Saturday, April 30, 2011

Love needs the need of another

The only way I can truly help another is first come to accept my need for the Other.  Otherwise my actions are just an act of projection.  Love begins with poverty.
When God leads a man to a state of poverty, is this not always to bring about an increase of love? ... Prayer does more than make us aware of our limitations: it transforms that part of our life that weighs us down and crushes us, and changes the nature of this poverty...Prayer, after bringing us to accept our limitations and making us aware of our real need, it transforms that need, that deficiency, that poverty into a dependence upon someone else. Love will not rest until it achieves its goal: to share everyting in order to bring about the unity toward which it tends...Love needs the need of another. It nourishes itself and continues to exist on the awareness of this need within itself. God likewise needs our need. Thus, the poverty which before crushed us now becomes, through prayer, a source of wealth, by which we gain possession of the heart of God. To refuse to recognize one's own poverty, is not to recognize God; it means refusing to allow him to be God for us. For me, God is God only when I accept the fact that I need him...thus our poverty becomes a source of wealth, provided that we are conscious every day that I am in the night, but I am no longer in prison, I am no longer alone. ~ Father Bernard Bro, O.P.
Father Bro is a French Dominican priest, a distinguished theologian, and the author of many books.

From Magnificat

Friday, April 29, 2011

'Opportunities' in Catholic Education

Each morning, right after fulfilling my chivalric duties of devotion, I spend a minimum of fifteen minutes reading. Usually the author who receives my undivided attention at this time is Monsignor Ronald A. Knox (Eton, Oxford). During World War II and the German bombings of industrial and municipal centers, Monsignor Knox had the opportunity to retire to the countryside of England to work on his translation of the Bible. Sounds idyllic, doesn't it? So it is amazing how the Holy Spirit sees things, most often, differently.

Just as Knox was settling into the lovely manor setting, it was decided that the manor would also be an extraordinary setting for Catholic school girls to continue their studies, far removed from the Blitz .

Indeed, now Knox would have the delightful daily opportunity to say Mass, hear weekly confessions, and generally serve as chaplain to gaggles of prepubescent schoolgirls while he attempted his mandated work of translation. Ah, yes. How plans change!

I thought of this as I read Monsignor Charles Pope's post, A Catholic University and Recovered Catholic Identity - A Study of Change and Possibility of Reform (a fine article, but one to which I will not allude here except as a jumping-off place).

When I was confirmed into the Catholic Church ten years ago this summer, I went looking for work and was honored to be offered a teaching position at a Catholic school in northern Virginia (St. Charles Borromeo School, pictured above as it looked when I arrived there). I remained there, a fixture in the sixth grade for nearly all of those ten years (the students, both male and female, probably looked at me as a "fixture" of sorts, also).

While working diligently to fulfill the requirements mandated by the diocesan Office of Catholic Schools, I found some of the most amazing times of learning came in planned, yet never choreographed, moments. For example, each morning students came in, hung up coats, etc., prepared for the day, sat and read the Gospel for Mass for the day, and then answered a related question on the board in their "Bellwork Journal."

Using these questions, I sought to help students move into "higher cognitive thinking" (Bloom) and also make them dig more deeply into the meaning of faith, morals, and other vital teachings of the Church. We would discuss the question and their answers before our Morning Offering and intentions.

I am grateful for the years that our Lord allowed me to teach in a Catholic school classroom. Never neglect to cherish and support your parish school (if you have one) and/or your diocesan Catholic schools. It is a unique place of growing, learning, catechesis, morality in action, and other "opportunities" for the Holy Spirit to help the young to come into a closer, richer relationship with God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit ... and their "neighbor as themselves" (Mark 12, 30-31).

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tornado Victims - Prayers

Violent storms continue to march across the United States. I recall vividly the frantic yet familiar drill of heading to the basement as a boy in Indiana, the most damaging and murderous being the Palm Sunday Tornadoes of 1965.

Please keep in prayer the victims and their families of this week's spate of killer weather.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

It Never Left

It is tempting to think we are past
this sort of thing. But we aren't. We have "one holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church" comprised of well over a billion people (and growing) that proclaims the truth and reality of the doctrine of Original Sin. So, when we take one last sip of coffee, fold the paper, turn the lock, and head off to work, we don't worry about the statuary at the parish. Or our priest(s). Or how well the ushers might handle the breaking-in of disruptors during either a major feast celebration or even a Saturday evening "There's-that-guy-in-his-bermuda-shorts" Vigil Mass.

