Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Keeping Me In Stitches

If you want a PG-rated understanding of my present medical condition in situ, take a gander at this warzone.

Catholic Media Review

An interesting interview/review of Disney's upcoming film, Prince Caspian at Catholic Media Review.

And a fine commentary from Catholic Education Resource Center is Christianity's Reluctant Convert, by Michael Coren.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

For All You Do - Thank You

Home Again - A Front Room Window

After five days of expert care in one of northern Virginia's finest hospitals, I am happy to announce that I am now home. The doctors, nurses, and staff were superb and I am grateful for the way God used them as instruments of healing; I would, after all, like to keep this matter in the form of a human being, imago dei, for quite a while longer time to come.

Besides the kind and loving support of Lady Athos and our younger son (our elder son being on a tight work-log at Best Buy), it was a privilege to have a visit from Dawn Eden who took a moment out of her busy (some might say hectic) schedule to visit my room yesterday and bring some reading material along too. Thanks, Dawn!

I was doubly blessed to have both Sister Mary Jo and Father Dan Hanley from St. James Parish bring Our Lord to me on Sunday - I need all the Grace I can get -- and the Rosary blessed by Pope Benedict XVI is in use for Christendom and for the blessing of "offering up" this experience however Heaven may choose.

The prognosis looks good: no radiaton or chemotherapy needed, but a 4-6 week recovery period and keeping close tabs on things, as they say. Lady Athos says I have about fifteen inches of incision, so I won't be doing my arched-back sit-ups or other exercise regime for some time (drat). Yet I have the astonishing good luck, or providence rather, to have a fellow Mass'keteer who preceded me on this adventure in brother Aramis. And I will lean on him and his experiences to inform me of what to expect and how to proceed.

Thanks to all for your prayers and daily intentions. You are of inestimable blessing and help.

With Love and Longing to Reciprocate Such Love, to Give Him Life for Life

Hat tip to Doctors of the Catholic Church and Magnificat

Meditation of the Day

“I will send the Advocate to you.”

What heart will be so hard and stubborn as not to be moved at the sight of such infinite love and the great dignity we have been given – and not because God owed it to us, but by his grace? None of us could look at this and contemplate it without transcending all sensuality, all our hardness and foolishness dissolved. When we see and know our own non-being and God’s goodness to us in giving us being and every grace that is added onto being, we will receive the most perfect light and knowledge of ourselves. Let your heart and soul be set afire in Christ gentle Jesus, with love and longing to reciprocate such love, to give him life for life. He gave his life for you: decide now to give your life for him, blood for blood…

That very charity, the Holy Spirit, with his hands has given and continues to give us God. He is constantly serving us every grace and gift, spiritual as well as material. How foolish, then, for you or anyone else to stay away from such delight! It seems to me every one of us should go – even on all fours if we can’t walk upright – to demonstrate our love for him by giving him our lives for the love of Life, to use our bodies to expiate our sins and failings just as we have used our bodies to offend.
– Saint Catherine of Siena (+ 1380), Doctor of the Church, was a Dominican, stigmatist, and papal counselor.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Athos Update

Here at The Four Mass'keteers blog, we don't get much of a chance to stump the VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE, who I am sure will be reporting on Athos' recovery soon, but we have it on good authority, that being Athos' lovely wife, that Athos came through surgery yesterday like a trooper. She went on to say that after surgery he was in a bit of pain, but things look good and that after his stay in the hospital of 5-7 days he will be returning home, with full recovery expected to take 4-6 weeks.

So please keep Athos and his family in your prayers as the healing process now begins.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Thanks for the Prayer - Here Goes

I want to thank profusely the innumerable folk who have promised to pray for me, put my name on prayer-lists, visit Adoration Chapels tomorrow during my surgery to take care of a wayward "transitional cell carcinoma of the renal pelvis."

Father Dan Hanley graciously prepped me by all the ministrations afforded by Mother Church today, and for that I am and shall ever remain truly grateful.

Thing is: there is the appearance of helplessness in all of this spot of bother. And that is why I harbor a particular and ferocious antipathy for such Japanese thriller/horror flicks as The Grudge (2004) - the poor mortal humans can't do a blooming, bloody thing to stand against the onslaught of the inevitable doom. Pah! Phooh!

That is why, without doubt, I choose this of all nights to take in an altogether different flick; a piece of sub-creation (á la Tolkien) in which death is actual, but humans are real actors in this grand opera; namely, At World’s End. Here we are talking Purgatory, redemption, self-sacrifice, resurrection, and the Adventure of "offering it up."

I refuse to see this rigamarole as something other than an opportunity to practice the virtues, cardinal and theological. But I assure you, gentle reader, I will be tempted to do otherwise any number of times. So, pray for me. Here I go in the name of the Blessed Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Pray for us, Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.

Edwin Muir

The Good Town [h/t: Gil Bailie]

Look at it well. This was the good town once,
Known everywhere, with streets of friendly neighbours,
Street friend to street and house to house. In summer
All day the doors stood open; lock and key
Were quaint antiquities fit for museums
With gyves and rusty chains. The ivy grew
From post to post across the prison door.
The yard behind was sweet with grass and flowers.
A place where grave philosophers loved to walk.
Old Time that promises and keeps his promise
Was our sole lord indulgent and severe,
Who gave and took away with gradual hand
That never hurried, never tarried, still
Adding, subtracting. These our houses had
Long fallen into decay but that we knew
Kindness and courage can repair time's faults,
And serving him breeds patience and courtesy
In us, light sojourners and passing subjects.
There is a virtue in tranquillity
That makes all fitting, childhood and youth and age,
Each in its place.

Look well. These mounds of rubble,
And shattered piers, half-windows, broken arches
And groping arms were once inwoven in walls
Covered with saints and angels, bore the roof,
Shot up the towering spire. These gaping bridges
Once spanned the quiet river which you see
Beyond that patch of raw and angry earth
Where the new concrete houses sit and stare.
Walk with me by the river. See, the poplars
Still gather quiet gazing on the stream.
The white road winds across the small green hill
And then is lost. These few things still remain.
Some of our houses too, though not what once
Lived there and drew a strength from memory.
Our prople have been scattered, or have come
As strangers back to mingle with the strangers
Who occupy our rooms where none can find
The place he knew but settles where he can.
No family now sits at the evening table;
Father and son, mother and child are out,
A quaint and obsolete fashion. In our houses
Invaders speak their foreign tongues, informers
Appear and disappear, chance whores, officials
Humble or high, frightened, obsequious,
Sit carefully in corners. My old friends
(Friends ere these great disasters) are dispersed
In parties, armies, camps, conspiracies.
We avoid each other. If you see a man
Who smiles good-day or waves a lordly greeting
Be sure he's a policeman or a spy.
We know them by their free and candid air.

