A Catholic Blog for Lovers

A celebration of beauty, truth, and goodness, and, of course, love...and perhaps a little nastiness

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Saturday, November 30, 2002
First Vespers of the First Sunday of Advent: a New Year of Grace

O that you would rend the heavens and come down! - Isaiah 64:1

It is NOW the hour to rise from sleep.. - Romans 8:11

Come, Lord Jesus!

Overwhelmed - again!

After some recent events (which I won't mention now) I wasn't sure I'd be going out much ever again and was even considering cancelling my plans for Thanksgiving.

I chose instead to "bite the bullet".

And once more I have been overwhelmed by the sheer goodness of people. I spent Thanksgiving with my "family away from family" and I was enveloped by the warmth and the joy and the comfort of just being with one another, no matter what! Besides a meal that excelled in every way, the give and take of the family: the grandparents, the children, the grandchildren; the mutual helpfulness (yes, it is a remarkable family and all the more remarkable since they haven't got a hint they are remarkable!). It was wonderful and how thankful I am that I went.

Last evening I decided to keep my plans as well and go to the St Mary's High School class of 1977 Reunion (I was a sort of chaplain to the High School in those days). Wow! I was overwhelmed and deeply touched by the warmth of the welcome, the embraces, the conversations (and, yes, another fabulous meal). I was touched, too, by the goodness of some of these "kids" - some with large families - such as one who has four of her own and four adopted children.

What was a bit special this year: both of those who drove me home after these events, Brian and Bob - both of whom I have known since they were young kids, not only gave me a big and warm hug but both kissed me as well...... and I wept tears of joy and gratitude for such love and affection. (Yes, I couldn't help but think of the kiss bestowed on the prodigal son).

People are good.

God is good.

I hope you, too, have had a good and warming Thanksgiving. A blessed Advent to all!

The Brother Apostles Andrew and Peter

Today is the feast of Saint Andrew, Apostle. It is also the anniversary of Pope John Paul II's attendance at an Orthodox Divine Liturgy in the Phanar in Istanbul with the Ecumenical Patriarch on Nov. 30th 1979. John Paul was the first pope to do so in over a millennium. Saint Andrew, the first-called, is the patron the Church of Constantinople as Peter, his brother, is the patron of the Church of Rome. In this icon, given by Patriarch Athenagoras to Pope Paul VI, we see Andrew and Peter exchanging the kiss of peace:

Ut unum sint! That all may be one!

Friday, November 29, 2002

Some in US question Vatican's strong hand

Why am I not surprised to read this Boston Globe article critical of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the FAITH and of "the Vatican" in general as being antiquated and "unAmerican", etc. etc. etc.? (All in the name of the victims, of course).

Today in Church history

November 29, 1898: Christian writer and scholar C.S. Lewis, one of modern Christianity's best-loved writers, is born in Belfast, Ireland.

November 29, 1530: Thomas Wolsey, cardinal and Lord Chancellor to England's King Henry VIII, dies. Known as "a statesman rather than a churchman," Wolsey dismantled monasteries to fund Oxford University and devoted his life to king and country.

November 29, 1223: Pope Honorius III formally confirms the "Regula bullata," which organizes the Franciscan Order. The Franciscans are marked by complete poverty and a mission of itinerant preaching.

November 29, 1780: The Congregational Church of Connecticut licenses Lemuel Hayes to preach, making him the first black minister certified by a predominantly white denomination. Hayes later became the first black minister to pastor a white church.

November 29, 1950: The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States (NCC) is founded in Cleveland, Ohio, by 27 Protestant and seven Eastern Orthodox Churches and denominations.

Thursday, November 28, 2002

So many blessings to make me thankful!

I am thankful that I was fortunate to be born in the United States of America. A great country! Its natural beauty overwhelms me often; its people are, well, just magnificent for the most part; its spirit is generous and free and good, despite any weaknesses, flaws, and failures. Today especially I thank God for the blessings of being an American, and ask His continued blessing on our country and its people and its role in our fragile world.

This year, after some "unfoldings", I am particularly grateful for the incredible goodness of family and friends. Talk about being overwhelmed! How they have stuck with me through thick and thin! How they have understood, supported, encouraged me in my own hour of need!

How we have cried - and laughed - together! What beautiful words they have spoken to me; what beautiful actions they have done for me; what care, concern, gifts they have lavished upon me. And without fanfare or expectations ("you'd do the same for us" is what I hear so often and how I pray/hope that is true).

How blessed I am in these beautiful people!

And I do not forget my beloved peke, ONION, buddy of many years and always a delight to behold.

Thankful, "eucharistic", for the gift of faith, for the Church, for the best Friends of all: our Lady and the saints, Our Lord Jesus, and the Holy Triune God: to whom be all glory, praise, and THANKSGIVING, now and forever. Amen.

A blessed holiday to all celebrating. ENJOY and cherish the gifts of God.