What we forget in our daily functional atheism are the anthropological realities that our Lord's Church defines so well in the Catechism; specifically, the symptomology of paganism of all those outside the sphere and protection of our Lord's sacramental "containment system" (if you will allow such a crass way of describing it).

Read through Paganism, parts 1-3. Girard and Satinover give the Church's Magisterium two excellent tools for understanding what we still face; indeed, at a growing rate.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Guerilla Good News

Deacon Greg Kandra offers this poignant video of a 'flash mob' proclaiming the Good News ... in Beirut. Go here and follow his instructions (once the video starts, go through the arrow, then click the 'CC' for subtitles). Too cool, and, uh, yes, alleluia!

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Our Holy Father proclaimed the Good News at the Easter Vigil in this homily. Had I been able to attend, I would have heard again with joy what Rocco Palmo says is the church's greatest song (if you generally don't assist at the Easter Vigil, take the time to drench yourself in its truth, goodness, and beauty). For friends who like St Thomas need a bit more evidence to believe, have them read Mark Shea's piece here.

Enjoy with gratitude this Day of days, join in splendor our Savior's praise:

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God’s throne!
Jesus Christ, our King is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes for ever!

Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God’s people!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Cantalamessa - Great High Priest

Father Cantalamessa expounds on violence and redemption in his Good Friday Homily, presided over by Benedict XVI, in We Have a Great High Priest.

Friday, April 22, 2011

This Side of Eden - Trailer

A great and simple portrait of celebrating Holy Week and the Easter Triduum.

Good Friday

I began watching Gibson's Passion of the Christ last night. I woke with the lyrics and music of an old Paul Simon song going through my head, The Cross is in the Ballpark (The Obvious Child). May you have a blessed, peaceful, and holy Good Friday. As part of your meditations today, look through A Reluctant Sinner's entry for today here. Listen to the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St. John at Daniel Mitsui's Lion and the Cardinal here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Barron - How the Pope Reads Scripture

In reading Jesus of Nazareth (volume 2), Father Robert Barron comments on Pope Benedict XVI's "theological hermeneutic," which, while not eschewing the historical critical method of studying Scripture, looks at the Bible more deeply, revealing God's intent in and for human history. Here.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Shedding blood through love

The following quote is from The Magnificat in the editorial comments of Fr. Peter John Cameron, O.P.

“The priest is a man anointed by tradition to shed blood, not as the soldier, through courage, not as the magistrate, through justice, but as Jesus Christ, through love. The priest is a man of sacrifice; by it, each day, reconciling heaven and earth, and by it, each day, announcing to every soul the primordial truths of life, of death, and of resurrection.” - Father Henri-Dominique Lacordaire, O.P.

Wise Men From the East

While the present "leaders" of the West do their utmost to ignore and castigate its truth and reality, Chinese thinkers recognize it as true. Now, mind; some of us already knew and rejoiced in it. Have a blessed and peaceful Passion Sunday, gentle reader.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Scimitar Burns Bible, and ...

To understand this, gentle reader, one needs to engage in studying the model/rival relationship in mimetic theory; what René Girard calls the "problem of the doubles." The rival - in this case, the Scimitar - can barely get the model - in this case, the Christian faith in general and Catholics in particular - even to notice their slight. This in itself it infuriating to the rival. Alas.

Christians don't always follow the high road, but the Holy Spirit makes it an inchoate part of our awareness. What, do you ask, is that? For that, go here.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dolan - Don't Let Our Sins

Archbishop Timothy Dolan slams one out of the park:

Let’s see now: we’ve got a Sunday night series on one of the most corrupt and tawdry families in Church history, the Borgias, with popes, cardinals, bishops, and priests, all part of this big, happy family; we’ve heard non-stop for a decade about abusive priests, (albeit a small minority) and lax bishops who reassigned them; we’ve got front page stories of priests who embezzled money from their parishes; and I saw one not long ago about a priest arrested for DUI.

Yes, all this is scandalous, sinful, sickening, and criminal.

But, it is not new.

Popes, cardinals, bishops, priests, deacons, nuns, brothers are human.

That means, we are sinners.

Granted, when one of us falls, it hurts and shocks more. People rightly expect their spiritual leaders to practice what we preach. When we don’t, we’re hypocrites. And we know what Jesus thought about hypocrites.

But, this is not new.