It was not time that brought these things upon us,
But these two wars that trampled on us twice,
Advancing and withdrawing, like a herd
Of clumsy-footed beasts on a stupid errand
Unknown to them or us. Pure chance, pure malice,
Or so it seemed. And when, the first war over,
The armies left and our own men came back
From every point by many a turning road,
Maimed, crippled, changed in body or in mind,
It was a sight to see the cripples come
Out on the fields. The land looked all awry,
The roads ran crooked and the light fell wrong.
Our fields were like a pack of cheating cards
Dealt out at random - all we had to play
In the bad game for the good stake, our life.
We played; a little shrewdness scraped us through.
Then came the second war, passed and repassed,
And now you see our town, the fine new prison,
The house-doors shut and barred, the frightened faces
Peeping round corners, secret police, informers,
And all afraid of all.
How did it come?

From outside, so it seemed, an endless source,
Disorder inexhaustible, strange to us,
Incomprehensible. Yet sometimes now
We ask ourselves, we the old citizens:
‘Could it have come from us? Was our peace peace?
Our goodness goodness? That old life was easy
And kind and comfortable; but evil is restless
And gives no rest to the cruel or the kind.
How could our town grow wicked in a moment?
What is the answer? Perhaps no more than this,
That once the good men swayed our lives, and those
Who copied them took a while the hue of goodness,
A passing loan; while now the bad are up,
And we, poor ordinary neutral stuff,
Not good nor bad, must ape them as we can,
In sullen rage or vile obsequiousness.
Say there's a balance between good and evil
In things, and it's so mathematical,
So finely reckoned that a jot of either,
A bare preponderance will do all you need,
Make a town good, or make it what you see.
But then, you'll say, only that jot is wanting,
That grain of virtue. No: when evil comes
All things turn adverse, and we must begin
At the beginning, heave the groaning world
Back in its place again, and clamp it there.
Then all is hard and hazardous. We have seen
Good men made evil wrangling with the evil,
Straight minds grown crooked fighting crooked minds.
Our peace betrayed us; we betrayed our peace.
Look at it well. This was the good town once.’

These thoughts we have, walking among our ruins.

Edwin Muir

John Henry Newman to be Beatified

.- The Vatican has approved the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, the English convert and theologian who has had immense influence upon English-speaking Catholicism, the Birmingham Mail reports.

Pray for us, Cardinal Newman, and for poor old England -- especially on this feast day of Saint George!

Speaking of the Sword of Eternal Truth

(h/t to Athos at Chronicles of Atlantis)

Rich Leonardi from the Seditious Catechist blog quotes PETER BRONSON at The Enquirer who notes something that a small group of us converts observed this past Monday at a funeral of one of our priests, Father Dacian. Peter Bronson writes,

...somewhere during the funerals for two fallen firefighters April 9, I thought: Nobody does this better than the Catholic Church. When an uncertain world cruelly reminds us how fragile life can be, the magic, tradition, ritual and beauty of a mass soothes the aching heart. It speaks of eternal truth.

He goes on in the article:

This pope is a spiritual warrior against moral relativism.

"He believes there are clear truths in the world. That human dignity and human rights are rooted in faith," Fernandes said. "He wants us to get back to basics."

Benedict is a fierce defender of traditional marriage, which he calls the basic "cell" of society's body, where we learn justice, peace and love - eros and agape.

"One of the fundamental truths is that families are at risk and we need to fight for families," Fernandes said. "If the family is constantly under attack, if society is collapsing due to the collapse of the family, how can we expect peace to take root?"

If eternal truth is a two-edged sword, it cuts deep into the decay of moral relativism. That's painful for people who prefer bendable, harmless, Nerf truth. It's easier to just ignore eternal truth. Or distort it. Or attack it.

"The Catholic Church seems to be one of the last institutions standing up for marriage, the unborn, the rights of the elderly and the downtrodden," Fernandes said.

Pope Benedict won't back down from that tradition. That's why his visit means so much in this uncertain world.

Feast of Blessed Brother Giles of Assisi

Brother Giles helps us in our need to recover the holy fear of God. We have lost the fear of the Lord - and the absence of 'holy fear' makes us terrors unto ourselves and one another. Why? Because we know what humans who recognize no authority but themselves are capable of.

From The Little Flowers of St. Francis on this Franciscan feast day (April 23) of Blessed Brother Giles of Assisi:


He who fears not, shows that he has nothing to lose. The holy fear of God orders, governs, and rules the soul, and prepares it to receive his grace. If a man possesses any grace or any divine virtue, it is holy fear which preserves it to him. And he who has not yet acquired grace or virtue, acquires it by holy fear.

The holy fear of God is a channel of divine grace, inasmuch as it quickly leads the soul wherein it dwells to the attainment of holiness and all divine graces. No creature that ever fell into sin would have so fallen had it possessed the holy fear of God. But this holy gift of fear is given only to the perfect, because the more perfect any man is, the more timorous and humble he is.

Greatly ought a man to fear pride, lest it should give him a sudden thrust, and cause him to fall from the state of grace in which he is; for no man is ever secure from falling, so beset are we by foes; and these foes are the flatteries of this wretched world and of our own flesh, which, together with the devil, is the unrelenting enemy of our soul. A man has greater reason to fear being deluded and overcome by his own malice than by any other enemy. It is impossible for a man to attain to any divine grace or virtue, or to preserve therein, without holy fear.

He who has not the fear of God within him is in great danger of eternal perdition. The fear of God makes a man to obey humbly and to bow his head beneath the yoke of obedience: and the more a man fears God, the more frequently he adores him. The gift of prayer is no small gift, to whomsoever it is given.


As a brother was one day praying in his cell, his superior sent him an obedience to leave his prayer and go out to beg. The friar went forthwith to Brother Giles, and said to him: "Father, I was at prayer, and the guardian had bade me go forth to beg; now it seems to me far better that I should continue praying." Brother Giles answered: "My son, do you not yet know or understand what prayer is? True prayer is to do the will of our superior; and it is great pride in him who has submitted his neck to the yoke of holy obedience to desire to follow his own will in anything, in order, as he thinks, to perform a work of greater perfection. The perfectly obedient religious is like a horseman mounted on a mettlesome steed, which carries him swiftly and fearlessly on his way; but the disobedient religious, on the contrary, is like a man seated on a meagre, weak, or vicious horse, who is in danger of perishing by the way, or of falling into the hands of his enemies. I tell thee that, though a man were raised to so high a degree of contemplation as to hold converse with angels, yet were he interrupted in that colloquy by the voice of obedience, he ought immediately to leave communing with the angels, and obey the command of his superior."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Libera - Far Away

[h/t: Deacon's Bench]

A Liberal Episcopalian and the Pope Walk Into...

