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.