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 28, 2003
A wonderful "new" tradition

Archbishop Demetrios (Trakatellis), Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, greets the Pope during a Mass in St Peter's Square for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, 2003. During this Mass the Pope bestowed the pallium on 40 new archbishops.

For some years now it has become the custom for the Church of Rome and the Church of Constantinope/Istanbul to exchange representatives for the patronal feast of each See: Sts Peter and Paul for Rome to which Orthodox delegates come; Saint Andrew for Constantinople, to which Catholic delegates come. Despite remaining obstacles (and they are many!) this more simple gesture, so fraternal, personal, warm, is having its impact as well. In fact, Rome has become extraordinarily "Orthodox-friendly" these past decades and that is likely to increase as time goes by.

Before today's Angelus the Pope said:

"According to an already established tradition, which is a source of great joy, a delegation from the ecumenical patriarch, His Holiness Bartholomew I, will be present. The exchange of delegations between Rome and Constantinople, for their respective patronal feasts, goes well beyond an act of ecclesial courtesy. It reflects the profound and rooted intention to re-establish full communion between East and West. I thank Patriarch Bartholomew, who has entrusted the distinguished members of his delegation the task of representing him."

Saint Irenaeus

Today's saint (Roman Rite) wrote wonderful books on doctrine and apologetics and is considered one of the first of the early Fathers of the Church. Von Balthasar says of Irenaeus: "But what merriment do we find as early as Irenaeus, when he pricks the shimmering bubbles of the gnostic world systems!"

Here are two well known selections from Irenaeus. The first (sometimes ripped out of context) affirming the gift of life that glorifies the Creator (it goes on to say that the "glory of man is the vision of God"). The second, in honor of tomorrow's Solemnity of the Apostles Peter and Paul, shows that from the earliest times the Church of Rome had a special and unique place in the life of the universal Church.

"Gloria Dei vivens homo."

The glory of God is man fully alive (Adv. Haer. IV, 20, 7).

"Ad hanc Ecclesiam propter potentiorem principalitatem necesse est omnem convenire ecclesiam, hoc est, eos qui sunt undique fideles, in qua semper ab his qui sunt undique conservata est ea quae est ab Apostolis traditio."

"But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the succession of all the churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul, that church which has the tradition and the faith which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the apostles.

[Here begins the section given in Latin above] With that church, because of its superior origin, all the churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world, and it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition" (Against Heresies 3:3:2 [A.D. 189]).

A Pilgrim, but a Tourist, Too

A pleasant account of the journey to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

Welcome to St Blog's

Biblical Babylon - Timothy Mason - resurrected!
Monachus - JM - resurrected! - new URL!
Gen X Revert - Catholic Long Islander
Find Me in Florida - Jeanne Stark
"Priorities & Frivolities" - Boomshock
Splurf - Catholic college student bloggers
Mi Opinión - Marana-Athá
Scattershot Direct - Lynn

Today in Church history

June 28, 1245: Innocent IV convenes the Council of Lyons to deal with the "five wounds of the Church:" corruption of the clergy and faithful, the danger of the Saracens, the Greek Schism, the invasion of Hungary by the Tatars, and the rupture between the Church and Emperor Frederick II.

June 28, 1491: Henry VIII, the "Defender of the faith" who broke with Rome when the pope would not grant him a divorce, is born in Greenwich, England.

June 28, 1577: Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens, who sympathized with the Jesuit movement and the Counter Reformation, is born. Among his most famous works are Raising of the Cross (1610) and Descent from the Cross (1611).

Friday, June 27, 2003
Baptized into Christ!

60 years ago today I was brought to the parish church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Brooklyn NY (along with my twin sister, Margaret/Peggy), and was baptized into Christ, and was gratituously given the grace of adoption as a son of the Living God. In my name, my godparents renounced Satan and his pomps. In my name, they confesssed the Creed. (I still love the old rite of baptism and miss some of its riches even as I rejoice at the greater understanding possible with the use of the vernacular).