I can't stand it. THIS is against doctor's orders to take it easy.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Benedict and Belloc

HILAIRE BELLOC, historian (First honors, Oxford), author, and friend of G. K. Chesterton, is known but not widely read today. This is too bad. He knows better the ailments of the dilapidated West than the talking heads, pundits, and politicians who happen presently to be alive.

Belloc describes in utter lucidity the gradient of the degradation of the West in the chapter of The Great Heresies entitled, "The Reformation." The entire book should be required reading for all concerned with the apparent demise of the West. Suffice it to say that the Protestant hegemony, a truly anti-Catholicism, broke up finally and certainly with the Great War, World War I.
But let it be noted that this breakdown of the older anti-Catholic thing, the Protestant culture, shows no sign of being followed by an hegemony of the Catholic culture. There is no sign as yet of a reaction towards the domination of Catholic ideas - the full restoration of the Faith by which Europe and all our civilization can alone be saved. [141]
Belloc goes then into the final chapter that describes with wincingly accurate ways what he calls "The Modern Phase" or "The Modern Attack."
To many who have no sympathy with Catholicism, who inherit the old Protestant animosity to the Church (although doctrinal Protestantism is now dead) and who think that any attack on the Church must somehow or other be a good thing, the struggle already appears as a coming or present atttack on what they call "Christianity." [143]
This phase is replete with rabid scientific dogmatists like Dawkins or Fleet St. jingoists like Hitchens or separate religionists like the Scimitar-terrorist boys or recrudescent Neo-pagans-R-Us in the mainstream media. It is a dark and apocalyptic time for the Catholic Church in the world, let alone in the West.

ENTER BENEDICT XVI ON HIS MISSION TO AMERICA. The Pontiff leaves the Vatican to celebrate his eighty-first birthday on American soil, meets with his American bishops, celebrates the Blessed Sacrament in two -- count 'em, two -- major league baseball fields, strolls Fifth Avenue, meets with young people and seminarians, and kneels in prayer at Ground Zero, praying for loving forgiveness in the face of heinous and murderous evil.

This aged leader of the Catholic Church has not given up on the West; nor is he about to look fearful before the specters that haunt our televisions, newspapers, or internet-browsing computer monitors. The Holy Father toddled through his stomping-grounds to show that he is Christ's Vicar -- the 265th since St. Peter himself -- and come hell or high water, he will come to bless, to serve, to love, and to spread the Gospel. How about us?

What return shall I make to Him who created me?

Meditation of the Day

Loving Jesus, Keeping His Word

Jesus Christ, my dear and gracious Lord,
You have shown a love greater than that of any man
And which no one can equal,
For you in no way deserved to die,
Yet you laid down your dear life
For those who served you and sinned against you.
You prayed for those who were killing you
That you might make them just men and your brothers
And restore them to your merciful Father and to yourself.
Lord, who showed such love to your enemies,
You have also enjoined the same love upon your friends.

My good Lord,
With what affection should I think of your love
Which is beyond measure?
What return shall I make for your boundless gifts?
For your loving kindness is beyond all telling,
The greatness of your gift surpasses all return.
Then what return shall I make
To him who created me and re-created me?
To him who has had mercy on me and redeemed me?
O God, you are my God,
My goods are nothing unto you,
For the whole world is yours and all that is in it.

Then what shall I, a beggar and poor,
A creeping thing of dust,
What return can I make to my God,
Except to obey his commandments, that we love one another…

You know, Lord, that I prize this love which you command,
I hold this love dear, and long for this charity.
This I ask, this I seek.
For this your poor man, your beggar,
Beats and clamors at the gate of your mercy.
And now, insofar as I have already received
The sweet alms you freely give,
I love all men, in you and for your sake
Though not so much as I ought or as I desire.
I pray your mercy upon all men,
Yet there are many whom I hold more dear
Since your love has impressed them upon my heart
With a closer and more intimate love,
So that I desire their love more eagerly -
I would pray more ardently for these –

Saint Anselm (+ 1109) was an abbot, bishop, philosopher, and theologian.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Address to Young People

Here is the text of the Holy Father's Address to Young People and Seminarians. An excerpt:

My own years as a teenager were marred by a sinister regime that thought it had all the answers; its influence grew – infiltrating schools and civic bodies, as well as politics and even religion – before it was fully recognized for the monster it was. It banished God and thus became impervious to anything true and good. Many of your grandparents and great-grandparents will have recounted the horror of the destruction that ensued. Indeed, some of them came to America precisely to escape such terror.

Let us thank God that today many people of your generation are able to enjoy the liberties which have arisen through the extension of democracy and respect for human rights. Let us thank God for all those who strive to ensure that you can grow up in an environment that nurtures what is beautiful, good, and true: your parents and grandparents, your teachers and priests, those civic leaders who seek what is right and just.

The power to destroy does, however, remain. To pretend otherwise would be to fool ourselves. Yet, it never triumphs; it is defeated...


What might that darkness be? What happens when people, especially the most vulnerable, encounter a clenched fist of repression or manipulation rather than a hand of hope? A first group of examples pertains to the heart. Here, the dreams and longings that young people pursue can so easily be shattered or destroyed. I am thinking of those affected by drug and substance abuse, homelessness and poverty, racism, violence, and degradation – especially of girls and women. While the causes of these problems are complex, all have in common a poisoned attitude of mind which results in people being treated as mere objects ─ a callousness of heart takes hold which first ignores, then ridicules, the God-given dignity of every human being. Such tragedies also point to what might have been and what could be, were there other hands – your hands – reaching out. I encourage you to invite others, especially the vulnerable and the innocent, to join you along the way of goodness and hope.

The second area of darkness – that which affects the mind – often goes unnoticed, and for this reason is particularly sinister. The manipulation of truth distorts our perception of reality, and tarnishes our imagination and aspirations. I have already mentioned the many liberties which you are fortunate enough to enjoy. The fundamental importance of freedom must be rigorously safeguarded. It is no surprise then that numerous individuals and groups vociferously claim their freedom in the public forum. Yet freedom is a delicate value. It can be misunderstood or misused so as to lead not to the happiness which we all expect it to yield, but to a dark arena of manipulation in which our understanding of self and the world becomes confused, or even distorted by those who have an ulterior agenda.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Text: Pope Benedict's Homily

The New York Times provides the text of the Holy Father's homily at St. Patrick's Cathedral.

And, it appears the Mass'keteers are settling on a commentator of choice, Amy Welborn, who writes on Vintage Benedict and his “teachable moments."

UPDATE: Father James Martin calls this homily by Benedict "one of the best sermons ever. Period," in his NYT piece, Are You Weak Enough to be Pope?

