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, June 21, 2003
 
Zossima or Ferapont?
Blessing or Casting Out?

Perhaps the greatest novel ever written is Dostoievesky's The Brothers Karamazov (though I think I appreciated Tolstoy's Anna Karenina even more).

In the Brothers K, Dostoievsky gives us two unforgettable portraits of representative figures of Christian faith: the staretz Zossima and Father Ferapont.

Father Zossima is God-intoxicated and life-affirming and has a focus on humble all-embracing love as the essence of life in Christ. He says, among other exhortations:

"Love one another, Fathers,” said Father Zossima, as far as Alyosha could remember afterwards. “Love God’s people.... When he (the monk) realises that he is not only worse than others, but that he is responsible to all men for all and everything, for all human sins, national and individual, only then the aim of our seclusion is attained. For know, dear ones, that every one of us is undoubtedly responsible for all men and everything on earth, not merely through the general sinfulness of creation, but each one personally for all mankind and every individual man. This knowledge is the crown of life for the monk and for every man. For monks are not a special sort of men, but only what all men ought to be. Only through that knowledge, our heart grows soft with infinite, universal, inexhaustible love. Then every one of you will have the power to win over the whole world by love and to wash away the sins of the world with your tears.…"

"..Remember particularly that you cannot be a judge of anyone. For no one can judge a criminal until he recognises that he is just such a criminal as the man standing before him, and that he perhaps is more than all men to blame for that crime. When he understands that, he will be able to be a judge. Though that sounds absurd, it is true. If I had been righteous myself, perhaps there would have been no criminal standing before me. If you can take upon yourself the crime of the criminal your heart is judging, take it at once, suffer for him yourself, and let him go without reproach. And even if the law itself makes you his judge, act in the same spirit so far as possible, for he will go away and condemn himself more bitterly than you have done. If, after your kiss, he goes away untouched, mocking at you, do not let that be a stumbling-block to you. It shows his time has not yet come, but it will come in due course. And if it come not, no Matter; if not he, then another in his place will understand and suffer, and judge and condemn himself, and the truth will be fulfilled. Believe that, believe it without doubt; for in that lies all the hope and faith of the saints."


Father Ferapont, ascetic, strict, observing all disciplines and traditions, tends to see evil everywhere, even in Father Zossima, who he believes to be an "innovator."

"Casting out I cast out!" and, turning in all directions, he began at once making the sign of the cross at each of the four walls and four corners of the cell in succession. All who accompanied Father Ferapont immediately understood his action. For they knew he always did this wherever he went, and that he would not sit down or say a word, till he had driven out the evil spirits.

"Satan, go hence! Satan, go hence!" he repeated at each sign of the cross. "Casting out I cast out," he roared again."


It seems to me the Church has both "types" throughout her history. It seems to me we have blogs that reflect, more or less, these two streams. Some reflect a bit of both, of course! I have come to appreciate more and more the affirming stance of Father Zossima and to reject more and more the "casting out" anti-spirit of the Feraponts of right and left. Some Catholic blogs might have, perhaps, a sub-title "Casting out I cast out!" One can see this spirit of negativity and seeing evil in all places in some blogging and comments about the current Bishops conference.

Give me the spirit of Father Zossima any day!


 
Resignation has not ended Law's role in church

St Louis - Once, he was a force to be reckoned with in the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, a leading spokesman on foreign policy, abortion, and other matters.

Now, six months after his resignation amidst scandal, Cardinal Bernard F. Law has lost his job, his house, and his vote at the bishops conference, which concludes its semiannual meeting here today. The attorney general in Massachusetts is wrapping up a lengthy criminal investigation into the Archdiocese of Boston under Law's stewardship and that of his predecessors.

But Law's resignation as archbishop of Boston has not ended his career as a leader in the Catholic church..."


 
The nakedness of Noah

GENESIS 9

18 The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.)
19 These three were the sons of Noah, and from them the whole earth was peopled.
20 Now Noah, a man of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard.
21 When he drank some of the wine, he became drunk and lay naked inside his tent.
22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father's nakedness, and he told his two brothers outside about it.
23 Shem and Japheth, however, took a robe, and holding it on their backs, they walked backward and covered their father's nakedness; since their faces were turned the other way, they did not see their father's nakedness.
24 When Noah woke up from his drunkenness and learned what his youngest son had done to him,
25 he said: "Cursed be Caanan! The lowest of slaves shall he be to his brothers."
26 4 He also said: "Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem! Let Canaan be his slave.
27 5 May God expand Japheth, so that he dwells among the tents of Shem; and let Canaan be his slave."

My mind kept going back to this story from Genesis after seeing a link to the mug shot of Bishop O'Brien on a prominent Catholic blog. I am not even sure this text applies; surely not directly; its purpose is different. But there seems to be something rather beautiful in the way Shem and Ham refused to look upon their father's nakedness and rather covered him; they did not point to his drunkenness or his naked body.

Now granted there is plenty in the Old Testament showing God's wrath upon sinners. But there is also this beautiful story to counterbalance and to perhaps give some pointers to how we humans deal with shameful happenings especially in our own families, our own flesh and blood. I think most of us can relate to a certain discretion when it comes to our own families.

