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

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Saturday, September 20, 2003
 
Adios

In a bit, God willing, I will be in a car heading to NYC for an overnight at the Redemptorist Provincial Guest House on Shore Road before embarking on The Norwegian Dawn tomorrow for a week long cruise to the Bahamas. I am, of course, excited about the cruise itself, excited to experience a new and beautiful cruise ship, excited to know of the relaxation and enjoyment that has been my lot on every cruise so far. There are some anxieties as well: especially on this cruise since I will be sharing a cabin with two new people (whom I know somewhat) and I wonder how they will handle my "condition" - so far, everyone has been wonderful). Of course, my old stand by travel buddy, Father Michael, is with me too. (It will be my first experience of 4 in one cabin; I've done 2 and 3 and each was fine).

I always miss ONION and wish I could bring him along with me. But I leave him in good hands: a wonderful and helpful neighbor comes and lives in my room and takes good care of ONION (he is ONION'S main play human buddy) and ONION can also go upstairs to stay with Sheila, who basically raised him. ONION has a good life. Thank God. (And mine ain't too bad either. Deo gratias!)

I hope to spend some time in reflection and prayer and I hope to remember you "at sea." I ask your prayers for me, for us, too.

I look forward to seeing the parish church of my youth, Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Brooklyn. I look forward, too, to visiting the art exhibit from the Vatican at the Ft Lauderdale Art Museum. And I look forward to those glorious meals in the elegant restaurants..... and meeting new people along the way.

Adios!

P.S. I begin some dreaming about another possible "dream come true" trip - this one to Yellowstone National Park (interested especially since the wolf is back). Amazingly a way has opened that may make this feasible and doable for me. I will, of course, fill you in on the progress!


 
The Word of the Lord

If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.
Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.
My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Take care that you yourselves are not tempted.
Bear one another's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
For if those who are nothing think they are something, they deceive themselves.
All must test their own work; then that work, rather than their neighbor's work, will become a cause for pride.
For all must carry their own loads...
So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.

- Galatians 5 and 6


 
Today in Christian history

September 20, 451: The Romans stopped Attilla the Hun at Châlon-sur-Marne.

September 20, 1378: The Great Schism in the Catholic Church began. It was touched off when Gregory XI died, shortly after returning the papal seat from Avignon, in France, to Rome. Continuing for nearly 40 years (until 1417), the Schism at one point produced three concurrent popes.

September 20, 1870: the Papal States came under the control of Italian troops, completing the unification of Italy.


Friday, September 19, 2003
 
A House Divided....

Now it's time to bash Mother Teresa as her beatification takes place soon.

The bashing, not from the "enemies" of the Church, but from fellow Catholics.

The Pope's getting his too. Read Sandra Meisel's explanation of why Pope John Paul is beatifying Mother Teresa so quickly. "His desire to be the one who gives the accolade was behind the shortening of the cause." Really? How do you know that anyway?

How sad to read these words from a distinguished Catholic writer .

A house divided cannot stand.

May God catch us as we fall even furthur!


 
Isabel

Susan asks in a comment below how ONION and I fared during Isabel. Well, we lost power from about 6 PM to 4 AM and there was lots of wind and rain. A large part of a tree next door fell - but no one hurt and quickly removed. A neighbor came and spent most of the evening with me and ONION, and helped with various chores - with candles and a flashlight. A good and unexpected blessing. From reports no major damage in our neighborhood but my Orthodox priest friend, who lives close by, as is the casw with Susan closer to DC, is still without power.

I hope no one suffered severely. I hope the worst is over for all.

Susan asked about ONION and if he got scared. Storms never bothered ONION as they definitely did some other dogs in this household. But now ONION can't hear too good anyway; he was happy as could be and played and slept away, and even went out for a bit in the wind and rain and came back all excited.

The sun breaks through already; and I leave tomorrow for NYC and for the cruise on The Norwegian Dawn on Sunday. Staying overnight in Brooklyn at the Redemptorist Provincial Guest House on Shore Road. Can't wait to explore my old neighborhood once again!



 
THE GOSPEL IN A POEM

Love bade we welcome; but my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lacked anything.

"A guest," I answered, "worthy to be here."
Love said, "You shall be he."
"I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
I cannot look on thee."
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
"Who made the eyes but I?"

"Truth, Lord, but I have marred them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve."
"And know you not," says Love, "who bore the blame?"
"Ah, dear, then I will serve."
"You must sit down," says Love, "and taste my meat."
So I did sit and eat.

- George Herbert


 
Today in Christian history

September 19, 821: Theodulf, poet, scholar, secretary of education, and bishop of Orleans during Charlemagne's reign is buried. He wrote hymns, among which his best remembered is "Gloria Laus et Honor" or "All Glory, Laud and Honor / To thee Redeemer King."

September 19, 163: The Metaphysical poet George Herbert was ordained a priest of the Church of England. His poetry is suffused by his faith and his poems are still known and loved.

