Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Close to His Heart

A heartfelt thank you to Rocco Palmo. Arturo Mari, the Pope's photographer, shares his favorite photograph of John Paul II:

Friday, March 25, 2011

The duties, attractions and cross of each moment

Section II.—The Duties of Each Moment.

The duties of each moment are the shadows beneath which hides the divine operation.
“The power of the most High shall over-shadow thee” (Luke i, 35), said the angel to Mary. This shadow, beneath which is hidden the power of God for the purpose of bringing forth Jesus Christ in the soul, is the duty, the attraction, or the cross that is presented to us at each moment. These are, in fact, but shadows like those in the order of nature which, like a veil, cover sensible objects and hide them from us. Therefore in the moral and supernatural order the duties of each moment conceal, under the semblance of dark shadows, the truth of their divine character which alone should rivet the attention. It was in this light that Mary beheld them. Also these shadows diffused over her faculties, far from creating illusion, did but increase her faith in Him who is unchanging and unchangeable. The archangel may depart. He has delivered his message, and his moment has passed. Mary advances without ceasing, and is already far beyond him. The Holy Spirit, who comes to take possession of her under the shadow of the angel’s words, will never abandon her.

Annunciation of the Lord

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Royal Viewpoint

Very interesting, acute, and incisive analysis about England from an insider if ever there was one here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Resentment is a real danger - A Little Guide for Your Last Days

From our friend:
Excerpt from Chapter Eight

Resentment is a real danger here. It can interfere with getting what you really and truly want... And, if you are not careful, it will blind you to those graces and friendships that the Holy Spirit does send your way. So let me offer a strategy, a technique, that you may accept or reject.

A prayer that I have found as a spiritual "tool" of immense help is what the Eastern Church calls the Jesus Prayer. Its origin is in the words of a man in Our Lord's parable in Luke 18:13: "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!" The actual Jesus Prayer is:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Short, easy to memorize... Now here is my recommendation... begin by praying the Jesus Prayer with you in the "me" place of the prayer. Then, insert each of your loved ones in turn. ("Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on (name), a sinner.") Then and only then, insert the name of the one who you feel has wronged you, hurt you, done damage to you, neglected you. Whatever.

You are thus fulfilling Our Lord's injunction to forgive your "enemy" and, at the same time, shielding yourself from the bitter residue of resentment that can rot your heart and soul.

I'm not joking about this. I know persons who have held grudges, literally, for decades. "Oh I can forgive him/her. But I will never forget." Haven't you heard it before? But that is precisely why Jesus gave us this spiritual "tool" extraordinaire: because we cannot forget! That is why we are to forgive "seventy times seven" (Mt 18:22). Forget this at your peril. Just pray, even when the old pain wakes you up in the middle of the night; pray for your friends, your enemies. Anyone who the Lord brings to your heart and mind.

The power of Christ, the power of sanctity

Buckfast Abbey in Devon, England

It is a certain truth that if God in his providence exterminated every evil deed at once, killed every evil-doer, the final sum of goodness would be less. We have our Lord’s own words for it; there would be diminution. Goodness itself, sanctity itself, is fostered by the proximity of evil. As Saint Augustine puts it so well: it pleased God to make good come out of evil rather than to abolish all evil.

God could have abol­ished all evil in his omnipotence; he did not; he did the better thing; he made good come out of evil, he makes sanctity come out of it; makes martyrs through the cruelty of man, and gives his Church the most glorious traditions of fortitude and courage through the very presence of enemies in her midst and around her walls. When the great day of harvest comes sanctity will be found to be so great and so high by very reason of the wickedness that encom­passed it.

Our lives are constantly bound up with those of other people in some way or another. Perhaps those people fail in many things, but they are in some way a portion of our own lives; they partake of the graces we possess. “The faithless husband,” says Saint Paul, “will be sanctified through the believing wife.” The children of believers are sanctified through the very fact of their paternity. One person in a family may be the salvation of the whole family, though it may not be given to him to see the final issues and the ulti­mate results.

But there is the fact – an absolute cer­tainty, goodness inevitably produces goodness; it is unconquerable, it cannot be stifled, it has greater ramifications than evil can ever have … One saint outweighs a hundred, a thousand, perhaps a million sinners. The sanctity of one saint prevails over the sinfulness of a thousand sinners. Sin is negative; sanc­tity, positive. Sanctity is more powerful than sin; sanc­tity is, in fact, the only real power...

Begin with goodness, with sanctity, with the thought of God, and that you are the children of God. Begin with grace, not with sin and apostasy and infidelity; these things need not enter into your lives; you know that they exist, but they need not affect you. What should affect you is the power of Christ, the power of sanctity.