According to the New Covenant the Church is a family forged in "the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" - brothers and sisters in Christ. Again there is a place for the prophetic announcements and public criticism (according to the Spirit of God, however). But it seems to me that a spirit of discretion always applies as well, a certain desire to cover unnecessary shaming and humiliation. I think, too, of Our Lord's own approach to those who sinned even perhaps publically. Remember his encounter with the woman caught in adultery: "Is there no one left to condemn you?" "No one, Master." "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more."

This is the same beautiful spirit I find in the Desert Fathers and in the early Franciscan movement. The "veil" of discretion when it comes to the sins and faults of others. It is like the ointment poured out on the Lord Jesus, filling the whole house with its fragrance.

Again, this does not preclude a certain amount of public discussion about sins and failures of fellow Catholics and even of those God has set in place in the succession of the apostles.

But the sons of Noah who received the blessing did not look upon the nakedness of their father.

The one who did and pointed it out to the others was cursed.

It is a sign of the goodness and kindness of our God, that now, in Christ, all of us are blessed!


 
Bishops reflect on state of Catholic Church, their role in it

"...Friday's reflection may be the first step in a wider more public examination of the Catholic church in America, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of Milwaukee said.

He, Rigali and six other bishops are looking into having a plenary council, a traditional gathering of representatives from all dioceses within a nation, to look at matters that affect the life of the church in that area. The last U.S. council was in 1884 in Baltimore.

Dolan and Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago, suggested that instead of a council, the bishops might get the Vatican to call a two-week regional synod for bishops to consider the state of the faith.

Whatever the venue, the culture that led to covering up sex abuse will be discussed, bishops said."


 
Today in Christian history

June 21, 1607: English settlers found the first Anglican (later Episcopalian) parish in America at Jamestown, Virginia.

June 21, 1892: Reinhold Niebuhr, American neo-orthodox theologian and ethicist, is born. He rejected some of the optimism of Christian liberalism, arguing for origional sin and for a prophetic, culture-challenging Christianity, but his liberal views on politics, the Bible, and the nature of Christ (he believed Jesus was a moral exemplar, but not fully God) distanced him from conservatives.


 
Bishops' Session Assesses the State of the U.S. Church

"ST. LOUIS, June 20 — In a closed-door meeting they described as "a day of prayerful reflection," the nation's Roman Catholic bishops began a re-examination of the sexual abuse crisis by asking themselves how the American church had strayed so far from its ideals.

To focus the discussion, bishops said they had polled themselves in the last few months, and fixed on these problems as their priorities: the low attendance of Catholics at Mass and confession; the corrosive effects of American culture on faith; and the confused identity and spirituality of many bishops and priests.

To consider these and other ills, the prelates today debated a proposal to hold a plenary council, a major assembly of bishops, priests and laypeople that the church in the United States has not seen since 1884..."


Friday, June 20, 2003
 
How John Wesley Changed America

The Catholic Church could learn a good deal from the revival movement begun by John Wesley (and learn from mistakes as well).


 
Day of Prayer and Penance

Well, not much. But some. And I hope and pray the LORD will take the crumbs and multiply them for the good of the Church in the United States and her bishops in a special way. And I hope I will be more open to the workings of the Holy Spirit in my own life day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment.


 
The best thing about having a blog...

is when someone does all your work for you.... (title and words from John at Disputations).

Another "yes, yes, yes" to wise words of John De Fiesole about the USCCB.


 
An invitation to anyone interested to join me today in-

- A DAY OF PRAYER WITH AND FOR OUR BISHOPS - ASKING FOR AN OUTPOURING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT ON THE BISHOPS AND ON THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN THE UNITED STATES, ON ME, ON US; A DAY OF PENANCE WITH FASTING AND ABSTINENCE FROM MEAT. COME, HOLY SPIRIT! LET THE FIRE FALL!


Thursday, June 19, 2003
 
Imagine - II


Let the Fire fall!

In the first Imagine post below I spoke of the bishops meeting, imagining that it would be spent in prayer, repentance, and reflection with the Word of God.

Now it looks like the Bishops will give at least tomorrow, Friday, to some sort of prayerful reflection and put aside all other business.

Imagine if all of us who have spoken about the current crisis in the Church and have offered various criticisms of our bishops would now put aside "all other business" tomorrow and, as far as is possible, spend the day in prayerful reflection. It is a Friday and it would seem to me appropriate that we might abstain from meat as a small penance - and even perhaps fast. (I am hoping to do both). The bishops have spilled lots of ink with document upon document; we have typed countless words, words, words in criticism and challenge.

"The Kingdom of God is not in words but in power." (1 Cor 4: 20)

From words to "power" - the dynamis, the power of the Spirit of the living God.

Let all mortal flesh keep silence......

Imagine if we all let the Spirit be fanned into a flame in our very souls!

(I won't be blogging tomorrow but will keep "silence" as a prayer and a hope).

Let the Fire fall!


 
Yes! Yes! Yes!

Quite often the author of Disputations says what I wish I had said, only he says it better and more profoundly. As in this wonderful reflection on some good news for the Church in the United States.


