Sunday, August 31, 2008

Misconceptions Re: Catholic Church Abound

Anna's Conversion "The Catholic Church is completely centered around Jesus." [h/t: Catholic Tube]

No PickNPay Catholic Moral Theology

Father Thomas D. Williams expresses powerfully and unequivocally the reasons why - and for how long - the moral teaching of the Catholic Church has been pro-life and anti-abortion:
You are unlikely to ever come upon a group called Mohammedans for Polytheism or Environmentalists for Seal Slaughter. A Muslim who espouses a multiplicity of deities has, ipso facto, placed himself outside the Muslim confession. Polytheism is not an Islamic thing. An environmentalist who patronizes anti-ecological activities is not an environmentalist at all, but a subversive. This is because the monikers “Muslim” and “environmentalist” mean something; they carry with them a series of necessary consequences. Certain terms — like “Muslim” and “polytheism” — simply can’t be squared, and combining them is nonsensical.

The recent ecclesiastical backlash to Nancy Pelosi’s unfortunate remarks on Meet the Press should have surprised no one, least of all Speaker Pelosi herself. Her attempts to squeeze abortion rights into Catholic moral teaching were no more credible than trying to pass apartheid off as a legitimate goal of the civil rights movement. The bishops — some seven have weighed in on the matter so far — had no choice but to speak out ...

Some people think that when Catholics compare abortion to slavery or to Nazi anti-Semitism they are engaging in hyperbole. They couldn’t be more wrong. Abortion is not only the greatest social injustice of our century; it is arguably the greatest social injustice of all time. Abortion circumscribes an entire class of human beings (the unborn) as non-citizens, excluded from the basic rights and protections accorded to all other human beings. In this way abortion mimics the great moral tragedies of all time, which always began with the denigration of an entire class of people as unworthy of life or freedom.

The evil of abortion is compounded by the magnitude of the problem. Though completely reliable statistics are unavailable, conservative estimates place the number of legal abortions performed worldwide each year at 25-30 million, a figure that alone makes abortion a social problem of staggering proportions. “Humanity today offers us a truly alarming spectacle,” wrote Pope John Paul in his 1995 encyclical letter Evangelium Vitae, “if we consider not only how extensively attacks on life are spreading but also their unheard of numerical proportion.” The legal, systematic elimination of the most vulnerable members of society is the most heinous crime known to man. To fail to oppose it is to make oneself complicit in it.

The most disturbing element of Speaker Pelosi’s comments, however, was not her historical fudging, her disingenuous misrepresentation of Catholic moral teaching or her implicit adoption of cafeteria Catholicism. It was her insouciant dismissal of the moral significance of abortion. She said that in the end, it didn’t matter when life begins anyway. Her exact words were: “The point is, is that it [when life begins] shouldn’t have an impact on the woman’s right to choose.” No matter when human life begins, a mother’s right trumps a baby’s, and that right includes the choice to destroy the child. This is irreconcilable not only with Catholic morality, but with the most basic natural ethics.

Read all of Don’t Blame the Bishops – Catholic means pro-life [h/t: New Advent]

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra

Whatsa Post-Denominationalist

John L. Allen, Jr. informs you. [h/t: New Advent]

Palin's Nickname "Sarah Barracuda" did not come Lately

Palin was the point guard and captain for the Wasilla High School Warriors, in Wasilla, Alaska, when they won the Alaska small-school basketball championship in 1982; she earned the nickname “Sarah Barracuda” because of her intense play. She played the championship game despite a stress fracture in her ankle, hitting a critical free throw in the last seconds. Palin, who was also the head of the school Fellowship of Christian Athletes, would lead the team in prayer before games.

tip from Financial Beast - A Blog about The US Economy

Palin - Energy, Biden, & National Security

[h/t: The Anchoress]

Friday, August 29, 2008

Vote Strong - Vote Culture of Life

Sucking all the hot air out of Mile-High Stadium

Can't you just hear that sucking sound re-directing what thin air there was in Denver out east to Minneapolis-Saint Paul?
Joe “Pit Bull” Biden…meet Sarah “Barracuda” Palin…
Link for more info here from American Thinker

Thursday, August 28, 2008

St. Augustine

“Even though a soul clings to things of beauty, if their beauty is outside God, the soul is riveted only upon sorrow.”

-St. Augustine

Wonderful article over at Chronicles

Check out Faith of Our Fathers over at Athos blog

Doctor of Grace and his Mother who Persevered

tip from and read more on St. Augustine at Doctors of the Catholic Church

Saint Augustine is the Doctor of Grace. He was a genius, although a genius to God means nothing. However, a holy genius means everything to God's mystical body. Grace enabled him to become a great spiritual lover and teacher. His conversion reveals God's bountiful grace. One of his famous sayings is: "Lord, give me what you ask of me and ask me what you will."

He is called the Doctor of Grace because of his miraculous transformation out of sin to the service of God's creatures. He served the church in Africa for many years as bishop with genuine love. His mother, St Monica, never stopped praying for him; a great model.

Those addicted to sin, fleeing from the church or decent principles or associated with immoral people, have a marvelous example to learn from in this great sinner turned saint. He discovered through prayer, change of heart and the holy influence of St Ambrose and others, to capture authentic a life of love and service toward others instead of a selfish love of life for himself.

"Augustine received a Christian education. His mother had him signed with the cross and enrolled among the catechumens. Once, when very ill, he asked for baptism, but, all danger being soon passed, he deferred receiving the sacrament, thus yielding to a deplorable custom of the times. His association with "men of prayer" left three great ideas deeply engraven upon his soul: a Divine Providence, the future life with terrible sanctions, and, above all, Christ the Saviour. "From my tenderest infancy, I had in a manner sucked with my mother's milk that name of my Saviour, Thy Son; I kept it in the recesses of my heart; and all that presented itself to me without that Divine Name, though it might be elegant, well written, and even replete with truth, did not altogether carry me away" (Confessions, I, iv). Quote taken from New Advent taken below, at the end.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sez You - Epistemological Power Grab

In the war of words presently being engaged by Speaker Pelosi, Vice President Candidate Biden, both cafeteria-style Catholics, and notable representatives of the Catholic Church, we see a battle for who will define the terms of discourse and carry the day in public debate about abortion. Distilled, the debate is over who can validly say with epistemological certainty what is true.

The Pelosi/Biden position is not only arrogant, cynical, and proud in the extreme, it is also one that knows what is up for grabs in the coming election: the most (worldly) powerful executive office in the world.

If the Catholic laity of America listen to their Church leaders, it may mean rejection of their candidate - a devout and pragmatic humanist, over-educated in the halls of secular higher academia, as well as ushered into realms of prestige and privilege by very dubious personages.