Amy Welborn sums it up well

Amy Welborn revisits what she wrote on the one year anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI.

There are enormous problems in our Church and in our world. Some of us wish there would simply be some concerted head-knocking to take care of it all. But Benedict knows history, and he also knows what is at the heart of our problems: we have turned from Christ. Even in our Church, our fundamental problem is that too many of us have argued ourself out of serious, commmitted belief in Jesus Christ, modulating and contextualizing it to the point of emptiness. Too many of us have put ourselves at the center of this enterprise rather than Christ. Too many of us have simply sold out to whatever culture that surrounds us, letting it be our Lord, not Jesus Christ.

I have no great statements about his impact on the Curia or the bishops’ conferences or liturgical life or diplomacy. What I have heard over and over this year is a wise father gently, surely re-grounding us in Scripture and the witness there, as well as in the voices and art and holiness of Christians through the ages, articulating what we know is true about the strains, temptations and deserts in our lives, weaving it all together and in rather startling simplicity, pointing us to Jesus.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Bush Calls Pope Visit 'Unbelievable' use his (Pope Benedict XVI's words) "each of us is willed; each of us is loved; and each of us is necessary."

Pope Benedict Addresses the United Nations

Short excerpt on Pope Benedict XVI's address to the UN today.

Benedict XVI to the United Nations

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf at What Does the Prayer Really Say has the Holy Father’s address to the United Nations here. Fr Z gives his commentary in red.

Luciferian Logic

Borrowing the phrase "luciferian logic" from mentor and friend Gil Bailie, I post this from the honorable Senator Barack Obama, who says that A domestic terrorist is like pro-life Senator. Mark Shea would place this kind of thinking in the "Sin makes you stupid" category. While Shea is correct, Obama's statement also displays the way the sacrificial mechanism of our age generates its own justifying mythology, giving the minimalist ritual of abortion an aura of righteousness.

But, being a good "progressive", Mr. Obama doesn't know that he is simply a mouthpiece for the modern recrudescence of the primitive Sacred. Sadly, neither do millions who support him for president of the United States of America.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Whapping Good Time

Coverage of the Holy Father’s Day in Washington by the Holy Whapping boys. Ah! What would we do without them?

Resource Guides for Teachers, Catechists and Youth Ministers

It is all what we would call, a teaching moment. Check the site out: "Catechesis on the papacy is an integral part of planning for the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United States in April. The Archdiocese of Washington, in collaboration with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat for Evangelization and Catechesis, has created resource guides to support the work of teachers, catechists and youth ministers. These materials offer direction and referenced suggestions for the development of two to five hours of grade appropriate and parish/school appropriate lessons focused on the papacy and the papal visit. They also include material suitable for adults."

Conversion -- setting the heart on fire -- so often we struggle, at least we give ample excuse for not being on fire with our faith, when we are charged to help pass on the faith to another... This week we are being given all sorts of opportunities to express what all long for in their hearts -- faith, hope and love. So with proper guidance and understanding of the Sacramental Life we can help instruct our youth to be filled with the joy so abundantly displayed by our Holy Father this week.

From Pope Benedict XVI’s Address to the U.S. Bishops April 16 -- Part 5

Post 5 on his comments during the address to the US Bishops last night. (The phrases italicized and colorized are my emphasis.)

Christ is the Savior of the world, ..., we cannot separate our love for him from our commitment to the building up of the Church and the extension of his Kingdom. (Sounds much like Francis' vision at the dilapidated church at San Damiano.) and hope are not limited to this world: as theological virtues, they unite us with the Lord and draw us toward the fulfillment not only of our personal destiny but also that of all creation. Faith and hope are the inspiration and basis of our efforts to prepare for the coming of the Kingdom of God. In Christianity, there can be no room for purely private religion: Christ is the Savior of the world, and, as members of his Body and sharers in his prophetic, priestly and royal munera, we cannot separate our love for him from our commitment to the building up of the Church and the extension of his Kingdom. To the extent that religion becomes a purely private affair, it loses its very soul.

From Pope Benedict XVI’s Address to the U.S. Bishops April 16 -- Part 4

Post 4 on his comments during the address to the US Bishops last night. (The phrases italicized and colorized are my emphasis.)

the Church needs to promote...the truth of Christian revelation, the harmony of faith and reason, and a sound understanding of freedom...

... secularism challenges the Church to reaffirm and to pursue more actively her mission in and to the world. As the Council made clear, the lay faithful have a particular responsibility in this regard. What is needed, I am convinced, is a greater sense of the intrinsic relationship between the Gospel and the natural law on the one hand, and, on the other, the pursuit of authentic human good, as embodied in civil law and in personal moral decisions. In a society that rightly values personal liberty, the Church needs to promote at every level of her teaching - in catechesis, preaching, seminary and university instruction - an apologetics aimed at affirming the truth of Christian revelation, the harmony of faith and reason, and a sound understanding of freedom, seen in positive terms as a liberation both from the limitations of sin and for an authentic and fulfilling life. In a word, the Gospel has to be preached and taught as an integral way of life, offering an attractive and true answer, intellectually and practically, to real human problems. The “dictatorship of relativism”, in the end, is nothing less than a threat to genuine human freedom, which only matures in generosity and fidelity to the truth.

Much more, of course, could be said on this subject: let me conclude, though, by saying that I believe that the Church in America, at this point in her history, is faced with the challenge of recapturing the Catholic vision of reality and presenting it, in an engaging and imaginative way, to a society which markets any number of recipes for human fulfillment. I think in particular of our need to speak to the hearts of young people, who, despite their constant exposure to messages contrary to the Gospel, continue to thirst for authenticity, goodness and truth. Much remains to be done, particularly on the level of preaching and catechesis in parishes and schools, if the new evangelization is to bear fruit for the renewal of ecclesial life in America.

From Pope Benedict XVI’s Address to the U.S. Bishops April 16 -- Part 3

My third post on his comments during the address to the US Bishops last night. (The phrases italicized and colorized are my emphasis.)

the gradual opening of the minds and hearts of the wider community to moral truth...

Clearly, the Church’s influence on public debate takes place on many different levels. In the United States, as elsewhere, there is much current and proposed legislation that gives cause for concern from the point of view of morality, and the Catholic community, under your guidance, needs to offer a clear and united witness on such matters. Even more important, though, is the gradual opening of the minds and hearts of the wider community to moral truth. Here much remains to be done. Crucial in this regard is the role of the lay faithful to act as a “leaven” in society. Yet it cannot be assumed that all Catholic citizens think in harmony with the Church’s teaching on today’s key ethical questions. Once again, it falls to you to ensure that the moral formation provided at every level of ecclesial life reflects the authentic teaching of the Gospel of life.