 
The Church: always in need of repentance, reform, renewal!

Perhaps some perspective on today's problems from the 12th century:

"The state and face of the Church are in these days so wretched that it is hard to think of a text one can decently apply to her. One, though, that comes to mind is the story of the Israelite's wife in the time of the judges who for a whole night was raped to death by the men of Gibeah. Her husband found her dead early the next morning, her hands stretched over the threshold. He placed her on his donkey and took her home, where he cut her body into twelve pieces, which he sent to the twelve tribes of Israel, stirring every­one to compassion and zeal for revenge....

Who is this woman, who left her father to be the wife of an Israelite, if not holy Church, who left her father (the devil or the world) to be joined in marriage to Christ? Just as the woman in the story often left her husband and returned to her father, so the Church, growing cold in her love for Christ, goes off to socialize with the world, or its prince, the devil, in the house of infidelity and immorality. But whenever that happens, Christ, her husband, calls her back, and through the mouths of pastors and doctors, by the infusion of his Spirit of love, he revives ardor within her, saying to her, as it were coaxingly, "Hearken, 0 daughter, and see, and incline your ear; forget your own people and your father's house. So shall the King desire your beauty" (Ps 44:12).

While the Church here below walks among proud and depraved men, she is violated by their proud and depraved ... doctrines and morals. And though the Church has many times suffered from wicked and depraved men, she has never been more shamefully subjected, so it seems to me to corruption than she is today with an unbridled gang of Simoniacs assaulting her chastity to satisfy their lusts. It is like the boats in the gospel: "Both were filled, so that they began to sink" (cf. Lk 5:7). They did not sink, but they were in danger of sinking.

In the same way, we can say of the Church that her corruptors are abusing her all night (the hour of darkness!) so much that she is dead, i.e., close to death. Yes, in many parishes, the vital fire of the sacraments, from which they could have drawn life, has been totally extinguished, just like the fire of the altar of the Lord, which was kept alight through so many years of the Babylonian captivity, is said to have been extinguished at the time when Jason and Menelaus were buying the priesthood."

- Gerhoh of Reichersberg: Syntagma de statu Ecclesiae 12; PL I94, 1458-59


 
'I am glad I am president of the conference'

"Sometimes Bishop Wilton D. Gregory asks God what's next.

In his 19 months as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, he's endured steep challenges and verbal lashings nearly 24/7.

Many consider him a courageous leader.

Many say he hasn't gone far enough.

"There are times when I would like to talk to God and say 'Lord, you obviously have a plan for me to do, would you share with me the wisdom of your agenda?'" Gregory said Wednesday.

Still, "I am glad I am president of the conference," he said..."


 
Remarks, resignations put bishops in spotlight

"...Perhaps the most significant reflection of the impact of the crisis will take place tomorrow -- a day the bishops have set aside for closed-door ''prayerful reflection'' on the possibility of calling an unusual ''plenary council'' at which the bishops would discuss the state of the church in the United States. Such a gathering, which must be approved by the Vatican, has not been held in this country in more than 100 years.

According to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, the last plenary council in this country took place in Baltimore in 1884, and led to the publication of the Baltimore Catechism. The conference said laypeople and priests can participate in a plenary council, but do not have a vote, and their numbers must be limited.

The idea of a council was proposed last summer by dozens of bishops who wanted a gathering that would discuss the issues of ''promoting holiness, priestly celibacy, and sound sexual morality'' in the United States. But the effort appears to have lost steam as some have expressed concern that it would be difficult to control the agenda of such a gathering.

While the bishops meet behind closed doors, others will be offering their own analysis of the crisis..."


 
Potential good news about Bishops' meeting

"ALL DAY FRIDAY: NOT open to news media. This is a change. The whole day will be devoted to the 'Day of Prayerful Reflection for the Bishops,' with no other business conducted."

I hope that some of us will pray and fast this day (Friday, June 20th) united in spirit with our Bishops.

I am hoping to receive the grace to do this and to say "yes."

(Thanks to Tom for this news item, from comment box).

Veni, Sancte Spiritus!


 
Op-ed by Frank Keating on his experience with the Review Board

With some reservations, a largely positive appraisal.

Just a minor aside: I notice that Keating, here and elsewhere, doesn't capitalize the letter "c" in church. Not sure if that has any significance. But I did notice it and wonder a bit.... the tendency among those who speak of "celebrating eucharist" and "doing reconciliation" is to keep the "c" small in church. I tend to capitalize it as in Church - except when referring to the parish building known as "the church."


 
'Unraveled' by Sex Abuse Crisis in Diocese, Phoenix Bishop Quits

"Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien of the Phoenix Diocese resigned today, succumbing to a year of turmoil over the sexual abuse crisis in the church and the more personal disgrace of being arrested in a fatal hit-and-run accident.

For decades, Bishop O'Brien was known as a self-effacing builder of schools and an advocate for the poor..."

"..Friends and associates described the 67-year-old Roman Catholic bishop as a fairly timid and spiritual man who fell into deep despair under the strain of the disclosures of repeated cases of sexually predatory priests under his supervision and relentless pressure of a prosecutor who this month won an extraordinary admission of misconduct from the bishop..."

