beg each other for prayers in the Confiteor and plead for the Lord's mercy; we prepare ourselves to participate in this great offering with the entire Church in all times, and outside of time in the eternal present.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

"A person's a person, no matter how small..."

Could there be any doubt which Dr. Suess character I'd be?

Which Dr. Seuss character are you?

brought to you by Quizilla

Monday, October 20, 2003

"Prayer at the appointed hours" from the Liturgy of the Hours

Specifically, from St. Augustine's letter to Proba, in today's Office of Readings.

Let us always desire the happy life from the Lord God and always pray for it. But for this very reason we turn our mind to the task of prayer at appointed hours, since that desire grows lukewarm, so to speak, from our involvement in other concerns and occupations. We remind ourselves through the words of prayer to focus our attention on the object of our desire; otherwise, the desire that began to grow lukewarm may grow chill altogether and may be totally extinguished unless it is repeatedly stirred into flame.

Therefore, when the Apostle says:
Let your petitions become known before God, this should not be taken in the sense that they are in fact becoming known to God who certainly knew them even before they were made, but that they are becoming known to us before God through submission and not before men through boasting.

Since this is the case, it is not wrong or useless to pray even for a long time when there is the opportunity. I mean when it does not keep us from performing the other good and necessary actions we are obliged to do. But even in these actions, as I have said, we must always pray with that desire. To pray for a longer time is not the same as to pray by multiplying words, as some people suppose. Lengthy talk is one thing, a prayerful disposition which lasts a long time is another. For it is even written in reference to the Lord himself that he spent the night in prayer and that he prayed at great length. Was he not giving us an example by this? In time, he prays when it is appropriate, and in eternity, he hears our prayers with the Father.

The monks in Egypt are said to offer frequent prayers, but these are very short and hurled like swift javelins. Otherwise their watchful attention, a very necessary quality for anyone at prayer, could be dulled and could disappear through protracted delays. They also clearly demonstrate through this practice that a person must not quickly divert such attention if it lasts, just as one must not allow it to be blunted if it cannot last.

Excessive talking should be kept out of prayer but that does not mean that one should not spend much time in prayer so long as a fervent attitude continues to accompany his prayer. To talk at length in prayer is to perform a necessary action with an excess of words. To spend much time in prayer is to knock with a persistent and holy fervour at the door of the one whom we beseech. This task is generally accomplished more through sighs than words, more through weeping than speech. He places
our tears in his sight, and our sighs are not hidden from him, for he has established all things through his Word and does not seek human words.
An exhortation from Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;
.....Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
.....Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
.....Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
.....Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
.....Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
.....Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
.....Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
.....Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway.


Friday, October 17, 2003

"Let nothing exist among you that may divide you; but be ye united with your bishop..."

Today is the memorial of Saint Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, who followed St. Peter as bishop in that place. He left for us seven letters, which he wrote during his journey to Rome to be martyred. This is some of what he left to us:

to the Magnesians:

I exhort you to study to do all things with a divine harmony, while your bishop presides in the place of God, and your presbyters in the place of the assembly of the apostles, along with your deacons, who are most dear to me, and are entrusted with the ministry of Jesus Christ, who was with the Father before the beginning of time, and in the end was revealed. Do ye all then, imitating the same divine conduct, pay respect to one another, and let no one look upon his neighbour after the flesh, but do ye continually love each other in Jesus Christ. Let nothing exist among you that may divide you ; but be ye united with your bishop, and those that preside over you, as a type and evidence of your immortality.

As therefore the Lord did nothing without the Father, being united to Him, neither by Himself nor by the apostles, so neither do ye anything without the bishop and presbyters. Neither endeavour that anything appear reasonable and proper to yourselves apart; but being come together into the same place, let there be one prayer, one supplication, one mind, one hope, in love and in joy undefiled. There is one Jesus Christ, than whom nothing is more excellent. Do ye therefore all run together as into one temple of God, as to one altar, as to one Jesus Christ, who came forth from one Father, and is with and has gone to one.

and to the Philadelphians:

Wherefore, as children of light and truth, flee from division and wicked doctrines; but where the shepherd is, there do ye as sheep follow. For there are many wolves that appear worthy of credit, who, by means of a pernicious pleasure, carry captive those that are running towards God; but in your unity they shall have no place.