My hope and prayer is that American Catholics will realize the hubris of the grab by the Pelosi/Biden effort.

Catholic Moral Teaching & Abortion

Gil Bailie point out to the honorable Speaker of the House of Representatives that having five children has nothing to do with the price of tea in China.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

You Tell 'em, Big O

I ... just ... can't ... resist ... [h/t: Mark Shea]

Whatever is True, Whatever is Beautiful

A powerful testimony from Joe Esztherhas, writer of 'Basic Instinct':

Joe Eszterhas' latest book is a shocker, but not the kind that made him rich and famous.

The upcoming release from the man who penned dark thrillers such as Basic Instinct and Jagged Edge tells the story of his spiritual conversion and his newfound devotion to God and family.

In Crossbearer: A Memoir of Faith, to be published Sept. 2 by St. Martin's Press, Mr. Eszterhas describes how his life got turned around during the summer of 2001 ...

Mr. Eszterhas was diagnosed with throat cancer. Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic removed 80 percent of his larynx, put a tracheotomy tube in his throat, and told him he must quit drinking and smoking immediately.

At age 56, after a lifetime of wild living, Mr. Eszterhas knew it would be a struggle to change his ways.

One hot summer day after his surgery, walking through his tree-lined neighborhood in Bainbridge Township, Mr. Eszterhas reached a breaking point.

"I was going crazy. I was jittery. I twitched. I trembled. I had no patience for anything. … Every single nerve ending was demanding a drink and a cigarette," he wrote.

He plopped down on a curb and cried. Sobbed, even. And for the first time since he was a child, he prayed: "Please God, help me."

Mr. Eszterhas was shocked by his own prayer. Read all … [h/t: Spirit Daily]

Have we had enough of exhortations to be silent?

"We've had enough of exhortations to be silent! Cry out with a hundred thousand tongues. I see that the world is rotten because of silence."

Saint Catherine of Siena

I am intrigued by this quote. I have noticed it being used by many in their blogs, but I have not found a source for the quote. Does anyone have the story behind St. Catherine's reason for saying this? I have spent some time researching this quote and the closest I can come to it is the following: "Cry out as if you have a million voices;" Catherine tells us, for "it is silence which kills the world" (Letter 16 to a great prelate). It seems her outburst was directed at the cowardly silence of certain ministers of the Gospel who, in her opinion, ought to have been crying out loud and clear on behalf of truth and justice.

Love Fest, Death Fest

With the progressive, neo-pagan, glittering brouhaha going on in Denver, note well this splendid quote from Gil Bailie's "Two Thousand Years and No New Gods:"
One can’t help thinking of Damian Williams again: “’I was just caught up in the rapture.” The hope and joy and rapture that flooded the romantic soul of the English observer is the stuff of the primitive sacred. The time was ripe for a sacred charade. Robespierre, at this point little more than a tool of the mob violence, obliged as well as he could. Wells writes:

[Robespierre] induced the Convention to decree that France believed in a Supreme Being … In June he celebrated a great festival, the festival of his Supreme Being. There was a procession to the Champ de Mars, which he headed, brilliantly arrayed, bearing a great bunch of flowers and wheat-ears. Figures of inflammatory material, which represented Atheism and Vice, were solemnly burnt; then, by an ingenious mechanism, and with some slight creakings, an incombustible statue of Wisdom rose in their place.[17]

Perhaps we can let the reference to “some slight creakings” serve to remind us how contrived and inevitably futile was Robespierre’s blatant attempt to bring into the cultural life of Christian France one of the gods whose long absence Nietzsche was later to lament.
The observer of the Democratic National Convention would do well to recall these cautionary words of Bailie. The orgiastic love-feast seeks new victims under the banner of "Change". But the least victims continue to be murdered in abortuaries across the land because of the Democrats strong support of Roe v. Wade. [Thanks to brother Aramis for his research]

Truth in Politics (?*%?)


Father "Z" presents Archbishop Charles Chaput's expose of the naïve (?) thinking of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, along with his concise and witty comments.

Monday, August 25, 2008

2 - 4 - 6 - 8 - Who do we Oppose? (okay, so it don't rhyme)

Here you go ... Catholics Against Joe Biden and if your lapel needs a decorative ornament, may we suggest the stylish pin shown above.

Nichols pt 2 - Come to the Father

"Good reader, pass over the market opportunity to make yourself up, and allow grace to do it for you in the way the redemptive Creator, more intimate to you than you are to yourself, knows how. This is the wider room into which the saints and mystics of the Church invite you, where not even the sky is the limit."
- Aidan Nichols, Come to the Father

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Nichols - Tradition's Lines & Limits

BISHOPS OFTEN FEAR that insistence on the boundaries of doctrinal consciousness will generate unmanageable conflicts in the Church. One could as cogently argue that it is the failure to demarcate limits that creates conflict. The seeming erasure or non-observance of boundaries creates dismay and anger among some, and false expectations that can never be satisfied among others. Where limits are permeable not only do they lose their function of identifying the Tradition, they also create unending and insoluble controversies (for a controversy could only be solved and brought to an end by the establishment of a fresh limit that was not permeable in this way). There is freedom of discussion for ways of improving the Tradition's transparency - but this must be judiciously distinguished from the obliteration of Tradition's lines. That is the necessary negative counsel: but positively - and here is where the emphasis should fall - we must do all in our power to stir up doctrinal consciousness, a Christian sensibility, by all the means - preaching, catechesis, apologetics, art and the novel, hagiology - that are in our power.
- Aidan Nichols, Christendom Awake!

Fetal Mistakes for BHO

Chris Pearson at The Australian discusses BHO's "fetal mistake:"
Widely syndicated columnist Linda Chavez argued two weeks ago that Obama's Illinois voting record would come back to haunt him and pointed out that, with his black liberation church affiliations, he had even less grounds than Kerry for taking Catholic support for granted. "Barack Obama has a Catholic problem. If he doesn't do better than John Kerry did in 2004 with this quintessential swing voting bloc, he won't be elected ... Catholics are by no means a single-issue voting group. But for observant Catholics, those who attend mass regularly and follow the church's teachings, a candidate's position on abortion matters."
Regardless of how daunting it may appear to have a strongly pro-abortion , cafeteria-style Catholic like Joe Biden as a running-mate, the block of faithful Catholics alluded to above know a mortal sin when they see one, thankfully. [h/t: Real Clear Religion & David Hartline]

But if worse comes to worse, and an unrepentant Obama/Biden ticket should gain the White House, then, as Karen Hall rightly warns us, We deserve whatever happens to us.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Hail Holy Queen - Mater amata intermeratta

Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.