Lord, Thou hast given so much to me:
One thing more I ask: a grateful heart.
Not thankful when it pleases me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days;
But such a heart whose every pulse may be:
Thy praise.

- George Herbert

Today in Church history

November 28, 1757: English Christian mystic William Blake is born in London. A poet, sculptor, and engraver, he was unschooled but fascinated with Milton, Shakespeare, Dante, and the Bible. He experienced visions all his life, beginning at age 4 when he believed he saw God looking in his window.

November 28, 1863: The the first annual national Thanksgiving Day in the United States is celebrated. Back in October, President Lincoln had proclaimed the fourth Thursday of each November from that time forward as a national day of thanks.


The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and beautiful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God...

No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the most high God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It is seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father, who dwelleth in the heavens...

Abraham Lincoln


Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

George Washington


"The Holy God having by a long and Continual Series of his Afflictive dispensations in and by the present War with the Heathen Natives of this land, written and brought to pass bitter things against his own Covenant people in this wilderness, yet so that we evidently discern that in the midst of his judgements he hath remembered mercy, having remembered his Footstool in the day of his sore displeasure against us for our sins, with many singular Intimations of his Fatherly Compassion, and regard; reserving many of our Towns from Desolation Threatened, and attempted by the Enemy, and giving us especially of late with many of our Confederates many signal Advantages against them, without such Disadvantage to ourselves as formerly we have been sensible of, if it be the Lord's mercy that we are not consumed, It certainly bespeaks our positive Thankfulness, when our Enemies are in any measure disappointed or destroyed; and fearing the Lord should take notice under so many Intimations of his returning mercy, we should be found an Insensible people, as not standing before Him with Thanksgiving, as well as lading him with our Complaints in the time of pressing Afflictions:

The Council has thought meet to appoint and set apart the 29th day of this instant June, as a day of Solemn Thanksgiving and praise to God for such his Goodness and Favour, many Particulars of which mercy might be Instanced, but we doubt not those who are sensible of God's Afflictions, have been as diligent to espy him returning to us; and that the Lord may behold us as a People offering Praise and thereby glorifying Him; the Council doth commend it to the Respective Ministers, Elders and people of this Jurisdiction; Solemnly and seriously to keep the same Beseeching that being persuaded by the mercies of God we may all, even this whole people offer up our bodies and souls as a living and acceptable Service unto God by Jesus Christ."

Wednesday, November 27, 2002
Glory be to God....

Mark Shea has a beautiful post on thanksgiving today and some of the comments of his readers moved me to tears.

Thank you, brother Mark!

The Enemy Within

This Thanksgiving, let us remember our perverseness, writes Mark Galli in Christianity Today online.

"Interesting" article on the Pope

There is a much I strongly disagree with in this article by Tobias Jones (no idea who he is).

He writes in this article:

"These scandals have not helped to staunch the haemorrhaging of numbers, of both priests and congregations. Visit any church in Italy and nine tenths of the pews will be empty; the average age will be somewhere near 70."

I have heard that the churches in Italy (at least in Rome!) have good attendance, better than is often reported in the western media. Anyone know the reality of things there regarding attendance (even if it is only 10% of the population that goes to church there would still be good numbers attending - and I think the percentage is higher than that)?

Today in Church history

November 27, 1095: After nine days of sessions among clerics, Pope Urban II addresses the public to proclaim the First Crusade. The goals were to defend Eastern Christians from Muslim aggression, make pilgrimages to Jerusalem safer, and recapture the Holy Sepulcher. "God wills it! God wills it!" the crowd shouted in response.

November 27, 1970: On a trip to the Philippines, Pope Paul VI is attacked by a dagger-wielding Bolivian painter disguised as a priest, and the Pope suffered a chest wound in the assault.

VOTF cheapskates?

In a New York Times article we read:

"Voice of the Faithful started in a suburban parish early this year as the clerical sex abuse crisis which has plagued the church in 2002 unfolded in Boston. Voice now counts 25,000 members worldwide."

"Voice of the Faithful's Compassion Fund has raised about $56,000, and has appealed to Catholics who feel disenfranchised by the sex scandals."

My response: either the membership numbers are highly inflated or these are the cheapest people in the world. I think the numbers are inflated and have something to do with the way the original VOTF website was set up where you signed in to go on or express interest and, I think, without knowing it, became " a member" in the process.

Maybe someone out there can confirm those numbers?

Tuesday, November 26, 2002
The Church I Love

...Christ has driven the Church, his people of God, out of the Egypt of human fleshpots. The promised land is assured her, but the path she must roam passes through the desolate land of her breakdowns in world history, through the crumbling of the late Roman empire, through the power struggles of the Middle Ages, to the failures of her modern missionary history, into the tragedies of Russia and China, to the rotting away of our culture, and into the explosive atomic future which we do not yet know. Everywhere on her path lie the ruins of her rusted weapons, stand the crumbling tombs of her great men who have become so small in death.

