Friday, October 29, 2010

Schismatic No Longer

The Last Judgment, a fresco in theSistine Chapel by Michelangelo (1534-41)

As we approach what for Protestants is called "Reformation Sunday," Francis J. Beckwith sums up the reasons he could no longer remain in schism with the holy Catholic Church here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

“Tauler” by John Greenleaf Whittier

TAULER, the preacher, walked, one autumn day,
Without the walls of Strasburg, by the Rhine,
Pondering the solemn Miracle of Life;
As one who, wandering in a starless night,
Feels, momently, the jar of unseen waves,
And hears the thunder of an unknown sea,
Breaking along an unimagined shore.
And as he walked he prayed. Even the same
Old prayer with which, for half-a-score of years,
Morning, and noon, and evening, lip and heart
Had groaned: “Have pity upon me, Lord!
Thou seest, while teaching others, I am blind.
Send me a man who can direct my steps!”

Then, as he mused, he heard along his path
A sound as of an old man’s staff among
The dry, dead linden-leaves; and, looking up,
He saw a stranger, weak, and poor, and old.

“Peace be unto thee, father!” Tauler said,
“God give thee a good day!” The old man raised
Slowly his calm blue eyes.” I thank thee, son;
But all my days are good, and none are ill.”

Wondering thereat, the preacher spake again,
“God give thee happy life.” The old man smiled,
“I never am unhappy.”

Tauler laid
His hand upon the stranger’s coarse grey sleeve:
“Tell me, O father, what thy strange words mean.
Surely man’s days are evil, and his life
Sad as the grave it leads to.” “Nay, my son,
Our times are in God’s hands, and all our days
Are as our needs: for shadow as for sun,
For cold as heat, for want as wealth, alike
Our thanks are due, since that is best which is;
And that which is not, sharing not his life,
Is evil only as devoid of good.
And for the happiness of which I spake,
I find it in submission to His will,
And calm trust in the Holy Trinity
Of Knowledge, Goodness, and Almighty Power.”

Silently wondering, for a little space,
Stood the great preacher; then he spoke as one
Who suddenly grappling with a haunting thought
Which long has followed, whispering through the dark
Strange terrors, drags it, shrieking, into light:
“What if God’s will consign thee hence to Hell?”
Then,” said the stranger cheerily, “be it so.
What Hell may be I know not; this I know—
I cannot lose the presence of the Lord:
One arm, Humility, takes hold upon His dear
Humanity; the other, Love,
Clasps His Divinity. So where I go,
He goes; and better fire-walled Hell with Him
Than golden-gated Paradise without.”

Tears sprang in Tauler’s eyes; a sudden light,
Like the first ray which fell on chaos, clove
Apart the shadow wherein he had walked
Darkly at noon. And, as the strange old man
Went his slow way, until his silver hair
Set like the white moon where the hills of vine
Slope to the Rhine, he bowed his head and said—
“My prayer is answered. God hath sent the man
Long sought, to teach me, by his simple trust,
Wisdom the weary schoolmen never knew.”

So, entering with a changed and cheerful step
The city gates, he saw, far down the street,
A mighty shadow break the light of noon,
Which tracing backward till its airy lines
Hardened to stony plinths, he raised his eyes
O’er broad façade and lofty pediment,
O’er architrave, and frieze, and sainted niche,
Up the stone lace-work chiselled by the wise
Erwin of Steinbach, dizzily up to where
In the noon-brightness the great Minster’s tower,
Jewelled with sunbeams on its mural crown,
Rose like a visible prayer. “Behold!” he said,
“The stranger’s faith made plain before mine eyes.
As yonder tower outstretches to the earth
The dark triangle of its shade alone
When the clear day is shining on its top,
So darkness in the pathway of Man’s life
Is but the shadow of God’s providence,
By the great Sun of Wisdom cast thereon;
And what is dark below is light in Heaven.”