Up Yours - Scientifically Speaking

Rhinotillexomania - Learn all about it here!
[h/t: Arts & Letters Daily]

Who Do YOU Say That I Am?

Gospel Commentary for 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

By Father Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap

ROME, AUG. 22, 2008 ( There is a practice in today’s culture and society that can help us toward understanding this Sunday’s Gospel: opinion polls.

These are conducted everywhere, especially in the political and commercial spheres. One day Jesus also wanted to do an opinion poll, but, as we shall see, for a different purpose. He did it not for political reasons, but for educational ones.

Having arrived in Caesarea Philippi, that is, in the northernmost region of Israel, and taking a little rest alone with the apostles, Jesus asks them, point blank, “Who do people say that the son of man is?”

It seems that the apostles were not expecting to be asked more than to report what people were saying of him. They answered: "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

But Jesus was not interested in measuring his popularity or in looking for an index of how well he was regarded by the people. His purpose was entirely different. So he immediately followed his first question with a second: “Who do you say that I am?"

This second, unexpected question catches them completely off guard. There is silence and they stand looking at each other. In the Greek it makes it clear that all of the apostles together responded to the first question and that only one person, namely, Simon Peter, responded to the second question: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!”

Between the two responses there is a leap over an abyss, a “conversion.” To answer the first question it was only necessary to look around, to have listened to people’s opinions. But to answer the second question, it was necessary to look inside, to listen to a completely different voice, a voice that was not of flesh and blood but of the Father in heaven.
Read all …

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sister Act 2 - Oh Happy Day

I could use a happy day.

The Job of Her People

Just like being in a diving sphere over the mid-ocean ridge in the Atlantic Ocean, we see here a tectonic plate boundary of the human spirit in this article by Mary Jordan, Searching for Freedom, Chained by the Law:
RAWALPINDI, Pakistan -- Naheed Arshad, her bright green head scarf framing dull, brown eyes, had just endured nine months in prison on a charge of adultery.

"My husband accused me of having an affair," said Arshad, 35, her hand covering her mouth as she spoke quietly of the serious criminal charge that has disgraced her.

After a judge acquitted her in May, she joined thousands of other women living in a growing network of government and private shelters. She spends her days cooking, sewing and sad; despite the judge's verdict, the shame of the charge has narrowed her already-limited options in life.

It is rare for a Pakistani woman accused of having illicit sex to talk publicly or allow herself to be photographed. But Arshad spoke freely about once taboo subjects, saying repeatedly, "I have done nothing wrong."

"Why do I suffer?" Arshad asked. "It is just not fair."

Like Job of the Old Testament, Arshad knows she has done nothing wrong in the sight of God or human beings. But the accusation, which in itself has brought shame and degradation, stands like a hangman's scaffold before her, points toward her, scapegoats her.

Here we see most clearly the way that the Gospel is at work in the world and in history ... yes, even and most especially in the lands of the Scimitar. The article dithers into unhelpful eddies of liberal "social justice" the same way some priests turn up their noses at their own people in the forlorn mission fields of western nihilism and pine for southern Latin climes romanticized by Henri Nouwen. But the message is clear: the Paraklete is at work. Today. Even in the unjustly, even satanically, tautologically accused poor woman, Arshad.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Girard - Why only in the Christian tradition?

René Girard in I See Satan Fall Like Lightning pp 186-187.

Why is the true principle of demystification stated fully only in one religious tradition, the Christian tradition? Isn't this intolerably unfair in the era of "pluralism" and "multiculturalism"? Isn't the main thing to make no one jealous or envious? Aren't we supposed to sacrifice truth to the peace of the world in order to avoid the terrible wars of religion for which we must get ready everywhere, so it is said, if we are going to defend what we believe to be the truth?

To respond to these questions I will let Giuseppe Fornari speak:

The fact that we possess a cognitive tool unknown to the Greeks does not mean we have the right to think ourselves better than they and the same is true in regard to non-Christian cultures. Christianity's power of penetration has not been its particular cultural identity but its capacity to redeem the whole history of man, summing up and surpassing all its sacrificial forms. This is the real spiritual metalanguage that can describe and go beyond the language of violence.... This explains the prodigiously rapid spread of Christianity in the pagan world, absorbing the living force of its symbols and customs.

The Giuseppe Fornari quote is from "Labyrinthine Strategies of Sacrifice: The Cretans by Euripides," Contagion (spring 1997): 187.

War for the White House

Latest Poll Reveals 430 New Demographics That Will Decide Election
Try distinguishing real news to Onion News - I don't think you can. "Its going to come down to whether they will vote from their wallets or their conscience."

To provide YOU our faithful bloggers with an appropriate voters' guideline, we at the Four Mass'keteers have provided a link to a previous post that should help sweep away the confusion.

“Conscience always requires serious attempts to make sound moral judgments based on the truths of our faith." Link here.

And remember Don't Let the Turkeys get to you - TURN YOUR TV OFF.

hat tip to Mark Shea

A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States

"... responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation.."
Washington DC, Aug 19, 2008 / 04:27 pm (CNA).- The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is encouraging Catholics across America to pray a novena for life, justice, and peace called ‘Novena for Faithful Citizenship’ before the elections in November.

In a press release from the USCCB, Joan Rosenhauer, Associate Director for the USCCB's Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development, explained that this timely novena is a component of "the bishops' campaign to help Catholics develop well-formed consciences for addressing political and social questions."

Additionally, in November 2007, the bishops issued their statement on forming consciences for faithful citizenship. It states, “Conscience always requires serious attempts to make sound moral judgments based on the truths of our faith."

The novena will be available for download until the election at

For other Faithful Citizenship resources, visit

hat tip to Thomas Peters at American Papist

Wurth-Thomas Reports on a Little of the Hidden Poverty in China

Christin Wurth-Thomas is competing in the women's 1,500-meter run with the semi-finals on Thursday. She shares a bit of her experiences in this Beijing update.

I have had the opportunity to explore some of China in the last few days. I went to a place called the silk market and wow it was a giant flee market. It was really quite fun though because it's like a competition to negotiate the best price.

Of course, the competitor that I am, I had a blast to see how low they would go. I ended up doing quite well. I had so much fun negotiating I almost stopped caring about the product. (I add this comment - she describes the phenomenon of the mimetic theory so well here.)