"...Even as he handled numerous complaints by quietly transferring abusive priests, the bishop publicly earned a reputation as a successful fund raiser and an advocate for increased spending on programs for the poor and building Catholic schools. He built three new Catholic elementary schools and a new high school. Bishop O'Brien speaks passable Spanish and was popular in many Latino parishes.

He persuaded Pope John Paul II to visit Phoenix in 1987 and brought Mother Teresa to the city to see the thousands of homeless people who live on the streets. She later opened a homeless shelter here, run by the Missionaries of Charity..."

"...The bishop has remained cloistered in his home over the last two days. Kim Sue Lia Perkes, a former journalist who was brought in as spokeswoman for the troubled diocese last year, spent several hours with the bishop over the last two days. Ms. Perkes described him as distraught and regretful.

"He so wants the people of the diocese to know how much he loves them and that all he ever wanted to do was to be of service to the church, to God and to the people" she said.

"He's very sad. His heart is breaking."

Kyrie Eleison!


 
Today in Church history

June 19, 325: Bishop Hosius of Cordova, a delegate at the Council of Nicea, and presiding prelate, announces the "Nicene Creed." Countering Arius, who taught that "there was a time when the Son was not," the creed describes Christ as "God from very God, begotten not made".

June 19, 1566: James VI of Scotland, who later became King James I of England, is born. He wrote treatises on the divine right of kings, witchcraft, biblical themes, and set into motion a translation of the Bible known as the King James Version.

June 19, 1623: Blaise Pascal, French mathematician and scientist as well as a fervent believer and Catholic (and "Jansenist"), is born.

June 19, 1834: Baptist preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon, one of the greatest preachers and orators of the nineteenth century, is born.

June 19, 1987: The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down a Louisiana law requiring public schools to teach creationism if they taught evolution.


Wednesday, June 18, 2003
 
Hispanic population grows rapidly

"WASHINGTON, June 18 — The Hispanic population grew at nearly four times the rate of the U.S. population overall over the past two years, cementing Latinos’ position as the nation’s largest minority group, the Census Bureau reported Wednesday.."

Potentially good news for Catholicism in the United States - if we can be pastorally sensitive and open to the riches of Latin American Catholicism and its popular piety. Otherwise we will continue to lose many to Protestantism and the sects. May Our Lady of Guadalupe intercede for us and our Church.


 
Great MP3 Downloads of Sacred Music

Right now I am listening to a gorgeous Russian Vespers sung by the Monks of Chevetogne (Ignacio mentioned in the comment boxes about recordings from this monastery). I downloaded it from the Dovesong site. Lots of the sacred music of the Renaissance and Baroque Period and a large collection of Gregorian chants. A real find! Hope you find something there to download and enjoy!


 
A Sign of Hope for Unity


Icon of Christ the LORD available from the monastery of Chevetogne

Since 1925 this Benedictine Monastery of Chevetogne has been dedicated to the reunion of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. It is unique in that it has monks who follow both the Latin and Byzantine Rites and celebrate the Liturgy and Offices simultaneously in each Rite (at times concelebrating together). Chevetogne has a magnficent Byzantine church as well as a beautiful Latin church (its new iconography was done recently by the best known iconographer in Russia, Father Zenon). Founded by Dom Lambert Beauduin, this Dual Rite Monastery has had enormous influence over the years and its journal "Irenikon" is considered one of the finest dealing with ecumenical issues.

Nice to know it's here!


 
Over the line

One of the more popular Catholic blogs did it. What I feared. The blogger linked to the mug shot of Bishop David O'Brien and the police report about the tragic hit and run accident. I knew this would be available at the Smoking Gun site, but had no interest in seeing it or reading the report there.

To me, this is going "over the line." It throws to the wind all discretion and reverence for the pain involved - and that includes many more than the bishop.

It stinks.

The secular media does it all the time with its justification that "it's news" (and how we can blast the secular media at times for its slimy values and invasions!). But it seems to me, anyway, quite out of place on a Catholic blog - just from a human decency aspect, to say nothing about Christian discretion and charity, and the Catholic spirit and ethos which is so humane and reverent and understanding and never rejoicing over or trumpeting the disgrace or humiliation of another, no matter what the sin or failure may be.

To criticize reprehensible behavior is one thing and can be appropriate at times; but to point to a mug shot of a fellow Catholic, who is also a priest and bishop, well, as I already said, that just stinks.


 
The Word of the LORD for today

"Consider this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Cor 9: 6-7)

One of Dorothy Day's favorite maxims for living involved "the law of sowing." The more one sows and gives away, the more one reaps and receives. Including things like time even: give away to the LORD time for prayer and quiet and you will find more time for other things and accomplish more!

Another favorite phrase of Dorothy's was "the duty of delight."

That amounts to "cheerful giving."

"Those who sow in tears, will reap with shouts of joy. Although they go forth weeping, carrying seed to be sown, they shall come back rejoicing, carrying their sheaves." (Psalm 126:4-6)


 
Parishes lag on payments

Lennon says workers could lose insurance

"...Lennon's remarks won generally positive reviews from priests, many of whom entered the meeting with skepticism.