Today, 60 years later, as I celebrate the anniversary of my baptism, I once more - on my own, and with knowledge of my human weakness and compromises - renounce Satan and all his empty works and pomps. I affirm my faith in God, the almighty Father, Creator of heaven and earth. I affirm my faith in Jesus Christ, incarnate Son of God, crucified and risen, and coming again to judge the living and the dead. I affirm my faith in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins and in life everlasting.

I renew the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity bestowed on me in baptism:


O my God, I firmly believe that You are One God in Three Divine Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins and will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe all that the Catholic Church teaches, because You have revealed it and You can neither deceive nor be deceived. Amen.


O my God, relying on Your infinite goodness and wonderful promises, I hope for the forgiveness of my sins, for all the grace I need in this life, and for life everlasting: through the merits of Jesus Christ, because You have promised it and You are always faithful to Your Word. Amen.


O my God, I love You above all things and with all my heart because You alone are worthy of all my love. And for Your sake I love my neighbor as myself. I forgive all who have injured me and I ask pardon of all whom I have injured. Amen.

To which I add:


O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended You. I detest all my sins, because of Your just punishments, but most of all because they have offended You, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to avoid the near occasions of sin. Amen.

Amen. Amen. Amen.

Please say a prayer for me that I may be faithful until the end.

Thank you!

Our Mother of Perpetual Help

The most popular icon of Our Lady: our Mother of Perpetual Help

O Lord Jesus Christ, who gave us your Mother Mary, whose renowned image we venerate, to be a Mother ever ready to help us; grant we beseech You, that we who constantly implore her motherly aid, may merit to enjoy perpetually the fruits of Your redemption, Who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

- Opening Prayer, Mass of Our Mother of perpetual help

The Sacred Heart of Jesus

The Sacred Heart of Jesus altar, the Mission Church, Boston

Oh, how good and delightful it is to dwell in the Heart of Jesus! Thy Heart, O good Jesus, is a precious treasure, a precious pearl which we have found by digging the field of Thy Body.

Who will cast aside this pearl? Nay, rather I will give all I have, I will exchange all my thoughts and desires and purchase it. I will cast all my care on the Heart of the Lord Jesus and He will provide for me without fail. I will adore in this temple, this Holy of Holies, this Ark of the Testament, and I will praise the name of the Lord, saying with David, "I have found my heart that I may pray to my God. And I have found the heart of my King, my Brother, my Friend, the benign Jesus, and why shall I not adore?"

Assuredly I shall pray. For His Heart is mine. I will say it boldly, for Christ is my Head, is not what belongs to my Head mine? Therefore as the eyes of my corporal head are truly my eyes, so is my spiritual heart my heart. Therefore, it is well with me: truly I have but one heart with Jesus and what wonder that there should be but one heart with the multitude of believers.

- Saint John Eudes

‘The Rolls-Royce of Masses’

An interesting article - if not very favorable - about the Tridentine Mass celebrated at St Bede’s Catholic church, Clapham Park, south London.

Two Great Feasts Today

For the Roman Rite, it is the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

For some localities and for some Orders, e.g. the Redemptorists and Redemptoristines, today is the feast of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

A feast of God's fraternal love revealed in Christ; and feast of God's paternal-maternal love revealed so powerfully in Our Lady!

Both reasons to rejoice, to hope and to love.

Blessed Feastday to all celebrating.

Today in Church history

June 27, 444: Cyril, patriarch of Alexandria and author of several writings on the dual natures of Christ, dies. He opposed Nestorius, who supposedly taught there were two separate persons in the Incarnate Christ, one divine and the other human. Historians doubt, however, whether or not Nestorius actually taught this. In any case, Cyril deposed Nestorius in 430. Cyril's famous phrase: ‘the one incarnate nature of God the Word’ was misused by some who denied the two natures in Christ. Eventually the Church came to a more complete understanding, in good part, due to the tome of Saint Leo the Great and the Council of Chalcedon.