The first day my coach arrived and he took me on the streets to run, which was awesome because I had been running basically around a track and one building, feeling like a caged up animal -- so we asked for directions to a park and they lead us to somewhere around a creek. My coach first decided to wait on a corner for me and told me to run down the alley to the next bridge and come back on the other side. So I took off and as I got further along the areas surrounding me started looking worse and worse. I was surprised to see the poverty that the China government has worked so hard to hide. Being female and running by myself I was somewhat scared so when I returned to my coach after an 8-minute I explained I wasn't going back down there; so we headed a different direction.

From that point I wasn't going anywhere on my own and decided my coach could walk. Something I have done on trips in unfamiliar towns with my dad is I will run a long block, turn around, run past him, turn around and run back to the end of the long block. Usually I get in three straights while he walks one, so this was the new approach.

A few minutes later I found a great square block, where the taxi drivers took their breaks. I think I did about 5 or 6 loops to the point the taxi drivers tried to start talking to me, even though I had no idea what they were saying. After this adventure I bought a mini pink bike for my coach to ride behind me. Yesterday he was riding behind me and made the comment he never though he would have imagined riding a pink clown bike in the middle of Beijing. HAHAHA! I will have to get a picture today.

Well, my family and husband get in tonight and I can't wait. I don't have to be Harry Potter living in a cupboard under the stairwell. Somehow my roommate and I ended up getting the smallest room (we think it will be turned into the laundry room). Luckily my roommate is one of my best friends (April). If I didn't know my roommate, I would be in some serious trouble. However, it has been challenging even for us. Well, I have to go run. I will write more later.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Don't Let the Turkeys

As I warned earlier, the mimetic swirl of Presidential politics is nearing its hypnotic state in which nearly all caught in its vortex are in danger of losing ontological and epistemological footing. The best advice now is simply to cling to Peter's Barque, the holy Catholic Church's teachings, receive the Blessed Sacrament frequently, love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength - and your neighbor as yourself, and listen to something soothing and beautiful as you read a good book.

Oh, and, turn off the TV.

The Story of a Sign


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Truth Not Up for Election

In the slow and seemingly inexorable build up to Election Day, November 4, 2008, one already perceives the nimble and subtle "luciferian logic" (Bailie) being engaged by the men - and women - in the backrooms/war rooms of the Democratic and Republican parties.

It will feel - feel, mind you - to concerned women and men of the Catholic faith that worldly powers vaster and more powerful than the Church are at work swaying massive voting blocks with this and that set of carefully chosen messages and sound bytes gleaned from focus groups and PR "experts". The existential dread involved in this is very real and very present. Epistemological and ontological certainty has nothing to do with it. The outlines of what is going on can be read with great insight in the classic study by Elias Canetti, Crowds and Power.

But at the heart of each person within earshot of the political ads and massive demonstrations of support for presidential candidates is hard-wired our default awareness of the primitive sacred involved in this cultural ordering of power. And for one to understand fully what is happening in the soul of the United States, one must delve into the cultural anthropology of René Girard.

But one must also be conscious of the fact that by trying to set oneself apart from the cultural structures of the sacred, one "marks" oneself as an outsider and, as such, one becomes a potential victim of the crowd. William Golding aptly depicted this "outside-ness" in his character of Simon in Lord of the Flies.

As the ostensibly political process becomes more polarized, it becomes more dangerous to seem aloof from it, or to appear to try to understand the mimetic details involved. This is particularly so if one shares such info with a staunch supporter of one candidate or other. Being caught in a doubling rivalry with a supporter of the other candidate "makes sense". But to stand outside the fray can invite the accusatory gesture from one or other or both supporters of opposing rival parties, as Girard points out is already understood by the New Testament (cf. Matthew 22:21 and Luke 23:12).

The mystifying power of the primitive sacred contains various degrees of understanding, however. In other words, of course there is hypocrisy up and down the spectrum of seeing through the façade, and the making use of its power. The cleverest politicians know that people fear being victimized as they simultaneously promote this or that victim de jour who fits the bill to insure their successfully getting into office. But unseen by these strategists - or uncared about - is the number of victims created by championing this or that victim.

Since we know all this is going to take place regardless of whether we like it or not, given the fallen nature of humanity collectively and the mimetic contagion/fear of being victimized by individuals, here is a solution:

Reach out for the One Source of epistemological, anthropological, and ontological certitude: the Catholic Church. Yes, it makes astonishing truth claims. Yes, it says there is sin and indeed all of us are sinners. Yes, it assumes that it is hard becoming and remaining a follower of Jesus Christ, whom it claims is the Savior of the world. And yes, there are hard and fast walls separating truth from falsehood.

But wouldn't you really, truly like to know that truth is not up for grabs by the "winner" of the November election? Or the next? Or any election?

True Hope

h/t: Andrew Cusack

Friday, August 15, 2008

Pope B16 + René Girard > A Searching for the Luminous Arc Between Reason & Faith - Truth & Beauty

Matthew 22:37,40 -- And He said to him, " 'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' "This is the great and foremost commandment. "The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' "On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."

(above photo from Chronicles of Atlantis)

Pope Benedict XVI answering question 8/6/08, link here for full article.

Yes, I think that the two things go together: reason, precision, honesty in the reflection on truth, and beauty. A form of reason that in any way wanted to strip itself of beauty would be depleted, it would be blind...

And in the same way, if we contemplate the created beauties of the faith, these simply are, I would say, the living proof of faith. Take this beautiful cathedral: it is a living proclamation!

Without an intuition capable of discovering the true creative center of the world, this beauty cannot be created. For this reason, I think that we must always act in such a way that these two things go together, we must present them together. When, in our own time, we discuss the reasonableness of the faith, we are discussing precisely the fact that reason does not end where experimental discoveries end, it does not end in positivism; the theory of evolution sees the truth, but sees only half of it: it does not see that behind this is the Spirit of creation. We are fighting for the expansion of reason, and therefore for a form of reason that, exactly to the point, is open to beauty as well, and does not have to leave it aside as something completely different and irrational.

Gil Bailie "Let This Mind Be in You" tape 2

We have heard Matt 22:37,40 a million times, but I don’t think we have heard it enough, particularly the first commandment. He did not say to believe in God and love humanity. He did not say be nice and love others. He said these two go together and the first is to love God with all your heart, mind and soul. And the second is to love others as yourself.

