Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Our Lady's Discipleship

The Holy Father's Message of Hope for Today

The Holy Father recently spoke about the dark times through which he lived as a youth, speaking of how "Hitler had subjected one country after another, Poland, Denmark, the Benelux States and France, and in April of 1941 -- precisely in this season 70 years ago -- he had occupied Yugoslavia and Greece."

"It seemed that the Continent was in the hands of this power that, at the same time, cast doubt on the future of Christianity," the Pontiff said.

He had joined the "Sodality of Our Lady" as a young man and, although the dissolution of the seminaries hindered it, this bond continued, since "Catholicity cannot exist without a Marian expression."

"To be Catholics means to be Marian ... that in the Mother and by the Mother we find the Lord," he said.

We have great hope in following Our Lady's example of discipleship. To read the full text of his message go here.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

There is something more here

- Father Gerald Vann, O.P.

It is not the magnitude, or otherwise, of the work we have to do that should concern us, but the magnitude of the love with which we do it. It is a terrible mistake to suppose that if we simply carry out the commandments externally we have nothing to worry about. That can be no more than lip-service; it can be simply self-culture, the service of the self; and it can be a form of self-complacency and the kind of practical pelagianism which thinks it can get on very well without worrying too much about its radical sinfulness and need of God. Of course we have to try to keep the commandments; but the essential is to try to keep them in such a way that we learn to see more and more clearly our true Center, to keep our eyes more and more on God and less and less on ourselves, to say "I live, now not I, but Christ lives in me." There are, in fact, two opposite heresies here which we have to avoid: the one says, If I am right it doesn't matter what I do. We have to try to live in God, to be right; but we learn to be right only through slowly and painfully trying to do right; and on the other hand if we were really living in God then inevitably we should, as a matter of fact, do right, for we should hunger and thirst after righteousness.

Like so many of the great meditations one finds in The Magnificat this quote opens us up to many reflections.  I just want to raise up this thought: "our true Center" is not in us as much as it abides in God. It is as St Paul said, "I live, now not I, but Christ lives in me."  Suddenly "I" refers to something more than myself. 

... the essential is to try to keep them (the commandments) in such a way that we learn to see more and more clearly our true Center, to keep our eyes more and more on God and less and less on ourselves, to say "I live, now not I, but Christ lives in me."  We have to try to live in God, to be right;  if we were really living in God we should hunger and thirst after righteousness.

So what are we really hungering and thirsting for today, this moment?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Memorial Day 2011 & Every Year

My mom is pictured in today's paper straightening out the flag at her brother's grave.  As we come to another Memorial Day I can't help but reflect on the following post by my friend and mentor Gil Bailie as he reflected on this Thomas Merton poem: FOR MY BROTHER: REPORTED MISSING IN ACTION, 1943

Sweet brother, if I do not sleep
My eyes are flowers for your tomb;
And if I cannot eat my bread,
My fasts shall live like willows where you died.
If in the heat I find no water for my thirsts,
My thirst shall turn to springs for you, poor traveler.

Where, in what desolate and smokey country,
Lies your poor body, lost and dead?
And in what landscape of disaster
Has your unhappy spirit lost its road?

Come, in my labor find a resting place
And in my sorrows lay your head,
Or rather take my life and blood
And buy yourself a better bed -
Or take my breath and take my death
And buy yourself a better rest.

When all the men of war are shot
And flags have fallen into dust,
Your cross and mine shall tell men still
Christ died on each, for both of us.

For in the wreckage of your April Christ lies slain,
And Christ weeps in the ruins of my spring:
The money of Whose tears shall fall
Into your weak and friendless hand
And buy you back to your own land:

The silence of Whose tears shall fall
Like bells upon your alien tomb.
Hear them and come: they call you home.

Fr David Jones - Hermit

A thank you to A Reluctant Sinner for this portrait of a modern hermit living in Wales.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Newman - Conversion and Truth

If you want to hear a choice talk on Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman go here.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Apples? Oranges? Suppression?