Thursday, June 26, 2003
Fidelity to Vatican II

Vatican II gives this directive:

"Nevertheless steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them."

This would mean that all Roman Rite Catholics should be able at least say, or (even better!) to sing the Kyrie (Greek), the Gloria, the Credo, the Sanctus and Benedictus, the Agnus Dei in Latin (presumably using one of Gregorian modes).

In my own parish, with has a strong tradition of singing, during Lent we do the Kyrie in Greek, the Sanctus and Agnus Dei in Latin.

Throughout the year it is not uncommon for the choir to sing Latin pieces.

What does your own parish do along these lines?

Why God created mosquitoes

My answer to the question I asked the other day, why did God create mosquitoes.

I loved the responses in the Comment box. Thanks. Here is my own "answer":

So we can be grateful when they are not around!

Pope Spending Summer on Book Instead of in Alps

Pope John Paul II on one of his Alpine vacations

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope John Paul II will spend his summer vacation working on a new book, the Vatican said Wednesday, meaning he will forgo his traditional mountain retreat for a second year running.

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls denied some media reports that the 83-year-old pope was skipping his mountain retreat to undergo a knee operation.

"As expected, the pope will leave on July 10 for Castelgandolfo," he said in a statement, referring to the small hillside town near Rome where the pope has his summer residence.

"Among other things he intends to finish a book he has been writing on his human and pastoral experiences as a bishop..."

Today in Church history

June 26, 1988: Hans Urs von Balthasar, prominent spiritual director and founder, prolific writer and publisher, renowned theologian, dies - 2 days before he was to receive the "red hat" of a cardinal. It is impossible to sum up this great soul whom de Lubac called "the most cultured man of our times." His theological venture - so far-reaching and vast - is a theology on the knees: praying, adoring, listening, obedient. While his writings are sometimes difficult to follow, his use of language is musical and poetic, especially in his native German. His was a truly Catholic soul and vision; lyrical and doxological.

A good way to learn more about this great theologian is to read the series of essays in a compendium, edited by David Schindler, entited Hans Urs von Balthasar: His Life and Work. There are outstanding essays on various aspects of von Bathasar's life and works and a good discussion of his remarkable relationship with the convert, mystic, Adrienne von Speyr. These essays will open up much of the essence of von Balthasar's vision, culminating in a magnificent essay by Henri de Lubac, SJ. I highly recommend this as a good introduction to Hans Urs von Balthasar.

Orthodox Patriarch Hails John Paul II as a Witness to Peace

Bartholomew I Gives Historic Address in Istanbul's Cathedral

ISTANBUL, Turkey, JUNE 25, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople praised John Paul II in this city's Catholic cathedral, saying the Pope's witness enables the world to believe that peace is possible.

...According to Monsignor Georges Marovitch, spokesman of the bishops' conference: "The presence of Bartholomew I at the meeting has represented an important ecumenical gesture. Moreover, it has been the first time that a patriarch speaks in the cathedral of Istanbul."

Addressing the topic "John Paul II and the Service of Peace," Bartholomew I recalled that "the action of the Pope is marked by an impassioned quest for peace and this stems from his faith in the words of Jesus -- with greater reason now that the world knows war and terrorism."

"His stature of moral and religious leader, not only for Catholics, but for all men and women of good will, has its origin in a profound personal faith and in the conviction that this faith must be lived in a way that others see the truth, understand justice and find peace," the patriarch added.

"To be such an example is really a grave mission," the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians stressed, according to a report by the SIR news agency.