Monday, October 25, 2010

Purgatory - Foothills of Heaven

Rapidly approaching the Month of Holy Souls, here is your review sheet on Purgatory, compliments of Rev. John A. Hardon, S.J.

Monsignor Ronald Knox, remember, had thoughts on the subject too. Like this: " ... death strips us; puts away the toys we cherished. Shrouds have no pockets; a cheque signed by a dead man is no longer honoured."

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Maybe we should rethink love

I read these meditations from the Magnificat and often find words or thoughts that leap out from the pages at me.  The idea that I am not love but rather God is Love - I am only free to choose to be either IN love or get caught up in some pseudo-love.

Is not love at the same time a gift that has been bestowed on us? This is perhaps the token of its transcendence, in origin and end.  It seems that love does not depend on us, either in its birth or its fulfillment; and that it breaks down all the barriers that might have seemed to limit our actions. So long as we are lacking in love we are immured (entomb) within the solitude of individual existence, and love alone can set us free.
Love plunges us into a world without limits where we are at the same time within and yet outside ourselves. And by a strange paradox we only seem to reach the heart of our being through a movement which takes us beyond ourselves. In other words all love comes from God and returns to him.
There is indeed no love but the love of God: that is the indissoluble union of his unfailing love for us, and the love we have for him in which we almost always fall short. Such love alone is able to justify our existence and the entire work of creation, and for one who has experience of it problems cease to exist. But no one experiences it at all times, or with equal ardor. It is inevitable that the self should fail sometimes; and there is nothing that may not become an object of scandal, even the whole universe, if we fail to look on it with love.
The mystery of love is that it changes nothing in the world, which continues to exhibit the same abominations and sufferings; yet it has the power to suffuse these things with an invisible and supernatural light. When love reigns, suffering is invested with new meaning, and is relieved and slowly transformed into a joy of another order.
- Louis Lavelle († 1951) was a professor at the Sorbonne, Paris, France, and was a prominent Christian philosopher.

The Curse

As Notre Dame got stomped by Navy (again), one sees with how much intensity Navy plays.

Notre Dame used to play with a chip on its shoulder; as though something set it apart from everybody else.

You don't suppose that as Notre Dame has whittled off the edges of its Catholic faith and morals, the intensity it once possessed - what made Notre Dame distinct, different, set apart - has dwindled on the playing field, do you?

They LOOK big, strong, well-fed, and well-funded. Too bad looks don't translate into wins.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Right Way to be a Catholic

IT IS EASY TO get a name for broad-mindedness and good-fellowship by setting out to be a Catholic with a difference, half-agreeing with all the prejudices of your Protestant friends, making out that you are really paying rather a compliment to our holy religion by belonging to it; you who take it all so very calmly, so far removed from bigotry or fanaticism. But that is not the right way to be a Catholic. The right way to be a Catholic is to feel yourself all the time, a member of the Church Militant, a limb, living with the life of the whole, sharing its well-being and its discomforts, belonging to it, not talking as if it belonged to you. The right way to be a Catholic is to be associated with the essential activity of the Church, through prayer for the triumph of the truth and the conversion of sinners; as our Lord was when he kept his last appointment in Gethsemani, tempted, once more, by the prince of the powers of darkness.

- Ronald A. Knox

Sunday, October 17, 2010

If any man serves me, let him follow me

Two Sisters in the Spirit In response to modern misunderstandings of the contemplative life, which place undue emphasis on “action” and “dialogue” with the world to the exclusion of the hidden life, Balthasar explains how these two holy women understood their lives of total surrender to God in prayer as the most powerful service they could offer for the salvation of mankind.

Time and Eternity

The concept of one's state of life answers the question of where one is, spatially or spiritually; it presupposes a position or point of view.  But for each Christian, whatever his state of life, this position can only be that of the Lord: "If any man serves me, let him follow me; and where I am, there also shall my servant be: (Jn 12:26).  "Father, I will that where I am they also whom you have given me may be with me: (Jn 17:24)... 