Partly due to the romantic view of basic human benevolence, which was retailed by Rousseau, and partly due to the rationalistic, ‘where there is a will there is a way’ spirit of the Enlightenment, the modern world came to believe that it could obey the second commandment without bothering with the first. …

(T)he modern world enshrined only the second of the two great commandments, the one Jesus said was the lesser of the two and the one that was dependent upon the first one. The modern world has assumed that the two commandments could be separated. The creaking and groaning, indeed the shouting and the shooting that you hear outside, is coming from the collapse of that assumption. …

Girard, in Things Hidden, says:
"In reality, no purely intellectual process and no experience of a purely philosophical nature can secure the individual the slightest victory over mimetic desire and its victimage delusions."
… There is so much territory covered in this statement. It is precisely that arc between mimetic desire and the victimage delusion which Girard has made it his business to delineate…

He goes on:

"Intellection can achieve only displacement and substitution, though these may give individuals the sense of having achieved a victory."
What he means with displacement and substitution – when we try to explicate ourselves from the mimetic desire and the victimage delusion we do so by being morally offended by the effects of someone’s victimage delusion and so we crank our own victimage operation in order to direct it toward the victimizer that we have just been scandalized by. So we have substituted or displaced the object of the victimage delusion, but we haven’t broken the spirit of the prince of this world (to speak in Biblical terms).

Going on to the last sentence of this Girard quote from Things Hidden:
"For there to be even the slightest degree of progress, the victimage delusion must be vanquished on the most intimate level of experience."

This is where Christian conversion comes in. And that is where the first commandment comes in. ...


Our Faith tells us that if we try to separate reason from faith - truth from beauty we inevitably fall into violence. How is that so? Pope Benedict XVI has been cautioning the modern world about its deadly march into a "dictatorship of relativism" that results in an expulsion of faith, beauty and the family. René Girard insists that our only hope out of our violence rests in the imitation of Christ. René ends his book, I See Satan Fall Like Lightning by quoting St. Paul, 1 Cor. 1:18-25:

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart." Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (Girard's emphasis)

Holy Day of Obligation - Assumption

Kindly remember, gentle reader, that today is a Day of Holy Obligation, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. [h/t: Lady Dawn of Dawn Patrol for the beautiful video]

Walking the Abortion Plank

Judith Warner of the NYT reminds her readers that many have noticed that the Democratic Party is reaching out to Evangelicals and Catholics. But there is nothing new in the Democratic position on abortion.

Remember that, regardless of who says the closing “prayer” at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

... most Catholics don't know their history, heritage and legacy

(The following is not an indorsement for I have no personal experience with St. Luke Productions, however I found the interview interesting.)

FC: Why is this particular saint (St Maximilian Kolbe) important to today’s times?

LEONARDO DEFILIPPIS: He is very relevant because he’s a saint of our modern age, and he’s a saint particularly when he confronts good and evil, so to speak.

He lived through the communist regime and the Nazi regime, so he was constantly battling this kind of socialist and secular mindset, which still has its roots throughout a lot of modern society. He was a saint of the new evangelization.

FC. What got you involved in this type of evangelization?

LEONARDO DEFILIPPIS: I was very involved in the Shakespearean theater. I was a professional actor and my main focus at that time was classical theater. I had a conversion back to the Catholic faith as an actor in the midst of the normal chaos and the antireligious movement in the arts that are in Hollywood and … in normal theater. … It opened up a whole other genre for me and I saw there was a huge need for religious drama, which in the Catholic tradition we have such a void presently.

We really don’t have Catholic drama, in contrast to the (Catholic) press or music or visual arts.

(Defilippis continues) "... most Catholics don’t know their history, heritage and legacy. In other words, they don’t know who the saints are. They hardly know anything about Scripture and they don’t know the saints. (In) a lot of places, our children are forgetting or not even knowing who St. Francis of Assisi is or St. Thérèse … the more famous saints. It’s a way of saying we do not want our heritage to be forgotten."
READ MORE HERE Difilippis’ St. Maximilian Kolbe fills Catholic drama void.
HERE is link to his production company St. Luke Productions

Fr Barron - Dark Knight

Father Barron speaks on the doubling rivalry in the new Batman, the problem of violence, and our need for a real Savior rather than a superhero. [h/t: Creative Minority Report]

Why 'Apologize'

Nick Milne hits the nail on the head in Being an apologist means never having to say you’re sorry. In it, he quotes Brian Visaggio:
In my experience, these amateur apologists go out of their way looking for trouble, and consider their academic arguments regarding the placement of the comma in 23:43 and its relation to purgatory a sacred duty. They are Serious Catholics, and they hang out on debate boards having the same eleven arguments again and again and again. Disproportionately converts, many have serious intellectual acumen and a respect and discipline regarding the Scriptures culled from years of being Scripture-toting Evangelicals, but in their enthusiasm for their newfound faith often lose sight of the goal of the Church, which is to help form her people in the image of God.
Look especially for first person singular examination of motives in Nick's excellent post. It's a great mirror for one concerned with truth, goodness, and mercy - starting where one should start: with myself.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Serious Catholicism - Serious Election

For the Catholic who, when the throngs of individualists get swept away doesn't want to be among the sweepings, George Weigel offers a nine-point condensation of Archbishop Charles Chaput's new book, Render Unto Caesar, in THE CATHOLIC DIFFERENCE: "Serious Catholicism for a Serious Election" An excerpt:

1. Schizophrenic Catholicism is neither Catholic, nor responsible, nor patriotic. “We have obligations as believers,” the archbishop writes. “We have duties as citizens. We need to honor both, or we honor neither.”

2. Postmodern secularist skepticism about the truth of anything is soul-withering; in C.S. Lewis’s phrase, it makes “men without chests.” The current social, political, and demographic malaise of aggressively secularist Europe is an object lesson, and a warning, for America: “A public life that excludes God does not enrich the human spirit. It kills it.”

3. The new anti-Catholicism in the U.S. is not built around antipathy to the papacy, the sacraments, consecrated religious life, or the other bugaboos of those who once ranted about the “Whore of Babylon.” Rather, it’s an assault on religiously informed public moral argument of any sort, an attack against “...any faithful Christian social engagement.” So we can’t rest easy with the fact that the Catholic Church plays a considerable role in American society. There are forces in the land that would banish Catholicism, and indeed classic biblical morality, from a place at the table of democratic deliberation ...

Read all here.

3 Meditations

On the way to mass this morning I was listening to a tape from Gil Bailie's "Let This Mind Be in You" where he tells of a visiting priest from Cape Town, South Africa who gave a homily that included the following:

“You know that God is at work when you are unlovable and you still get loved: when you have done something unforgiveable and you get forgiven: and you are
untrustworthy you are trusted anyway.” He went on to say that this is what God does and what Christians have to do is to imitate God - that is that we have to love the unlovable; forgive the unforgiveable; and trust the untrustworthy.
Very powerful.

