Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Abba Macarios on the ongoing struggle

If we want to draw close to Christ we must first drag ourselves forcibly towards the good, even though our heart may not wish it. 'The kingdom of heaven is subjected to violence, and the violent take it by force', said the Lord. And He also said: 'Strive to enter through the narrow gate'. We must, then, force ourselves even against our will towards virtue, towards love when we lack love, towards gentleness when we have need of it, towards sympathy of heart and compassion, towards patience in the face of insult and contempt, and steadfastness in the face of mockery, if we have not yet acquired the habit of these things, and towards prayer if we have not attained spiritual prayer. If God sees us struggling in this way and forcibly dragging ourselves towards the good even when our heart seem to oppose it, He will bestow true prayer on us, will give us compassion, patience, forbearance, and in general will fill us with all the fruits of the Spirit.
Another prayer from St Ephrem: Lord, keep me mindful of my own sins, and so not condemn my neighbor.

Your grace has made it possible for me to call upon Your name, O Lord. O only good One, Who has created us all, forgive the transgressions and sins of Your sinful and ungrateful servant.

I know, O Lord, that my sins exceed those of all other men, but I have as my refuge the abyss of Your compasssions which exceeds all things. I am confident that You will accept and have mercy on all who approach Your goodness, for it pleases You to behold repentance, and You rejoice at the ascetic struggles of Your servants.

Grant me, Your unworthy servant, tears, that with an enlightened mind, with love and faith, I may entreat Your incomparable goodness and be cured of my hidden sores. Show miserable me Your charity. Deliver me from the torment I deserve. May Your grace be preached all about, to the benefit both of the coutless multitudes who are careless, and me as well.

As You did fill the waterpots with Your blessing, so likewise fill my heart with Your grace and Your goodness. When a caring mother is rejected by her child, she does not scorn him, for her motherly care triumphs over all; may my sins likewise not surpass Your grace.

I know that I will be punished even for idle words, for evil thoughts, for mere desire. Yet as soon as an opportunity to satisfy my pleasures presents itself, I immediately forget everything, and like a fool indulge in all manner of sin. I am a vainglorious, wrathful cripple, a lazy, dissolute glutton, a sensualist covered with impurities who hourly strays into error -- and I do not realize it.

Only my hope in the manifestation of Your grace, O man-befriending Master, consoles me and keeps me from despair. Whether You so desire or not, save me, O all-good Lord, according to Your great kindness!


Monday, March 29, 2004

Surprising Lenten Ecumenism

105.3 The Fish, our local (Protestant) contemporary Christian music station, is broadcasting PSA's --- or maybe paid ads, I don't know --- from the Archbishop for Lent. I've found links for them, so here they are, for your listening enjoyment. [Real Audio required, 1:00 each]

"Scarlet O'Hara"

"spring training"

"garden preparation"

"remembering mortality"

"the blame game"

"admitting we're sinners"

Have fun! [But please, no coveting our bishops!]
Liturgy of the Hours: in Orlando it's entertainment!

courtesy of Fr. Jim of Dappled Things, this interesting article on praying the Liturgy of the Hours by ordinary people. Now just _how_ did the Orlando Sentinel entertainment section writer catch on, I wonder?

Sunday, March 28, 2004

St. John the Almsgiver and CCC 2477-2478

St. John the Almsgiver was Patriarch [Papa}of Alexandria in the times of the desert Christians. This story, from Life of John the Almsgiver by Leontius of Neapolis, notes his behavior when one of the abbas came into town from the desert and started behaving in a notedly unusual way.......

History of the Monk Vitalios

A certain monk nearly sixty years old, having heard tell of the good deeds of the Blessed Man [St. John the Almsgiver, patriarch of Alexandria 609-619], wished to put him to the test, to see if he was quick to listen to calumnies and be scandalized, and if that would be the case, if he would condemn him. He had first lived in the monastery of Abba Seridon. And in this manner, he came to Alexandria and adopted a lifestyle designed, without doubt, to scandalize men, but he was approved by God who "gives to each," as David says, "according to what is in his own heart."

Having thus entered the city, he wrote down for himself a list of names of all the prostitutes, and he worked as a laborer in a workshop, and each day he earned a keration (silver coin). When the sun went down, he ate some warm beans for a follis (bronze coin), took the rest of the follis, went into one of the prostitutes, gave her the follis and said: "Grant to me this night, but there will be no fornication." And he remained at her side during the evening, watching her so that she wouldn't go fornicate. Late at night, he stood up in a corner of the small room near the place where the woman laid, and he began a psalm, praying for her, saying matins until dawn. Then he left, but he made the woman swear that she would not tell anyone what he did. So that, when one of the prostitutes had denounced him, that is to say revealed his conduct, saying, "He did not come to us in order to fornicate, but to save us," the monk prayed, and the woman was possessed by a demon, so that after this day the others were afraid and did not unmask him for the rest of his life. Some people said to the demoniac, "What is the matter? God has recompensed you because you have lied. For it was in order to fornicate and not for any other reason that this most vile man came to you."

