Thursday, July 31, 2003

The scariest prayer in the hymnal, and its composer: St. Ignatius Loyola

Take, Lord, receive
all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
my entire will.

Take, Lord, receive
all I have and possess.
You have given all to me;
now I return it.

Give me only Your love and Your grace;
that's enough for me.
Your love and Your grace
are enough for me.

Take, Lord, receive;
all is Yours now.
Dispose of it
wholly according to Your will.

Give me only Your love and Your grace;
that's enough for me.
Your love and Your grace
are enough for me.

. . . . . -----Saint Ignatius Loyola

Today is the Solemnity (in my parish, memorial just about everywhere else....) of St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus. Also the developer of the Spiritual Exercises and of a set of particularly good guidelines for the discernment of spirits. Also the author of the prayer Anima Christi ---- you all know the one: "....Blood of Christ, inebriate me........" And of that scariest prayer in the hymnal, Suscipe, that I typed above the picture. And he learned his wisdom, mostly, in the school of hard knocks, repentance, and experimentation. It all began with a crippling war wound, a long bout of bed rest, and a castle library with not one good rip-roaring chivalric romance in it, only the Book of the Gospels and a book on the lives of the saints.

A first generation Jesuit named Luis Gonzalez wrote a biography of St. Ignatius based on his own words and writings, a portion of which is given to us in today's Office of Readings.

Ignatius was passionately fond of reading worldly books of fiction and tales of knight-errantry. When he felt he was getting better, he asked for some of these books to pass the time. But no book of that sort could be found in the house; instead they gave him a life of Christ and a collection of the lives of saints written in Spanish.

By constantly reading these books he began to be attracted to what he found narrated there. Sometimes in the midst of his reading he would reflect on what he had read. Yet at other times he would dwell on many of the things which he had been accustomed to dwell on previously. But at this point our Lord came to his assistance, insuring that these thoughts were followed by others which arose from his current reading.

While reading the life of Christ our Lord or the lives of the saints, he would reflect and reason with himself: “What if I should do what Saint Francis or Saint Dominic did?” In this way he let his mind dwell on many thoughts; they lasted a while until other things took their place. Then those vain and worldly images would come into his mind and remain a long time. This sequence of thoughts persisted with him for a long time.

But there was a difference. When Ignatius reflected on worldly thoughts, he felt intense pleasure; but when he gave them up out of weariness, he felt dry and depressed. Yet when he thought of living the rigorous sort of life he knew the saints had lived, he not only experienced pleasure when he actually thought about it, but even after he dismissed these thoughts, he still experienced great joy. Yet he did not pay attention to this, nor did he appreciate it until one day, in a moment of insight, he began to marvel at the difference. Then he understood his experience: thoughts of one kind left him sad, the others full of joy. And this was the first time he applied a process of reasoning to his religious experience. Later on, when he began to formulate his spiritual exercises, he used this experience as an illustration to explain the doctrine he taught his disciples on the discernment of spirits.

Yes, St. Ignatius is daunting, one of the scariest of the scary-holy saints of God. But this is no reason to fear to follow; Ignatius didn't start out daunting and scary-holy, he started out as a wimp, just as we all do. He started taking care for his soul, and started putting some effort into his relationship with Jesus, and started to be willing to listen and learn, and he got stronger and stronger until he became daunting --- and it took quite a while.

Do not be afraid to sing Suscipe. Even if, right now, you can only want and wish that you could want what you are asking for, that will be enough for now. Our Lord, who unfailingly desires each and every one of us to come to him, honors even our littlest steps in that direction, and pours our his help and grace in great overabundance. His is plentious redemption. Step forward faithfully and without fear, and you, also, can grow up to be strong and holy --- and the day will come when you can sing Suscipe with a fully willing heart and totally empty hands, and wonders will then happen. You have my word on that.

If my word is not enough, take April Oursler Armstrong's word. Read Cry Babel, her book about her adventures, rather extraordinary ones, when she came to the day that she could pray the Suscipe without hedging her bets in her mind. Not every case is as dramatic as hers, mind you, but it's still a really good read.

Happy St. Iggy's Day!

[Addendum: 3:40 pm]

Since my text of Suscipe, the first I learned and the only one I've got memorized, is a metrical translation for singing, I'm filching from Fr. Jim of Dappled Things and reposting here the original Latin text of that prayer; some of you may want to have fun with compare-contrast. We all know that metrical translations of anything can have their problems.......

Suscipe, Domine, universam meam libertatem; accipe memoriam, intellectum atque voluntatem omnem; quidquid habeo vel possideo mihi largitus es; id tibi totum restituo atque tuae prorsus voluntati trado gubernandum; amorem tui solum cum gratia tua mihi dones et dives sum satis, nec aliud quidquam ultra posco. Amen.
Everywhere in this archdiocese except in my parish......

......it's the feast of the (first) dedication of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.

In my parish this feast will be tomorrow, because it gets nudged by an even more local solemnity, about which more later.

Here are two links to a homily on why we have cathedrals and what we do when we dedicate them, given at the third dedication, in 2002, of this wonderful place of God we celebrate today (or tomorrow).

Text file, requires Adobe Acrobat

Audio file [19:00 minutes], requires RealAudio

Monday, July 28, 2003

While I'm posting about the new martyrs.....

......here is a sermon, by an Episcopal priest, that I discovered in my hunt for Fr. Rother's picture. She is meditating on her shock when another preacher tried to say that martyrdom didn't happen anymore, when she knew full well that it did.
The Psalms here and now

Jaime the Theologian Guy (formerly the Bible Geek) at Cruciform Chronicles is currently sharing the fruit of his lectio as he prays his way through the Book of Psalms. So far the fruit is absolutely luscious. Go there.
A Shepherd Cannot Run: Fr. Stanley Rother, martyr, holy helper of the poor

If I have to die, I will die there. I want to be there with my people. -----Father Stanley Rother

Father Stanley Rother was a priest in Oklahoma. He'd barely made it through seminary, academics wasn't his strong point, but he was a wise, loving, and very competent pastor. When his diocese in Oklahoma began a mission in Guatemala, he volunteered to go there. So in 1968 he arrived in the parish of Santiago Atitlan. His new parishioners didn't recognise "Stanley" as a proper name, so his Spanish-speaking parishioners called him Francisco, and his Mayan parishioners Apla's.

He was doing the ordinary work of a missionary priest. He was not at all politically active, in either United States or Guatemalan politics, and the other priests of that district considered him the most conservative of them all. He just did what a priest does.

He offered Mass and preached the Gospel. He set out to master T'zutuhil, the native language of his Mayan parishioners, and at the time of his death was translating the New Testament into T'zutuhil. He taught his people to study the Scriptures. He expelled "Maximon," the local trickster spirit, from the parish church......