I get to mass and read the Meditation of the Day from the Magnificat:

Richard Hermit rehearses a ... tale of perfect contrition that the same clerk Cesarius tells. He tells that a scholar at Paris had done full many sins of which he was ashamed to shrive him. At the last, great sorrow of heart overcame his shame, and when he was ready to shrive him to the Prior of the Abbey of S. Victor, so great contrition was in his heart, sighing in his breast, sobbing in his throat that he could not bring one word forth. Then the Prior said to him, "Go and write thy sins." He did so and came again to the Prior, and gave him what he had written, for still he could not shrive himself with his mouth. The Prior saw the sins were so great, that with the scholar's leave, he shewed them to the Abbot to have his counsel. The Abbot took the writing wherein they were written, and looked thereon. He found nothing written, and said to the Prior, "What can here be read where naught is written?" Then saw the Prior and wondered greatly, and said "Wit ye that his sins were here written, and I read them: but now I see that GOD has seen his contrition and has forgiven him all his sins." This the Abbot and the Prior told the scholar, and he, with great Joy, thanked GOD. - RICHARD ROLLE from THE FORM OF PERFECT LIVING AND OTHER PROSE TREATISES.

And later I stumble across a meditation from my friend Gerry Straub. The following is an excerpt from “My Soul is Thirsting for God”

In my time of early morning prayer,
in the stillness and silence
that blankets the coming of dawn,
I get it and want to do it.
But then I get up,
and I am no sooner out of the house,
and my resolve begins to collapse.
I argue and become petty.
Resentments rise,
faith falls.
Doubts and confusions
encamp around me.
By nightfall,
I have been reduced to ashes,
a smoldering heap of anguish.

But You love me,
always, everywhere,
even when my behavior
turns its back on You.

O my God, I beg You
to heal my wounds,
to help me go through this day
more in harmony with You.
Help my faith and actions
have less and less gaps
between them.
Give me please, my God,
the grace to pause
often during the whirlwind
of the day,
and tell you that I love you,
that I need You,
that I want to do Your will.
Shower the parched, dry, waterless
terrain of my life
with Your abundant grace
that will keep You
in my heart and mind
all day long.

I think that the following excerpt is a stunning observation.

Resentments rise,
faith falls.
Doubts and confusions
encamp around me.
By nightfall,
I have been reduced to ashes,
a smoldering heap of anguish.

Link HERE to past post on "Let This Mind Be in You"

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Blessed Be the Ring That Binds

Argghhh! The truth comes out! Fortunately, Mark Shea shares all THREE sides of the troof spoof.

Henry Poole Is (Almost) Here

Deacon Kandra posts on the imminence of the new and apparently orthodox movie, Henry Poole Is Here. Make sure you check out the trailer the good Deacon links!

Do YOU believe in Sin?

Sin Boldly
Posted by Keith Pavlischek FIRST THINGS on August 11, 2008, 12:08 PM

From the Westminster Shorter Catechism:
Q. 14. What is sin? A. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.

From the Baltimore Catechism:
Q. 278. What is actual sin? A. Actual sin is any willful thought, word, deed, or omission contrary to the law of God.

From Senator Obama:
Q. Do you believe in sin? OBAMA: Yes. Q. What is sin? OBAMA: Being out of alignment with my values.

Not that there is anything to the chatter about Senator Obama’s “Messiah complex,” mind you.

tip from Mark Shea's Catholic and Enjoying It blog.

Jeremiah Tell Me About the Fire

Jeremiah 20:9 And if I say, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name, then there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with forbearing, and I cannot 'contain'.

"I've experienced that feeling, where I have said, 'Let me just get a job as an accountant and leave my work at home.'

MAKE SURE TO CLICK ON THE TITLE "Jeremiah" to see the video.


The Other Side Of Something
by Sara Groves

Jeremiah tell me about the fire
That burns up in your bones
I want to know
I want to know more now

The burning of ambition and desire
It never could come close
To that fire
To that fire

Verse 1:
I was looking to myself
And I forgot the power of God
I was standing with a sparkler in my hand

While I stood so proud and profound
You went and burned the whole place down
Now that’s a fire

Verse 2:
I was caught up in this vice
And it’s power to entice
I was dwelling on my hopelessness and doubt

With the slightest invitation
You came with total detonation
Now that’s a fire

I was warming my hands by this little light of mine
but now I know it’s time
time to come in from the cold
Fight fire with fire, come fan the flame
come stir up these coals in my soul, in my soul
till it burns out of control


Our Part is to Consent - The Imitatation of Mary's YES

So long as we imagine that it is we who have to look for God, then we must often lose heart. But it is the other way about: he is looking for us. And so we can afford to recognize that very often we are not looking for God; far from it, we are in full flight from him, in high rebellion against him. And he knows that and has taken it into account. (As sinners we are God's Enemies) He has followed us into our own darkness; there where we thought finally to escape him, we run straight into his arms.

So we do not have to erect a false piety for ourselves, to give us hope of salvation.
(False piety is thinking that its fine "being good enough" - that our lukewarmness in lieu of conversion is enough.) Our hope is in his determination to save us. And he will not give in!

This should free us from that crippling anxiety which prevents any real growth, giving us room to do whatever we can do, to accept that small but genuine responsibilities that we do have. Our part is not to shoulder the whole burden of our salvation, the initiative and the program are not in our hands:
our part is to consent, (to hear and believe in He Who is calling us out) to learn how to love him in return whose love came to us so freely while we were quite uninterested in him. - Simon Tugwell, OP, via August 2008 Magnificat

(my 2 cents and links to other posts are in parenthesis and italics)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Saint Clare - A Good Catholic Girl

Clare was a good Catholic girl before she met Francis. She went to church, did good works and avoided evil. Yet, when she encountered Francis, she was introduced to something radically different from just being good. She suddenly realized that God wasn’t interested in our “just being good.” God desired far more than that…God wanted us to be so united with him that we become reflections of the divine.

Francis inspired Clare to dedicate herself to live in full accordance to the highest demands of the gospel. She put the whole gospel into her whole life. She lived for nothing but God. Her mind and heart were constantly centered in God. She entered fully into the most rigorous demands of poverty. She gave herself in charity to all. Prayer became her very breath. She lived love, and radiated with sanctity. Clare’s undying fidelity to the Lord and her vocation inspired everyone who knew her. Pope Alexander IV called Clare a “lofty candlestick of holiness.”

The light from the candlestick shimmers with one unequivocal message: God wants our all. God wants our trust, our humility, our openness, our hearts…God wants our entire beings, so his perfect love can be born again into the world.

How do I respond to that message? I must begin by renewing my commitment to God every day. I must try every day to deepen my relationship with God.