If you think it worse today than in the past, I ask you to consider the solemn days we will observe next week, Holy Week: Holy Thursday and Good Friday.

Keep reading here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Coming Home

Are you a cradle Catholic who left and never came back? A non-Catholic with a hankering to get to know more about the Catholic Church? Check out a great resource: CatholicsComeHome. If you want an Hors d'œuvre, watch:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Praying for 'This Generation'

When our Lord describes his generation, what simile does He use? He says in Luke 7,32:

"To what then shall I compare the men of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the market place and calling to one another, `We piped to you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not weep.'"

And that was only His generation. Or, was it only His generation? Elsewhere in Matthew 12, 39b-45, He describes the plight of a man who believes he can, on his own, whisk clean his "house" of evil spirits:

"An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign; but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nin'eveh will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here ... "When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places seeking rest, but he finds none. Then he says, `I will return to my house from which I came.' And when he comes he finds it empty, swept, and put in order.
Then he goes and brings with him seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. So shall it be also with this evil generation."

Gil Bailie posits that what our Lord means by "this generation" is "business as usual" in terms of how culture is always generated among fallen human beings, the taxonomy of which is most clearly spelled out by René Girard's mimetic theory, a worthy tool in the hands of the Church's Magisterium. (For example, cf. especially the work and homiletics of Father Raniero Cantalamessa, ofmcap.)

"This generation" is what Satan offers our Lord during His temptations in the wilderness (Mtt 4,8ff).

The staggering thing is to be living and moving and having our being as people who affirm Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church among leaders of nations, industry, and global policy who are plainly and willfully citizens of "this generation." They cannot begin to accept the beliefs of the Church's deposit of faith, the Magisterium, and lordship of Jesus Christ. And so, they are like the cleaner of the evil spirit; like children in the marketplace - all cleaned up and so blindly naive to the realities of Satan in their lives, their thinking, their politics and policies.

Good reason to pray during this season of Lent. Very good reason. And very good reason to join in-arms in Marian chivalry in this godless age in need of the hope and glory our Lord offers.

Rotation Lives

Not saying it is this easy, but the Jive Aces depict theological hope in a nice Walker Percy Wednesday afternoon at 2:30 kind of way:

Monday, April 11, 2011

Story of a Soul - Pope Says So

St.Thérèse costumed as St. Joan of Arc

Some years back, I was walking among items at the yard sale of our school's Oktoberfest. I found three (of the four) Liturgy of the Hours prayer books and a book I felt strangely drawn to: the Autobiography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. I bought them all for a pittance and took them home.

While I've delved into the Hours, generally via the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I never opened the Little Flower's autobiography. Until now.

Benedict XVI just encouraged us, you see, to read her Story of a Soul. Talk about timely. And, just in case I had any doubts about the importance of doing so, I notice that the translator of my copy happens to be ... Monsignor Ronald Knox. Hmm. Time to get started.

UPDATE: Listen or read here.

Hope and Eternity

If - IF - one forgets everything else about the Christian faith, never, gentle reader, forget what our Holy Father, Benedict XVI, drives home here. The crusty old Baptist preacher, Carlyle Marney, whom I had the privilege of hearing preach at the Duke Chapel, once said, "If it don't preach in the cancer ward, it ain't the gospel."

For the entirety of Benedict's message, go here.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Knox - Belonging and Salvation

If you believe in the holy Catholic Church, then it follows that you believe in all the rest of the Credo; it would be silly to believe in the Church and not believe in what the Church tells you. So we'll get right down to it ... we'll stick to the idea of the Church in general, and remind ourselves what the Church means, and how jolly it is to have a Church to belong to ...

Part of the fun of being a Christian is belonging to a Church. It gives you a sort of cozy feeling ... For Christian people, and for us Catholics especially, this feeling of comradeship forms part of the stuff of our religion. It gives us a curious lightening of the heart, difficult rather to explain, when we find out suddenly that the policeman who stands on duty at the street corner or the girl who does our hair ... is a Catholic too ... there is a bond, after all, between you and them ... But, of course, it isn't just an association ... The Church is a supernatural association, which is meant to get us to Heaven. It isn't merely something which unites us together, you and me, it is the thing which unites us to Jesus Christ. And that, I think you can say, is the main difference between Protestant and the Catholic idea of salvation.