This holy Vitalios, for that was his name, wishing to flee from human glory and to call back souls from the darkness, said in the hearing of all as he labored in the workshop and left in the evening with his small pay, "Come along, my lords, to Lady So-and-So who awaits you." Thus he spoke in the place where he worked. And when many of them accused him and mocked him he answered, "Haven't I a body like everyone else, or is it only upon monks that the wrath of God descends so that they die from the troubles that they bring upon themselves? Truly, they are also men, like those in the rest of the world." Then certain ones said to him: "Get yourself a wife, abba, and change your habit, lest God be blasphemed because of you and lest you be condemned for the souls you have caused to stumble." Again he replied to them with oaths, even pretending to be angry, "As God lives, I am not going to listen to you. Leave me alone. Must I now change my way of life, so that you won't be scandalized? And as for taking a wife, should I take one for the worries of a family and spend my days miserably? No, by God! If anyone wants to be scandalized, let him be so. Let him beat his head against a wall! What do you want of me? Did God set you up as my judges? Go on, look after your own affairs. It isn't you who will defend me before God. There is only one Judge, only one holy day of judgment; it is this Judge who will render to each one according to his deeds. And if God had not willed it, I would not be in Alexandria!" He said this and created such a tumult by his shouting, that everyone refrained from speaking to him. And he kept saying, "Truly, if you don't stop, I will see that you do, and you will regret it!"

Then some of the church disciplinary officials, after having learned of these things, reported this affair to the Papa [patriarch]. But God knew that the saint did not wish to offend Abba Vitalios. The Papa turned a deaf ear to this, and he did not believe anyone, but he shook off those who had said evil of Abba Vitalios, and reproached them greatly, saying, "Stop bringing me accusations against monks. Do you know what writers tell us about the late emperor Constantine, how some impious men, including some bishops and monks, gained access to his holy council and gave to him denunciations against one another before the blessed emperor? The saintly emperor Constantine summoned these people before him two by two, the accuser and the accused, and made them speak face to face, the plaintiff accusing the defendant of the sin that he had committed, whether it was adultery or something worse --- a murder or whatever else. And when he had ascertained that the majority of these accusations were well-founded, remembering that it was said, "Who is weak, and I am not weak?" and that the Lord Himself had not condemned the adulterous woman caught in the very act of adultery, he followed their example. He had a lighted candle brought, and before the eyes of everyone, the accusers and the accused, he burned all the accusations that had been given to him and said, "In truth, if with my own eyes I had seen a priest of God or someone wearing the garments of an angel committing a sin, I would undo my cloak and cover him, so that none could see him. That is the very design you have had on this eunuch who is a servant of God. You would have turned me from the path, and would have brought a terrible condemnation on my soul." Having thus made them greatly ashamed, he dismissed them.

However Vitalios, the servant of God, did not alter his conduct. After all, this was the very thing he had asked of God. Thus after his death he revealed in a dream to several people that one should not count as a transgression the fact that someone is scandalized by his behavior, since, he said, his own practices lent themselves so well to scandal, "and I will condemn no one if he said something against me." Whatever the case, his behavior brought compunction to many of these women, especially at night when they saw him stretch his hands towards heaven and pray for each one of them. Some abandoned prostitution, some married and corrected their behavior in that way, while others renounced the world completely and pursued an eremitical life. But no one knew until his death that his admonitions and prayers had caused these improper young women to break with their sin.

Once toward dawn, when he was leaving the house of the chief one of such women, he was met by a dissolute fellow who was coming there to fornicate with her. As soon as he saw master Vitalios leaving the woman's establishment, the man slapped him and said, "You miserable mocker of Christ, when will you stop abandoning yourself to these activities?" The monk said to him, "Believe me, you poor little creature, someday you will be slapped so hard that nearly all of Alexandria will congregate to hear your cries." Just a short while later the blessed Vitalios fell asleep peacefully in his cell, with absolutely no one knowing that he had. He had a tiny cell at the city gate called the Gate of the Sun, so that often, when he celebrated the Liturgy in the Church of St. Metras [a martyr under Decius, 250-251, dragged out of city and stoned - Eus. HE 6. 41. 3] next to his cell, some of the young women would meet each other and say, "Let's go to Liturgy! Abba Vitalios is celebrating again! When they came to church, he was very solicitous of them, eating and joking with them until other people were irritated and would say, "All these women love the pseudo-abbot so much, and they yield to his designs on them," because, as stated above, they did not know his secret mode of life. Doubtless they had seen him enter each one of those women's houses, but they were unaware that this generous, chaste man was on an errand to save them.