...The traditional visit of a delegation of the ecumenical patriarchate is expected this Sunday, the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. The Holy See reciprocates with a visit to the Orthodox patriarchate on Nov. 30, the feast of St. Andrew.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003
Four Places I'd love to be Friday for the Feast of Our Mother of Perpetual Help

June 27 is the Feast of Our Mother of Perpetual Help on some local calendars (she is, for instance, the patroness of Haiti) and for the Redemptorists, to whom the original icon was entrusted by Blessed Pope Pius IX. I grew up with this icon! She is still a vital part of my life! And I love to visit the shrines where she is especially venerated and loved, as in these four following places, all of which have some special meaning to me (and there are some others, too, not mentioned):

The Shrine to Our Mother of Perpetual Help in "the Mission Church" in Boston

The Chapel of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in the National Shrine, Washington, DC

The Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in the upper church of my home parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Brooklyn NY (OLPH)

The original miraculous icon enshrined in the Redemptorist church of Saint Alphonsus in Rome

P.S. If you want to see something that really cheered my heart, put in a Google search for both Our Lady of perpetual help and Our Mother of perpetual help - number 1 in both categories are pages I work on! YES!

A blessed upcoming feast to all devotees of Our Lady of perpetual help.


Conversion is like stepping across the chimney piece out of a Looking-Glass world, where everything is an absurd caricature, into the real world God made; and then begins the delicious process of exploring it limitlessly.

- Evelyn Waugh, Catholic convert

A loyal and obedient daughter of the Church speaks

"Most cradle Catholics have gone through, or need to go through, a second conversion which binds them with a more profound, a more mature love and obedience to the Church.

I do know that my nature is such that gratitude alone, gratitude for the faith, that most splendid gift, a gift not earned by me, a gratuitous gift, is enough to bind me in holy obedience to Holy Mother Church and her commands. I consider the loss of faith the greatest of disasters and the greatest unhappiness.

...But for me, faith and Church, and obedience to the Church, are tied together; and my gratitude for this sureness in my heart is such that I can only say, I believe, help Thou my unbelief. I believe and I obey."

"It is for this that our shepherds are to be reproached, that they have not fed their sheep these strong meats, this doctrine of men divinized by the sacraments, capable of overcoming all obstacles in their advance to that kind of society where it easier to be good."

- Dorothy Day

Today in Christian history

June 25, 1115: St. Bernard founds a monastery at Clairvaux, France, that would soon become the center of the Cistercian renewal. The Cistercians had been established 17 years earlier to restore Benedictine monasticism to a more primitive and austere state, but it is Bernard who is most closely associated with it. He founded 70 Cistercian monasteries, which in turn founded another 100 in his lifetime.

June 25, 1530: Lutherans present their summary of faith, known as Confession of Augsburg, to Emperor Charles V. Philipp Melanchthon did most of the work preparing it, but it was not presented until it received Martin Luther's approval.

June 25, 1580: On the fiftieth anniversary of the Confession of Augsburg, Lutherans publish the Book of Concord, which contains all the official confessions of the Lutheran Church, in German.

June 25, 1744: The first Methodist conference convenes in London. Leaders set standards for doctrine, liturgy, and discipline, giving an organizational framework to the "Evangelical Revival" touched off by John Wesley and George Whitfield in 1739.

June 25, 1865: English missionary J. Hudson Taylor forms the China Inland Mission. Its missionaries would have no guaranteed salaries, nor could they appeal for funds; they would simply trust God to supply their needs. Furthermore, its missionaries would adopt Chinese dress and press the gospel into the China interior.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Why did God create mosquitoes?

Communion-and-Liberation Priestly Group Growing

Youth Pilgrimage from Marcareta to Loreto, Italy, sponsored by Commuion and Liberation, June 15, 2003

ROME, JUNE 24, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Six newly ordained priests whose group follows the charism of Communion and Liberation will carry out their ministry in Russia, Taiwan, Germany, Spain and the Czech Republic.

Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar for Rome, on Saturday ordained six priests of the Fraternity of the Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo, a group that follows the charism of the ecclesial movement Communion and Liberation.