Can anyone help me understand the connection between the formal suppression of the Cistercians of Santa Croce and Our Lady of the Holy Cross Abbey, OCSO, Berryville, Virginia, my favorite sight of retreats for over thirty years? IS there a connection between the two varieties of Cistercians?

My initial reaction is not, "There has to be some kind of mistake here;" I am too much the faithful son of the Magisterium. Rather, my response is, "Are we talking about two different branches of what call themselves 'Cistercian' in our Catholic universe?"

Clarification, gentle reader, if you please. Hearty thanks!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday Evening Reflections on Hell

I can still recall - with an importance borne out by the seriousness with which the grown-ups seemed to consider the topic - a Sunday evening when my evangelical pastor father's church held a Revival service. We had a guest preacher and got to dine him (No wining him - we were teetotalers!) before the church service. My sister and I speculated who would "come forward" to the altar rail to either "get saved" (in some cases, again) or renew their "personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ." In any case, it was serious, and we were inculcated from a very early age on the FACTs of the Last Four Things.

Adults can't manufacture those values; there is no winking to the audience, I am thankful to say. My father and my mother were in deadly earnest when it came to them, and my sister, Linda, and I caught those values.

So, it wasn't surprising to me to find myself after the revival preacher's sermon to find myself coming forward to the altar rail to "accept Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior." It wasn't that I hadn't done so before in private, so to speak; but in our neck of the woods, it you didn't trudge up where everybody could watch you do it, it just didn't count to your credit. See?

Well, I still believe in those Four Last Things, but I also know that I need the fullness of the Church that Jesus our Lord founded on Saint Peter ("Rocky") in Matthew 16, including all the sacramental grace that our Lord provides us creatures made in His image, imago dei. (For more read A Little Guide for Your Last Days.)

In fact, Dale Alquist puts succinctly the words and thoughts of fellow convert, G. K. Chesterton. (I would say fellow author, but the audacity sticks in my craw with an accompanying choking sensation.) A quick and easy essay just doesn't get much better than this one all of a Sunday evening. Read, read, pilgrim, and never forget GKC's insights in A Happy Little Reflection on Hell. And, thank you, too, Dale Ahlquist.

Don't you wish more people thought about the Four Last Things. Like those who garner power with a smug grin of happy and healthy human existence; at least, for now?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Ka ... Beauty

On this auspicious day, when, if the news we hear from some quarters is correct, the "world" (κόσμος) will come to an end, may I make the recommendation that we all grab a cool drink and enjoy some truth, goodness, and beauty. If you cannot find any near by, start with Daniel Mitsui's THE LION & THE CARDINAL. Then you are on your own, gentle reader ...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Beastie Attack and Musical Praying

'Had a rough day yesterday - I won't go into the gory details of the attack, but suffice it to say, my beastie had a field day with my body and I sat tight until my appointment for a shot at the Infusion Center to help boost my white blood cell count.

I found myself bouncing between the Giro d'Italia and EWTN mid-morning - both of which were, of course, fabulous. I saw my new friend and acquaintance, Marcus Grodi, interviewing an oldish looking fellow from Canada, Terry Hatty, former vocalist with The Guess Who, and stayed to watch.

His story about making his "journey home" isn't particularly theological or, probably, pertinent to many of our stories, but I found him to be a true victory; I know so many of his ilk who follow the progressivist propaganda line and flounder off into sad endings. Terry, on the other hand, has managed to keep his music alive and revert to Mother Church.

Go here if you want to see the interview with an aging rock and roll singer, and hear a sampling of his musical prayers. Great pipes for a fellow of his age!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Who is your interpreter?

Do yourself a favor and click on the above heading and read about Philip.  Or go to this link and read the Road to Emmaus story.

In Mass yesterday it struck me just how important it is to know who your interpreter is.  We all have one but most of the times we have many acting in this role of interpreter for us.  Who is your interpreter right now? 

One interpreter who I hold up is Father Barron.  Give a listen to his interpretation of "All Along the Watchtower" by Bob Dillon.  He understands that since the cross how we interpret things has been altered.