From Pope Benedict XVI’s Address to the U.S. Bishops April 16 -- Part 2

My second post on his comments during the address to the US Bishops last night. (The phrases italicized and colorized are my emphasis.)

importance of providing sound formation in the faith cannot be overstated...

Here in America, you are blessed with a Catholic laity of considerable cultural diversity, who place their wide-ranging gifts at the service of the Church and of society at large. They look to you to offer them encouragement, leadership and direction. In an age that is saturated with information, the importance of providing sound formation in the faith cannot be overstated. American Catholics have traditionally placed a high value on religious education, both in schools and in the context of adult formation programs. These need to be maintained and expanded. The many generous men and women who devote themselves to charitable activity need to be helped to renew their dedication through a “formation of the heart”: an “encounter with God in Christ which awakens their love and opens their spirits to others” (Deus Caritas Est, 31). At a time when advances in medical science bring new hope to many, they also give rise to previously unimagined ethical challenges. This makes it more important than ever to offer thorough formation in the Church’s moral teaching to Catholics engaged in health care. Wise guidance is needed in all these apostolates, so that they may bear abundant fruit; if they are truly to promote the integral good of the human person, they too need to be made new in Christ our hope.

From Pope Benedict XVI’s Address to the U.S. Bishops April 16 -- Part 1

We are being blessed with much to discern; to nurture; and to grow in the spirit by way of Pope Benedict XVI's visit and words. I thought I would post a few of his comments during the address to the US Bishops last night. (The phrases italicized and colorized are my emphasis.)

Clearing away some of the barriers...

It is in this fertile soil, nourished from so many different sources, that all of you, Brother Bishops, are called to sow the seeds of the Gospel today. This leads me to ask how, in the twenty-first century, a bishop can best fulfill the call to “make all things new in Christ, our hope”? How can he lead his people to “an encounter with the living God”, the source of that life-transforming hope of which the Gospel speaks (cf. Spe Salvi, 4)? Perhaps he needs to begin by clearing away some of the barriers to such an encounter. While it is true that this country is marked by a genuinely religious spirit, the subtle influence of secularism can nevertheless color the way people allow their faith to influence their behavior. Is it consistent to profess our beliefs in church on Sunday, and then during the week to promote business practices or medical procedures contrary to those beliefs? Is it consistent for practicing Catholics to ignore or exploit the poor and the marginalized, to promote sexual behavior contrary to Catholic moral teaching, or to adopt positions that contradict the right to life of every human being from conception to natural death? Any tendency to treat religion as a private matter must be resisted. Only when their faith permeates every aspect of their lives do Christians become truly open to the transforming power of the Gospel.

For an affluent society, a further obstacle to an encounter with the living God lies in the subtle influence of materialism, which can all too easily focus the attention on the hundredfold, which God promises now in this time, at the expense of the eternal life which he promises in the age to come (cf. Mk 10:30). People today need to be reminded of the ultimate purpose of their lives. They need to recognize that implanted within them is a deep thirst for God. They need to be given opportunities to drink from the wells of his infinite love. It is easy to be entranced by the almost unlimited possibilities that science and technology place before us; it is easy to make the mistake of thinking we can obtain by our own efforts the fulfillment of our deepest needs. This is an illusion. Without God, who alone bestows upon us what we by ourselves cannot attain (cf. Spe Salvi, 31), our lives are ultimately empty. People need to be constantly reminded to cultivate a relationship with him who came that we might have life in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10). The goal of all our pastoral and catechetical work, the object of our preaching, and the focus of our sacramental ministry should be to help people establish and nurture that living relationship with “Christ Jesus, our hope” (1 Tim 1:1).

In a society which values personal freedom and autonomy, it is easy to lose sight of our dependence on others as well as the responsibilities that we bear towards them. This emphasis on individualism has even affected the Church (cf. Spe Salvi, 13-15), giving rise to a form of piety which sometimes emphasizes our private relationship with God at the expense of our calling to be members of a redeemed community. Yet from the beginning, God saw that “it is not good for man to be alone” (Gen 2:18). We were created as social beings who find fulfillment only in love - for God and for our neighbor. If we are truly to gaze upon him who is the source of our joy, we need to do so as members of the people of God (cf. Spe Salvi, 14). If this seems counter-cultural, that is simply further evidence of the urgent need for a renewed evangelization of culture.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Singing Unto the Lord

Like Mark Shea, I am no liturgical wit, nor claim to be. So when the Holy Father comes to town and celebrates Mass at the Nationals stadium, I will be delighted to hear the strains of Palestrina, Gregorian chant, or the Celtic alleluia. Being a convert not out of devotion to TLM, I, like my other Mass'keteer brothers, am the Pope's man. So sing and be joyful!

But if you want to do a little comparison shopping on melodies unto the Lord, the WaPo, surprisingly, has a very good piece here with Between Medieval And Folk, Two Mass Audiences, with a big hat tip to Amy Welborn.

Happy 81st Birthday

Shown here in a 1932 photo and then today April, 2008.

Full text of Pope Benedict's White House address

16 Apr 2008 15:01:36 GMT
Source: Reuters
WASHINGTON, April 16 (Reuters) - Following is the official text of Pope Benedict's address on Wednesday at the White House, where he was received by President George W. Bush on the first full day of his six-day visit to the United States.

The German-born pontiff addressed a crowd of 9,000 in the Rose Garden in English.

"Mr. President, thank you for your gracious words of welcome on behalf of the people of the United States of America. I deeply appreciate your invitation to visit this great country. My visit coincides with an important moment in the life of the Catholic community in America: the celebration of the two-hundredth anniversary of the elevation of the country's first Diocese -- Baltimore -- to a metropolitan Archdiocese, and the establishment of the Sees of New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Louisville. Yet I am happy to be here as a guest of all Americans. I come as a friend, a preacher of the Gospel and one with great respect for this vast pluralistic society. America's Catholics have made, and continue to make, an excellent contribution to the life of their country. As I begin my visit, I trust that my presence will be a source of renewal and hope for the Church in the United States, and strengthen the resolve of Catholics to contribute ever more responsibly to the life of this nation, of which they are proud to be citizens.proud to be citizens.

"From the dawn of the Republic, America's quest for freedom has been guided by the conviction that the principles governing political and social life are intimately linked to a moral order based on the dominion of God the Creator. The framers of this nation's founding documents drew upon this conviction when they proclaimed the "self-evident truth" that all men are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights grounded in the laws of nature and of nature's God. The course of American history demonstrates the difficulties, the struggles, and the great intellectual and moral resolve which were demanded to shape a society which faithfully embodied these noble principles. In that process, which forged the soul of the nation, religious beliefs were a constant inspiration and driving force, as for example in the struggle against slavery and in the civil rights movement. In our time too, particularly in moments of crisis, Americans continue to find their strength in a commitment to this patrimony of shared ideals and aspirations. of shared ideals and aspirations.