''He was very clear, well-prepared, candid, and comprehensive,'' said the Rev. Robert W. Bullock, the president of the Boston Priests Forum. ''It was notable to me how easy the atmosphere was and how engaged people were. He was unthreatening and pastoral, and there was no tension in that room.''

''Lots of parishes are really struggling and find it difficult to pay their bills,'' Bullock said. ''But we have a moral responsibility, and a responsibility in justice, to make sure there is no danger to these parts of our responsibility. If we are having trouble paying bills, these bills should have priority.'' The Rev. Robert J. Bowers, pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Church in Charlestown, also praised Lennon.

''I give him a lot of credit for being very open and letting us know what's going on -- the hopeful part is that there is some openness about discussing it, and more of this open discussion would be a great idea,'' he said. ''This problem predates the crisis, but the solution is in the middle of it, so it's a tough situation. People are going to have to lose jobs....''

Boston Archdiocese, Hurting Financially, Warns of Layoffs

"..The Rev. Bernard P. McLaughlin, pastor of the St. Gerard Majella parish in Canton, a southern suburb, said he had not sent his share of offerings in two years.

"We're in good shape here," Father McLaughlin said. "The reason, I think, is that people here are happy and they are giving."

If his parishioners thought the money was going to the archdiocese, he said, "they would back off."

Father McLaughlin was invited to today's meeting with Bishop Lennon but did not attend."


 
Pope Accepts Resignation of Bishop After Accident

"...A brief Vatican statement said the pope had accepted O'Brien's resignation according to a norm of Catholic law which says bishops should hand in their resignations if they are incapable of carrying out their duties for "serious" reasons....."


Tuesday, June 17, 2003
 
Imagine...

That the American Catholic bishops gather together and leave behind all ponderous documents and proposals, all books and newspapers, and bring just the Bible (even the NAB will do!). Then to put aside the usual schedule and simply pray each day - long and hard. On the knees. Without sheets of paper with the words on them! (The Rosary might even suffice). Asking for forgiveness; and even going to confession on one of those days and communally praying prayers of repentance and penitence. Perhaps a preacher who uses the Bible well could preach several sermons each day (for example, Benedict Groeschel).

No lengthy documents approved, no statements issued. No more words. Perhaps an imposition of ashes the only "statement" of this meeting.

Imagine......


 
"The Catholic Spirit"

An excerpt from a sermon by John Wesley, on this the 300th anniversary of his birth:

"And when he was departed thence, he lighted on Jehonadab the son of Rechab coming to meet him, and he saluted him, and said to him, Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart? And Jehonadab answered: It is. If it be, give me thine hand." 2 Kings 10:15.


5. If, then, we take this word in the strictest sense, a man of a catholic spirit is one who, in the manner above-mentioned, gives his hand to all whose hearts are right with his heart: one who knows how to value, and praise God for, all the advantages he enjoys, with regard to the knowledge of the things of God, the true scriptural manner of worshipping him, and, above all, his union with a congregation fearing God and working righteousness: one who, retaining these blessings with the strictest care, keeping them as the apple of his eye, at the same time loves- as friends, as brethren in the Lord, as members of Christ and children of God, as joint partakers now of the present kingdom of God, and fellow heirs of his eternal kingdom - all, of whatever opinion or worship, or congregation, who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ; who love God and man; who, rejoicing to please, and fearing to offend God, are careful to abstain from evil, and zealous of good works.

He is the man of a truly catholic spirit, who bears all these continually upon his heart; who having an unspeakable tenderness for their persons, and longing for their welfare, does not cease to commend them to God in prayer, as well as to plead their cause before men; who speaks comfortably to them, and labours, by all his words, to strengthen their hands in God. He assists them to the uttermost of his power in all things, spiritual and temporal. He is ready "to spend and be spent for them;" yea, to lay down his life for their sake.

6. Thou, O man of God, think on these things! If thou art already in this way, go on. If thou hast heretofore mistook the path, bless God who hath brought thee back! And now run the race which is set before thee, in the royal way of universal love. Take heed, lest thou be either wavering in thy judgement, or straitened in thy bowels: but keep an even pace, rooted in the faith once delivered to the saints, and grounded in love, in true catholic love, till thou art swallowed up in love for ever and ever!


 
The Word of the Lord for today

"For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that for your sake he became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich." (2 Cor 8:9)

What an exchange!

Verbum Domini.

Deo Gratias!



 
A piece on the Cathedral of St John the Divine in NYC

I used to take visitors to NY to 2 churches: first St John the Divine, massive, impressive, traditional; then to St Patrick's Cathedral, also large and impressive and traditional.

Then I would say: "now you know why I am a Catholic."

St John the Divine was mostly empty and had a coldness to it. The feel of a museum!

St Patrick's was alive with people, piety and warmth. Tons of people of all ages and races on their knees, lighting candles, going to confession, celebrating Mass, giving to the poor boxes (and maybe taking from the poor boxes too!). Alive!

Perhaps others have had a similiar experience?