As Jesus tells the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 12:38-42: There is something more here.  I have had to admit that in looking at what life hands me there is something more here than what I am first inclined to see.  And this way of going "deeper" is what Jesus is challenging us to experience.  He is asking us to make the connection between the interpreter(s) of our life and of course, the Author.  Who is helping you read "the something more" of your life story?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The human being is religious by nature

Vatican City, May 11, 2011 / 11:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Religion is intrinsic to man, Pope Benedict XVI noted at his weekly General Audience on May 11.

“The human being is religious by nature. The image of the Creator is engraved on human beings, who feel the need to find a light to answer the questions regarding the profound meaning of reality.”

It is “an answer that we cannot find in ourselves, in progress, or in empirical science,” the Pope told pilgrims.

Hence, he continued, we find a sense of disappointment and futility among today’s radical secularists.

“Looking at recent history, the predictions of those who, from the age of Enlightenment, foretold the disappearance of religions and exalted absolute reason, separated from faith, have failed.”

This was the second in the Pope’s new series of Wednesday audiences focusing on prayer. For the past two years he had been examining the lives of the saints. That series concluded prior to Lent.

The Pope explained the source of man’s religious instincts. “(H)umanity bears within it a thirst for the infinite, a yearning for eternity, a search for beauty, a desire for love, a need for light and truth, which impel us toward the Absolute. We carry within us the desire for God. In some way, we know that we can turn to God, that we can pray to Him.

“Saint Thomas Aquinas, one of the greatest theologians of history, defined prayer as ‘the expression of humanity’s desire for God’.”

Hence the impulse to pray. “In prayer, human beings experience themselves as creatures in need of help, incapable of attaining the fulfillment of their existence or their hopes alone. In the experience of prayer we orient our very souls to that Mystery from which we look for the fulfillment of our deepest desires and help to overcome the poverty of our lives.

“In looking to the Other, in directing ourselves ‘beyond’, is found the essence of prayer, the experience of a reality that goes beyond the apparent and the contingent,” the pontiff added.

And despite living in an age that seems to be “marked by an apparent eclipse of God” the Pope observed there are also clear “signs of a renewed religious sense.” He concluded by urging those present to learn how to pray more often.

“We must learn to spend more time in front of God, before the God who has revealed himself in Jesus Christ; we must learn to recognize in silence, within our very selves, his voice that calls us and leads us to the depth of our existence, to the fount of life and the source of salvation, so that we might overcome the limit of our lives and open ourselves to the measure of God, the relationship with He who is Infinite Love.”

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Yet another prototypical optical reading device is about to hit the market. And, don't you know, we do (of course) need one. I will let you read about it from the sales manifesto below:

Device to Replace Electronic Media

Introducing the new Bio-Optic Organized Knowledge device, trade named BOOK. BOOK is a revolutionary breakthrough in technology: no wires, no electric circuits, no batteries, nothing to be connected or switched on. It's so easy to use, even a child can operate it. Compact and portable, it can be used anywhere - even sitting in an armchair by the fire - yet it is powerful enough to hold as much information as a CD-ROM disc.

Here's how it works: BOOK is constructed of sequentially numbered sheets of paper (recyclable), each capable of holding thousands of bits of information. The pages are locked together with a custom-fit device called a binder which keeps the sheets in their correct sequence. Opaque Paper Technology (OPT) allows manufacturers to use both sides of the sheet, doubling the information density and cutting costs. Experts are divided on the prospects for further increases in information density; for now, BOOKs with more information simply use more pages. Each sheet is scanned optically, registering information directly into your brain. A flick of the finger takes you to the next sheet.

BOOK may be taken up at any time and used merely by opening it. BOOK never crashes or requires rebooting, though like other display devices, it can become unusable if exposed to high ambient temperatures. The "browse" feature allows you to move instantly to any sheet, and move forward or backward as you wish. Many come with an "index" feature, which pinpoints the exact location of any selected information for instant retrieval.

BOOK can be stored for an almost unlimited amount of time without connecting any outside power source. Many BOOK units may be stored together as they cause no interference with one another, even when placed in close proximity. An optional "BOOKmark" accessory allows you to open BOOK to the exact place you left it in a previous session - even if the BOOK has been closed.