Thus, as we have said, when unknown to anyone he had fallen asleep in his cell, a demon in the guise of an evil-eyed Ethiopian appeared alongside the man who had slapped Abba Vitalios, and struck him also, saying, "Take this blow that you gave to Abba Vitalios!" The man immediately fell to the ground and began to foam at the mouth. As Abba Vitalios had prophesied, a large crowd assembled from all over the city of Alexandria, drawn by the violence this man was suffering at the hands of the demon, and especially since the sound of that slap was heard by some as far as an arrow can travel. When he regained consciousness several hours later, he possessed man tore his clothes from his chest and ran to the saint's cubicle, shouting and saying, "I have sinned against you, O Vitalios, servant of God! Have pity on me!" All those who heard him ran with him, and when they arrived at the saint's cubicle the demon came out of him in the sight of all, tearing him mightily. And when those who accompanied him entered the cell, they found the saint on his knees in prayer, having commended his soul to the Lord, while on the ground this inscription was seen: "Men of Alexandria, do not judge before the time, until the Lord comes." At this, the demon immediately left the man, who then began to confess how he had wronged the saint and to report what the saint had said to him.

All this was reported immediately to the Papa [St. John the Almsgiver]. Then he left, accompanied by the clergy, to view the remains of holy Vitalios. When he saw the inscription on the ground, he said, "In truth, it is by God's grace that humble John has escaped this inscription, seeing that the blow dealt to this possessed man was one that I might have received." Then all the prostitutes who had renounced the world and those who had married led the saint's funeral procession with candles and torches, weeping and saying, "We have lost our savior and our teacher." "He did not enter our houses for any shameful activity. We never saw him sleep except on his side, and he took only one of us by the hand." Some of the people reproached them and said, "Why didn't you say this to the rest of us? He scandalized the whole city!" Then they told them what had happened to the demon-possessed woman. "We were afraid the same thing would happen to us, and so we kept our peace."

When he had been buried with high honors, the man who had obtained punishment and healing from the saint remained behind, giving unceasing testimony to his memory. In the end, he renounced the world and joined that same monastery of Abba Seridon in Gaza, and by faith he occupied the cubicle of Abba Vitalios, where he remained until his death.

Meanwhile, the most holy Patriarch performed great acts of thanksgiving to God, because he had not been permitted to sin against God's servant Vitalios. And since that time, many men and women have given aid to the
monks in Alexandria, forever afterward showing them hospitality, and always careful not to condemn anyone when a similar occasion arose. May the Lord, by this man's prayers, justify us and take pity upon us, until that day when He reveals the hidden depths of men and bares the designs of their hearts.

[Leontius Neapolitanus vita Joannis Eleemosynarii 38]

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Bishop Kenneth Untener of Saginaw has been Called

I've just received news from the Contemporary Catholic Music listserv that +Kenneth of Saganaw passed away last night, from cancer. He was noted, some of St. Blog's would say infamous, for his determined labor to improve the quality of preashing in his diocese.

Eternal rest grant to him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.

Friday, March 26, 2004

We fall down, and we get up: a story of the desert Christians

A certain brother, overcome by the passion of fornication, sinned every day. However, each time, with tears and prayers, he would fall before the Master and Lord and receive forgiveness from Him. And as soon as he had repented, the next day, being misled again by shameful habit, he would fall into sin.

Afterwards, having sinned, he would go to the Church, where he would prostrate himself before the honorable and revered Icon of our Lord Jesus Christ and tearfully confess to Jesus: "Lord, have mercy upon me and take away from me this fearful temptation, for it troubles me fiercely and wounds me with the bitter taste of the pleasures. O my Master, cleanse my person once more, that I may gaze upon Thine Icon and see Thy holy form and the sight of Thy face, brighter than the sun, that my heart might be sweetened and thankful."

And though his lips had just whispered these words, no sooner would he leave the Church than he would fall once again into sin.

Despite this, however, he did not despair of his salvation, but, returning from his sinful deed, would cry out in the Church the same words to God, to the Lord, Who loves mankind, adding the following: "My Lord, I swear to Thee on my word that I shall no longer commit this sin. Only forgive me, Good and Most Merciful Lord, whatever sins I have committed from the beginning to this moment."

No sooner would he utter these awe-inspiring words, than he would find himself the captive of this evil sin. Let no one cease to marvel at the sweet love of God towards mankind and at His boundless goodness, with which He each day tolerated the uncorrected and evil transgression and ingratitude of the brother. Indeed, God, because of the greatness of His mercy, persistently accepted the repentance of that sinful brother and his inevitable return. For this happened not for one or two or three years, but for more than ten years.

Do you see, my brother, the measureless forbearance and boundless love of the Master? How He continually endures, showing to us kindness, tolerating our terrible transgressions and sins? And what evokes astonishment and wonderment with regard to the rich mercies of God is that He did not become wrathful with the brother in question, though the brother, agreeing not to fall to sin again, continually broke his word.

At any rate, one day when all that we have described again occurred, the brother, having fallen into sin, rushed to the Church, lamenting, groaning, and crying with anguish, to invoke the mercy of God, that He might have compassion on him and take from him the sin of immorality.

No sooner had he called on God, the lover of man, than the Devil, that evil of old, destroyer of our souls, seeing that he could gain nothing, since whatever he accomplished by sin, the brother expunged by his repentance, became infuriated and appeared visibly before the brother. Facing the Icon of Christ, the Devil said to our compassionate Savior: "What will become of the two of us, Jesus Christ? Your sympathy for this sinner defeats me and takes the ground I have gained, since you keep accepting this dissolute man and prodigal who daily mocks you and scorns your authority. Indeed, why is it that you do not burn him up, but, rather, tolerate and put up
with him? ..... It is because one day you intend to condemn all of the adulterers and the dissolute and you will destroy all sinners.