"In the next few days, I look forward to meeting not only with America's Catholic community, but with other Christian communities and representatives of the many religious traditions present in this country. Historically, not only Catholics, but all believers have found here the freedom to worship God in accordance with the dictates of their conscience, while at the same time being accepted as part of a commonwealth in which each individual and group can make its voice heard. As the nation faces the increasingly complex political and ethical issues of our time, I am confident that the American people will find in their religious beliefs a precious source of insight and an inspiration to pursue reasoned, responsible and respectful dialogue in the effort to build a more humane and free society.

"Freedom is not only a gift, but also a summons to personal responsibility. Americans know this from experience -- almost every town in this country has its monuments honoring those who sacrificed their lives in defense of freedom, both at home and abroad. The preservation of freedom calls for the cultivation of virtue, self-discipline, sacrifice for the common good and a sense of responsibility towards the less fortunate. It also demands the courage to engage in civic life and to bring one's deepest beliefs and values to reasoned public debate. In a word, freedom is ever new. It is a challenge held out to each generation, and it must constantly be won over for the cause of good. Few have understood this as clearly as the late Pope John Paul II. In reflecting on the spiritual victory of freedom over totalitarianism in his native Poland and in eastern Europe, he reminded us that history shows, time and again, that "in a world without truth, freedom loses its foundation," and a democracy without values can lose its very soul. Those prophetic words in some sense echo the conviction of President Washington, expressed in his Farewell Address, that religion and morality represent "indispensable supports" of political prosperity. values can lose its very soul. Those prophetic words in some sense echo the conviction of President Washington, expressed in his Farewell Address, that religion and morality represent "indispensable supports" of political prosperity.

"The Church, for her part, wishes to contribute to building a world ever more worthy of the human person, created in the image and likeness of God. She is convinced that faith sheds new light on all things, and that the Gospel reveals the noble vocation and sublime destiny of every man and woman. Faith also gives us the strength to respond to our high calling, and the hope that inspires us to work for an ever more just and fraternal society. Democracy can only flourish, as your founding fathers realized, when political leaders and those whom they represent are guided by truth and bring the wisdom born of firm moral principle to decisions affecting the life and future of the nation.

"For well over a century, the United States of America has played an important role in the international community. On Friday, God willing, I will have the honor of addressing the United Nations Organization, where I hope to encourage the efforts under way to make that institution an ever more effective voice for the legitimate aspirations of all the world's peoples. On this, the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the need for global solidarity is as urgent as ever, if all people are to live in a way worthy of their dignity -- as brothers and sisters dwelling in the same house and around that table which God's bounty has set for all his children. America has traditionally shown herself generous in meeting immediate human needs, fostering development and offering relief to the victims of natural catastrophes. I am confident that this concern for the greater human family will continue to find expression in support for the patient efforts of international diplomacy to resolve conflicts and promote progress. In this way, coming generations will be able to live in a world where truth, freedom and justice can flourish -- a world where the God-given dignity and rights of every man, woman and child are cherished, protected and effectively advanced.e conflicts and promote progress. In this way, coming generations will be able to live in a world where truth, freedom and justice can flourish -- a world where the God-given dignity and rights of every man, woman and child are cherished, protected and effectively advanced.

"Mr. President, dear friends: as I begin my visit to the United States, I express once more my gratitude for your invitation, my joy to be in your midst, and my fervent prayers that Almighty God will confirm this nation and its people in the ways of justice, prosperity and peace. God bless America!"

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Economics of Hope

G. K. Chesterton reminds us in his Short History of England that "The medievals not only had self-government, but their self-government was self-made. They did indeed as the central powers of the national monarchies grew stronger, seek and procure the stamp of state approval; but it was approval of a popular fact already in existence. Men banded together in guilds and parishes long before Local Government Acts were dreamed of. Like charity, which was worked in the same way, their Home Rule began at home" (Ch. 8 - The Meaning of Merry England).

Key words in the above are "guilds" and "parishes". The reason for this is that the men who shared the same confessor in their parish church, who received the panis angelicus from the same priest, whose children were baptized at the same font were not likely to break the ways of their guild or their parish. Chesterton does not say this in so many words, but the implication is clear.

Jump to the present -- over the making of nations, the Reformation (so-called), the destruction of the monasteries and guilds out of which grew economies and laws of Europe, the establishment of capitalism and socialism -- and we see an embittered age of "secularists" (coined by atheists who didn't even want reference to a deity in their name), pillage of the pensions of workers, the lack of ownership of property by teeming millions, and a western economy teetering on the brink in subservient dhimmitude to Middle Eastern oil countries that hold a scimitar in one hand and our leash in the other.

Oh, and did I mention an urge to create two vast central governments for the whole world -- the European Union and the United States of Mex-Can-America? Thing is, however, neither will look with even a furtive glance at what the words "guilds" and "parishes" imply. Rather, they appeal in a post-Reformation fashion to the principles of unbridled greed whose increase will, they hope, raise all boats ... except those belonging to useless riff raff: the unwanted unborn, the aged, infirm, and the like.

The only hope -- the only hope -- for the west is not a forlorn clinging to "western values" sans the faith that made the West; the only hope lies in a Prodigal Son-like return. Benedict XVI is bringing just such a message of hope to the United States this week. Will any listen to him and this message?

The Holy Father, State Power, and Hope

Pope Benedict XVI
Apostolic Journey to the United States
WHAT CHESTERTON SAYS about Saint Thomas of Canterbury and Henry II seems apropos to the reason why Benedict is coming with his message of hope to America.
It is always the first fact that escapes notice; and the first fact about the Church was that it created a machinery of pardon, where the State could only work with a machinery of punishment. It claimed to be a divine detective who helped the criminal to escape by a plea of guilty ... Our world, then, cannot understand St. Thomas, any more than St. Francis, without accepting very simply a flaming and even fantastic charity, by which the great Archbishop undoubtedly stands for the victims of this world, where the wheel of fortune grinds the faces of the poor. He may well have been too idealistic; he wished to protect the Church as a sort of earthly paradise, of which the rules might seem to him as paternal as those of heaven, but might well seem to the King as capricious as those of fairyland. But if the priest was too idealistic, the King was really too practical; it is intrinsically true to say he was too practical to succeed in practice ... He became lawless out of sheer love of law.
-- Short History of England
Benedict comes to America to remind us of exactly the same charity, mercy, forgiveness, and hope of God manifested in Jesus Christ our Lord -- a "fantastic charity" that states and even certain Scimitarists find ungodlike and unacceptable.