The priestly group, a society of apostolic life founded in 1985, numbers about 120 members, including 65 priests. The rest are seminarians.

The group states its goal as "evangelization and education in the faith through the exercise of the priestly ministry especially where there is need of a new implantation of the Church, according to the CL charism."

Father Paolo Prosperi, a new priest, will work in Russia. He discovered his vocation when attending a retreat preached by Communion and Liberation founder Monsignor Luigi Giussani in 1994.

"Hearing him speak of Christ, I was struck by the fact that God loves me with an infinite love," Father Prosperi. "I was compelled to recognize that I was loved, but not since yesterday, but from all eternity. This changed my life completely and led me to recognize my vocation."

Yet another new ecclesial community that is fruitful in priestly vocations. The new communities, and the new religious orders, attract men and women to the priesthood and the religious life as well as active lay apostles. (Some of the older groups are doing this too; but so many aren't and seem to be dying on the vine).

Perhaps newly ordained Father Paul Prosperi puts his finger on why some grow and come die: "Hearing him speak of Christ".......

Fiesta of the Nativity of St John the Baptist

This feast is celebrated in fascinating ways in some Catholic cultures. For some of the more bizarre celebrations take a look at this news page from Yahoo. And a few more at another Yahoo Page.

The Gift of Living

Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish is part of my daily rounds on the internet. I mostly agree with Andrew's politics, mostly disagree with what he writes about theology, and, in general, find him an articulate, witty, fascinating and, at times, exasperating writer.

Yesterday, Sullivan wrote words that resonated deep within me (and it was 2 years ago that I was hanging on to life by a bare thread):

"But, like others whose terminal illness is in remission or, for some reason, benign, you also feel the need to live a little more boldly, merrily, fearlessly. I'm taking a bike ride this afternoon. Small gestures of living and loving matter. If only it hadn't taken a fatal disease to get me to realize that. But I take it as an example of my Savior's mysterious but all-powerful grace that I now do."

Unlike Andrew, I can't take that bike ride - but I can hope to be living a bit more boldly, merrily, and fearlessly. I have known, to a point, what living one day at a time means even before my grave illness; now it seems more precious a truth than ever. How wonderful life can be: and how wonderful the simplest joys of living and loving. How good to be able to say this and actually even type it and hit the send button!

Thanks, Andrew Sullivan, for reminding me once again of life's wonder.

Like you, I acknowledge the grace of the Savior: whose mysterious providence has given me another day, another hour, another moment in which to thank, praise, and love!

Casting out I cast out!

The spirit of Father Ferapont lives. Words on a blog written by a prominent Catholic writer:

"This week, I spoke with a faithful young orthodox priest of my acquaintance, and he said, 'I've decided I can't pay attention to the bishops anymore. There's too much work to be done to serve the Lord to worry about those men.' I think this is probably the only sane way through this mess, just pretending that this hapless bench of bishops doesn't exist. But think about what that means for Catholics, to recognize that our bishops are so pathetic and irreformable that they are an impediment to faithful Catholic living, and should thus be ignored as much as is possible." –Rod Dreher

Now the bishops not only made serious mistakes and have been quite imperfect and hardly living up to the ideal of the episcopate (when did they in the Church's history?), but they are so "pathetic" and "irreformable" as to become an actual "impediment to faithful Catholic living" and should thus be "ignored" as much as possible. (Yet it seems to me that, for the most part, it is those who believe this negative appraisal who spend the most time talking about bishops and clergy and institutional matters, and precious little about "faithful Catholic living!").

Thanks to Kevin Miller at Heart, Mind and Spirit for bringing this truly ferapontian quote to my attention.