In truth he (the Christian) lives in heaven and is a stranger here below.  But so as to be able to bear this heavenly life without dying, without losing his earthly mission in the abyss of God's mystery, his own life has, so to speak, to be withdrawn from him until his earthly mission is complete: "you have undergone death, and your life is hidden away now with Christ in God." (Col 3"3).  The true saints are those whose ardor in their earthly mission is fed solely by the eternal, heavenly life that they have tasted but that has been so painfully withdrawn.  They do not turn their backs on the world in order to enjoy the rest of heaven in advance.  Rather, they live a life of intense longing and move the world by the strength of that heaven that has first been granted to them and then closed to them.  They hang crucified between this world and the beyond; exiles from earth but not yet in their heavenly home, their position serves as a kind of pulpit, and their whole life is a sermon.  It does not matter whether the preaching takes the form of action or of contemplation - this decision is left to God; in both cases, their position is the same, stretched between earth and heaven. 

- Hans Urs von Balthasar

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Hart - The Desirist's Unsatisfiable Desires

To my friendly atheist interlocutor on the Outer Banks and other committed atheists, I submit the work of David B. Hart - fallacy-ridden as his scholarship may be by their standards of sacred-based logic. Hart writes of philosopher Joel Marks here.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Saint Teresa of Avila - how wretched is the security that lies in ... following the crowd

O my Lord, how obvious it is that You are almighty! There’s no need to look for reasons for what You want. For, beyond all natural reason, You make things so possible that You manifest clearly there’s no need for anything more than truly to love You and truly leave all for You, so that You, my Lord, may make everything easy, It fits well here to say that You feign labor in Your law. For I don’t see, Lord, nor do I know how the road that leads to You is narrow. I see that it is a royal road, not a path; a road that is safer for anyone who indeed takes it. Very far off are the occasions of sin, those narrow maintain passes and the rocks that make one fall. What I would call a path, a wretched path and a narrow way, is the kind which has on one side, where a soul can fall, a valley far below, and on the other side a precipice: as soon as one becomes careless one is hurled down and broken to pieces.

They who really love You, my God, walk safely on a broad and royal road. They are far from the precipice. Hardly have they begun to stumble when You, Lord, give them Your hand. One fall is not sufficient for a person to be lost, nor are many, if they love You and not the things of the world. They journey in the valley of humility. I cannot understand what it is that makes people afraid of setting out on the road of perfection. May the Lord, because of who He is, give us understanding of how wretched is the security that lies in such manifest dangers as following the crowd and how true security lies in striving to make progress on the road of God. Let them turn their eyes to Him and not fear the setting of this Sun of Justice, nor if we don’t first abandon Him, will He allow us to walk at night and go astray.
They aren’t afraid to walk among lions (by which I mean whatever the world calls honors, delights, and similar pleasures) where it seems each lion would want to tear off a piece of them; and here on this road it seems the devil makes them afraid of field mice. A thousand times do I marvel and ten thousand times would I like to find satisfaction in bewailing and crying out to everyone my great blindness and wickedness so that doing this might help them to open their eyes. May anyone who can, through God’s goodness, open them; and may He not permit me to become blind, amen.
Saint Teresa of Avila
The Book of Her Life, Chapter 35

We can do no good when we seek our self...The desire we cherish is key

From The Magnificat October 2010

SAINT THÉRÈSE OF LISIEUX, Doctor of the Church, states in the spiritual classic The Story of a Soul, “O my God, your love has gone before me, and it has grown with me, and now it is an abyss whose depths I cannot fathom.” God’s love had captivated Thérèse ever since she received a special grace of conversion one Christmas as a child. Recalling that event, she writes, “I felt charity enter into my soul, and the need to forget myself and to please others.” Later, in a poem, Thérèse would declare, “You alone, O Jesus, could satisfy a soul that needed to love even to the infinite.”