Keep yourselves from those evil plants which Jesus Christ does not tend, because they are not the planting of the Father. Not that I have found any division among you, but exceeding purity. For as many as are of God and of Jesus Christ are also with the bishop. And as many as shall, in the exercise of repentance, return into the unity of the Church, these, too, shall belong to God, that they may live according to Jesus Christ. Do not err, my brethren. If any man follows him that makes a schism in the Church, he shall not inherit the kingdom of God. If any one walks according to a strange opinion, he agrees not with the passion [of Christ.].

Take ye heed, then, to have but one Eucharist. For there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup to [show forth] the unity of His blood; one altar; as there is one bishop, along with the presbytery and deacons, my fellow-servants: that so, whatsoever ye do, ye may do it according to [the will of] God.

I might be disabled, but I'm Not Dead Yet

As we do whatever we can to help Teri Schindler Schiavo in her passion, we also have to call to mind that there are more victims on the roster to follow.

Shrugging shoulders and giving up is not a viable option. Care, and fight --- even if only for your own self-interest, for "disabled" is the one "minority" that absolutely anyone can join without choice or warning.

The good people of Not Dead Yet have been fighting the fight for the right to life for disabled people for many years, and continue to do so. They filed an amici brief on Teri's behalf, and are very much involved in the vigils and protests concerning Teri. Do pay their site a visit, and, of course, keep on praying for Teri --- and more, if you're able.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

being reminded to be grateful

On his 25th anniversary, the Holy Father has given us another little gift: the pastoral letter Pastores gregis.

I read it today, and it instills in me gratitude for being allowed to be an adopted daughter of Milwaukee, where we have been so very blessed in our shepherds for so very many decades. Also grateful for being the beneficiary of so many wise and pious, devoted and dedicated, bishops and priests in my life. So, this evening, a special little extra remembrance

"for John Paul our Pope, for Timothy our Archbishop, for Richard and Rembert, and for all the bishops....."
One of the Credibly Accused, and he opened not his mouth: St. Gerard Majella

I wish to love God.
I wish always to be with God,
and to do everything for the love of God.
The center of all love for God
consists in giving ourselves entirely to God
by being in all things conformable to the divine will,
and remaining in this conformity for all eternity.

St. Gerard was a tailor, born in 1727 to a family in that trade. He was still an apprentice when his father died; he became a servant in the household of a cantankerous bishop for a while, then he went back to his hometown and opened his own tailor shop.

In 1748 he entered the Redemptorist community as a lay-brother; the founder of the community, St. Alphonsus Ligouri, received his profession in 1752. Gerard served as tailor and infirmarian in the community, and became known for great holiness and charity, and for charisms of prophesy and infused knowledge; his advice and spiritual direction was sought after even though he was not a priest.

However, disaster was coming over the horizon.

In 1754, a woman whom Gerard had helped to enter the convent washed out of the convent, and to distract attention from her failure at religious life she accused Gerard of fornication and lechery, and that he had imposed himself upon the young daughter of a gentleman who regularly gave hospitality to travelling Redemptorists, believably. When confronted with the charges, Gerard made no answer at all to them, and, the charges being credible, he was placed under every penalty short of expulsion from the community: close confinement and surveillance, no contact with the outside world, exclusion from communion..... and this went on for months and months. Finally, the accuser became gravely ill, and, believing herself to be dying, she admitted she had lied about Gerard. When St. Alphonsus asked Gerard why he had remained silent before the accusations, Gerard replied that he believed that was what was required in the face of unjust accusations; after all, Jesus did not answer Pilate, and the rule of the Redemptorists said that one was not to defend oneself from the charges of one's superior.

Not long after he was cleared of the charges, he died, of TB, in 1755 at the age of 29.

An interesting link to information on St. Gerard Majella is here
And another interesting link is here.


Tuesday, October 14, 2003

How God works in the human soul: St. Teresa of Avila and her Way of Perfection

[from chapter 16]

Returning to what I was saying, there are souls whom God knows He may gain for Himself by this means; seeing that they are completely lost, His Majesty wants to leave no stone unturned to help them; and therefore, though they are in a sad way and lacking in virtues, He gives them consolations, favours and emotions which begin to move their desires, and occasionally even brings them to a state of contemplation, though rarely and not for long at a time. And this, as I say, He does because He is testing them to see if that favour will not make them anxious to prepare themselves to enjoy it often; if it does not, may they be pardoned; pardon Thou us, Lord, for it is a dreadful thing that a soul whom Thou hast brought near to Thyself should approach any earthly thing and become attached to it.