He built a health clinic in the town and recruited a community of dedicated volunteers to run it, helping to reduce the child mortality rate from over 50 percent to 20 percent, and he worked with the community on public health awareness, like boiling drinking water and wearing shoes to avoid parasites. He was a skilled handyman and practical carpenter, and he tended his own garden plot, growing his own corn and vegetables. This last especially impressed the men of the Mayan community, for, among the Maya, growing corn is a sacred task.

He loved his people, and his people came to love him.

And then, in 1980, the army came to Santiago Atitlan.

The Catholic Church had become a target of the Guatemalan military. Because the Church upheld the dignity and human rights of all people, including laborers, the poor, and Mayans, the government accused her of supporting communism. The Bible was considered a subversive work, and villagers hid their Bibles out in the fields or buried under their houses, to keep the soldiers from finding them.

The death lists began, and the "disappearances." One of the first to be killed was the head of the local radio station, which broadcast Fr. Rother's Sunday Mass, and health and hygiene programs, and news. One evening on the news commentary show, the subject was US president Jimmy Carter and the human rights policies of the United States. The radio station was ransacked, and its head kidnapped, tortured, and killed.

The terror, kidnappings, and murders continued. Dozens were killed. Diego Quic' Apuchan, Fr. Rother's lead catechist, appeared on a death list in late 1980, apparently because he had publicly called upon the police to protect people from the kidnappers. For a little protection, he moved into Fr. Rother's rectory. On the evening of January 5, 1981, as Diego approached the rectory door, he was accosted by 4 soldiers; he clung to the bannister and yelled for help. Fr. Rother and the other rectory staff arrived only in time to witness Diego's abduction.

It was only days after that Fr. Rother's own name appeared on the death lists. At the urging of his parish staff, he fled the country and returned to Oklahoma, but he was troubled in spirit. He felt like he had deserted his people under fire. For three months he struggled. He missed his parish dreadfully, and was pulled to return, to be with his people. With his bishop's blessing, he returned to Santiago Atitlan in April, in time for Holy Week.

On the night of July 28, three masked soldiers broke into the rectory and forced the doorkeeper to take them to Fr. Rother's room. Defying orders to keep quiet, the doorkeeper shouted, "Father, they are here for you!" The soldiers burst into Fr. Rother's room. The doorkeeper heard Father cry out, "No, I will not go with you. You will have to kill me here." He was badly beaten, but continued to resist being taken away, and they finally did kill him right there, with two gunshots and a stab wound in the back.

Fr. Rother's family wanted the body returned to Oklahoma for burial. However, understanding that his people in Santiago Atitlan also wanted their martyred pastor to rest among them, the family allowed his heart and a vial of his blood to be removed from the body to remain in his parish; to the Mayans, the spirit of a person resides in the blood. So the heart of this courageous priest of God is enshrined in his parish church, forever with the people he served.

Saturday, July 26, 2003

"He who wants to win the world for Christ must have the courage to come in conflict with it."

Today is the memorial of Blessed Titus Brandsma, a Carmelite priest and martyr.

Titus, whose birthname was Anno, was born to a Friesian family in the late 1800's. After secondary school, he entered the Carmelite community, became a priest. and earned a doctorate on philosophy in Rome. He then became a university professor, and was the president ("rector magnificus") of his university for a time. He also was very active in Catholic journalism, becoming, eventually, the head of Holland's Catholic journalists' guild. This is an image of his international press pass:

When the Nazis took over Holland, the Catholic Church was blatently and loudly in opposition to them. The bishops forbade communion to any Catholics known to support the National Socialists, and regularly denounced the Nazi perversions from their pulpits. In fact, in Holland, the Catholics were sent to the concentration camps first; St. Edith Stein was also martyred in this time. Fr. Brandsma was deeply involved in the resistance to the National Socialists, and was already feeling the heat, but the final straw that got him arrested was that the Nazis has issued a law that all newspapers must print the officially-issued Nazi propaganda. The bishops forbade any Catholic periodical from publishing any of that material, and Fr. Brandsma, as their messenger, was to personally deliver the ban to the Catholic press; he had visited fourteen journalists when the powers caught up with him and arrested him. He was imprisoned in two penitentiaries in Holland that had been taken over by the Nazis, before being deported to Dachau. His chronically ill health forced him to the "hospital" of Dachau in mid-June of 1942, where he was subjected to medical experimentation before being killed by lethal injection on July 26.

A poem written by Fr. Brandsma during his imprisonment:

A new awareness of Thy love
Encompasses my heart:
Sweet Jesus, I in Thee and Thou
In me shall never part.

No grief shall fall my way but I
Shall see Thy grief-filled eyes;
The lonely way that Thou once walked
Has made me sorrow-wise.

All trouble is a white-lit joy
That lights my darkest day;
Thy love has turned to brightest light
This night-like way.

If I have Thee alone,
The hours will bless
With still, cold hands of love
My utter loneliness.

Stay with me, Jesus, only stay;
I shall not fear
If, reaching out my hand,
I feel Thee near.


Friday, July 25, 2003

A Digital Quilt

Thanks to Gerard, who made the graphic for me, and Rachel of cre8d design, I now am a square on the Blogging Thankfulness Digital Quilt.

May I always act in a way befitting someone who is loved by the ever-faithful Lord, whose love is everlasting.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

"I'm not trying to change the world. I'm trying to keep the world from changing me."

Ammon Hennacy, one of the more memorable characters of the early Catholic Worker movement, founder of the Joe Hill House of Hospitality in Salt Lake City, and unfortunately lapsed godson of the Ven. Dorothy of New York City, was born 110 years ago this day.

During his imprisonment for conscientious objection during the First World War, he became a believer in "the one-man revolution," a belief that eventually led him into the Catholic Church, and which hounded him for the rest of his life, even after he'd fallen away.

In his words:

Gradually I came to gain a glimpse of what Jesus meant when he said that the Kingdom of God must be in everyone.....To change the world by bullets or ballots was a useless procedure. Therefore the only revolution worthwhile was the one-man revolution within the heart. Each one would make this by himself and not need to wait on a majority.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Make room for Christ! : Thomas a Kempis from today's Office of Readings.

Turn to the Lord with your whole heart and leave behind this wretched world. Then your soul shall find rest. For the kingdom of God is the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit. If you prepare within your heart a fitting dwelling place, Christ will come to you and console you.

His glory and beauty are within you, and he delights in dwelling there. The Lord frequently visits the heart of man. There he shares with man pleasant conversations; welcome consolation, abundant peace and a wonderful intimacy.

So come, faithful soul. Prepare your heart for your spouse to dwell within you. For he says:
If anyone loves me, he will keep my word and we shall come to him and make our dwelling within him.