"Actually, you are not a just Judge. But by whim your power is sometimes applied leniently and overlooks things. So, while I was cast from the heavens down to the abyss for a little breach of pride, to this fellow here, even though an immoral man and a prodigal, you calmly show your sympathy, just because he throws himself down in front of your Icon.

"In what way can you be called a just Judge, then? For, as I see it, you receive individual people with great kindness, but ignore justice in general."

The Devil said all of this, poisoned with great bitterness, whilst there poured forth from his nostrils a black flame.

Having said these things, he fell silent. A voice was heard in response, coming forth from the divine sanctuary, saying the following: "O, all-cunning and ruinous Dragon, are you yet not satisfied with your evil and destructive desire to gobble up the world? Now you have even the nerve to try to do away with and devour this man here, who has come with contrition to entreat the mercy of my compassion, too? Can you offer up enough sins that, by them, you can tilt the balance of justice against the precious blood which I shed on the Cross for this man? Behold my murder and death, which I endured for the forgiveness of his sins.

"You, when he turns again to sin, do not turn him away, but receive him with joy, neither chastising him nor preventing him from committing sin, out of the hope that you might win him over; but I, who am merciful and love mankind, who counselled my laudable Apostle, Peter, to forgive sins seven times seventy, should I not show him mercy and compassion? Indeed, simply because he flees to me, I will not turn him away until I have won him over. Furthermore, I was crucified for sinners and for their salvation; my immaculate hands were nailed to the Cross, that those who so wish might take refuge in me and be saved. For this reason, then, I neither turn away nor reject anyone, even if he should fall many times a day and many times return to me; such a person will not leave my Temple saddened, for I came not to call the righteous, but to call sinners to repent."

During the time that this voice was heard, the Devil was fixed in his place, trembling and unable to run away. The voice then again began to say: "We have heard from all that you say, O Seducer, that I am not just; to the contrary, I am just beyond all. In whatever moral state I find a person, in that state I judge him. Look at this man who a few moments ago repented, having returned from sin and having fallen at my feet with a sincere resolution to abandon sin, and thereby having conquered you.

"Therefore, I will accept him immediately and save his soul, since he did not lose hope in his hard toil for salvation.

"Look how much he merits by his repentance before me, for which he is honored. As for you, let your hate be shred to pieces and you disgraced."

While this was being said, the repentant brother had thrown himself before the Icon of the Savior. With his face to the ground and lamenting, he surrendered his spirit to the Lord. At the same time that the repentant brother departed to the Lord, a great tempest fell upon Satan, like a fire from Heaven, and devoured him. From this incident, my brothers, let us learn of the limitless compassion of God and of His love of man --- a good Master we have ---, that we might never again be disheartened by our sins, but rather look after our salvation with zeal.


Thursday, March 25, 2004


"You will become pregnant and bear a son, and you will call him Jesus...."

"How will this be, since I am a virgin?"

"The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. For this reason the child to be born will be acclaimed 'Holy' and 'Son of God'......"

"I am the slave girl of the Lord. Be it done to me as you have said."

When time began, the Word was there,
and the Word was face to face with God,
and the Word was God.
This Word, when time began,
was face to face with God.
All things came into being through him,
and without him there came to be
not one thing that has come to be.
In him was life,
and the life was the light of men. .....

And the Word became man
and lived among us;
and we have looked upon his glory ---
such a glory as befits
the Father's only-begotten Son ---
full of grace and truth! ......

And of his fullness
we have all received a share ---
yes, grace succeeding grace;
for the Law was granted through Moses,
but grace and truth have come
through Jesus Christ.

---- John 1: 1-5, 14, 16-17

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

An excellent reflection on this coming Sunday's readings [5th Sunday Lent, C]

will be found if you click on the headline before next Wednesday. [Real Audio required, 15:07]. The link changes at midweek to the reflections for the coming Sunday, so the link will be worth clicking even if you are seeing this in the archives.....

And, for the true sermon addicts among us, the entire series, all three cycles, is available for purchase on the Cathedral Parish website linked in the sidebar, all proceeds to benefit the Cathedral Parish outreach ministries, among which is the Open Door Cafe. I already have cycles A and C in hand, have listened to much of them, and can vouch for their excellence.
Prayer, fasting, and ? : for my Open Door Cafe companions

Do you wish to honor the Body of the Savior? Do not despise it when it is naked. Do not honor it in church with silk vestments while outside it is naked and numb with cold. He who said, "This is my body," and made it so by his word, is the same who said, "You saw me hungry and you gave me no food. As you did it not to the least of these, you did it not to me." Honor him then by sharing your property with the poor. For what God needs is not golden chalices but golden souls.

[St. John Chrysostom "On the Gospel of St. Matthew", 50, iii (PG 58, 508)]

Monday, March 22, 2004

The power of prayer: another Desert Christian story

There was a presbyter from Kellis who was discerning. While coming into the church to complete the synaxis, he saw a number of demons outside the cell of one of the brothers. Some had taken the form of women who were speaking indecently, and others of blasphemous youths; others were dancing while still others were trying on different outfits.