 
The Ecumenism of the Saints

Beautiful words and ideals from the Orthodox, Anglican, Protestant (Quaker), and Catholic streams:


The apostolic brothers Peter (representing "the west") and Andrew (representing the "east") embrace: an icon given to the Pope by the Ecumenical Patriarch

"The whole teaching of the Latin Fathers may be found in the East, just as the whole teaching of the Greek Fathers may be found in the West. Rome has given St Jerome to Palestine. The East has given Cassian to the West and holds in special veneration that Roman of the Romans, Pope St Gregory the Great. St Basil would have acknowledged St Benedict of Nursia as his brother and heir. St Macrina would have found her sister in St Scholastica. St Alexis 'the man of God', the 'poor man under the stairs', has been succeeded by the wandering beggar St Benedict Joseph Labre. St Nicholas would have felt as very near to him the burning charity of St Francis of Assisi and St Vincent de Paul. St Seraphim of Sarov would have seen the desert blossoming under Father Charles de Foucauld's feet, and would have called St Therese of Lisieux 'my joy'".

- Father Lev Gillet, Orthodox Spirituality



"It is at her center, where her truest children dwell, that each communion is really closest to every other in spirit, if not in doctrine. And this suggests that at the center of each there is something, or a Someone, who against all divergencies of belief, all differences of temperament, all memories of mutual persecution, speaks with the same voice."

- CS Lewis, Mere Christianity



"The final grounds of holy Fellowship are in God. Lives immersed and drowned in God are drowned in love, and know one another in Him, and know one another in love. God is the medium, the matrix, the focus, the solvent. As Meister Eckhart suggests, he who is wholly surrounded by God, enveloped by God, clothed by God, glowing in selfless love toward Him--such a man no one can touch except he touch God also.

Such lives have a common meeting-point; they live in common joyous enslavement. They go back into a single Center where they are at home with Him and with one another. It is as if every soul had a final base, and that final base of every soul is one single Holy Ground, shared in by all. Persons in the Fellowship are related to one another through Him, as all mountains go down into the same earth. They get at one another through Him. He is actively moving in all, co-ordinating those who are pliant to His will and suffusing them all with His glory and His joy."

- Thomas Kelly, A Testament of Devotion



"On the other hand, Catholics must gladly acknowledge and esteem the truly Christian endowments from our common heritage which are to be found among our separated brethren. It is right and salutary to recognize the riches of Christ and virtuous works in the lives of others who are bearing witness to Christ, sometimes even to the shedding of their blood. For God is always wonderful in His works and worthy of all praise.

Nor should we forget that anything wrought by the grace of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of our separated brethren can be a help to our own edification. Whatever is truly Christian is never contrary to what genuinely belongs to the faith; indeed, it can always bring a deeper realization of the mystery of Christ and the Church."

- The Decree on Ecumenism, The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council


 
Today in Church history

June 17, 1703: John Wesley, founder of Methodism, is born in Epworth, England, to parents Samuel and Susanna. Though Methodism's emphasis on grace and instantaneous (often emotional) conversion marked a radical departure from high church tradition, Wesley always considered himself an Anglican.

June 17, 1963: The U.S. Supreme Court rules 8-1 that states cannot require the recitation of the Lord's Prayer or Bible verses in public schools


 
Vincent McNabb O.P. and a Prayer

Today is the anniversary of the death of one of my "heroes" - Father Vincent McNabb, O.P. - in 1943. In his honor I post once again one of my favorite selections from his writings, a prayer that seems so appropriate at all times, and especially in these times:

"Lord Jesus, the one whom Thou lovest is sick" (Jn 11:3).
The one whom Thou lovest is strayed.
I have lost Thee.
I cannot find Thee.
Find me.
Seek me.
I cannot find Thee.
I have lost my way.
Thou art the Way.
Find me, or I am utterly lost.
Thou lovest me.
I do not know if I love Thee;
but I know Thou lovest me.
I do not plead my love, but Thine.
I do not plead my strength, but Thine.
I do not plead my deed, but Thine.
The one whom Thou lovest is sick.
I dare not say:
The one who loves Thee is sick.
My sickness is that I do not love Thee.
That is the source of my sickness which is approaching death.
I am sinking.
Raise me.
Come to me upon the waters.
Lord Jesus, "the one whom Thou lovest is sick."

- Vincent McNabb, O.P.


Monday, June 16, 2003
 
Phoenix Bishop Arrested in Deadly Hit-and-Run Case

This story is so sad, and I almost hesitate to link to it. But I do for one reason: to ask for prayers: for the repose of the soul of the dead victim and for his family and friends, for the Catholics of Phoenix, and for the bishop. There is much pain involved. May the LORD comfort all who are in need. I realize that this story gives yet more fodder for negative and even vile things to say about the bishop; so be it. But, please, let's pray and beg the LORD for mercy, grace, and courage.


 
From God's Word today

"We are treated as deceivers and yet are truthful; as unrecognized and yet acknowledged; as dying and behold we live; as chastised and yet not put to death; as sorrowful yet always rejoicing; as poor yet enriching many; as having nothing and yet possessing all things." (2 Cor 6: 9-10)

I have long loved the last phrase "having nothing yet possessing all things." While I am far from interiorizing this on the deepest level, yet on a certain level I can attest to its truth and trustworthiness. I have long been "poor" as far as assets are concerned and even in terms of finances. Yet... yet... I seem to live like a king! A writer friend calls it "God's alternate economic plan". I do sense that while I possess little I have much, and hope and pray this Word of the LORD will deepen in me and bear fruit a hundredfold. It seems a long time attaining: a certain detachment from creatures and "things" to be attached to God alone and, in an ordered fashion, to love what God provides (which includes, of course, our family and friends).