Monday, June 23, 2003
Today in Church history

A drawing based on the Crucifix painted by St John of the Cross

June 24, 1542: Catholic reformer, mystic, and poet John of the Cross is born in Spain. Perhaps the greatest mystic of all times, John of the Cross' teachings are still vital and influential. His poetry is considered by some the finest lyrical poetry in Spanish. John was a co-worker with Teresa of Avila in the reform of the Carmelites. La Madre was an outstanding mystic as well and at times differed from Fray Juan; both agreed fully on the essentials, but differed over the relative value of spiritual gifts such as consolations and even visions. Both are Doctors of the Universal Church!

John's doctrine (the gospel at its core, of course) is "radical" - and involves coming to the "nada" of total negation of all that is not God, and this involves the purification of the senses and of the spiritual faculties (e.g. The Dark Night of the Soul). This purification must take place for the elect; either in this life or in the next ("purgatory").

This "nada", however, leads to the great affirmation of the "awakening of the Word" in the depths of the soul and to the serenity and security of the deified life (which John describes perhaps better than any other of either "east" or "west").

His very life is a great adventure! If you have time and interest, you can immerse yourself in both the life and teachings of Juan de la Cruz, by reading the long and fascinating and illuminating (and challenging!) essay on John of the Cross, "The Perfect Adventure" by Hans Urs von Balthasar.

St John of the Cross, pray for us and obtain for us from Christ, whom you followed without reservation and utterly, a spirit of prayer and self-denial, a spirit of proportion in the ordering of our loves, and a spirit of joy in the knowledge that we are called to be living temples in which dwells the Living and Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Another Yes! Yes! Yes!

This time it's Amy Welborn and her post that begins with "Our baptismal call". For some time now (years, even decades) I have thought the loss of the "devotional life" in many of our parishes a pastoral disaster - especially the best of the traditional devotions and ways of prayer and penance and hearing the Word of God (the traditional Parish Mission, not the modern watered-down "I'm OK, you're OK" versions so popular recently).

Devotional Catholicism translates for me, anyway, into a Catholic Faith with the PERSON of Jesus Christ at its core: and thus our relationship with Christ is of the very essence of being a Catholic. We pray as if He really cares to hear us and will respond! We sing hymns to a God who is present and able to transform, worthy of all adoration and praise. We thank because we love..... yes, the heart of it all is love: the twofold love of God and others.

I also firmly agree with Amy that the focus of any lay mission should be the "world" and the transforming of this created reality from within to conform to God's Plan for His world. (Here Opus Dei, whatever one may think of it, seems on the mark: I recall that members of OD were not encouraged to be lectors or eucharistic ministers but to be better professionals and better workers in the world itself).

Thank God for the recent cloud of witnesses who manifest the essence of Catholic Faith! Different as they are, from Dorothy Day to Flannery O'Connor, from John Henry Newman to Chesterton: for all of these, to use a phrase from another witness who reflected deeply on these themes, Hans Urs von Balthasar, CHRIST IS THE HEART OF THE WORLD.

Comments down

Troubles most of today with comment system.

Bishops and Leadership

Spurred by the previous post, my mind went back to a quote of Dorothy Day, one of those students in "the School of the Holy Ghost" mentioned by Elie in his book. I quote from memory (which is usually pretty good):

"I did not need to wait for a bishop to tell me to feed the poor and house the homeless."

Like Teresa of Avila, Dorothy wanted to be known simply as an "obedient daughter of Holy Church."

But she knew her primary obedience was to CHRIST and the GOSPEL and that she received marching orders from Jesus Himself and the Holy Spirit dwelling within and unleashed in fervent prayer.

Dorothy loved the Church passionately. She was ready to obey in all things. But she knew the essence of Catholic faith: for all its hierarchical structure set in place by Christ Himself and sacred Tradition, its charismatic dimension is more vitally important. In other words, better than being a bishop (or pope) is being a saint. And that is possible today, with or without the leadership or lack thereof of any bishop. Or even any Pope.

Dorothy knew this and acted on it.

Thank God!

A Church in Search of Followers

Yet another piece in the New York Times on things Catholic. (It seems even the NYT, perhaps reluctantly, acknowledges that the Catholic Church really is the the Church).