She has always had a Moses and an Aaron, but always also a grumbling people, always defection, complaints and denial. Often she has made compromises too early with a temporary situation, often she has understood the signs of the time too late. Always there have been small, narrow-minded, sinful men at work within her, leading but hindering, planning but foolishly. The Church is the tired, dusty pilgrimess through the desert.

This is, however, but one side of the mystery of her weakness. If we make our confession to her in faith, then we also think upon the other mystery of her insignificance. Her true greatness, the eternal, glorious holiness of this queen of the history of souls, prefers to envelop itself in weakness. It is hidden in the reliquaries of the hearts of unimportant people, for whom the Father alone has revealed the inward beauty of the kingdom. This Church lives among the unschooled, the little nuns, the silent sick; it lives in the concentration camps and prisons, in the misery of our brothers in the East.

So this is the Church of him who in her midst is hung, and in this Church will draw all men up to himself. "Come to me, you weary of soul and burdened," he says. This is the Church of Peter the fisherman who was crazily crucified upside down. This is the Church of our adventurous faith...

- Hugo Rahner, SJ

About St Blog's

I believe this article originally appeared in the Liguorian magazine - or something very similiar. Several mentioned it to me and now I am able to read it (it is not online at the Liguroian website when I last checked). Thanks to Mark Shea for pointing me to this article (in which my blog is mentioned right after the "big guns" - Mark and Amy).

Today in Church history

November 26, 1883: Evangelist and abolitionist Sojourner Truth (whose real name was Isabella Van Wagener), dies in Battle Creek, Michigan. Born a slave, Truth experienced visions and voices, which she attributed to God, and was one of the most charismatic abolitionists and suffragists of her day.

"I'm not going to die, honey. I'm going home like a shooting star." (Sojourner Truth)

Monday, November 25, 2002
For Fornicators and Adulterers Too?
And those who steal by cheating on their income tax?

"On the other hand, I do recall what a Yemenite Muslim shopkeeper once told me, with reference to boy-rapers: 'We know how to deal with such people.' One prays that the Archbishop of Boston profited from a similar ecumenical exchange of ideas. Chop-chop." (Reference is to Cardinal Law's visit to a mosque in Boston for a Ramadan prayer and breaking the fast meal).

Thus writes National Review editor Rod Dreher in a comment on Mark Shea's marvelous blog, Catholic and Enjoying it. I wonder if Rod wants to impose Sharia on all offenses? Or just pick and choose your favorite sin and offense?

Thank God for the MCs!

Sisters of Missionaries of Charity join Corpus Christi Procession, an annual event in Calcutta, India, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2002. The procession of about 10,000 Catholics, organized by The Catholic Association of Bengal, was joined by Parishes, Churches and Schools of Indian state of West Bengal.

The "Holiday Season"

It's hard for me to believe that we're almost at Thanksgiving, 2002! Advent (the new year of grace), Christmas, the New Year (of chronological time), Epiphany, all coming up quickly.

Advent has always been for me a time of new beginnings and this year is no exception. How I pray I can be more faithful to my daily prayer and reflections (and even to at least a part of the Rosary daily - I just pray the Joyful Mysteries during Advent). How I pray I use my time well and explore ways of bringing joy to others! How I pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit on how to communicate with family and friends over this season!

I've already listened to some Christmas music (in part to burn some CDs) and it always fills me with a sense of wonder and joy (even in adversity). I hope to listen to good music celebrating the Coming of Christ.

Most years I don't keep my resolutions too well. How I hope this year is different! (I guess I am still "young" enough at heart to hope for some changes, even if it is more and more a hope against hope!).

I hope, too, that each of you will have a good and enriching season as we come to Thanksgiving and the Christmas cycle. I hope it has moments of great joy and beauty. And filled for all of us with the Presence of Him who is at the very heart of it all.

Birthday of "good Pope John"

November 25, 1881: Angelo Roncalli is born in Sotto il Monte, Italy. In 1958 he would become one of the most popular popes of all time, John XXIII, "good Pope John."

The real Pope John XXIII was a traditional Catholic with peasant roots, and extraordinarily open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. He radiated love and won over the affection of millions upon millions. The whole world, it seems, watched by his deathbed and wept at his dying.

He was beatified by a Pope who honors him with his own name: "JOHN Paul II".

Good Pope John, remember us and continue to send us your warm blessings and give us a share in your love of Christ, Our Lady, the Church, and the whole world. Amen.

Sunday, November 24, 2002
Lord of lords, and King of kings

"We have declawed the Lion of Judah and turned Him into a fitting household pet for blue-haired ladies and pale-faced curates."

- Dorothy Sayers

The Solemnity of Christ the King

I believe in Jesus Christ.... seated at the right hand of the Father, who will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead; of whose Kingdom there shall be no end.

"Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands,
singing with full voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!"
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing, "To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!" (Rev 5: 11-14)

Christ vincit; Christus regnat; Christus imperat.

Viva Christo Rey!

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