Dom Anscar Vonier, OSB
Dom Vonier (+1906) was the Abbot of Buckfast Abbey in Devon, England
From Magnificat, "Day by Day," February 6, 2011 and "Meditation of the Day," March 21, 2011

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Do this in memory of me

Do you ever wonder why are we here? As we have entered this blessed time of Lent let me offer a couple reflections on memory...

The Greek word for truth, aletheia, is a negated from of the verb translated "to forget"; knowing the truth means to stop forgetting.

Robert Louis Wilken wrote: Religion does not exist without culture and culture is a carrier of religion... Without memory a people have no sense of who they are. ...if a society loses all memory of its Christian traditions, there is a real question whether those things that make western civilization unique, e.g. human rights, freedom of religion, will endure.

Mary Regina Morrell writes:  “Memories are the key not to the past, but to the future.” ~ Corrie ten Boom ... We live in an age that embraces the maxim, “Have it your way!” - our houses, our cars, our meals, our jobs, our clothes, and even our memories, are subject to manipulation until they are exactly as we feel they should be.

Maybe we should be more conscious of those things that steal away our memory.  What steals your memory away?

A memory exercise - consider the root of things. True is derived from the same root (deru-) that gave rise to "troth," "truth," "trust," and "true" in English.

The Graces of Saint Joseph

Saint Joseph and the child Jesus by John Collier
John Collier is a contemporary artist who created this very interesting and wonderful painting of Joseph and the young Jesus. I think that it really helps me to begin to get my head around the real people that they were. What elements do you see in the painting that draw your particular interest and contemplation?

Pope John Paul II: What emanates from the figure of Saint Joseph is faith. Joseph of Nazareth is a "just man" because he totally "lives by faith." He is holy because his faith is truly heroic. Sacred Scripture says little of him. It does not record even one word spoken by Joseph, the carpenter of Nazareth. And yet, even without words, he shows the depth of his faith, his greatness. Saint Joseph is a man of great spirit. He is great in faith, not because he speaks his own words, but above all because he listens to the words of the Living God. He listens in silence. And his heart ceaselessly perseveres in the readiness to accept the Truth contained in the word of the Living God. We see how the word of the Living God penetrates deeply into the soul of that man, that just man. And we, do we know how to listen to the word of God? Do we know how to absorb it into the depths of our human personalities? Do we open our conscience in the presence of this word?

Scroll down and read the reflection offered by my patron saint, Saint Bernadine of Siena HERE on this feast day of St Joseph.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Ideas | The Scapegoat: René Girard's Anthropology of Violence and Religion, Part 1 - 5

Human beings, according to French thinker René Girard, are fundamentally imitative creatures. We copy each other's desires and are in perpetual conflict with one another over the objects of our desire. In early human communities, this conflict created a permanent threat of violence and forced our ancestors to find a way to unify themselves. They chose a victim, a scapegoat, an evil one against whom the community could unite. Biblical religion, according to Girard, has attempted to overcome this historic plight. From the unjust murder of Abel by his brother Cain to the crucifixion of Christ, the Bible reveals the innocence of the victim. It is on this revelation that modern society unquietly rests. Girard's ideas have influenced social scientists over his long career as a writer and teacher. 

IDEAS producer David Cayley introduces this seminal thinker to a wider audience.

This interview of René Girard aired some time ago and is a great introduction of mimetic theory and the scapegoat.

René feels that religion is the heart of all societies as he draws on a mass of anthropological findings. He also helps us begin to understand our fall into violence and how we attempt to get a handle on this violence.

Tip: The 5 hour interview of René is one of the important keys to following our discussions here at The Four Mass'keteers.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lord - Age of the Blessed Sacrament

THROUGH THE GREAT MERCY OF GOD, we happen to live in the age of the Blessed Sacrament ...

The hatred that once reached out to fling the visible Christ into the plot of the Passion we have seen reach out once again to obliterate His priesthood, destroy the Mass, and make impossible the Eucharistic presence of the Incarnate God in His world. After all persecution is an act of perverted faith. Men cannot attack what they believe does not exist. The vicious persecution against the Catholic priesthood is the attack upon Christ and the Mass, the method by which He ordained He should enter the world. An age of persecution, like ours, is a glorious age of faith - angelic and demoniac - in the real presence ...

This is a great age, the age of the Eucharist and the age of Mary. The Eucharist and the Mother of the Savior are inseparable. The age that loves and honors one must love and honor the other. Our age gratefully and deeply loves them both, virgin Mother and virgin Son.

- Daniel A. Lord, S.J.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Afraid? Interesting that you would ask

Afraid of God or Fear of God?  What a great question that my dear friend Athos poised from something Ronald Knox wrote - read it in THIS post.  I am not sure my friend was tracking where this quote of Knox takes one - so I felt I had to post where reading the quote led me, and that was to A Little Guide for Your Last Days!