For my own part I believe there are many souls whom God our Lord tests in this way, and few who prepare themselves to enjoy this favour. When the Lord does this and we ourselves leave nothing undone either, I think it is certain that He never ceases from giving until He has brought us to a very high degree of prayer. If we do not give ourselves to His Majesty as resolutely as He gives Himself to us, He will be doing more than enough for us if He leaves us in mental prayer and from time to time visits us as He would visit servants in His vineyard. But these others are His beloved children, whom He would never want to banish from His side; and, as they have no desire to leave Him, He never does so. He seats them at His table, and feeds them with His own food, almost taking the food from His mouth in order to give it them.

Oh, what blessed care of us is this, my daughters! How happy shall we be if by leaving these few, petty things we can arrive at so high an estate! Even if the whole world should blame you, and deafen you with its cries, what matter so long as you are in the arms of God? He is powerful enough to free you from everything; for only once did He command the world to be made and it was done; with Him, to will is to do. Do not be afraid, then, if He is pleased to speak with you, for He does this for the greater good of those who love Him. His love for those to whom He is dear is by no means so weak: He shows it in every way possible. Why, then, my sisters, do we not show Him love in so far as we can? Consider what a wonderful exchange it is if we give Him our love and receive His. Consider that He can do all things, and we can do nothing here below save as He enables us. And what is it that we do for Thee, O Lord, our Maker? We do hardly anything --- just make some poor weak resolution. And, if His Majesty is pleased that by doing a mere nothing we should win everything, let us not be so foolish as to fail to do it.

O Lord! All our trouble comes to us from not having our eyes fixed upon Thee. If we only looked at the way along which we are walking, we should soon arrive; but we stumble and fall a thousand times and stray from the way because, as I say, we do not set our eyes on the true Way. One would think that no one had ever trodden it before, so new is it to us. It is indeed a pity that this should sometimes happen. I mean, it hardly seems that we are Christians at all or that we have ever in our lives read about the Passion. Lord help us --- that we should be hurt about some small point of honour! And then, when someone tells us not to worry about it, we think he is no Christian. I used to laugh --- or sometimes I used to be distressed --- at the things I heard in the world, and sometimes, for my sins, in religious Orders. We refuse to be thwarted over the very smallest matter of precedence: apparently such a thing is quite intolerable. We cry out at once: "Well, I'm no saint"; I used to say that myself.

God deliver us, sisters, from saying "We are not angels", or "We are not saints", whenever we commit some imperfection. We may not be; but what a good thing it is for us to reflect that we can be if we will only try and if God gives us His hand! Do not be afraid that He will fail to do His part if we do not fail to do ours. And since we come here for no other reason, let us put our hands to the plough, as they say. Let there be nothing we know of which it would be a service to the Lord for us to do, and which, with His help, we would not venture to take in hand. I should like that kind of venturesomeness to be found in this house, as it always increases humility. We must have a holy boldness, for God helps the strong, being no respecter of persons; and He will give courage to you and to me.


Monday, October 13, 2003

from the CINJustAnn listserv this morning [via ZENIT]:
On Evangelical Poverty, interviewing Father Thomas Dubay

Since Gospel poverty is so deeply countercultural, especially in the First World, how do we open people's minds even to give it a fair hearing?

Father Dubay:
There are several problems here. One is that most people do not know what Gospel poverty means. For example, it does not mean we promote destitution. On the contrary, the Lord in the radical things he says is trying to rub out destitution --- which is why we are to share with the needy.

Another problem is that we seldom hear from the pulpit anything near to a full picture of the sparing and sharing lifestyle that is so beautiful. Christic frugality is love-filled. It is not a Spartan or Buddhist ideal.

A third problem lies in free will. Unfortunately, there are people who so cling to their pleasures and luxuries that they have decided that anything that interferes with their lifestyles is going to get little to no attention.

What, then, are Jesus, his apostles and the Church promoting?

Father Dubay:
It took me the entire book, "Happy Are You Poor," to answer this question with some adequacy. That is why it is written. The full answer is beautiful. However, let me give one simple answer, though there are many others.

It is easy for you and me to say, "Of course I love my neighbor as myself," and then turn around and treat myself far better than I treat the family next door or the pitiful slum dwellers in Haiti or Calcutta.

Consider fiery John the Baptist preparing the way for the Lord and making plain the facts of sincere repentance: "Brood of vipers ... the ax is laid to the root of the trees ... and thrown into the fire."