This op-ed piece by Paul Elie, whose first book "The Life You Save May Be Your Own" is described by its publisher as:

"In the middle of the twentieth century, four American Catholics, working independently of one another, came to believe that the best way to explore the quandaries of religious faith was in writing - in works that readers of all kinds could admire. 'The Life You Save May Be Your Own' is their story - a vivid and enthralling account of great writers and their power over us.

Thomas Merton was a Trappist monk in Kentucky; Dorothy Day the foundress of the Catholic Worker movement and its penny newspaper in New York, Flannery O'Connor a "Christ-centered" literary prodigy in Georgia; Walker Percy a doctor in New Orleans who quit medicine to write fiction and philosophy. A friend came up with a name for them - the School of the Holy Ghost - and for three decades they exchanged letters, ardently read one another's books, and grappled with what one of them called a "predicament shared in common."

Thomas Merton was a Trappist monk in Kentucky; Dorothy Day the foundress of the Catholic Worker movement and its penny newspaper in New York, Flannery O'Connor a "Christ-centered" literary prodigy in Georgia; Walker Percy a doctor in New Orleans who quit medicine to write fiction and philosophy. A friend came up with a name for them - the School of the Holy Ghost - and for three decades they exchanged letters, ardently read one another's books, and grappled with what one of them called a "predicament shared in common."

I am an admirer of all 4 of Elie's chosen, though less so of Merton than of the others (am I anti-clerical???).

At any rate, this op-ed seems fairly balanced to me regarding the topic of leadership, especially this insight:

"It is commonplace to attribute the troubles of the church in this country to a lack of genuine leaders among the bishops. Voice of the Faithful, the movement of lay Catholics that emerged during the scandal, has made a point of declaring that Catholics have a right to good leadership. The absence of leadership is real, especially when the pope — a leader, whatever one thinks of him — is ill.

Unfortunately, leadership cannot be brought about through agitation. Nor can it be asserted through power of office. It is a character trait that can only be hoped for, cultivated, respected and admired — or feared — when it does come along."

I would disagree with Elie's assessment of the Pope; his leadership seems undiminished to me despite his age and illnesses - other than an diminishment in physical abilities and movement, which can have some effect in leadership, it is true.

But it does seem very true to me that leadership cannot be brought about through agitation. Scream and scream more; complain and complain more. Picket, or blog about it. More and more! Louder and louder!

In the meantime the leaders (and saints) God has chosen will be elected by His Providence. May they have the grace to say "yes!"

The hour is late; the need is great.

Come, Holy Spirit!

Pope asks for Croats and Serbs to be reconciled

"Pope John Paul II yesterday asked for God's forgiveness for sins committed by Catholics in the turbulent history of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

"From this city, marked in the course of history by so much suffering and bloodshed, I ask almighty God to have mercy on the sins committed against humanity, human dignity and freedom also by children of the Catholic Church, and to foster in all the desire for mutual forgiveness," the Pope said in Banja Luka.

The Vatican hopes the apology will lead to a badly needed reconciliation with Orthodox Serbs and help build a multi-ethnic society. "Only in a climate of true reconciliation will the memory of so many innocent victims and their sacrifice not be in vain, but encourage everyone to build new relationship of fraternity and understanding," the Pope said yesterday, calling for reconciliation between the two opposed, yet Christian, nations.

The site of the mass - the monastery of Petricevac - was highly symbolic. The first massacre of Orthodox Serbs in the Second World War in the Banja Luka region began after a Franciscan priest, Tomislav Filipovic, left the monastery at Petricevac and joined the fascist Ustashi forces in a killing spree 60 years ago.

More than 2,500 Serbs, including 550 children, were killed. The Ustashi regime was notorious for its systematic extermination of Serbs, Jews and gypsies. Fifty years later, local Croats faced mass expulsions. The church and the Franciscan monastery in Petricevac were burned to the ground in 1995..."