But isn’t this the vocation of every human heart? Yet, as Thérèse laments in her autobiography, “On every side this love is unknown, rejected; those hearts upon whom you would lavish it turn to creatures; they do this instead of throwing themselves into your arms and of accepting your infinite love.” In fact, even “among his own disciples Jesus finds few hearts who surrender to him without reservations, who understand the real tenderness of his infinite love.”

Bold confidence before imperfections

One reason for our lack of surrender to God’s love is the “scandal” we feel over our own imperfection. Thérèse admits, “I understood how easy it is to become all wrapped up in self, forgetting entirely the sublime goal of one’s calling.” But the fact is that “God does not call those who are worthy but those whom he pleases.” Living and giving God’s infinite love begins from embracing this truth. “There is always present to my mind the remembrance of what I am,” says Thérèse. And that awareness of her real limitation only leads Thérèse to greater confidence.With unmatched authority she claims:

“God cannot inspire unrealizable desires. I can, then, in spite of my littleness, aspire to holiness. It is impossible for me to grow up, and so I must bear with myself such as I am with all my imperfections.”


“I am astonished at nothing. I am not disturbed at seeing myself weakness itself. On the contrary, it is in my weakness that I glory, and I expect each day to discover new imperfections in myself.”


“I always feel the same bold confidence of becoming a great saint because I don’t count on my merits since I have none, but I trust in him who is Virtue and Holiness. God alone, content with my weak efforts, will raise me to himself and make me a saint.”

Since, “perfection consists in doing God’s will, in being what he wills us to be,” the life of faith consists in uniting ourselves to that divine will. To this end, “it is prayer, it is sacrifice which give me all my strength,” counsels Thérèse. “These are the invincible weapons which Jesus has given me.” Love acts
“We can do no good when we seek our self.” Thus, it is a waste of time to attempt to measure ourselves or to chart our spiritual progress. For “the more one advances, the more one sees the goal is still far off. And now I am simply resigned to see myself always imperfect and in this I find my joy.” Even if it takes a long time, for “God made me understand that there are souls for whom his mercy never tires of waiting.” The desire we cherish is key: “God has always given me what I desire or rather he has made me desire what he wants to give me”; “I know that Jesus would not inspire the longings I feel unless he wanted to grant them.”
“A soul that is burning with love cannot remain inactive.” The experience of God’s mercy to us in our weakness moves us to love others. “I understand now that charity consists in bearing with the faults of others, in not being surprised at their weakness, in being edified by the smallest acts of virtue we see them practice.” Our natural limitation when it comes to loving can no longer be an alibi, for we have been given something supernatural: “It is no longer a question of loving one’s neighbor as oneself but of loving him as he, Jesus, has loved him.” So we join in the intention of Saint Thérèse: “I ask Jesus to draw me into the flames of his love, to unite me so closely to him that he live and act in me.” He will.

Rev. Peter John Cameron, O.P.
Copyright Magnificat

Cool Hand Luke - What we got here is a failure to communicate

wish you'd stop being so good to me, captain.

the man - the motion picture that simply will not conform.

there aint nothin to come back for.

Paul Newman - Cool Hand Luke - "Plastic Jesus"

i dont care if it rains or freezes, long as i got my plastic jesus sitting on the dashboard of my car. comes in colors, pinks and pleasant, glows in the dark cause its iridescent. take it with you when you travel far. get yourself a sweet madonna, dressed in rhinestone sittin on a pedestal of abalone shell, going ninety i aint scary cause i got the virgin mary assuring me that i WONT GO TO HELL!!!!! THANKZ PAUL NEWMAN.

St. Teresa of Avila

Entering Stella Maris Monastery Chapel atop Mt. Carmel that looks graciously down upon Haifa in Israel, a stillness prevails. One painting honors St. Teresa of Avila, the saint whose feast day is today. Other famous Carmelites are honored there also.