The old man sighed and said, "The brother persists in negligence in every way, and because of it the wicked spirits surround his cell in this disorderly manner." Therefore, when he had completed the synaxis, he returned and entered the cell of the brother, and said to him, "I am suffering, brother. I have faith in you, and if you pray for me, God will completely relieve my heart from suffering." The disciple was shamed, and said, "Father, I am not worthy to pray for you." The old man persisted, pleading and saying, "I will not leave unless you promise me that you will say one prayer for me every night." The brother obeyed the old man's command. The old man did this because he wanted a new way to ensure that the brother would pray at night.

Therefore, when the brother rose in the night, he said the prayer for the old man. After finishing the prayer, he was struck with contrition, and said to himself, "Wretched soul, you pray for the old man, but you do not pray for yourself." Therefore he offered one prayer for himself. He did this for a week, offering two prayers each night, one for the old man and one for himself.

On Sunday, while the old man was going to the church, he saw the demons once again standing outside the brother's cell, looking glum, and the old man knew that the demons were grieved because the brother prayed. He was filled with joy and went to the brother, saying, "Have charity and offer another prayer for me each night." After saying the two prayers for the old man, he was struck again with contrition, and said to himself. "O miserable one, offer another prayer for yourself." He did this for a whole week, offering four prayers each night.

When the old man came again, he saw the demons glum and silent, and gave thanks to God, and went in again to the brother and urged him to offer another prayer for him. The brother also offered one for himself, and said six prayers at night. When the old man came again to the brother, the demons were angry with the old man, furious about the salvation of the brother. The old man gave glory to God and after entering his cell and exhorting him not to be negligent but the pray unceasingly, let him alone. The demons, seeing the brother’s perseverance in the prayers and in soberness, by the grace of God left him.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

"May I X while I pray?" vs. "May I pray while Xing?

This morning I was sitting in the corner of the Cathedral atrium, waiting for an Open Door Cafe job assignment, tying knots in #36 twine, and praying. All at the same time, of course.

Then the question wandered through my mind: there's a difference between "doing x while praying" and "praying while doing x", it's obvious, but just what is that difference?

I think the difference in not only in attitude, but in primary allocation of a piece of time.

We are to pray always. That means that, unavoidably, we will be praying while doing all kinds of things --- cooking, dishwashing, driving, showering, laboring at all kinds of things. Things that we really can't not do, and other things that we just like to do. And, praying while doing these things is an actual good, not a problem at all.

However, we do (or should) be setting aside some special times for praying ---- the morning offering time, the nightly examination of conscience, maybe a rosary or the Liturgy of Hours or a holy half-hour at the tabernacle. This is not the time to twiddle with twine or nibble pretzels or smoke or do anything else that does not directly nurture prayer. They are not evil things, but at those times they are inappropriate things.

So, while we should pray while it's time for doing any X, we should be avoiding Xing while it's time for praying, leastwise it seems to me.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

My subscription copy of the 26 March Commonweal has arrived....

.... and it has letters about the St. Blog's article in it, including one that's a bit humorous from Kathy Shaidle, and one from a gentleman who'd probably label me a raving dissenter, for, after all, I subscribe to Commonweal and link it in the sidebar.

Now that it's out, I'll not be undercutting our valuable Catholic print press by posting what I wrote to them:

Re: St. Blog's Church

I was very pleased to see your notice of that piece of the Internet known as "St. Blog's Parish" (though a little shocked to see my own name in it!)

I don't think it is quite fair to the real world to call us "vibrant" because though many of us write well, any actual vibrant, life-nurturing, faith-supporting things that might come from that will take place in real-life cities and parishes, not at St. Blog's of Bloggsville.

Bloggsville is a pretty wild place, and it has no cops yet. So there are some pretty wild public places full of street-corner speechmakers and people screaming "the end is nigh," but also residential neighborhoods and quiet coves and clearings. There are sites from which I feel deprived if I can't visit them daily, and other sites I dare not get near, they'd be near occasions of wrath to me. The news sites vary wildly in quality; no editors means there's good immediacy, but no fact-checking, so it's reader beware. Also, at certain news sites, what's written in the comments boxes is often more insightful, or more inflammatory, than the site itself is.

I started my site, back in May of 2002, because I was frustrated at the often inaccurate content and the attitudes of bloggers about a particular local crisis, and I thought there were things that needed saying, by someone who actually lived here, and they wouldn't be said unless I did it. By the time that particular crisis had been resolved, my little place on the net had become established, and I found I had more I could write about than just reactions to crisis, and my site has survived.

To tour St. Blog's, start with the list at http://praiseofglory.com/blogs.htm , "Some Catholic Blogs." When you find a blog you like, check out the left or right margin, where you'll usually find a "blogroll" of sites which that blogkeeper likes, or at least finds interesting. Soon you will have your own list of places worthy of regular visits. I'd hope one of those places might be mine; you all would certainly be welcome.

peace and good,
Karen Marie Knapp
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
"From the Anchor Hold", http://kmknapp.blogspot.com/


Friday, March 19, 2004

The husband of Mary

Today is the feast of St. Joseph, the husband of Mary.