Bearers of Christ

As noted below, Pavel Chichikov, the talented writer, poet, photographer, was present at our Corpus Christi celebration at St Benedict parish. Here is one of the stunning photos he shot, which he so fittingly entitles "Bearers of Christ":

Sunday, June 22, 2003
Pope beatifies lay apostle in Bosnia-Herzegovina

Pope John Paul II conducts Holy Mass in Banja Luka, for the beatification of Ivan Merz, June 22, 2003. The 83 year-old pontiff made a fresh appeal for ethnic reconciliation and tolerance to a country struggling to recover from a devastating conflict in which about 200,000 people were killed and two million uprooted. This is the 101st foreign trip for the Pope. (Reuters)

P.S. A beatus in a necktie!

I love my parish!

Today, for Corpus Christi, we celebrated a splendid Mass and eucharistic procession. There is Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament until Solemn Vespers and Benediction at 5 PM. (We have Vespers daily as well as several other Offices, even if not many attend).

The music was, as usual, beautiful and well chosen. I loved, of course, the choir's Communion antiphon: Mozart's heavenly "Ave Verum" so fitting for today's feast. The first hymn of our procession was one of my favorites too (a popular hymn of my young years now almost never sung in Catholic churches, strange to say): Frederick William Faber's "Jesus, my Lord, my God, my All." What a warm and fervent hymn! We sang the Litanies of the Name of Jesus and of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, again, so perfectly fitting.

Pavel Chichikov (whose photos I have sometimes used on this blog) was there so eventually I may post a decent photo of our procession. In the meantime here's a few that are hardly professional but may give a glimpse of sorts. A blessed feast to all!

We are blessed to have with us for some feasts the Missionaries of Charity who serve at the Gift of Hope in East Baltimore. In that group is Sister Pietra, the first superior of the Baltimore community, who just returned yesterday for another stint as superior - she is simply GREAT!

At St B's we use the old as well as the new - here is the canopy used to honor the Blessed Sacrament carried by Father Paschal, accompanied by Deacon Alex.

Thank God Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament is done regularly at St B's and most know the "O Salutaris" and "Tantum Ergo" in Latin. Benediction seems to me an almost "perfect" ritual of prayer and worship, with beauty in its proportion and movements and climax of the Blessing, with the very hands of the priest covered to give the total focus to the LORD Himself in the gift of His Abiding Presence.


The Eucharist: "The God Thou Art":
Who God Is is revealed in the Sacrament of the Eucharist

Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore,
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.

- Thomas Aquinas, translated by Gerard Manley Hopkins

With all the powers my poor soul hath
Of humble love and loyal faith
thus low, my God, I bow to thee,
whom too much love bowed lower for me.

- Thomas Aquinas, translated by Richard Crashaw

"If the Eucharist is only a symbol, I say: to hell with it!"

- Mary Flannery O'Connor, "hillbilly thomist"

Saint Thomas More

His feast superceded by Corpus Christi, yet worthy of remembrance today:

In the last letter written by Thomas More, he wrote to his beloved daughter Meg:

"Farewell, my dear child, and pray for me, and I shall for you and all your friends, that we may merrily meet in heaven."

A model layman whose entire life was sanctified by faith, hope, and charity. Sealed with the crown of martyrdom in his loyalty to Christ and His Catholic Church. May this man for all seasons pray for us, pray for our Church today - that we may all merrily meet in heaven!

Today in Church history

June 22, 431: The Third Ecumenical Council opens in Ephesus to condemn "Nestorianism", which holds that Christ was two separate persons rather than one person with two natures. The title "Theotokos" was acclaimed: that Mary is the Mother of God.

June 22, 1995: Yves Congar, OP, theologian, ecclesiologist, ecumenist, dies. "Silenced" in the 1950s, he was prominent at the Second Vatican Council and created a cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 1994.

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