September 19, 1737: Maryland patriot Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born on this day in 1737. He was the last surviving signer when he died in 1732. "The Carroll House" in which he was born has recently been restored. This house was given to the Redemptorists by the granddaughters of Charles Carroll.


The Carroll House in its setting amidst Saint Mary's Parish, Annapolis, Maryland


Thursday, September 18, 2003
 
The boom at Christian colleges

The Washington Times presents a three-part series focusing on Christian colleges.


 
Purgatory, In All its Nuance

"Our obsession with Dante is ongoing. The latest addition is Anthony Esolen’s reader-friendly translation of Purgatory for the Modern Library. How does it measure up?"


 
Is Sufism the Next Buddhism?

"... In the West, Sufism has long since broken through the trend barrier. Karen Armstrong, a former Roman Catholic nun turned Muslim mystic, conquered the best-seller lists with her provocative explorations into the nature of God and her sympathetic expositions on Islam. New Agers from Hollywood to New York enthuse over Sufi approaches to trance and meditation. Edward Said, the powerful Palestinian critic of Western strategies of stereotyping of the Muslim world, recently described the Sufi poet Hafez as one of his role models. And essayist Pico Iyer took readers on a mystical journey via a hero obsessed with yet another of the Sufi literary greats..."


 
The Year of the Rosary

Pope John Paul II declared October 2003-October 2003 as The Year of the Rosary. He inaugurated it with a wonderful Apostolic Letter on the Holy Rosary. On my website I have links to several good articles on the Rosary: among them, a long selection from Romano Guardini, and a short but touching piece by Albino Luciani (Pope John Paul I).

For myself, this pastoral initiative of the Pope had some impact. I began the practice of praying one decade of the Rosary daily and this has become pretty much a regular part now of my daily routine. Of course, it isn't much! But it is better than nothing! For many years, I prayed the five decades almost daily (as I took my "rosary walk"); but I started to neglect the rosary and then after getting sick couldn't pray much at all. So the Pope's Year of the Rosary was the "boost" I needed to get the Rosary back in an active way.

Now I sometimes say more than one decade and occasionally do the five (as when I am on a cruise ship!). I love the Rosary and just the feel of it in my hands evokes a world of prayer.

I'd love to hear about your own experience with the Rosary and if there was any impact from the Pope's Year of the Rosary in your own life.

P.S. Thanks to those who replied in the post on Prayer. The comments are most inspiring!


Wednesday, September 17, 2003
 
Website Down

As I write this my website, A Catholic Page for Lovers, is down and thus some of the images on my blog will not appear (they are linked to my site). If all images show, hopefully that means my website is up again.

Well, at least, as far as I know, Blogger is OK! Some good news amid the bad.


 
The Place of the Pope


Apse mosaic Saint Paul's Outside the Walls in Rome: a miniscule Pope Honorius III kisses the foot of the Majestic Christ


 
Andrew Greeley on Küng: Award Winning Review

Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish has added a new award:

"DOWD AWARD NOMINEE: Herewith a new occasional award given to writers, columnists or pundits who deliberately distort, elide, truncate or garble quotes for ideological purposes."

I nominate Andrew Greeley for this prestigious award.

Here's what Andrew Greeley writes in the page of "The National Catholic Reporter" in a review of the first volume of Hans Küng's Memoirs:

"Yet even within the curia there is an occasional voice that understands him. A couple of years ago, the Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, proposed a reconciliation with Hans Küng. His writings, Sodano, wrote are “beautiful pages dedicated to the mystery, faith in the river of goodness and mercy, of solidarity and willingness to help.”

Here's what Cardinal Sodano actually said:

"An overview of 20 centuries of Christianity prompts this question spontaneously. Recently the German theologian Hans Kung, in his book "Christianity: Essence and History" published by Rizzoli last October (Milan, 1997), tried to give an answer. At the end of his voluminous study, after a long historical "excursus," he dedicates some lovely pages to the mystery of Christianity, concluding: "Why has this Christianity always endured despite all the non-Christian elements in its history? Because this religion has continually inserted itself into new cultural landscapes, like a great river which originates somewhere in a modest way and imbeds itself in an ever new way in the landscape through which it slowly flows... It is a river which has had some ruinous falls... But must not one also see the river of goodness, mercy, willingness to help, and solidarity that from the source — the Gospel — onward has run through history?.... What sort of power is this that is at work everywhere? Is it all just chance? All just fate?..." (Ibidem, pp. 784-787).



This quote by Sodano was interpreted by some as an attempt at reconciliation with Hans Küng, who had lost his "mandate" to teach as a Catholic theologian. Perhaps it was so intended; but Sodano makes no mention of this. Rather he emphasizes some positive aspects of Hans Küng's writings and quotes a lovely passage (which I have put on my own Church Page of my website).

Greeley speaks as if the reconciliation was offered formally - and he obviously misquotes the Cardinal by making him say about Hans Küng's writings what Hans Kung actually says about the Church!

If this wasn't an editorial mess up, do you think we can expect a correction from either the NCR or Andrew Greeley?