Make room for Christ. When you possess Christ you are a rich man, for he is sufficient for you. He, himself, shall provide for you and faithfully administer all your cares. You will not have to place your hope in men. Put all your trust in God; let him be both your fear and your love. He will respond on your behalf and will do whatever is in your best interest.

You have here no lasting city. For wherever you find yourself, you will always be a pilgrim from another city. Until you are united intimately with Christ, you will never find your true rest.

Let your thoughts be with the Most High and direct your prayers continually to Christ. If you do not know how to contemplate the glory of heaven, take comfort in the passion of Christ, and dwell willingly in his sacred wounds. Endure with Christ, suffer for him, if you wish to reign with him.

Once you have entered completely into the depths of Jesus, and have a taste of his powerful love, then you will not care about your own convenience or inconvenience. Rather you will rejoice all the more in insults and injuries, for the love of Jesus makes a man scorn his own needs.

A Collector of the Ways of Union with God: St. John Cassian

Today we remember St John Cassian, who was a collector. With the permission of his bishop (who was St. John Chrysostom!) and of the abba of the cenobium where he first learned the monastic life, he travelled throughout the deserts of Egypt and Palestine, interviewing the most renowned spiritual fathers and recording their answers for posterity. This book, the Conferences, is available in the Christian Classics Ethereal Library, and is one of the primary sources for our knowledge of the Desert Christians, those Abbas and Ammas I so love.

From the Preface of Conferences:

Wherein just as I had anchored in the harbour of Silence, a wide sea opens out before me, so that I must venture to hand down for posterity some of the Institutes and teaching of these great men. For the bark of my slender abilities will be exposed to the dangers of a longer voyage on the deep, in proportion as the Anchorite's life is grander than that of the Coenobium, and the contemplation of God, to which those inestimable men ever devoted themselves, more sublime than ordinary practical life. It is yours therefore to assist our efforts by your pious prayers for fear lest so sacred a subject that is to be treated in an untried but faithful manner, should be imperilled by us, or lest by our simplicity should lose itself in the depths of the subject matter. Let us therefore pass from what is visible to the eye and the external mode of life of the monks, of which we treated in the former books, to the life of the inner man, which is hidden from view; and from the system of the canonical prayers, let our discourse mount to that continuance in unceasing prayer, which the Apostle enjoins, that whoever has through reading our former work already spiritually gained the name of Jacob by ousting his carnal faults, may now by the reception of the Institutes which are not mine but the fathers', mount by a pure insight to the merits and (so to speak) the dignity of Israel, and in the same way be taught what it is that he should observe on these lofty heights of perfection. And so may your prayers gain from Him, Who has deemed us worthy both to see them and to learn from them and to dwell with them, that He will vouchsafe to grant us a perfect recollection of their teaching, and a ready tongue to tell it, that we may explain them as beautifully and as exactly as we received them from them and may succeed in setting before you the men themselves incorporated, as it were, in their own Institutes, and what is more to the point, speaking in the Latin tongue. Of this however we wish above all to advertise the reader of these Conferences as well as of our earlier works, that if there chances to be anything herein which by reason of his condition and the character of his profession, or owing to custom and the common mode of life seems to him either impossible or very difficult, he should measure it not by the limits of his own powers but by the worth and perfection of the speakers, whose zeal and purpose he should first consider, as they were truly dead to this worldly life, and so hampered by no feelings for their kinsmen according to the flesh, and by no ties of worldly occupations. Next let him bear in mind the character of the country in which they dwelt, how they lived in a vast desert, and were cut off from intercourse with all their fellow-men, and thus were able to have their minds enlightened, and to contemplate, and utter those things which perhaps will seem impossibilities to the uninitiated and uninstructed, because of their way of life and the commonplace character of their habits. But if any one wants to give a true opinion on this matter, and is anxious to try whether such perfection can be attained, let him first endeavour to make his purpose their own, with the same zeal and the same mode of life, and then in the end he will find that those things which used to seem beyond the powers of men, are not only possible, but really delightful. But now let us proceed at once to their Conferences and Institutes.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

St. Gregory the Great about St. Mary Magdalen: from today's Office of Readings

When Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and did not find the Lord’s body, she thought it had been taken away and so informed the disciples. After they came and saw the tomb, they too believed what Mary had told them. The text then says: The disciples went back home, and it adds: but Mary wept and remained standing outside the tomb.
We should reflect on Mary’s attitude and the great love she felt for Christ; for though the disciples had left the tomb, she remained. She was still seeking the one she had not found, and while she sought she wept; burning with the fire of love, she longed for him who she thought had been taken away. And so it happened that the woman who stayed behind to seek Christ was the only one to see him. For perseverance is essential to any good deed, as the voice of truth tells us:
Whoever perseveres to the end will be saved.

At first she sought but did not find, but when she persevered it happened that she found what she was looking for. When our desires are not satisfied, they grow stronger, and becoming stronger they take hold of their object. Holy desires likewise grow with anticipation, and if they do not grow they are not really desires. Anyone who succeeds in attaining the truth has burned with such a great love. As David says:
My soul has thirsted for the living God; when shall I come and appear before the face of God? And so also in the Song of Songs the Church says: I was wounded by love; and again: My soul is melted with love.

Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek? She is asked why she is sorrowing so that her desire might be strengthened; for when she mentions whom she is seeking, her love is kindled all the more ardently.

Jesus says to her: Mary. Jesus is not recognised when he calls her “woman”; so he calls her by name, as though he were saying: Recognise me as I recognise you; for I do not know you as I know others; I know you as yourself. And so Mary, once addressed by name, recognises who is speaking. She immediately calls him rabboni, that is to say, teacher, because the one whom she sought outwardly was the one who inwardly taught her to keep on searching.
The first witness to the Resurrection: St. Mary Magdalen

Mary Magdalen was one of those people with "interesting" lives. She was one of Jesus' closest disciples, named among those who travelled with Him and ministered to His needs, and also named as having been delivered from seven demons [Mark 16:9]. She is also identified with "the woman who was a sinner" who crashed the party at the home of Simon the Pharasee [Luke 7:36 ff.]. She was present with Mary the mother of Jesus and with John the Beloved at the crucifixion, assisted in Jesus' burial, and at dawn following the Sabbath day, was the first witness to Jesus resurrected, becoming the chosen apostle to the Eleven. She was at the Ascension, the Scripture states that she traveled back to Jerusalem after that event with Jesus' mother and the Eleven and others. She can be safely presumed to have been present at Pentecost. After that, the Scriptures are silent, and the tradition diverges. Some, older, sources say she went to Ephesus with John the Beloved and Mary the mother of Jesus, had an adventure concerning the Emperor and a miraculous blood-red egg, and lived with Jesus' mother in contemplation to a quite old age. Other sources have her traveling with St. Lazarus of Bethany, his sisters, and others to France, where they evangelized Provence.