...nihil habentes et omnia possidentes...



 
SEXUAL ABUSE CRISIS IN NEW YORK CITY SCHOOLS:
STATE INVESTIGATION URGED


From The Catholic League:

“The sexual abuse crisis in the New York City public schools dwarfs the scandal in the Catholic Church, yet state lawmakers are doing nothing about it. This outrageous condition demands a response from Albany.

"... A previous study by the New York Post revealed that at least one child is sexually abused by a school employee every day in New York City schools! One third of the accused are repeat offenders and more than 60 percent are simply transferred to desk jobs. And each time reforms are proposed, the unions invoke state law protecting tenured teachers at the expense of innocent children.

“I am writing today to Governor George Pataki and every member of the New York State legislature to conduct an investigation of this incredible abuse of power and to enact new laws that put the safety of children first..."


 
BISHOPS TO MEET IN ST. LOUIS:
LESSONS LEARNED SINCE DALLAS CONFERENCE


From The Catholic League:

"The first lesson learned is that the conventional wisdom regarding the scale of the scandal is wrong. To be specific, although about 1,000 new people have come forward in the past year with accusations against priests, dead and alive, less than one percent of the 46,000 priests in the U.S. have been accused; this fraction would be lower if we did not count the deceased. It would also be lower if some states did not suspend the statute of limitations. The conventional wisdom is further flawed when we consider the fact that the majority of reported cases involve alleged incidents more than 20 years ago.

Now contrast this with what the Catholic League found regarding reported instances of sex abuse committed by teachers: from news accounts of the past year, we were able to determine that 83 percent of these cases involve incidents committed within the past three years; 2 percent of the cases go back further than 1980. In short, the problem in the Church is significantly exaggerated and is unfairly compared to other professions.

“The second lesson learned is that the conventional wisdom regarding the nature of the abuses is also wrong. Most people think of sex abuse as rape, but what passes as sex abuse charges against priests includes everything from rape to inappropriate touching to an unwelcome kiss to ‘ignoring warnings about suspicious behavior.’

“The third lesson learned is that the conventional wisdom regarding the veracity of the charges is wrong. Most people tend to believe alleged victims. While many are sincere, it is also true that many are not: there is a game being played by greedy lawyers (some of whom have made tens of millions off the scandal) and their ‘repressed memory’ clients. Add to this the fact that hundreds of claims are being made by persons who previously settled with the Church, and the game gets bigger.”


 
New Comment system

I have found that the current Comment system I have been using has quite often significantly slowed down loading my blog (and other blogs which use the same system). Now that Haloscan has reopened registrations, I am going to be switching over sometime today (I hope). We will loose all the comments added on this blog up to this point (though if I decide to go back those comments will be reactivated, I believe). Thanks to all who use this feature. I hope more will do so with the new system!

Update: New system in place.


 
Today in Church history

June 16, 1846: Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti is named Pope Pius IX, remembered for his 31-year pontificate—the longest in history—for his declaration of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception and for the First Vatican Council's declaration of the infallibility of the pope's Magisterium under certain conditions. Pius was beatified recently along with his great admirer, Pope John XXIII.

June 16, 1855: William and Catherine Booth, founders of the Salvation Army, marry, having fallen in love the first night they met. William had escorted Catherine home, and she later wrote, "Before we reached my home, we both felt as though we had been made for each other".


 
North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation Holds 64th Meeting; Continues Its Study of Filioque Question

WASHINGTON (June 12, 2003) -— The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation held its 64th meeting from May 27 to 29, 2003, at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Seminary in Crestwood, New York. It was hosted by the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Churches in the Americas (SCOBA), and was co-chaired by Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk of Cincinnati and Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh.

The main focus of the meeting was a continuation of the Consultation's four-year study of the filioque question. The original version of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed that dates from the 4th century and is still used by the Orthodox states that the Holy Spirit "proceeds from the Father." The word filioque ("and from the Son") was later added to the Latin version of this Creed used in the West, so that the phrase would read that the Holy Spirit "proceeds from the Father and the Son." This modification appeared in some areas of western Europe as early as the 5th century but was accepted in Rome only in the 11th century. This change in the wording of the Creed and the underlying variations in understanding the origin and procession of the Holy Spirit within the Trinity have long been considered a church-dividing issue between the two communions.

Two papers were delivered in the first theological session. Rev. John P. Galvin spoke on "The Economic and the Immanent Trinity: A Survey of Recent Catholic Discussion." Rev. Robert Stephanopoulos then presented an article by Metropolitan John (Zizioulas) of Pergamon, "One Single Source: An Orthodox Response to the Clarification on the Filioque," the 1995 Vatican document that set forth the position of the Catholic Church on this difficult issue.