- The Sun and Moon Over Assisi, pages 349, Gerard Straub

Saturday, August 09, 2008

3 Home-grown in Corn Country

President Bush rests his left hand on the shoulder of Bloomington High School graduate Christin Wurth-Thomas while posing for a photo with the U.S. women's track and field team prior to the Olympic Games opening ceremony in Beijing on Friday, Aug. 8, 2008. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) The 28-year-old Wurth-Thomas, who won Class AA state 800-meter run titles for BHS in 1997, 1998 and 1999, will compete in the 1,500, an event in which no American woman has ever medaled.

Article from The Pantagraph
Spirits will soar as the 596-member U.S. Olympic team marches in today’s opening ceremonies at the Olympic Games in Beijing. Central Illinoisans will go along for a vicarious ride of excitement as they follow the fortunes of three Olympians of their own: Bloomington’s Ogonna Nnamani and Christin Wurth-Thomas and Mason City’s Vic Wunderle.

Having three “home-grown” Olympians at the same time is believed to be a record for the Pantagraph circulation area. (Five men with ties to Illinois State competed in the 1972 Olympics for three different countries.)

Bloomington (pop. 74,975) is among just 60 U.S. cities with more than one Olympian.

Bloomington has as many Olympians as the states of Wyoming, South Dakota, Alaska, Mississippi and New Hampshire and one more than the states of Delaware, New Mexico and Tennessee. Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia have no Olympians.

The cities with the most Olympians, according to the U.S. Olympic Committee, are New York City with eight, San Diego and Seattle with seven each followed by Atlanta, Ga., and Cincinnati with six apiece.

The 25-year-old Nnamani led University High to Class A state volleyball titles in 1999 and 2000 and Stanford to NCAA titles in 2001 and 2004.
The 32-year-old Wunderle, a three-time Olympian, helps round out a straight flush of sorts for the five-member U.S. archery team which has a five-time Olympian (Butch Johnson), a four-timer (Khatuna Lorig), a two-timer (Jennifer Nichols) and a first-timer (Brady Ellison).

Go Team USA
Go Central Illinoisans

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Tradition of Faith Becomes a Womb of Life

Another quote from The Resurrection Effect by Anthony J Kelly

When, and to the degree, this witnessing to the resurrection is part of the fabric of the tradition, that tradition retains its inexhaustible novelty. It lives with the assurance of its capacities to mediate to all believers the manner in which God has entered into our world and met it at the sharpest edges of the problem of evil, typified in suffering, death, guilt and meaninglessness. The tradition of faith becomes a womb of life, forming the followers of Christ into agents of a new humanity through the power of his Spirit. After the resurrection of the crucified One, the world can never be the same. It is always timely, then, for theology to re-immerse itself in the phenomenon of the resurrection, and to focus its energies on the most radical and transforming moment of Christian faith. - pp 63-64 (my emphasis)
I found this sentence: The tradition of faith becomes a womb of life, forming the followers of Christ into agents of a new humanity through the power of his Spirit. to be very appropriate as we look through an anthropological and mimetic lense.

Great Post from Amy - You have a task, soul

Link to her original post HERE.

Amy Welborn quotes Pope Benedict XVI below as an example of how he speaks pastoral more so than as a theologian during his General Audiences in which he teaches on the Church Fathers.

In prayer, we must turn our hearts to God, to consign ourselves to him as an offering to be purified and transformed. In prayer we see all things in the light of Christ, we let our masks fall and immerse ourselves in the truth and in listening to God, feeding the fire of love.

In a poem which is at the same time a meditation on the purpose of life and an implicit invocation to God, Gregory writes: "You have a task, my soul, a great task if you so desire. Scrutinize yourself seriously, your being, your destiny; where you come from and where you must rest; seek to know whether it is life that you are living or if it is something more. You have a task, my soul, so purify your life: Please consider God and his mysteries, investigate what existed before this universe and what it is for you, where you come from and what your destiny will be. This is your task, my soul; therefore, purify your life" (Carmina [historica] 2, 1, 78: PG 37, 1425-1426).

The holy Bishop continuously asked Christ for help, to be raised and set on his way: "I have been let down, O my Christ, by my excessive presumption: from the heights, I have fallen very low. But lift me now again so that I may see that I have deceived myself; if again I trust too much in myself, I shall fall immediately and the fall will be fatal" (Carmina [historica] 2, 1, 67: PG 37, 1408).

So it was that Gregory felt the need to draw close to God in order to overcome his own weariness. He experienced the impetus of the soul, the vivacity of a sensitive spirit and the instability of transient happiness.

For him, in the drama of a life burdened by the knowledge of his own weakness and wretchedness, the experience of God's love always gained the upper hand.

You have a task, soul, St Gregory also says to us, the task of finding the true light, of finding the true nobility of your life. And your life is encountering God, who thirsts for our thirst.
Amy's reflection here is a reflection I regularly need to keep mind of as I so often plow through my day's chores with no thought but that the world revolves around me.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Resurrection Effect - Transforming Christian Life & Thought - Anthony J Kelly

A book recommendation by Gil Bailie
(Lk 1:4). In contrast (to Luke's Gospel), Paul, though presuming all or much of this, was not concerned with presenting any "orderly account," overwhelmed as he is by the revelation of the risen One that had been made to him. That singular truth was not to be lost in the details of times, places, characters, teaching and events that had significance only in terms of Jesus being raised by God. It would seem that Paul is implicitly taking for granted the various traditions of the logia, miracles and exemplary actions recollected from the earthly life of Jesus, and to some degree deliberately refocusing the emerging tradition on its central point. For him, such details were not the place to start, even if as a teacher in Antioch he would have been familiar with all elements that were forming the tradition (Acts 13:1). The radical moment of truth was not knowing Jesus "in the flesh" (2 Cor 5:16). That, by itself, would not raise Christian existence above an improved Jewish ethics or Greek wisdom or, for that matter, beyond an overheated apocalyptic vision. For him, everything must be centered, and continually re-centered, on the resurrection of the Crucified, in anticipation of a completely new creation (2 Cor 5:17). It was not a matter of looking back, but of looking forward and outward to a creation transformed.

Anthony J Kelly

Want a bit more from the book before deciding to purchase the book (through the link above)? Read Chapter 7

Incensing the Altar to Alleviate Anxiety

tip from Michael at Annunciations

From ScienceDaily (May 20, 2008) — Religious leaders have contended for millennia that burning incense is good for the soul. Now, biologists have learned that it is good for our brains too. An international team of scientists, including researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, describe how burning frankincense (resin from the Boswellia plant) activates poorly understood ion channels in the brain to alleviate anxiety or depression. This suggests that an entirely new class of depression and anxiety drugs might be right under our noses.