Whether she spent the rest of her life in Ephesus with Mary and John or in Provence with Lazarus and his sisters, her glory forever will be her faithfulness and her bold proclamation, "I have seen the Lord! He is not dead, but lives!"

Monday, July 21, 2003

Milwaukee's first Great Gathering of Just Plain Catholics.....

....is coming along nicely, but can still use ideas, help, and your prayers. So, put it on your intention lists. If you have any ideas, email me or email Dave Pawlak of Improvised (he has a mail link on his sidebar also) or type it in this comment box. And if you live a loud shout from Milwaukee and want to help, or if you come here in the school year to attend one of the many excellent colleges or universities here and you want to help, be sure to give David or me a holler. This goes double for the Chicagoland people of Milwaukee history --- Athanasius, Ellyn, this definitely includes you!

Did I mention praying?

Saturday, July 19, 2003

the frail and weak one in the desert: St. Arsenius of Rome

Today is also the memorial of Abba Arsenius, who's been featured in this blog before. Arsenius was a wealthy, brilliant, and highly-placed man in the Roman Emperor's court, the chief tutor to the children of two different emperors. He came to conversion of life, abandoned his former life as a courtier, and went out to the desert to follow Jesus. He was faithful for many years, and was granted great wisdom and gifts of counsel. Here is one of the stories of Arsenius.

There was a monk from Rome called Arsenius who lived at Scetis near the church. He had a slave to serve him. The priest, knowing his bad health and the comfort in which he used to live, sent him what he needed of whatever anyone brought to the church. Having lived twenty-five years at Scetis, he had acquired the gift of insight and became famous.

One of the great Egyptians heard about him and came to see him, thinking he would find him leading a life of great corporal austerity. He entered and greeted him. They said the prayer and sat down. Now the Egyptian saw he was wearing fine clothing, and that he possessed a bed with a coverlet and a small pillow. He saw that his feet were clean and shod in sandals. Noticing all this, he was shocked, because such a way of life is not usual in that district; much greater austerity is required.

Now the old man had the gift of insight, and he understood that he was shocked, and so he said to him who served him, "We will celebrate a feast today for the abba's sake." There were a few vegetables, and he cooked them and at the appointed hour, they rose and ate. The old man had a little wine also, because of his illness; so they drank some. When evening came, they recited the twelve psalms and went to sleep. They did the same during the night. On rising at dawn, the Egyptian said to him, "Pray for me," and he went away without being edified.

When he had gone a short distance, the old man, wishing to edify him, sent someone to bring him back. On his arrival he received him once again with joy and asked him, "Of what country are you?" He said, "Egypt." "And of what city?" "I am not a city-dweller at all." "And what was your work in the village?" "I was a herdsman." "Where did you sleep?" He replied, "In the field." "Did you have anything to lie upon?" He said, "Would I go and put a bed under myself in a field?" "But how did you sleep?" He said, "On the bare ground." The old man said next, "What was your food in the fields, and what wine did you drink?" He replied, "Is there food and drink in the the fields?" "But how did you live?" "I ate dry bread, and, if I found any, green herbs and water." The old man replied, "Great hardship! Was there a bath-house for washing in the village?" He replied, "No, only the river, when we wanted it."

After the old man had learnt all this and knew of the hardness of his former life, he told him his own former way of life when he was in the world, with the intention of helping him. "I, the poor man whom you see, am of the great city of Rome and I was a great man in the palace of the emperor." When the Egyptian heard the beginning of these words, he was filled with compunction and listened attentively to what the other was saying. He continued, "Then I left the city and came to this desert. I whom you see had great houses and many riches and having despised them I have come to this little cell. I whom you see had beds all of gold with coverings of silk, and in exchange for that, God has given me this little bed and this skin. Moreover, my clothes were the most expensive kind and in their stead I wear these garments of no value. Again, at my table there was much gold and abundance, and instead of that, God has given me this little dish of vegetables and a cup of wine. There were many slaves to serve me, and see how in exchange for that, God troubles this old man to serve me. Instead of the bath-house, I throw a little water over my feet and wear sandals because of my weakness. Instead of music and lyres, I say the twelve psalms and the same at night. Instead of the sins I used to commit, I now say my little rule prayer. So then, I beg you abba, do not be shocked at my weakness."

Hearing this, the Egyptian came to his senses and said, "Woe to me, for after so much hardship in the world, I have found ease; and what I did not have before, that I now possess. While after so great ease, you have come to humility and poverty." Greatly edified, he withdrew, and he became his friend and often went to him for help. For he was a man full of discernment and the good odour of the Holy Spirit.
Would that our families be filled with saints!

Today is the memorial of St. Macrina the younger. She's called the younger to distinguish her from her holy paternal grandmother, St. Macrina the elder.

But, they were not the only heroically virtuous ones in their family.

Both of the younger Macrina's parents are saints: St. Basil the Elder and St. Emmelia.

All three of her younger brothers are also saints: St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Peter of Sebastea. Some sources also say that St. Gregory Nazianzen was her cousin and foster-brother. Gregory may have been a popular name in the family because the elder Macrina was a disciple of St. Gregory the Wonderworker.

But back to today's member of the family, the younger Macrina. Born in about 327, she had as normal of a childhood as was possible when Mom, Dad, and Grandma are all certifiable Saints, growing up pretty, pious, and learned under the tutulege of her Mom and Grandma, both of whom beside being holy were also scholars. At age twelve, the standard age in those days, she was betrothed to a Christian lawyer, but the young gentleman died before the wedding, and she then refused all other suitors.

About this time, her Dad and then her Mom died, and she, with her Grandma's help, dedicated herself to the upbringing and education of her younger brothers and cousin, seeing them all safely launched into holy and learned adulthoods. Once this duty was done, she entered a cenobium for women (we'd say "monastery" these days, but monasteries hadn't been invented yet.....) that her Mom had founded after Dad died, where she lived a life of intense prayer as its amma until her death in 379. Her kid brother St. Gregory of Nyssa wrote her biography.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

about maximal Catholic living

As you all know, I'm an old-fashioned person who still uses listserv groups. From one of them, I was asked what our Church, and us, ought to do about all of our varied and assorted lapsi. I gave it a try; now's your opportunuity to see where I've been and, please, add your tuppence in the comment box.

Here's what we do about our uncatechised and minimalist and cafeteria pickers and carried-ins, as written for my listserv acquaintance:

My answer begins:

We don't try to get out of our problem by defining "them" out of the Church. They may be ignorant Catholics or poorly-catechised Catholics or mistaken Catholics or Catholics who are bad examples, but they are still Catholics. They may be prodigals and problem children and pains in the posterior, but they are our prodigals and problems and pains.