My first in-depth time with St. Teresa came when two monks of Holy Cross Abbey, Father Edward and Father Andrew, led an ecumenical group of clergy in a read-through of her Interior Castle. For two Cistercians introducing a variety of Christian ministers to the practice of contemplative prayer, it was a natural choice.

Pray for us, St. Teresa, that we may learn to be still in a world of distractions.


O Loveliness exceeding
All loveliness I know,
In exile here below.
What more, I pray Thee, Jesus,
What more have I to learn?
Save yet to love increasingly,
With pure love to yearn,
Save yet to love Thee ever,
With deeper love to burn.

O bind me ever closer,
My nothingness transcend,
May I be never parted
From Being without end.
What more can I desired now
Save, Lord, to see Thy Face
And there at last in heaven above
To build my nesting place,
And there at last forever
To find my resting place.

St Teresa of Jesus
Tr. Teresa of Jesus, O.C.D.
Taken from Carmelite Proper of the Liturgy of the Hours, Rome, Institutum Carmelitanum 1993.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The faith lost by the average man in the west was an imperfect faith.

As we have seen and what Pope Benedict XVI commented on there has been a waning of faith among many peoples where in recent past the Gospel was once proclaimed.  It is may be a slight overstatement but it is worth hearing, Charles Davis, who has written on the de-Christian-ization of the Modern world, says;

"The faith lost by the average man in the west was an imperfect faith. What might be called a cultural faith. The Christian tradition superficially understood was simply accepted as part of the culture in which one lived, taken for granted with the social environment. This situation did not do justice to the transcendent quality of Christian faith, which cannot be reduced to an element of human culture. Nor was it true to the meaning of faith as a free genuine personal response to God. Indeed, the so-called de-Christian-ization of some areas is simply an awakened Christian awareness of the absence of faith."

Everyday we must strive to be obedient to our calling and live out the Gospel life giving praise and glory to God.

Evangelization is the desire to share the priceless gift that God wished to give us...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

VATICAN CITY, 12 OCT 2010 (VIS) - Given below are extracts of "Ubicumque et semper", the Apostolic Letter "Motu Proprio data" by which Benedict XVI establishes the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation.

"The Church has the duty to announce the Gospel of Jesus Christ always and everywhere. ... Over history this mission has assumed new forms and methods, depending on place, situation and historical moment. In our own time, one of its most singular characteristics has been that of having to measure itself against the phenomenon of abandonment of the faith, which has become progressively more evident in societies and cultures that were, for centuries, impregnated with the Gospel.

"The social transformations we have seen over recent decades have complex causes, the roots of which are distant in time and have profoundly modified our perception of the world. ... If, on the one hand, humanity has seen undeniable benefits from these transformations and the Church received further stimuli to give reasons for the hope she carries, on the other, we have seen a worrying loss of the sense of the sacred, even going so far as to call into discussion apparently unquestionable foundations, such as faith in the God of creation and providence; the revelation of Jesus Christ our only Saviour, the shared understating of man's fundamental experiences like birth, death and family life, and the reference to natural moral law".

"Among the central themes examined by Vatican Council II was the question of relations between the Church and the modern world. In the wake of this conciliar teaching, my predecessors dedicated further reflection to the need to find adequate forms to allow our contemporaries to still hear the Lord's living and eternal Word".

"Venerable Servant of God John Paul II made this demanding undertaking one of the pivotal points of his vast Magisterium, summarising the task awaiting the Church today in the concept of 'new evangelisation' (which he systematically developed in numerous occasions), especially in regions of age-old Christianity".

"Thus, in my turn, sharing the concern of my venerated predecessors, I feel it appropriate to offer an adequate response so that the entire Church, allowing herself to be regenerated by the Holy Spirit, may present herself to the modern world with a missionary vigour capable of promoting a new evangelisation".