BOOKmarks fit universal design standards; thus, a single BOOKmark can be used in BOOKs by various manufacturers. Conversely, numerous BOOK markers can be used in a single BOOK if the user wants to store numerous views at once. The number is limited only by the number of pages in the BOOK.

You can also make personal notes next to BOOK text entries with an optional programming tool, the Portable Erasable Nib Cryptic Intercommunication Language Stylus (PENCILS). Portable, durable, and affordable,

BOOK is being hailed as a precursor of a new entertainment wave. Also, BOOK's appeal seems so certain that thousands of content creators have committed to the platform and investors are reportedly flocking. Look for a flood of new titles soon. Try it! You'll like it!


Okay, okay. Enough tongue-in-cheek. If you happen to need the tactile experience of not merely seeing a mock-page turn as one does on iPad; if you happen to love the smell of old (but not mildewy ) books; if you can't stand to see a shelf standing without being filled with books, BOOK is obviously the "device" of choice for you! I strongly suggest Alibris if you know the author and/or title for which you are looking, though Amazon will do in a pinch.

I completed my Ronald Arbuthnott Knox collection, picking and choosing very carefully (there are bargains to be found; another joy of BOOK buying). Go, thou; and choose wisely.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Do We Model the One Who Walks Along with Us?

Amazing reflection by von Balthasar.  We who follow Girard tend to also find inspiration from von Balthasar.  In this short paragraph you find the model, the double-bind and scandal.

The One Who Walks Along with Us
One of the most difficult things for a believer to do is to help a doubter. Like Moses, when he spoke to the people, we must cover our face so as to dim the radiance of the evidence within us and so, according to Paul's words, mourn with those who mourn, question with those who question, and doubt with those who doubt; for these will overcome their distrust of splendor only in this muted light. At the same time, however, we must let through enough brightness so that the faint-hearted will gather courage and derive strength from the example of faith. In other words, we must be the way and at the same time the goal, which is possible only because Christ became both things for us simultaneously. For his vitality consists in this: that he always stands at the level of the person he is educating and yet always is to be found as well at [as!] the final goal of his education. He walks along with the disciples toward Emmaus; but as they walk they discover that he is already reposing in the assurance of the goal. He is the Way, yet also the Truth, and, for that very reason, the Life.

Father von Balthazar (+ 1988) was an eminent Swiss Catholic theologian who wrote prodigiously.

— Magnificat, Vol 13, No. 3, May 2011, Pp. 118-119.

Is It Time For the Elders?

Her lyrics have always been raw often cutting to the core. It may not be religious and often the path is not one you would want to travel but through the lyrics she revealed a passion - yes, a passion of the lost, searching. Sadly today many have abandoned all passion. Maybe Paul Simon's new CD that Athos posted on below and Stevie's new "In Your Dreams" CD will awaken a wholehearted passion in a half-hearted age.

Cheaper than free
Stevie Nicks and Dave Stewart

What's cheaper than free? You and me
What's better then alone? Going home
What does money not buy? You and I
What's not to feel? When love is real

What's faster then a fast car? A beating heart
What's deeper then a deep well? The love into which I fell
More important then freedom? Being needed
More exciting then our fashion? High passion

What's brighter then a smile? a child, You child
What's brighter then a smile? a child, You child
A child, You child

What's warmer then a sun drenched land? Your hand
Your hand... Your hand

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Fools and Pilgrims

Nothing since Graceland comes near to excellence until now. Go thee, purchase his new album So Beautiful or So What. For sheer heart-rending poignancy, The Rewrite. Best call-and-response preachin' - Getting Ready for Christmas. Hands down best answer to his (long time ago now) nihilistic song, The Boxer, Questions for the Angels.

Go! Get thee hence, hear, and respond in faith to this prophetic aging voice. Hey! Aren't they the best kind, after all?

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

John Paul II is Beatified

This isn't exactly hot news, of course. But I admire Rome Reports a great deal. It appears in my area on EWTN on Sunday mornings, and is well worth some DVR memory.