The subsequent theological sessions were devoted entirely to considering the text of a draft agreed statement on the Orthodox and Catholic traditions concerning the origin of the Holy Spirit. It was carefully examined, and the members had an opportunity to offer observations and comments on each paragraph. A revised version of the text will be produced over the summer and sent to the members who will be invited to submit further reflections in view of drafting a third version for consideration at the Consultation's next meeting.

Two evening sessions were devoted to an examination of current events in the churches. These information sessions considered the appointment of Brian Farrell as Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Unity and of Angelo Amato as Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the presence of a Vatican delegation at the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the Feast of St. Andrew in November 2002, the approval of a new charter for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and the new titles given to its metropolitans, developments in SCOBA, relations between the Vatican and the Moscow Patriarchate, the move of the headquarters of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church to Kiev and the possible establishment of a Ukrainian Greek Catholic patriarchate, the effort to create a united Russian Orthodox jurisdiction in Western Europe, the visit of a Vatican delegation to the Church of Greece and the visit of a Serbian Orthodox delegation to the Vatican in February 2003, the election of Archimandrite Evangelos Kourounis as Metropolitan of New Jersey, developments in the international Orthodox-Catholic dialogue, the "Christian Churches Together in the USA" initiative, the new papal encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, the response of our churches to the war in Iraq, a symposium on the "Petrine ministry" in Rome with the participation of Orthodox theologians, the Princeton Statement on Christian Unity, and developments regarding the ordination of married men to the priesthood in Eastern Catholic jurisdictions outside their homelands.

The members of the Consultation attended a Divine Liturgy celebrated by Metropolitan Maximos in the seminary chapel on the morning of May 28.

The 65th meeting of the Consultation is scheduled to take place from October 23 to 25, 2003, at St. Paul's College in Washington, DC, and the 66th meeting will be held from June 1-3, 2004, at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts.

In addition to the two co-chairmen, the Orthodox members of the Consultation include Father Thomas FitzGerald (Secretary), Archbishop Peter of New York (OCA), Father Nicholas Apostola, Prof. Susan Ashbrook Harvey, Father Alkiviadis Calivas, Father James Dutko, Prof. John Erickson, Father Alexander Golitzin, Father Emmanuel Gratsias, Dr. Robert Haddad, Father Paul Schnierla, and Father Robert Stephanopoulos. Orthodox staff members are Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos, General Secretary of SCOBA and Father Gregory Havrilak of the office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations, SCOBA.

The additional Catholic members are Father Brian Daley, SJ (secretary), Msgr. Frederick McManus, Prof. Thomas Bird, Father Peter Galadza, Msgr. John D. Faris, Father John Galvin, Sister Jean Goulet, CSC, Father Sidney Griffith, ST, Father John Long, SJ, Father David Petras, Prof. Robin Darling Young, and Father Ronald Roberson, CSP (staff).


Sunday, June 15, 2003
 
The New York Times report on Keating and the Review Board

If nothing else, more fodder with which to bash bishops and let the world know how evil they are. Read the comments on various popular Catholic blogs to see what I mean.


 
For Trinity Sunday


Rublev's "The hosptality of Abraham" , an icon of the Most Blessed Trinity

De Sancta Trinitate

Song of the Soul that is glad to know God by Faith

I know the fountain ever springs and flows
Even now in the night's hush.

Eternal, it will ne'er its tale disclose,
Yet well its hidden depths my spirit knows
Even now in the night's hush.

Dim is our life and sad, one truly sayeth,
And yet joy's water-spring I know by faith
Even now in the night's hush.

It origins I know not - who can know?
For from these origins all rivers flow
Even now in the night's hush.

I know that nothing can have purer grace.
Both heaven and earth drink deep and haste their pace
Even now in the night's hush.

Well know I that its deep no man can plumb -
To that profound abyss no spirits come
Even now in the night's hush.

Naught can obscure its sparkle diamond bright,
Its gleaming brilliance from whence comes all light
Even now in the night's hush.

I know its streams life and refreshment tell
To skies, to peoples, to foul depths of hell
Even now in the night's hush.

I know besides that still a new stream flows,
Brimming with almightiness, whence those waters rose,
Even now in the night's hush.

And from these mingling floods, I know another flow
Proceeds. Did these precede it, then? Ah, no!
Even now in the night's hush.

These three streams flow their eternal course,
Unrivalling and mutual in their force
Even now in the night's hush.

The eternal tide flows hid in living bread
That with its heavenly life we too be fed
Even now in the night's hush.

And here it calls to all, and here we will
Our craving voids mysteriously fill,
Even now in the night's hush.

This living stream for which I thirst and long,
Provides my sup, my surety and my song
Even now in the night's hush.

- St John of the Cross


 
Clergy Abuse Panel's Chief to Step Down

The layman decides to quit amid criticism by the board majority for denouncing some bishops he accused of obstructing the inquiry.


 
Today in Church history

June 15, 1215: King John signs the Magna Carta, which begins, "The Church of England shall be free."

June 15, 1520: In the papal Bull, "Exsurge Domine," Leo X condemns Martin Luther on 41 of counts of heresy, branding him an enemy of the Catholic Church. After the encyclical, Luther's works were burned in Rome.


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