The Holy Spirit (Gr. Paraklete) is etymologically the "divine detective who helped the criminal to escape by a plea of guilty" and Benedict is coming to remind us of this extravagant hope of the Gospel. Sadly, states and governments and some religions only know how to punish by following the satanic (Gr. ha satan), accusatory principle "out of sheer love of law."

Though not able to thematize it this way, millions will feel and imbibe this message of hope that the Holy Father brings. God be with him and with us all.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Good Shepherd Sunday & World Day of Prayer for Vocations

Good Shepherd in the Roman Catacomb.
This Good Shepherd Sunday join in this World Day of Prayer for Vocations.

"I Have Chosen You"

The icon " I Have Chosen You " portrays many aspects of discerning a spiritual vocation. The title comes from the words of Jesus in the Gospel of John: "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide"
( 15:16 ).

In the icon, Christ is shown in dialogue with a man and a woman, representatives of all who are invited to serve through ordination or religious life.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

granny airbag

There is an important Gospel message in this short clip... can you find it?

Maddox Brown - PRB

Carrying Corn - Ford Maddox Brown (1854/5)

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Good News or Bad?

On a battlefield far, far away ... [h/t: Jawa]

Monday, April 07, 2008

New Springtime

Proof that one should never -- never -- fall into the sins of despair or presumption: Catholic website drawing thousands back to faith. [h/t: New Advent]

Visit Catholics Come Home -- you will be glad you dropped in. (Check out the "Epic" vid - Cheers!)

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Sunday Evening Intercessions - Families

Intercessions - Sunday Evening
To Christ, Emmanuel, whom the Virgin conceived and brought forth, let us give praise and pray to him:
Son of the Virgin Mary, hear us.
You gave Mary the joy of motherhood,
-- give all parents true joy in their children.
King of peace, your kingdom is one of justice and peace,
-- help us to seek the paths of peace.
You came to make the human race the holy people of God,
-- bring all nations to acknowledge the unifying bond of your love.
By your birth you strengthened family ties,
-- help families to come to a greater love for one another.
You desired to bve born into the days of time,
-- grant that our departed brothers and sisters may be born into the day of eternity.

Our Father ...

God our Father,
may we always profit by the prayers of the Virgin Mother Mary,
for you bring us life and salvation through Jesus Christ her Son
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

At the Breaking of the Bread

Emmaus - Rembrandt

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Some Concerns

One concern I have regarding Mr. Bailie's explication of the Church's message of hope and freedom versus the world's pale parody is found in his understanding of the sacraments. His understanding seems to take a cerebral approach rather than that of ex opere operato. Like St. Augustine's neo-Platonism, it skirts very narrowly a sort of Gnosticism.

When he says a solution to the worldly, "progressive" approach to a dereliction of Christian hope is found in the "sacramental", one would do well to ask: Are you talking about the normal, Mass-attending Christian who receives the Blessed Sacrament frequently, or are you talking about one who has a depth of reading, a florilegia of quotations of spiritual and anthropological writers, and perhaps contributes to a great non-profit?

One should compare the great Chesterton's understanding of the ”mystical materialism” of the Faith to Bailie's "sacramentalism".

Chivalry, the Grail, & the Round Table

A MYSTICAL MATERIALISM marked Christianity from its birth; the very soul of it was a body. Among the stoical philosophies and oriental negations that were its first foes it fought fiercely and particularly for a supernatural freedom to cure concrete maladies by concrete substances. Hence the scattering of relics was everywhere like the scattering of seed. All who took their mission from the divine tragedy bore tangible fragments which became the germs of churches and cities.

St. Joseph carried the cup which held the wine of the Last Supper and the blood of the Crucifixion to that shrine in Avalon which we now call Glastonbury; and it became the heart of a whole universe of legends and romances, not only for Britain but for Europe. Throughout this tremendous and branching tradition it is called the Holy Grail. The vision of it was especially the reward of that ring of powerful paladins whom King Arthur feasted at a Round Table, a symbol of heroic comradeship such as was afterwards imitated or invented by medieval knighthood. Both the cup and the table are of vast importance emblematically in the psychology of the chivalric experiment.

The idea of a round table is not merely universality but equality. It has in it, modified of course, by other tendencies to differentiation, the same idea that exists in the very word "peers," as given to the knights of Charlemagne. In this Round Table is as Roman as the round arch, which might also serve as a type; for instead of being one barbaric rock merely rolled on the others, the king was rather the keystone of an arch.

But to this tradition of a level of dignity was added something unearthly that was from Rome, but not of it; the privilege that inverted all privileges; the glimpse of heaven which seemed almost as capricious as fairyland; the flying chalice which was veiled from the highest of all the heroes, and which appeared to one knight who was hardly more than a child.

Rightly or wrongly, this romance established Britain for after centuries as a country with a chivalrous past. Britain had been a mirror of universal knighthood. This fact, is of colossal import in all ensuing affairs, especially the affairs of barbarians.
- G. K. Chesterton, Short History of England

Bailie - Talk on Freedom & Ontology

Gil Bailie, founder and president of The Cornerstone Forum spoke at Washington Theological Union in D. C. It is the first stop on his monthly circuit of Emmaus Road Initiative talks endeavoring to "inspire a wholehearted faith in a half-hearted age."

He traced the gradient of the West's relinquishing of what Henri DeLubac called "ontological density" and Gabriel Marcel deemed "ontological mooring" between the bookends of two sayings of Our Lord, the parable of theProdigal Son and the Vine and Branches discourse. "Without me," says Jesus, "you can do nothing." The paltry alternative, as we see around and within us, if we are honest, is multi-phrenic "scattering" in a misdirected effort somehow to "outdo" Christian freedom: a sad and shoddy parody that is singularly unsatisfying and the worst kind of slavery.

If you live close enough to one of the Emmaus Road Initiative venues, I heartily recommend you get by to hear him.

Priest Killed - Baghdad Today

Prayers for the most recent priest killed in a drive by shooting, Baghdad, Father Youssef Adel, Assyrian Orthodox Church.

"I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do..." - Jesus [Mt 12,04]

"For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then from my flesh I shall see God, who I shall see on my side" - Job [19,25]

3rd Sunday of Easter

Father Raniero Cantalamessa's commentary:
Jesus remains with us in two ways: in the Eucharist and in his word. He is present in both: in the Eucharist under the form of food, in the Word under the form of light and truth. The word has a great advantage over the Eucharist. Only those who already believe and are in a state of grace can receive communion; but everyone, believers and nonbelievers, married people and divorced people, can approach the word of God. Indeed, to become a believer, the most normal route is that of listening to God’s word. Read the rest …

Friday, April 04, 2008

Dawkins Vs. God

"Dicky D" putting it to those rascally believers! [h/t: Mark Shea]

The Ninth Day

Brother D'artagnan notified me of this "Man For All Seasons" sort of film based on the true story of a priest at Dachau, The Ninth Day (2004). Looks worth checking out.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Top Gear Guys & the Veyron

I just can't help it. I know it runs on fossil fuels from some terrorist sponsoring country, but I'm a guy.