Then, each one of us ourselves set out to live a maximal, not a minimal, Catholic life. I'm willing to define that if you need, but that'd be a whole letter by itself. We do that with a joyful heart and all our strength.

my listserv pal jumps in:

I think you'd better define this. What is a "maximal Catholic life". I suspect you and I don't mean the same thing by it.

I continue:

Then, our very life will draw others, whom we invite to join us in loving our Lord before all else. At that point, learning the ways of the One we love beyond all else, and living in a way worthy of one who is loved by Him, will come as certainly as sunrise follows night.

then I respond to listserv pal's question, "What is a "maximal Catholic life?":

Maximal Catholic Life

First of all, what is a minimal Catholic life? The Church tells us:

1) Baptised in the Church, or chrismated/confirmed and received into the Church after being baptised elsewhere.

2) Not publicly and obstinately clearly denying any of the truths stated in the Creed.

3) Not having left (gone to join Spiritus Christi or SSPV or Buddhist Temple or whatever) and not having been tossed out by the bishop.

This is very minimal, and comes awfully close to that piss-poor excuse of a question, "What is the bare minimum I must do to be saved?" but this is the minimum definition given by Mother Church. Either of us would scandalise ourselves if we even thought of our own Catholicity in such terms. Or even in terms of the "precepts of the Church," which might be called "minimum practical Catholic." (Assist at Mass on Sundays and obligatory solemnities, observe the fasts of the Church, receive communion once a year during the Paschal season, confess mortal sins within a year, etc.)

Minimal Catholicism might keep one from permanent separation from God in eternity, but it's at best dry crusts and thin gruel and rags for clothes, not going to satisfy anyone or attract anyone. And a pity, considering the treasures available to any child of God and child of Mother Church just for the asking.

We can, to the best of our ability, set out to live a maximal Catholic life --- one in which our Catholic faith and our wholehearted love of the God who never stops loving us affects every action of our lives.

Yes, we obey the precepts to the best of our ability. One has to have the minimum before seeking the maximum. But then:

Before anything else when we get up, we offer our day to God; traditionally called "the morning offering."

Before going to bed at night, we look over our day with God looking with us, what was good and what was not, what we need to repent about, where we need help and grace, and we pray a prayer of repentance; traditionally called "the night examen."

Throughout the day, whenever the opportunity is given us, we do those things Catholics do, otherwise known as the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

We assist at Holy Mass as often as we can, maybe even daily, and we receive Communion frequently, always well prepared and having observed the pre-Communion disciplines of our own sui juris Church and those of the Church in which we are receiving. [no going to Latin Church just to get out of the full-weekend abstinence and the akathists! no receiving at Ukrainian Church with only an hour's fast!]

We make use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation on a regular basis, making appointments to do so if that's what's needed, and we don't shop for the "easy" priest.

We make use of all the sacraments our Lord has given us, and the sacramentals Mother Church has given us, whenever it is appropriate. They are given to us because we need them, so we should use them.

We have a regular rule of prayer which we follow daily. Some of us may even pray the Liturgy of Hours. We have a spiritual director or soul friend or regular confessor to help us when we have troubles in our prayer.

We regularly pray with the holy Scriptures, in addition to what is proclaimed to us at Mass.

If we are given the opportunity, we spend time regularly in the Presence of our Lord in the Tabernacle, and we adore.

We pay attention when our pastor or our bishop attempts to teach us.

We treat our pastor and our bishop with honor and care and respect. And, we strive to be obedient.

We ask the saints to pray for us; we venerate their images; we imitate their good example.

Every action of our lives we seek to do in a way worthy of one who is loved by God. We know that God is all-good and deserving of all our love, and so we give it all to Him.

This is only a beginning; please would you continue, or speak of how your concept might be different........

Would all of you here at the Anchor Hold please continue also. in the comment box below.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

from the desert: cast out into the deep!

St. Isaac the Syrian tells us:

When a sailor travels across the sea, he watches the stars and by them he steers his ship, using them to direct him to harbor.

But a monk watches prayer because it sets him on the right course, directing him to that harbor towards which his way of life should lead.

A monk gazes at prayer at all times so that it may show him some island where he can moor his ship without fear, and then take on provisions. Then, once again he will set his course to another island.

Such is the voyage of the solitary while he is in this life. He sails from island to island, that is, from knowledge to knowledge, and by his successive change of islands, that is, of states of knowledge, he progresses until he emerges from the sea and his journey terminates at that true city whose inhabitants no longer engage in commerce, but where each one rests upon his riches.

Blessed is he whose voyage has not been put off course on this great sea!
Blessed is he whose ship has not broken up, and who has reached the harbor with joy!


Tuesday, July 15, 2003

St. Bonaventure: Beneficiary of the grace of God, and Seraphic Doctor

by St. Bonaventure, from today's Office of Readings:

Christ is both the way and the door. Christ is the staircase and the vehicle, like the throne of mercy over the Ark of the Covenant, and the mystery hidden from the ages. A man should turn his full attention to this throne of mercy, and should gaze at him hanging on the cross, full of faith, hope and charity, devoted, full of wonder and joy, marked by gratitude, and open to praise and jubilation. Then such a man will make with Christ a pasch, that is, a passing-over. Through the branches of the cross he will pass over the Red Sea, leaving Egypt and entering the desert. There he will taste the hidden manna, and rest with Christ in the sepulchre, as if he were dead to things outside. He will experience, as much as is possible for one who is still living, what was promised to the thief who hung beside Christ: Today you will be with me in paradise.

For this passover to be perfect, we must suspend all the operations of the mind and we must transform the peak of our affections, directing them to God alone. This is a sacred mystical experience. It cannot be comprehended by anyone unless he surrenders himself to it; nor can he surrender himself to it unless he longs for it; nor can he long for it unless the Holy Spirit, whom Christ sent into the world, should come and inflame his innermost soul. Hence the Apostle says that this mystical wisdom is revealed by the Holy Spirit.

If you ask how such things can occur, seek the answer in God’s grace, not in doctrine; in the longing of the will, not in the understanding; in the sighs of prayer, not in research; seek the bridegroom not the teacher; God and not man; darkness not daylight; and look not to the light but rather to the raging fire that carries the soul to God with intense fervour and glowing love. The fire is God, and the furnace is in Jerusalem, fired by Christ in the ardour of his loving passion. Only he understood this who said:
My soul chose hanging and my bones death. Anyone who cherishes this kind of death can see God, for it is certainly true that: No man can look upon me and live.