I don't know of too many people who do not struggle with what Knox writes: we are afraid of God, which is not at all what the Bible means by "fearing God".

There are of course many different angles to approach this notion of our being afraid however Athos, in this book, leads us through all the false premises - while not mincing words but with his pastoral spirit he opens our eyes to this mystery that is a part of each and every one's life.

Amazing that in a few pages Athos helps us to recognize just how our antennae has become rusty and fallen over and he comes with a tool kit showing us how to straighten out our antennae so as to be able to receive God's unconditional Love allowing us to humbly enter into a state of grace.  Reading this book made me realize the importance and our need of being in this state of grace at all times and not waiting to trip over it at death's doorstep.

Thank you Athos.

Unus pro omnibus, omnes pro uno

Christian Friendship - Close to Heaven

What a wonderful occasion of providential faith and hope and charity. After an hour and one-half of dealing with a "home health nurse" and my apparent prime directive, who should show up at my doorstep but fellow Mass'keteer, young D'Artagnan (graphic artist of the above) and Lady Dawn Eden! Each bore not only lunch-for-one (for herself; D'Art and I had eaten) but other fine, fine gifts and delights.

And for the next two and one-half hours, old Athos was bathed and swathed in such milk of human kindness, Christian friendship, and called-out-of-the-world-of-woes extradition that he thought he had somehow missed that rending of soul from body and been taken directly to the third heaven of what our brother Saint Paul speaks:

"I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell." (2 Corinthians 12:2-4)

We chatted about books (ours and others') and new projects, one of which will take one of us far afield. We walked down to a nearby park and strolled next to a meandering stream. And then - the ceremonial exchanging of gifts!

Goodness! Lady Dawn, ever a keeper of what Tolkien called in hobbit terminology, mathom, brought out from her storehouse things old and new. And let us say, gentle reader, that D'Artagnan and Lady Dawn did not leave Athos' humble dwelling empty-handed. The former received in token of the chivalry which all of the Mass'keteers share in common brotherhood, and the latter is covered, though not yet blessed, in four-ways most blessed for her continuous deeds of errantry and pitched battle against the wicked and snares of the devil.

Can heaven come down and touch earth in any way more acceptably and nobly all of a Monday afternoon? Answer: Yes. For, before D'Artagnan and Lady Dawn left, we joined in prayer under the divine sign of the Most Holy Trinity and - gasp! - blessedly in the reliquarial presence (1st order) of Saint Dominic, compliments of a religious' gift to Lady Dawn in the wee hours at Notre Dame. D'Artagnan said he felt the great saint's hand on his shoulder as we knelt and prayed ...

May you have such an encounter with the true, good, and beautiful, gentle reader. And I will recount the deeds of two great friends and their superabundance of charity for long ages to come.

P. S. - Life is sweet and good if besides hosting friends like the above, one can field a phone call of concern on a Sunday afternoon, too, from a great friend, mentor, and all round great guy who now, again, lives in California.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Knox - Audacious Friendship

No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends ... (Jn 15, 15)

(T)HE BEST WAY OF ALL is to serve (God) because he is our friend, because we want to protest our love for him by our actions, and are sorry, sometimes, that he gives us so little chance of proving ourselves worthy of his friendship.

That is what God made us for, his human creatures, to be his friends, his personal friends. Not that he has need of our friendship; for his infinite beatitude would have remained unaltered if no soul had ever been breathed into a human body. But his overflowing Love is constantly forming new reservoirs, as it were, which it can fill with a human love that makes a response, however poor a response, to itself. As the single orb of the sun is reflected anew, whole and complete, by every puddle on the road-side, so in each insignificant human life that all-embracing love of God shines down, as if it had no other scope or aim for its self-fulfillment, and desires as far as our human imperfections will allow it to find its won image reflected there.

- Ronald A. Knox

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Update on Athos

This is Athos' wife posting at his request:

During the surgery yesterday, metastatic seeds were found throughout the abdomenal area, part of the colon was removed, and an ileostomy put in place. Chemo will begin after appropriate recovery from surgery. His spirits are good; it is better to know something than to be in the dark. Already he is making good progress following the surgery. He deeply appreciates the prayers of all.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Buy, Buy American Pie

This is too good not to post however I really frown on the song writer's lack of doing their homework so to get their facts straight (as the video disclaimer indicates).

My challenge to you though is, did you get the "hidden" message from the video? The words do not directly proclaim The Source but the video does. That Source is #1 because we make them our choice - it is up to us to start making better choices.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

JH - Athos gives Witness

Journey Home with Jeffry Hendrix. This must be what they mean by "must watch TV."

The Way - Sheen, Estivez

Let's keep our ears to the rails and see if we can find where this film will be showing. It is, according to one reviewer, the "perfect Easter family film."