The Violence of Double Standards

Joseph Bottum at First Things brings to the fore the raison d'être of Chronicles of Atlantis: Truth, Goodness, and Beauty - Some Things are Worthy Fighting For.
It’s old news that we have a double standard these days: People who attack and insult Christianity are brave—oh, so brave—transgressive artists, while people who attack and insult Islam are insensitive and bigoted. The legal blogger Eugene Volokh had an interesting note a while back, comparing editorials in the Boston Globe—the editorials the newspaper had run denouncing the Danish cartoons and the editorials it had run praising Piss Christ and the elephant-dung portrait of Mary. A more recent example comes from the comic writer Ben Elton, who this week denounced British television for censoring his scripts. “There is no doubt about it,” he told the Daily Telegraph, “the BBC will let vicar gags pass but they would not let imam gags pass.”

For a long time, I attributed all this to a weird kind of disbelief in the actual reality of Islam—or, at least, to the possibility of its achieving any significant success. A certain line of modernity has always aimed, as one of its fundamental projects, at the undoing of Christianity. And for that project, any stick is a good one, even an Islamic one.

[ ... ]

It’s easy to mock Christianity, because the people who do it know that the rioters aren’t actually going to come after them. They’re too Christian, and the Poor Clares aren’t actually going to start their commando training. But can we at least stop hearing about how brave people are when they insult Christianity and carefully—oh, so carefully—leave out Islam?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Literally Immersed in God - John Paul II

Do you remember where you were 3 years ago today? The memory of Pope John Paul II's passing will stay with my wife and I for a long time. We were at the Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago listening to a young child's baptism service when the priest informed everyone of Pope John Paul II's death. So the words of Pope Benedict XVI today ring loud and clear for me. May we take to heart the spirit of JPII and his sense of total immersion in the love of Christ that was so real for him.


VATICAN CITY, 2 APR 2008 (VIS) - In St. Peter's Square at 10.30 a.m. today, Benedict XVI presided at a Eucharistic celebration to mark the third anniversary of the death of Servant of God John Paul II. Members of the College of Cardinals concelebrated with the Holy Father.

Addressing the more than 40,000 people present, the Pope in his homily returned to the hours following the news of John Paul II's death on 2 April 2005, recalling the innumerable faithful who prayed before his body and participated in the funeral.

"Among the many human and supernatural qualities" of the late Pontiff, Benedict XVI mentioned "that of an exceptional spiritual and mystical sensibility. It sufficed to watch him as he prayed: he literally immersed himself in God and, during those moments, it seemed as if everything else was foreign to him. ... The Mass - as he often said - was for him the focal point of every day and of his entire life. The 'living and holy' reality of the Eucharist gave him the spiritual energy to guide the People of God along the path of history".

After recalling how John Paul II died on the eve of the second Sunday of Easter, the Holy Father highlighted how the late Pope's pontificate, "both as a whole and in many specific moments, appears to us as a sign and testimony of Christ's resurrection. The paschal dynamism which rendered John Paul II's existence a complete response to the call of the Lord, could not be expressed without his participation in the suffering and death of the divine Master and Redeemer".

Pope Benedict pointed out that the words from the Gospel that figured in today's Mass - the "do not be afraid" addressed by the angel to the women at the empty tomb - "became, from the solemn beginnings of his Petrine ministry, a kind of motto on the lips of Pope John Paul II".

He always pronounced these words "with unbending firmness, at first while carrying his bishop's staff with its cross and later, when his physical strength was waning, almost while supporting himself on it, until that final Good Friday in which he participated in the Way of the Cross from his private chapel, holding the cross in his arms. ... That eloquent scene of human suffering and faith ... revealed to believers and to the whole world the secret of an entire Christian life".

As little by little the late Polish Pontiff "lost everything, in the end even the power of speech, his trust in Christ became increasingly evident. As it was with Jesus, so with John Paul II, in the end words gave way to the extreme sacrifice, to the gift of self. Death was the seal of an existence entirely donated to Christ, conformed to Him even in physical terms, in his suffering and faithful abandonment in the arms of the heavenly Father".

The Holy Father also reminded those present that today marks the opening of the First World Apostolic Congress on Divine Mercy, which aims to study Pope John Paul's "rich Magisterium on this subject.

"God's mercy", Pope Benedict explained, "is a good key to understanding John Paul II's pontificate. He wanted the message of God's merciful love to reach all mankind and exhorted the faithful to bear witness to it".

"Servant of God John Paul II personally knew and experienced the immense tragedies of the 20th century, and for a long time he asked himself what could stem the tide of evil. The answer could not but be in the love of God. In fact, only Divine Mercy is capable of limiting evil; only God's all-powerful love can overcome the arrogance of the wicked, and the destructive power of selfishness and hatred".

The Holy Father gave thanks to the Lord "for having given the Church this faithful and courageous servant" and to the Virgin Mary "for having incessantly watched over his person and his ministry". He also asked John Paul II "to continue to intercede from heaven for each of us, and particularly for me whom Providence has called to take up his priceless spiritual legacy.

"May the Church", Pope Benedict added in conclusion, "following his teaching and example, continue in her evangelising mission faithfully and without compromise, tirelessly spreading Christ's merciful love, source of true peace for the whole world".

Emmaus Road Initiative, Etc.

GIL BAILIE, President and founder of the Cornerstone Forum, posts on vital articles by Father Samir Khalil Samir, SJ and Roy O. Brown here.

While I'm speaking of Mr. Bailie, he will be appearing this Saturday morning at Washington Theological Union at 9:30 a.m. as part of his cross-country speaking engagement forum, Emmaus Road Initiative - Inspiring a Wholehearted Faith in a Half-hearted Age. I encourage you to come, enjoy light refreshments (coffee, pastries) and thoughtful and faithful commentary for concerned Christians.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The community of believers was of one heart and mind

Today's reading from Acts 4:32.37 begins with a most important line: "The community of believers was of one heart and mind,..."

We rarely ponder the origins of anything anymore. How did a community come into existence? How did they become of one heart and mind? The human event, the gathering principle, at the beginning of all cultures, of all peoples, and of all times had been so powerful, so cathartic, so as to bring all to one heart and mind was always at the expense of the sacrificial victim. Check it out by picking up Gil Bailie's book, Violence Unveiled and reading it today.

So the text is telling us that something new has begun with this small band of believers.

"With great power the Apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus,..."

A new calling has gone out to rally people together under one heart and mind and that is Our Lord and Risen Savior, Jesus Christ.

There IS something new here.