Continue reading

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

As sinners, we are God's enemies

Opening Prayer (Aug 5, 08)
pardon the sins of your people.
May the prayers of Mary, the mother of your Son,
help to save us,
for by ourselves we cannot please you.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

A snippet from the Magnificat - (Peter John Cameron writes what Father Fitzmyer summarizes as the chief effects of the Christ-Event.) RECONCILIATION: The starting point of Paul's stance before God is that human beings, as sinners, are God's enemies. Reconciliation is God's way of reuniting wayward people to himself. The initiative is fully God's; through Christ sinners are brought from a status of enmity to friendship. Thanks to the saving effect of reconciliation, we experience a change from anger, hostility, and alienation to love, friendship, and intimacy - that is, at-one-ment (see Rom 5:10-11).

Monday, August 04, 2008

Aramis - A Professed Member of the SFO

August 3, 2008, my wife and I, along with 10 other folks, made our profession into the Secular Franciscan Order (SFO). It was the largest class professing into this regional chapter in quite some time.

You might ask, who are Secular Franciscans?

The Secular Franciscan Order is that branch of the worldwide Franciscan Family and was founded by St. Francis of Assisi in the early 1200s. The Secular Franciscan Order is made up of laity and diocesan clergy.

Its aim is to make present in the life and mission of the Church the charism, or special gift, given to St. Francis and passed on to all his followers - to renew and build up the Body of Christ from within with a simple, straight-forward living of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Prior to the profession ceremony yesterday our formation director read us the following from Adrienne von Speyr (The Magnificat - August 2008 pp 77-78):

With us, the call is always in danger of being relegated to the past. We rest in it instead of growing in it, instead of clinging to the Lord day after day in his word, in his Eucharist and in every other mode of his presence among and for us. We should attach much more importance to the call and its duration. We are ready to believe that the Lord looks down on us from heaven and is present to us in the Host. But we are less ready to believe that, once his call has been heard and answered, it continues to echo in our lives, that it never ceases to do so, that the word must never become a resting-place. The call should be as important to us as the most serious concerns of the Church - both our own call and that of others. We must remain, at any cost, in the number of those who keep the call alive in themselves, and we must pray for the grace to do so. Often we feel that we are safe as long as we pray. "As long as I pray the breviary every day, as long as I pray at all, everything will somehow be all right." But we forget that the call is just as important in our lives as prayer is. Actually, we should hear again in every prayer the words: "You follow me." ... All (we can do is) leave everything to him and follow him as well as we are able ...
As he lay dying, Francis told his brothers, “I have done what was mine to do, may Christ now teach you what you are to do.” I don't believe all are called to live within a structure of a religious order, however my question now is, have you heard your calling to participate in building up the Body of Christ through prayer lately?

The Joy of Mary's Marriage of Joseph

(the following taken from The Franciscan Crown small booklet - The mosaic above is from the Sanctuary of Perpetual Adoration at the shrine of Marytown, Libertyville, IL)

In 1399, the Franciscan Order began commemorating the betrothal of Saint Joseph with a liturgical office that was later developed into the feast day of Joseph as the "Husband of Mary" (now a solemnity celebrated on March 19th). In 1741, the Franciscans requested that Pope Benedict XIV consecrate the whole Seraphic Order to Saint Joseph. Before opening the Second Vatican Council, Pope John XXIII (a Secular Franciscan) declared Saint Joseph the "Paternal Patron of the Universal Church." This proclamation formally recognized Joseph's role as inseparable from Mary's role as "Mother of the Church."

With this long history of devotion to the spousal relationship between Mary and Joseph, it is fitting that those meditating on the traditional seven joys in the life of a married woman, complete their prayer with an eighth joy - Mary's marriage to Joseph.

And, just as Francis could no longer keep his desire to wed "Lady Poverty" a secret from his closest friend, so too Joseph must have sung an anthem of praise at being chosen from all time to wed the most beloved of God.

ALEXANDER SOLZHENITSYN December 11, 1918 – August 3, 2008

tip to Daniel at The Lion & the Cardinal

"We turned our backs upon the Spirit and embraced all that is material with excessive and unwarranted zeal. This new way of thinking, which had imposed on us its guidance, did not admit the existence of intrinsic evil in man nor did it see any higher task than the attainment of happiness on earth. It based modern Western civilization on the dangerous trend to worship man and his material needs... Mere freedom does not in the least solve all the problems of human life and it even adds a number of new ones.

"However, in early democracies, as in American democracy at the time of its birth, all individual human rights were granted because man is God's creature. That is, freedom was given to the individual conditionally, in the assumption of his constant religious responsibility. Such was the heritage of the preceding thousand years. Two hundred or even fifty years ago, it would have seemed quite impossible, in America, that an individual could be granted boundless freedom simply for the satisfaction of his instincts or whims. Subsequently, however, all such limitations were discarded everywhere in the West; a total liberation occurred from the moral heritage of Christian centuries with their great reserves of mercy and sacrifice... man's sense of responsibility to God and society grew dimmer and dimmer. In the past decades, the legalistically selfish aspect of Western approach and thinking has reached its final dimension and the world wound up in a harsh spiritual crisis and a political impasse. All the glorified technological achievements of Progress, including the conquest of outer space, do not redeem the Twentieth Century's moral poverty which no one could imagine even as late as in the Nineteenth Century."

- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn at the Harvard Commencement Address ~ 8 June 1978

Friday, August 01, 2008

St. Alphonsus de Liguori -Giving Our All With Correct Desires

To love God with the whole heart, it is necessary to have a great desire to love him. Holy desires are the wings with which we fly to God; for, as Saint Lawrence Justinian says, a good desire gives us strength to go forward, and lightens the labor of walking in the way of God. According to the spiritual masters, he that does not advance in the way of the Lord, goes back; but, on the other hand, God cheerfully gives himself to those who seek after him...

It is necessary to resolve courageously to arrive at the perfect love of God. Some persons desire to belong entirely to God, but do not resolve to adopt the means. It is of them the Wise Man says, "desires kill the soul" (Prv 21:25). I would wish, they say, to become a saint; but still, with all their desires, they never advance a single step. Saint Teresa used to say that "of these irresolute souls the devil is never afraid." Because, if they do not resolve sincerely to give themselves to God without reserve, they shall always continue in the same imperfections. But, on the other hand, the saint says that God wishes only from us a true resolution to become saints; he himself will do the rest. If, then, we wish to love God with our whole heart, we must resolve to do without reserve what is most pleasing to him, and to begin at once to put our hands to the work. - from The Sermons of St. Alphonsus de Liguori

tip to the Magnificat August 1st, this feast day of Saint Alphonsus Liguori