The stepfather of Jesus.

The stepfather of God the Son; an image of his true Father.

Jesus went back with them to Nazareth, and he was obedient to them. His mother treasured all of these things in her heart, and Jesus made steady progress, proportionate to his age, in understanding and in favor with God and with men. [Luke 2:51-52]

"No, you hold the plane _this_ way."
"You _have_ to watch out for your fingers."
"Now go get washed up for dinner, boy"

a true father, a true son.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

First there was +Seraphim Sigrist, then +Robert of Baker......

...... and now a third bishop has entered the virtual world, and my blogroll. How many more, maybe, as comfort with computers increases even among elders?

This, of course, affords me my regular opportunity to preach again: Pray for your bishops, wherever you are. Pray for them all.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

I've found a sister

Remember a few posts ago my being amazed that, according to Commonweal, there didn't seem to be any women religious in St. Blog's. Well, there is one now, Sister Christer, a Dominican Sister, and I've blogrolled her, since us simple/single/submitted types have to stick together! [grin]

speaking of the evangelical counsels......

a prayer request

Swimming the Tiber is no more. Sean, the blogkeeper there, who was in St. Blog's 2003 RCIA class, has been accepted as a postulant in Holy Resurrection Monastery, a community of the Ruthenian Catholic Church. Keep him in your prayers as his vocation is tested, and for his perseverance.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Tomorrow's not just green beer, corned beef and cabbage, and free bus rides....

.... but it's the commemoration of a great, holy, imperfect and very human bishop, who knew nothing of green beer, etc.

What he did know was the great mercy and love of the Lord toward his miserable self, and the call of the Lord on his life.

Here is St. Patrick's own confessions, which are a little too long to post here in their entirety but not _that_ long.

One passage to tempt you there:

And there I saw in the night the vision of a man, whose name was Victoricus, coming as it were from Ireland, with countless letters. And he gave me one of them, and I read the opening words of the letter, which were, `The voice of the Irish'; and as I read the beginning of the letter I thought that at the same moment I heard their voice --- they were those beside the Wood of Voclut, which is near the Western Sea --- and thus did they cry out as with one mouth: `We ask thee, boy, come and walk among us once more.'

And I was quite broken in heart, and could read no further, and so I woke up. Thanks be to God, after many years the Lord gave to them according to their cry.

And another night --- whether within me, or beside me, I know not, God knoweth --- they called me most unmistakably with words which I heard but could not understand, except that at the end of the prayer He spoke thus: `He that has laid down His life for thee, it is He that speaketh in thee'; and so I awoke full of joy.

And again I saw Him praying in me, and I was as it were within my body, and I heard Him above me, that is, over the inward man, and there He prayed mightily with groanings. And all the time I was astonished, and wondered, and thought with myself who it could be that prayed in me. But at the end of the prayer He spoke, saying that He was the Spirit; and so I woke up, and remembered the Apostle saying: The Spirit helpeth the infirmities of our prayer. For we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit Himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings, which cannot be expressed in words; and again: The Lord our advocate asketh for us.

And when I was attacked by a number of my seniors who came forth and brought up my sins against my laborious episcopate, on that day indeed was I struck so that I might have fallen now and for eternity; but the Lord graciously spared the stranger and sojourner for His name and came mightily to my help in this affliction. Verily, not slight was the shame and blame that fell upon me! I ask God that it may not be reckoned to them as sin.

As cause for proceeding against me they found --- after thirty years! --- a confession I had made before I was a deacon. In the anxiety of my troubled mind I confided to my dearest friend what I had done in my boyhood one day, nay, in one hour, because I was not yet strong. I know not, God knoweth --- whether I was then fifteen years old: and I did not believe in the living God, nor did I so from my childhood, but lived in death and unbelief until I was severely chastised and really humiliated, by hunger and nakedness, and that daily.

On the other hand, I did not go to Ireland of my own accord. not until I had nearly perished; but this was rather for my good, for thus was I purged by the Lord; and He made me fit so that I might be now what was once far from me that I should care and labour for the salvation of others, whereas then I did not even care about myself.

On that day, then, when I was rejected by those referred to and mentioned above, in that night I saw a vision of the night. There was a writing without honour against my face, and at the same time I heard God's voice saying to me: `We have seen with displeasure the face of Deisignatus' (thus revealing his name). He did not say, `Thou hast seen.' but `We have seen.' as if He included Himself, as He sayeth: He who toucheth you toucheth as it were the apple of my eye.

Therefore I give Him thanks who hath strengthened me in everything, as He did not frustrate the journey upon which I had decided, and the work which I had learned from Christ my Lord; but I rather felt after this no little strength, and my trust was proved right before God and men.

And so I say boldly, my conscience does not blame me now or in the future: God is my witness that I have not lied in the account which I have given you.