"In Churches of ancient foundation, ... although the phenomenon of secularisation continues its course, Christian practice still shows signs of possessing vitality and profound roots among entire peoples. ... We also know, unfortunately, of areas which appear almost completely de-Christianised, areas in which the light of faith is entrusted to the witness of small communities. These lands, which need a renewed first announcement of the Gospel, seem particularly unreceptive to many aspects of the Christian message".

"At the root of all evangelisation there is no human project of expansion, but the desire to share the priceless gift that God wished to give us, sharing His life with us".

Freedom = Desire + Depend → Receive → Possess Meaning

Gospel freedom is the capacity to desire and depend on God, and thereby to possess the true meaning of our life. - Magnificat 10-12-10

Monday, October 11, 2010

Friday, October 08, 2010

Satan Exists, and Christ Defeated Him

By Father Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap

Demons, Satanism and other related phenomena are quite topical today, and they disturb a great part of our society.  Our technological and industrialized world is filled with magicians, wizards, occultism, spiritualism, fortune tellers, spell trafficking, amulets, as well as very real Satanic sects. Chased away from the door, the devil has come in through the window. Chased away by the faith, he has returned by way of superstition...

Many intellectuals do not believe in demons in the first sense. But it must be noted that many great writers, such as Goethe and Dostoyevsky, took Satan's existence very seriously. Baudelaire, who was certainly no angel, said that "the demon's greatest trick is to make people believe that he does not exist."  The principal proof of the existence of demons in the Gospels is not the numerous healings of possessed people, since ancient beliefs about the origins of certain maladies may have had some influence on the interpretation of these happenings. The proof is Jesus' temptation by the demon in the desert. The many saints who in their lives battled against the prince of darkness are also proof. They are not like "Don Quixote," tilting at windmills. On the contrary, they were very down-to-earth, psychologically healthy people.

If many people find belief in demons absurd, it is because they take their beliefs from books, they pass their lives in libraries and at desks; but demons are not interested in books, they are interested in persons, especially, and precisely, saints.

How could a person know anything about Satan if he has never encountered the reality of Satan, but only the idea of Satan in cultural, religious and ethnological traditions? They treat this question with great certainty and a feeling of superiority, doing away with it all as so much "medieval obscurantism."  But it is a false certainty. It is like someone who brags about not being afraid of lions and proves this by pointing out that he has seen many paintings and pictures of lions and was never frightened by them. On the other hand, it is entirely normal and consistent for those who do not believe in God to not believe in the devil. It would be quite tragic for someone who did not believe in God to believe in the devil!

Yet the most important thing that the Christian faith has to tell us is not that demons exist, but that Christ has defeated them. For Christians, Christ and demons are not two equal, but rather contrary principles, as certain dualistic religions believe to be the case with good and evil. Jesus is the only Lord; Satan is only a creature "gone bad." If power over men is given to Satan, it is because men have the possibility of freely choosing sides and also to keep them from being too proud (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:7), believing themselves to be self-sufficient and without need of any redeemer. "Old Satan is crazy," goes an African-American spiritual. "He shot me to destroy my soul, but missed and destroyed my sin instead."

With Christ we have nothing to fear. Nothing and no one can do us ill, unless we ourselves allow it. Satan, said an ancient Father of the Church, after Christ's coming, is like a dog chained up in the barnyard: He can bark and lunge as much as he wants, but if we don't go near him, he cannot harm us.

Confounding His Critics

At First Things, William Doino, Jr. - who, incidentally, wrote this review of A Little Guide for Your Last Days - writes about a glimpse of the truth, goodness, and beauty of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to England given to, of all people, a BBC reporter in The 83-Year-Old Pontiff has Confounded His Critics!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Millais PRB - Autumn Redux

Chill October (1870) - Sir John Everett Millais


Pope Benedict XVI says that we can make our lives and life itself a song of praise to the glory of God. But you knew that already, didn't you?