Let us die, then, and enter into the darkness, silencing our anxieties, our passions and all the fantasies of our imagination. Let us pass over with the crucified Christ from this world to the Father, so that, when the Father has shown himself to us, we can say with Philip:
It is enough. We may hear with Paul: My grace is sufficient for you; and we can rejoice with David, saying: My flesh and my heart fail me, but God is the strength of my heart and my heritage for ever. Blessed be the Lord for ever, and let all the people say: Amen. Amen!

Dad update: keep on praying

the latest from sister-Sue-on-the-spot:

Ok Dad is out of surgery. He went under at 9:30 am till 1 pm. We were able to see him at 2 pm. He was doing pretty good. Sore. The doctor said he did very well. He will be in the hospital maybe till Friday, then probably go to Edwin Shaw Rehab.

The formal names of his surgery were Axillobifemoral Bypass, Left Femoral Popliteal Bypass. They used PTFE " Gortex material to form the arteries. They went in through right below the right shoulder blade down to his right thigh area. Two incisions in his groin area. Left groin area in to below the knee. Then attached the two arteries together. Most all of his arteries are very diseased and poor shape. The doctor did say that there is no way on a heart operation. When his heart goes it will go. There is no was they can put a balloon pump in.

Success rate: General Person 75% for 5 years. for Dad 50% success rate in 5 years. Like I said right now they are monitering him PACU at Akron General. You can call there at x-xxx-xxx-xxxx.

[snip paragraph of other family news]

Maybe see ya soon. Maybe at Christmas. I will keep you posted on dad. Maybe even daily.

So keep up the praying, please. If any of my nurse readers know what PACU is, stick it in the comment box. And, I've been forgetting: for those who prefer names for praying, Dad's name is Lawrence.

Monday, July 14, 2003

St. Camillus de Lellis --- lover of Christ, lover of the sick

Camillus was the son of a military officer, born in 1550. His mother died when he was still a toddler. Following his father's trade, Camillus became a soldier while still very young, fighting first for Venice and then for Naples.

Camillus also has an addiction to gambling, and lost so much that he had to take a second job working construction to repay his gambling debts. He was working on a building belonging to the Capuchin Franciscans when they brought him to conversion.

He left the military and entered the Capuchin novitiate three separate times, but injuries from his fighting days forced him to leave each time. He went to Rome seeking medical treatment, and there became a protege of St. Philip Neri (that God-bitten character!). Camillus moved into San Giacomo hospital for incurables to live, and, eventually, became its administrator.

Aware of his total lack of education, he began elementary school at the age of 32, studying with the local children, and after long study was ordianed a priest. He formed the Congregation of the Servants of the Sick, now commonly called the Camillans, dedicated entirely to the care of the sick. Camillus honored the sick as living images of Christ.

As it says in today's Office of Readings passage, a citation from a biography written by one of his companions:

.....The mere sight of the sick was enough to soften and melt his heart and make him utterly forget all the pleasures, enticements, and interests of this world. When he was taking care of his patients, he seemed to spend and exhaust himself completely, so great was his devotion and compassion. He would have loved to take upon himself all their illness, their every affliction, could he but ease their pain and relieve their weakness.

In the sick he saw the person of Christ. His imagination was so vivid that, while feeding them, he perceived his patients as other Christs. He would even beg of them the grace of forgiveness for his sins. His reverence in their presence was as great as if he were really and truly in the presence of his Lord. In his conversations he talked of nothing more often or with greater feeling than of holy charity. He would have liked to plant this virtue in every human heart. .....

After many years of selfless service, he died on this day in 1614.
"She pushes all before her" --- Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha

I am not my own; I have given myself to Jesus. He must be my only love. The state of helpless poverty that may befall me if I do not marry does not frighten me. All I need is a little food and a few pieces of clothing. With the work of my hands I shall always earn what is necessary and what is left over I’ll give to my relatives and to the poor. If I should become sick and unable to work, then I shall be like the Lord on the cross. He will have mercy on me and help me, I am sure. ---- Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha

Tekakwitha was born in 1656, the daughter of a Mohawk chief, the head of the Turtle clan, and his wife, a captive Algonquian woman who was a Christian. When Tekakwitha was four, she lost mother, father, and her brother in a smallpox epidemic, and she was left badly scarred and nearly blind. Her name means "she pushes all before her," and most likely refers to her habit of feeling in front of herself so she wouldn't run into stuff, but that name was also appropriate because she seemed to have a gift from childhood for domestic management, for imposing order on chaos. This talent kept her tolerated by her surviving relatives, who otherwise considered her a burden and who were upset that she would not allow herself to be married off.

When the Jesuit missioners arrived in her village, she was one of the first converts, in 1676 when she was twenty, and was baptised with the name Kateri, Mohawk for Catherine. This was to the extreme displeasure of her relatives. When their treatment of her degraded from grudging neglect to outright abuse, she left, and moved to a settlement about 200 miles away that was entirely Christian, living a life of deep prayer and strict austerity. When on a visit to Montreal she met some religious sisters, she was drawn to their life, and set out to form a community of sisters in her village, but was discouraged from that by the pastor; however, she hersely made the vow to the counsels in 1679, becoming the first consecrated person among the Mohawks, in fact among any of the original nations of North America.

Never strong or healthy, and weakened by her austerities, she died at the age of 24 in 1680.
Prayer request STAT --- Dad

Thus writes my sister Sue this morning:

Ok, real quick here so I have to go. Dad is getting is surgery today. In to the heart arteries and in through the leg to clean it out. it will be a 6-8 hr surgery so Laura, Chris and I will be a Akron General all day. My cell # is xxx-xxx-xxxx. At least I think. I will call tonight to say all went well. I hope.
Got to go will explain later.

Sounds like the doctors are going to clear out his heart and reroute both legs all in one fell swoop right now! He's almost seventy, diabetic, and frail; all prayers extremely welcome and needed.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

On the Mysteries of Christ: "this is what has happened to you"

In today's Office of Readings, we are presented with the very beginning of St. Ambrose's teaching "On the Mysteries." Back in St. Ambrose's days, when someone wanted to be a Christian, they were instructed in the Christian way of life as catechumens, then, if they persevered, they were brought to the Paschal Vigil to be baptised, chrismated, and communed --- without knowing in advance what was going to happen to them. The early part of the Mass, the Liturgy of the Word, is also called the Liturgy of the catechumens because it was all they were allowed to be at; they were dismissed after the homily and only the baptised were permitted to take part in the Sacrifice. In the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, you'll hear the order given, "The doors! The doors!" when the catechumens would be escorted out and the doors closed and guarded behind them to be certain that no unbaptised would intrude upon the Sacrifice. In the week of Easter, Bright Week, the bishop would explain to the newly-baptised what had just happened to them, and teach them about the Sacraments, especially about the Holy Eucharist which they had witnessed for the very first time at the Vigil.