Prayer, fasting, acts of mercy --- [key music] You can't have one without the others.....[un-key music], from St. John Chrysologos in today's Office of Readings

There are three things, my brethren, by which faith stands firm, devotion remains constant, and virtue endures. They are prayer, fasting and mercy. Prayer knocks at the door, fasting obtains, mercy receives. Prayer, mercy and fasting: these three are one, and they give life to each other.

Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. Let no one try to separate them; they cannot be separated. If you have only one of them or not all together, you have nothing. So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others you open God’s ear to yourself.

When you fast, see the fasting of others. If you want God to know that you are hungry, know that another is hungry. If you hope for mercy, show mercy. If you look for kindness, show kindness. If you want to receive, give. If you ask for yourself what you deny to others, your asking is a mockery.

Let this be the pattern for all men when they practise mercy: show mercy to others in the same way, with the same generosity, with the same promptness, as you want others to show mercy to you.

Therefore, let prayer, mercy and fasting be one single plea to God on our behalf, one speech in our defence, a threefold united prayer in our favour.

Let us use fasting to make up for what we have lost by despising others. Let us offer our souls in sacrifice by means of fasting. There is nothing more pleasing that we can offer to God, as the psalmist said in prophecy:
A sacrifice to God is a broken spirit; God does not despise a bruised and humbled heart.

Offer your soul to God, make him an oblation of your fasting, so that your soul may be a pure offering, a holy sacrifice, a living victim, remaining your own and at the same time made over to God. Whoever fails to give this to God will not be excused, for if you are to give him yourself you are never without the means of giving.

To make these acceptable, mercy must be added. Fasting bears no fruit unless it is watered by mercy. Fasting dries up when mercy dries up. Mercy is to fasting as rain is to earth. However much you may cultivate your heart, clear the soil of your nature, root out vices, sow virtues, if you do not release the springs of mercy, your fasting will bear no fruit.

When you fast, if your mercy is thin your harvest will be thin; when you fast, what you pour out in mercy overflows into your barn. Therefore, do not lose by saving, but gather in by scattering. Give to the poor, and you give to yourself. You will not be allowed to keep what you have refused to give to others.


Monday, March 15, 2004

one of the dearest writings about the Eucharist I've ever read

is in a novel by Thomas S. Klise, The Last Western. The protagonist, Willie Brother, has fled from the great city Houston, where a disaster had leveled his neighborhood and killed his entire family. He is found unconscious on the side of the highway by two bearded guys in a pickup truck, who took him to their dwelling place to care for him.

[from chapter eleven, pp 125-127]
Several times a day strange, bearded men would come to his room, offering food which he could not eat.
The men would examine the bottle that stood at the head of Willie's cot, replacing it sometimes with another bottle. They would examine the tube that led from the bottle to Willie's arm. Sometimes they would feel his pulse.
Now and then a man who seemed to be a doctor came to call. He would listen to Willie's heart and peer into his eyes with a penlike flashlight.
Once or twice he gave Willie an injection that put him to sleep.
Willie gazed out over the gardens and the muddy, sluggish stream, at the city of Houston.
He spoke to no one and no one spoke to him.
He felt nothing. only an emptiness.
He wondered from time to time if he were really alive.
One night he heard men singing.
He thought he must be dreaming.
But then the melody of the song came more clearly to him and it seemed somehow familiar.
He thought he would ask about it the next day.
But the next day he remembered nothing.
Two nights later he heard the singing again.
He got out of bed and started down the corridor toward the room where the singing seemed loudest.
But he was too weak to reach the door.
His knees gave way beneath him and he fainted.
A little later he had the vague memory of silent men carrying him through the corridor and placing him on his bed.
The next morning an old man with a long white beard, not one of the regular visitors, came to Willie's room.
He wore a strange tunic, made of gunnysack and other rags patched together.
He put a little card on the stand beside Willie's bed.
When the old man left, Willie reached for the card.
Willie tried to make sense of these words, but it was too much work.
He fell asleep for another week.
Then one night the singing woke him again.
He got out of bed very carefully and tried his legs while supporting himself on the edge of the bed.
When he was satisfied that he could walk, he started down the shadowy corrodor once more.
He came to a broad wooden door that looked like the door to a barn.
He tried to open it, but it was no use. He was too weak.
He was about to try it again when the door gave way and there stood a bearded man wearing a ragtag garment, motioning Willie to come forward --- a slow gentle motion that seemed to say
Willie entered an open courtyard where eighteen or twenty men, similarly garbed in gunnysack tunics, stood about a bare wooden table, singing.
In the center of the table stood the old white-bearded man who had given Willie the strange card.
He was holding a cup and a loaf of bread.
The man who had met Willie at the door led him to the old man at the table.
The old man broke the bread and gave a chunk of it to Willie.
"Body of Christ," he said in a cracked old voice.
"Body of Christ," said Willie, and he ate the bread.
Then the old man gave Willie the cup --- a tin cup it was, such as crippled beggars used to hold out for the pennies of the rich.
"Blood of Christ," said the old man in his cracked, wavering voice.
"Blood of Christ," said Willie, and he sipped from the cup.
It was the first food he had eaten in six weeks.