The Protestant hopes to be saved by faith in Jesus Christ; the Catholic hopes to be saved by living and dying as a member of the Church which Jesus Christ founded. You can put it quite simply in this way. If you think of the human race as sailors, travelling over a sea, which is this sinful world, and trying to reach a harbour, which is Heaven - the Protestant thinks of getting to heaven as something like being washed up to shore as a shipwrecked man, clinging to an empty barrel. But the Catholic thinks of salvation as sailing into port on a ship, and that ship is the Church of Jesus Christ.
- Ronald A. Knox

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Power Corrupts. Again

If you hadn't noticed the low level of public discourse coming from Republican New Hampshire lawmakers, the Catholic League, fortunately, has.

What is more disturbing is that what goes around comes around.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Deo Gratias

Over the weekend, my siblings and their spouses - minus a brother who died of a massive heart attack three years ago - came for a wonderful if brief visit. What a joy to see and spend precious time with family! Their sharing of faith, hope, and love is a gift that I will cherish for a long, long time. May you, gentle reader, be so blessed to have loved ones who love our Lord and witness to their faith so deeply and so well.

Monday, April 04, 2011

want to be totally possessed by the Author of such wonders

My hat goes off to Rev. Peter John Cameron, O.P.  Another great meditation from the Magnificat.

WE LIVE OUR LENT LIKE THE APOSTLES who beg Jesus, “Increase our faith” (Lk 17: 5). Christ makes clear that the amount of their faith does not matter. For with “faith the size of a mustard seed” they can carry out the most astonishing miracles. What the Lord reveals is that the “quantity” of our faith is not as important as actually living by faith.

The way faith works

So what does the request “increase our faith” really signify? It means that the apostles, through their encounter with Jesus Christ, have come to recognize there is something lacking in their lives for which Jesus is the Answer. This is the way faith works. Faith does not start inside us; it starts outside us. It starts from something that gets our attention and engages our reason, our heart, our freedom. These Twelve have been with the Lord as he cured the sick (Lk 7: 1-10), raised the dead (Lk 7: 11-17; Lk 8: 49-56), forgave sins (Lk 7: 36-50), calmed storms on the sea (Lk 8: 22-25), cast out demons (Lk 8: 26-39; Lk 9: 37-43), multiplied loaves for the multitudes (Lk 9: 10-17), and taught in powerful parables. “The essence of faith,” writes Pope Benedict XVI, “is not that I meet with something that has been thought up, but that here something meets me that is greater than anything we can think of for ourselves.”

Witnessing the countless wondrous works of Jesus Christ brings the apostles to a realization of their own powerlessness. They see in Jesus something that they do not possess in themselves. And they want to possess it. Even more, they want to be totally possessed by the Author of such wonders. Along with the apostles, we come to see that we do not simply have needs; we are need. To be human is to be boundless, expectant awaiting for the Infinite to come close to our life and to claim it. That is what the miracles of Jesus mean. That is what they promise. The need in our life does not invent this Exceptional Presence, but rather it enables us to acknowledge it. Those who do not perceive need to this degree do not feel the urge to reach faith.

Living by faith

The cry “increase our faith,” then, is really a plea that we be able to experience our need more deeply, sincerely, completely. It is a prayer that asks: When faced with my need – with the need that I am – do not let me be embarrassed by it, or make excuses for it, or deny it, or turn to self-reliance to try to deal with it. May my awareness of my neediness simply move me to confide myself to You with humility and trust. For “confidence” means “with faith.”

Our request for greater faith is an appeal to learn how to use whatever faith we have to its greatest advantage. Thus, to live by faith is to give up living by things that “we can think up for ourselves.” It means that we no longer want to live according to our own ideas, our emotions, or our preconceptions. If I am serious about living by faith, then I am resolved not to live by my anger, my whims, or my urges. I am not going to live impulsively or impetuously. I am not going to be ruled by self-assertiveness, but rather I am going to live according to the will of Another: “For me to live is Christ” (Phil 1: 21). “Faith,” Pope Benedict XVI tells us, “demands our whole existence, understanding, our will, our feelings, our love. It requires letting go of ourselves. It affects every domain of our existence, our whole self.” In this way, “faith is a perishing of the mere self and a resurrection of the true self.”

I still remember a story a seminarian told in a preaching class I taught several years ago. There was a prolonged drought in the Midwest, and the local priest asked his people to pray hard all week for rain. At the end of the week, they were to gather in a field near the church to thank God for hearing their prayers. The priest asked the people to bring with them items that represented their faith in God. The parishioners brought Bibles, statues of saints, rosaries, and crucifixes. But one little girl showed that she had the most faith of all. She brought an umbrella.