So St. Ambrose begins:

We gave a daily instruction on right conduct when the readings were taken from the history of the patriarchs or the maxims of Proverbs. These readings were intended to instruct and train you, so that you might grow accustomed to the ways of our forefathers, entering into their paths and walking in their footsteps, in obedience to God’s commands.

Now the season reminds us that we must speak of the mysteries, setting forth the meaning of the sacraments. If we had thought fit to teach these things to those not yet initiated through baptism, we should be considered traitors rather than teachers. Then, too, the light of the mysteries is of itself more effective where people do not know what to expect than where some instruction has been given beforehand.

Open then your ears. Enjoy the fragrance of eternal life, breathed on you by means of the sacraments. We explained this to you as we celebrated the mystery of “the opening” when we said:
Effetha, that is, be opened. Everyone who was to come for the grace of baptism had to understand what he was to be asked, and must remember what he was to answer. This mystery was celebrated by Christ when he healed the man who was deaf and dumb, in the Gospel which we proclaimed to you.

After this, the holy of holies was opened up for you; you entered into the sacred place of regeneration. Recall what you were asked; remember what you answered. You renounced the devil and his works, the world and its dissipation and sensuality. Your words are recorded, not on a monument to the dead but in the book of the living.
There you saw the levite, you saw the priest, you saw the high priest. Do not consider their outward form but the grace given by their ministries. You spoke in the presence of angels, as it is written:
The lips of a priest guard knowledge, and men seek the law from his mouth, for he is the angel of the Lord almighty. There is no room for deception, no room for denial. He is an angel whose message is the kingdom of Christ and eternal life. You must judge him, not by his appearance but by his office. Remember what he handed on to you, weigh up his value, and so acknowledge his standing.

You entered to confront your enemy, for you intended to renounce him to his face. You turned toward the east, for one who renounces the devil turns toward Christ and fixes his gaze directly on him.


Friday, July 11, 2003

Aequalis omnibus caritas: The abbot must act with equal charity for everyone. Rule of Benedict

Today is the feast of St. Benedict, called the father of monastic life in the West. Besides just rejoicing in the feast, I'm also especially remembering all those Benedictines of our own days who have been such an influence in my life: Archbishop Rembert, Dom Sebastian Moore, Dom David Geraets, Sister Joan from Erie, Thomas Merton, Cardinal Basil Hume, and all the rest. Today's office of Readings offers us an excerpt from the Rule of Benedict, though I'll suggest you Google it and read the whole thing. I'd give a link but I'm short on time, maybe after I'm back from the groceries, maybe.

Here's the Office of Readings passage:

Whenever you begin any good work you should first of all make a most pressing appeal to Christ our Lord to bring it to perfection; that he, who has honoured us by counting us among his children, may never be grieved by our evil deeds. For we must always serve him with the good things he has given us in such a way that he may never --- as an angry father disinherits his sons or even like a master who inspires fear --- grow impatient with our sins and consign us to everlasting punishment, like wicked servants who would not follow him to glory.

So we should at long last rouse ourselves, prompted by the words of Scripture:
Now is the time for us to rise from sleep. Our eyes should be open to the God-given light, and we should listen in wonderment to the message of the divine voice as it daily cries out: Today, if you shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts; and again: If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. And what does the Spirit say? Come my sons, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Hurry, while you have the light of life, so that death’s darkness may not overtake you.

And the Lord as he seeks the one who will do his work among the throng of people to whom he makes that appeal, says again:
Which of you wants to live to the full; who loves long life and the enjoyment of prosperity? And, if when you hear this you say, I do, God says to you: If you desire true and everlasting life, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from deceit; turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. And when you have done these things my eyes will be upon you and my ears will be attentive to your prayers; and before you call upon my name I shall say to you: Behold, I am here. What could be more delightful, dearest brothers, than the voice of our Lord’s invitation to us? In his loving kindness he reveals to us the way of life.

And so, girded with faith and the performance of good works, let us follow in his paths by the guidance of the Gospel; then we shall deserve to see him
who has called us into his kingdom. If we wish to attain a dwelling-place in his kingdom we shall not reach it unless we hasten there by our good deeds.

Just as there exists an evil fervour, a bitter spirit, which divides us from God and leads us to hell, so there is a good fervour which sets us apart from evil inclinations and leads us toward God and eternal life. Monks should put this fervour into practice with an overflowing love: that is, they should
surpass each other in mutual esteem, accept their weaknesses, either of body or of behaviour, with the utmost patience; and vie with each other in acceding to requests. No one should follow what he considers to be good for himself, but rather what seems good for another. They should display brotherly love in a chaste manner; fear God in a spirit of love; revere their abbot with a genuine and submissive affection. Let them put Christ before all else; and may he lead us all to everlasting life.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

On today's and yesterday's martyrs....

Yesterday was the memorial day of Gregory Grassi and his companions, 29 people, bishops, priests, religious sisters, and laity, who were going about missions work in China when the Opium Wars and the Boxer Rebellion broke out around them. Today is the memorial day of Nicholas Pick and his companions, mostly Friars Minor with some diocesan priests and other religious, who were ministering to the faithful in Holland when the Gueux [Urchins, Ragamuffins], a Calvinist revolutionary group, began an uprising to separate Holland from Catholic Spain. Trapped by the uprisings, they were arrested, abused, and when they would not renounce their faith, executed.

We do not always get to choose when and how we get called to bear witness to our faith and to sanctify the Lord's name.

If somebody looked at my life, would there be much sign that my heart was a dwelling place for God?
If Catholic orthopraxy were to become against the law, could the powers find enough evidence, right now, to get a conviction? Or would there be reasonable doubt?

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

"If God wanted us to vote, He would provide some candidates"

Venerable Dorothy of New York City was right.