Saturday, March 13, 2004

Franz Cardinal Koenig died this morning

Eternal rest grant to him, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon him.

Cardinal Koenig was one of the Council Fathers, learned and holy, and a known joy addict who, at least in public, never yielded to cynicism over all the years. Someone on the Documents of Vatican II Study list (known as VatII-doc) remembers him entering a lecture hall to teach "bouncing down the aisle...." Reminds me of our +Timothy....

Friday, March 12, 2004

About that Commonweal article

1) I have written a note to Commonweal's editors ---- but I'm not posting it here, at least not right now. First, because I think it's only fair that they get to read it first, and use it if they wish; and, second, because I may write it again after some time to mull it over.

2) I was still in the nursing home, incommunicado, when I saw the article, and I was thoroughly shocked to see my name and site mentioned, and especially when Mark, Amy, and dear Gerard were not. She must have leap-blogged, rather than use the Great Catholic Blog List. And she even missed jcecil3!

3) The all of us have got to keep in mind that the barque of Peter has a port bow as well as a starboard stern, and if it were missing either one it would surely sink. (I ride in a cozy corner of steerage.)

Thursday, March 11, 2004

We have to forgive; we must not judge.....

a story from an Athonite elder:

In the Holy Trinity hut of St. Anne’s Skete [on Mt. Athos] there lived, many years ago, five natural brothers. Because of Satan’s envy, they started quarrelling among themselves in such a way that they became known as troublemakers. They did ask forgiveness of each other every night, however, and thus they were forgiven.

Many years were passed in this way. Then one day no noise was heard coming from their hut. That night the dikaios of the skete was informed in his sleep that all five brothers had reposed in the Lord. He went with some other fathers to the hut, and indeed they saw that it was true. All five of them had departed to the Lord in a position of prostration, while asking forgiveness of each other. The forgiving and merciful God had taken them away right after Vespers.

Thus God gave a sign of justification and salvation, a proof of correction and forbearance, and a sign that one should never judge his fellow men.


Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Get out the Brass-o, eh?

I've discovered a new blog, new to me anyhow, Conjectures of a Guilty Seminarian. This is what Lee posted on February 22nd, the Sunday before Lent:

It is once again time for the liturgical seasons to change. There is something quite wonderful about following a liturgical calendar. For instance, I can say "Today is Quinquagesima Sunday...." It just sounds nice. Say it with me... "Quinquagesima."

Tuesday will be Shrove Tuesday, for which I hope to receive short shrift --- not really, I actually hope and pray for the cleansing to begin.

But, at the parish, we will be taking down the Christus Rex and replacing it with the old Crucifix --- mortis style. The tabernacle is replaced with a wooden one, sent off to the metal worker for polishing. The brass will be put away, also for polishing. Further, the Alleluia will be put away --- also for polishing.

Lent, overall, is a time of polishing. We wipe away, once again, the collective layers of soot and tarnish that obscure and make grotesque our souls and natures. It takes serious time --- repentance. But, the work we do is secondary. Just as the real miracle of polishing is the polish itself, and not the polisher"er," the Holy Spirit acts upon us. He is really quite something. Able, is He, to wash our souls and leave grace behind. For this I give thanks and one last --- "Alleluia."


Monday, March 08, 2004

to be remembered in this joyous season

1) There is no saint without a past; there is no sinner without a future. [from good old Anonymous] Therefore, never give up, never lose hope, and never despair of forgiveness and restoration.

2) The only way to live in any true security is to live so close to the bottom that when you fall you do not have far to drop, you do not have much to lose. [This one from Ven. Dorothy of New York City, who did actually live in this way in our own days]

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Housekeeping details in the anchor hold

Just completed three months worth of blogroll maintainance, totaling twenty separate changes. If I still have dead or broken links in the blogroll, or I accidentally broke yours in the template tampering, do not hesitate to email me.

Also, BlogMatrix has died, so I have eliminated their icons for my syndication feed and have activated an Atom feed. There's a link in the sidebar, below Mater Ecclesiae where the BlogMatrix icons used to be.

Still working on housekeeping in the real-life anchor hold; the virtual anchor hold should be back on topic very soon.
cute game, courtesy of Annunciations

Pholph's Scrabble Generator

My Scrabble© Score is: 19.
What is your score? Get it here.


Friday, March 05, 2004

Free at last, free at last!

I was discharged from Christopher East Rehab this afternoon at approximately 4 pm CST.

Thank you for all your prayers and good wishes.

I hope to have this virtual anchor hold back to speed by the end of the weekend; I do have to shape up the real-life anchor hold first. [If in doubt, try abandoning your house for three months without warning and find out. >:-) ]

Until I can further attend to this site, a little noodle to chew on.......

Is Commonweal really correct?

Are there, really and truly, no properly licenced and permitted consecrated women in St. Blog's? The Commonweal author did not find a single woman religious among us. Priests, seminarians, religious brothers, and one anchor hold dweller --- but no women religious. It shocked me to read that, but I don't recall any either. If anyone knows of any woman religious blogging, tell me in the comments.