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

Sicut Cervus - The Spirit's Work

Monsignor Charles Pope has good reflections on aging here. I would encourage you to read the following from my favorite spiritual guide these days, Monsignor Ronald Knox on the Holy Spirit, then watch the clip with the heavenly music of Palestrina that follows. God bless.

ALL THROUGH THOSE centuries before our Lord came, whenever a human heart aspired to God, it was the same old story; it was the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity carrying out in this visible, created world the same work which he carries out in the uncreated, invisible world of eternity. He was making, in us, that response of love towards the eternal Father which it is his nature to make. In spite of the Fall, there's a kind of instinct which makes man look up to God, try to get back to God, and that instinct is the silent working of the Holy Spirit, in the very heart even of unredeemed mankind.
- Ronald A. Knox

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Indwelling - Vortex of Love - There is Something Greater Here

Thank you Athos for THIS POST!

Father Cantalamessa showers us with so many wonderful points of light in this homily.  I care to draw out a couple with the following ramblings...

Link here and please go to the complete version of Father Cantalamessa's 2nd Lenten Homily – very powerful and very deep (though we know that people do not want to venture any deeper than where they are at…) but I wanted to bring out a point on baptism that has always stayed with me and yet I have had trouble putting words to it.
"But what is this love which has been poured into our hearts in Baptism? Is it a feeling of God for us? A benevolent disposition of His towards us? An inclination? Something, that is, intentional? It is much more than that; it is something real. It is, literally, the love of God, namely the love that circulates in the Trinity between the Father and the Son and that in the Incarnation assumed a human form and in which we now participate in the form of "indwelling." "My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him" (John 14:23).

We become "participants in the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4), that is, participants of divine love. We find ourselves by grace, explains Saint John of the Cross, in the vortex of love that has always taken place in the Trinity between the Father and the Son, [9] better still: in the vortex of love taking place now, between the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, risen from death, of whom we are the members."
I felt all of this being baptized as an adult – being in a state of rapture - "in the vortex of love taking place now, ...” This is why, for me, baptism is as much about the role, responsibility and reverence of the church partnering with the parents and godparents as it is for the child – almost in a sense, baptism is not about the child at all – and this is why I cringe a bit with certain emphasis when wanting infants baptized. (I am not opposed to infant baptism – I just feel that we want to make sure to continue to flame the fire of His Love in the hearts of the body of Christ who are presenting the infant and not put it out with the waters of baptism.) I would venture to say that not one single infant when grown can say that they, at baptism, experienced any of this love. We so often reflect a worry over hell (from a negative sense) that we individually and collectively demonstrate what Father Cantalamessa says in this meditation, that most of us can’t or haven’t gotten our hearts (let alone our minds) around God’s love for us and the ramifications that this love (passive - by way of receiving - not reaching) for ourselves and all of humankind. And it is only in receiving this love that we can even approach the great commandments;

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your mind,
and with all your strength.

The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 30-31).

Obviously there are movements like Cursillo (as well as AA) that have helped people with the sense of God’s love for them, however in the broad scope very few people have had that experience (or been able to give witness to their experience) and that is what Father Cantalamessa is referring to in this homily.

I also wanted to share this notion of "indwelling" as it is not about an indwelling that comes from within us but rather an indwelling in Christ. As we reside in Christ we have Christ indwelling in us. So there is a vast chasm between the secular psychological understanding of this and the reality as we know it to be from a biblical knowledge.

This bears out in this homily as well when Father Cantalamessa quotes Duns Scotus referring to the Incarnation. This indwelling comes from outside to embrace and reside in among us from the beginning.

So we must accept that our sciences such as psychology are but a “pharmakos” – they are often cures but at the same time they are often poisons.

I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live (Deuteronomy 30:19).

Reflecting on all things, just as we never forget to breathe, we should remember: Lk 11:29-32:
While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. At the judgment the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation and she will condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and there is something greater than Solomon here. At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here.”
There is something greater here as Father Cantalamessa draws it out for us in his meditation on God’s love for us.

Cantalamessa - A Special Faith and Love

The Household Papal Preacher, Father Raniero Cantalamessa, shared with the Holy Father a special faith that fully believes in God's love for us in his second Lenten sermon here.