Understandably, the people are shaken up and ask what they should do to show conversion. His answer is plain: "If anyone has two tunics, he must share with the man who has none, and the one with something to eat must do the same." That is real love and sound logic, and any honest person should be able to see it. To live it requires radical conversion.

How can we open people's minds to what love is all about? How do we sound the wake-up call?

Father Dubay:
Feodor Dostoyevsky, perhaps the best novelist in the 19th century, wrote brilliantly about the question of God and atheism. In one spot, he put on the lips of a character the fact that if a person does not worship the real God, he will bend his knees before things created and finite. There are, he added, no atheists --- they are really idolaters.

That, of course, is true. Everyone has one or more consuming concerns. It's either the real God or money, power, pleasures, lust, pride in its various forms and so on. One or more of these latter becomes idols, as the man who rejects the only God centers his thoughts, desires, aspirations, worries and concerns on his idol. They are gods to him.

Anyone who has embraced the Trinity has little trouble understanding Gospel frugality --- the whats, whys and hows of it are explained.

Pope John Paul II has warned about mistaken ideas of freedom. How is Gospel poverty related to true freedom?

Father Dubay:
Freedom and love are probably the least understood of common words in our contemporary world. Most people assume with little thought that greater freedom implies fewer laws and restrictions. There is a kernel of truth in this idea, but it is a secondary and consequential kernel.

Freedom is most basically a power to do and to be. For example, you are free to play the violin or do bypass surgery only to the extent that you have the requisite knowledge and skills. The same is true of being free to teach a class in physics or philosophy or theology. If you have these basic powers and goods, then you should not be unduly
restricted from exercising them.

Jesus made this point clearly when he said that if we have his Word, its truth will make us free. This is why the saints, the men and women who live his message with heroic perfection, are the most free and fulfilled people on the planet. They rejoice with the Lord always, as St. Paul in Philippians 4:4 admonishes all of us.

How, then, would you relate this fundamental reality to evangelical poverty?

Father Dubay:
All the benefits I discuss in my book empower a person to become a beautiful, loving, real person. What I said about idol worship earlier is much to this point.

Avarice enslaves a man in a multitude of ways easy to imagine. Vanity about possessions is much like vanity about accomplishments and bodily beauty --- one is held in bondage to the minds of other people.

When one is freed of selfish clinging to material goods, one is then free to love neighbor in fact as well as in mere words.

What is detachment, and how is it related to freedom?

Father Dubay:
It may be easier to see the point by explaining what attachment is in the pejorative sense. A handy and accurate definition is: a clinging or desiring of the will to do something created for its own sake.

There are three elements here: It is a willed desire, not a mere feeling; it concerns something finite, not God; "for its own sake" makes a mere means into an end, that is, something of an idol.

St. Paul puts the matter positively in 1 Corinthians 10:31: "Whether you eat or drink or do anything else, do all for the glory of God." All created goodness and beauty is meant to bring others and us to the unspeakable enthrallment of the beatific vision in risen body. To willingly cling to anything merely created for its own sake reminds me of Dostoyevsky's analysis: It is either idolatry or it tends in that direction.

How do the ideas of stewardship versus total "rights" over material goods fit into this picture?

Father Dubay:
Stewardship, detachment and a loving, sparing and sharing lifestyle make a beautiful whole. Total rights over material goods sounds like human beings assuming a divine status.

What suggestions do you have for the layperson who truly wants to live the spirit of Gospel poverty, but who must meet the day-to-day demands of raising a family and paying bills?

Father Dubay:
In my book, I address this topic in Chapter 12, "Frugality in Marriage."

I have been joyously surprised to hear from sizable groups of laity in different parts of the United States who spontaneously have decided to study this book and then meet regularly to discuss how its Gospel message is to be applied specially to their state in life. That is an excellent answer to the present question.

Then, too, knowing the married saints and seeing how they responded to this question can be an immense enlightenment and encouragement.

How should the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and their aftermath open us to re-evaluate what is most important in life and to discover our wealth of potential to love?

Father Dubay:
This is a matter of deep conversion not only from mortal sin but also in giving up venial sins and going on to heroic
virtues - - to which the Gospel repeatedly calls everyone. And that, in turn, demands a deepening of prayer life, meditation leading to contemplative intimacy with the Trinity. Yes, all the way to the transforming union.

As Han Urs von Balthasar put it, "Truth is symphonic." It all fits together.