I took that presidential selector quiz that Fr. Jim of Dappled Things posted, and got some, shall we say, rather interesting results. Me being me, I answered the questions in a straight pro-life, pro-human way, and set to high priority the most important prolife issues, like abortion, cloning, and access to health care. Here are the results:

1. Kucinich, Cong. Dennis, OH - Democrat (100%)

2. Kerry, Senator John, MA - Democrat (74%)

3. Dean, Gov. Howard, VT - Democrat (73%)

4. Green Party Candidate (73%)

5. Clinton, Senator Hillary Rodham, NY - Democrat (68%)

6. Edwards, Senator John, NC - Democrat (67%)

7. Moseley-Braun, Former Senator Carol IL - Democrat (66%)

8. Gephardt, Cong. Dick, MO - Democrat (64%)

9. Sharpton, Reverend Al - Democrat (64%)

10. Lieberman Senator Joe CT - Democrat (63%)

11. Leahy, Patrick Senator, Vermont - Democrat (62%)

12. Feingold, Senator Russ, WI - Democrat (61%)

13. Socialist Candidate (59%)

14. Biden, Senator Joe, DE - Democrat (59%)

15. Jackson, Cong. Jesse Jr., IL - Democrat (58%)

16. Daschle, Senate Minority Leader Tom, SD - Democrat (57%)

17. Graham, Senator Bob, FL - Democrat (54%)

18. Kaptur, Cong. Marcy, OH - Democrat (49%)

19. Dodd, Senator Chris, CT - Democrat (47%)

20. Feinstein, Senator Dianne, CA - Democrat (43%)

21. Clark, Retired Army General Wesley K "Wes" AR - Democrat (42%)

22. Bayh, Senator Evan, IN - Democrat (41%)

23. Gore, Former Vice-President Al - Democrat (36%)

24. Bradley, Former Senator Bill NJ - Democrat (30%)

25. McCain, Senator John, AZ- Republican (25%)

26. Bush, George W. - US President (24%)

27. Libertarian Candidate (20%)

28. Buchanan, Patrick J. ­ Reform/Republican (15%)

29. Hagelin, John - Natural Law (14%)

30. Hart, Former Senator Gary, CO - Democrat (8%)

31. Phillips, Howard - Constitution (2%)

32. Vilsack, Governor. Tom IA - Democrat (0%)

33. LaRouche, Lyndon H. Jr. - Democrat (-7%)

The first candidate of the supposedly pro-life Republican Party is listed 25th, with a 25%. The Greens, roll eyeballs, are listed fourth. Dennis Kucinich, the new verbal convert to the abortion cause, is first; the makers of the survey must weight actual action above the verbiage exiting the mouth, and must figure that Mr. Kucinich's conversion to abortion fellow traveller to be about as real as Mr. Reagan's conversion to pro-life just before his presidential run way back when. [In 1980 I voted for McReynolds/Drufenbrock from the sewer-Socialists; there wasn't anybody else.]

May the Lord give us some candidates, please.......

Sunday, July 06, 2003

St. Augustine on accusing only ourselves: from today's Office of Readings

I acknowledge my transgression, says David. If I admit my fault, then you will pardon it. Let us never assume that if we live good lives we will be without sin; our lives should be praised only when we continue to beg for pardon. But men are hopeless creatures, and the less they concentrate on their own sins, the more interested they become in the sins of others. They seek to criticise, not to correct. Unable to excuse themselves, they are ready to accuse others. This was not the way that David showed us how to pray and make amends to God, when he said: I acknowledge my transgression, and my sin is ever before me. He did not concentrate on others’ sins; he turned his thoughts on himself. He did not merely stroke the surface, but he plunged inside and went deep down within himself. He did not spare himself, and therefore was not impudent in asking to be spared.

Do you want God to be appeased? Learn what you are to do that God may be pleased with you. Consider the psalm again:
If you wanted sacrifice, I would indeed have given it; in burnt offerings you will take no delight. Are you then to be without sacrifice? Are you to offer nothing? Will you please God without an offering? Consider what you read in the same psalm: If you wanted sacrifice, I would indeed have given it; in burnt offerings you will take no delight. But continue to listen, and say with David: A sacrifice to God is a contrite spirit; God does not despise a contrite and humble heart. Cast aside your former offerings, for now you have found out what you are to offer. In the days of your fathers you would have made offerings of cattle ---- these were the sacrifices. If you wanted sacrifice, I would indeed have given it. These then, Lord, you do not want, and yet you do want sacrifice.

You will take no delight in burnt offerings, David says. If you will not take delight in burnt offerings, will you remain without sacrifice? Not at all. A sacrifice to God is a contrite spirit; God does not despise a contrite and humble heart.

You now have the offering you are to make. No need to examine the herd, no need to outfit ships and travel to the most remote provinces in search of incense. Search within your heart for what is pleasing to God. Your heart must be crushed. Are you afraid that it might perish so? You have the reply:
Create a clean heart in me, O God. For a clean heart to be created, the unclean one must be crushed.

We should be displeased with ourselves when we commit sin, for sin is displeasing to God. Sinful though we are, let us at least be like God in this, that we are displeased at what displeases him. In some measure then you will be in harmony with God’s will, because you find displeasing in yourself what is abhorrent to your Creator.


Saturday, July 05, 2003

a bishop after my own heart, and he isn't even one of mine

I wish I'd had taken notes where I saw it, but the new Archbishop-elect of Boston, +Sean Patrick O'Malley ofm cap, said on his announcement day, "I have to get some of those Powdermilk Biscuits; you know, the ones for shy people...."

For those who don't know, Powdermilk Biscuits, advertised on "A Prairie Home Companion," are a medicinal foodstuff, effective in "giving shy people the strength to get up and do what needs to be done."

May he eat many many Powdermilk Biscuits, and do all the things that need to be done in Boston. Then may he share his biscuit supply with other shy scared people so we'll all be strong enough to do what needs doing because it needs to be done.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

don't fret, I'm still here

this post is mostly for those friends and sibs who keep tabs on my welfare by seeing if I post. I haven't been Called, just busy and uninspired. Spent yesterday at the farmers' market ogling the potted plants and buying the greens, it's still too early in the growing season here for much else but lettuce, greens, peas, and green onions.....

If anyone knows about conference organizing or fund-raising, _please_ go over to Improvised and give Dave Pawlak a holler. He really wants and needs your input.

Going back to sitting in front of a fan with a jug of cold aspartame koolade........

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

a quiet day

an especially quiet day today at the little anchor hold. Besides the usual things, and actually getting my dishes done, I've had emails from several of my siblings, and suspect I'll hear from the rest of them before the night is over. I also got a card from my HMO, "Happy birthday! and don't forget about your checkups, your mammogram, and your pelvic exam......" Really cheerful, Compcare!

Because this is the first of July, I also set aside a little special time for a meditation and examen about the three esses of my life ---- simplicity, singleness, and submission ---- since this was the day, back in 1977, when I signed that covenant to continue lifelong in the life I try to live, with God's help. Back in 77, in the circles I travelled in, it was called "being single to the Lord." I had no idea that our Church had rules and laws about such stuff, but it wasn't long before I found that out......

And, I've been thinking and praying about and mulling over David Pawlak's little proposal (scroll down to "help wanted"). Anyone reading this in the Milwaukee area who'd like to help, email me or email Dave, we both have mail links in our sidebars. Also, feel free to fill up this comment box with ideas if you want, or Dave's comments box. A festival/convention for just-plain-Catholics.......