P.S. Many years ago Hans Küng was one of my heroes. Some even called me "Hans" in those days. However, as Küng got more strident and predictable in his carping criticisms and negative judgments about some who were also my "heroes" I found him less and less appealing to me. His dissent deepened and hardened.

Yet I agree with Cardinal Sodano that there are some parts of his writings that are excellent. I like his book(let) on Mozart; though it is not as good as Karl Barth's. Hans Küng seems to be angry much of the time and his face (ruggedly handsome at one time) shows it in the lines and grimace I have come to associate with this Swiss priest. I'll take that other Swiss theologian any day: Hans Urs von Balthasar!


 
Today in Christian history

September 17, 1179: Hildegard of Bingen, a German abbess, mystic, author, musician and preacher who received visions of God from the age of 5, dies at age 82.

September 17, 1575: Swiss reformer Heinrich Bullinger dies. Next to John Calvin, Bullinger exerted the most influence over the second-generation Reformers.

September 17, 1630: English settlers change the name of Trimountain, Massachusetts, to Boston in honor of pastor John Cotton, formerly of St. Botolph's Church in Boston, England.

September 17, 1776: 247 Spanish colonists consecrate their California mission of San Francisco, today a city of 725,000.

September 17, 1967: Swiss medical doctor, Catholic convert, mystic-stigmatist, Adrienne von Speyr, dies. A collaborator with the great theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar, whose works he considered more important than his own.


Tuesday, September 16, 2003
 
How do you pray?

Any helpful hints on how we can pray better and more regularly?

I notice that I am now pretty much in the habit of praying the Angelus in the morning, around noon, and in the evening around 6 and this has seemed very helpful to me. I say it outloud most of the time to give it a better chance of sinking in and holding my attention. I add a few prayers around it as well appropriate to the time of day. It's not much but better than it used to be since I got sick a few years ago. And most days I am faithful to one decade of the Rosary (offered for intentions of others: family, friend, benefactors, those who have asked my prayers, those to whom I have promised my prayers, etc.) and remember, too, the faithful departed.

I also pray a brief Compline - memorized mostly from the older form in the Roman Breviary. Its center piece, for me, is praying the antiphon: "Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit." I go to bed with a real sense that I know not what the night will bring.... and thus try to entrust my soul to the LORD and His Mercies.

Maybe some of what I do can be of help to others.

I'd love to hear of anything you have found helpful in your prayer life. Thanks!


 
RJN is the best!

Just in case you missed it, the June-July 2003 Public Square of Father Richard John Neuhaus is online at the First Things website. Excellent ruminations as always!


 
What Peggy Noonan told the Bishops at the recent meeting

"..Someone at the meeting quoted the historian Paul Johnson saying some years back to a new Catholic, "Come on in, it's awful!" We all laughed, but you know I think it was the one thing everyone in the room agreed on..."


 
America: Number 1 Enemy

II. Friday Sermon by Sheikh Ibrahim Mudeiris at the Sheikh Zayed Al-Nahayan Mosque, Gaza City, Palestinian Territory, September 5, 2003, Broadcast on PA-TV

"…Oh believers, shall I guide you to a [commercial] [1] deal that will save you from severe torment? [Koran 61:10]

"I maintain that… a [mosque] preacher or sermonizer must begin his sermon by saying words of blessing for the Shahids, the wounded, the detainees, and those expelled from Palestine…

"If we go back in the time tunnel 1400 years, we will find that history repeats itself. Here the Messenger of Allah calls to do justice, and he holds on to it by willpower, by determination and by faith in Allah. He calls to do justice, but he is besieged by members of his own tribe, the infidel Arabs in the Arabian Peninsula. Likewise, he was besieged by two powers – Persia in the east and Byzantium in the west. They have besieged him, and they exactly represent today's USSR and America. Persia represents Russia in the east, and Byzantium represents America in the west. And indeed, Persia [collapsed] first in the east, as Russia fell first here in the east. And thus, if Allah wills it, America will collapse, as Byzantium collapsed in the west.

"The struggle between truth and falsehood continues, and it is ancient. There is no escape from [the fact] that victory goes to the men of truth, even if it takes a long time. This is a matter of belief to which we hold, because victory belongs to the men of truth, as long as they cling to their truth, holding on to their unity and their unity of action. The men of truth will be victorious, with Allah's help. We will be victorious here in Palestine, as long as the men of Palestine hold on to their Islamic and national principles, and to unbroken ranks and their unity of action…

"The Prophet [Muhammad] could, by means of unbroken ranks, conquer Byzantium, the greatest power compared to today's America – and this without a single martyr falling from among the Muslims… The men of Byzantium fled their posts and cities when they heard of the army of the Prophet, and this is without a single Muslim Shahid falling. The Prophet could, by means of the unity of the Muslim ranks and its awakening, defeat the America of that time, as we will defeat America as long as it supports our enemy, as long as America insists on being against our people and against our cause and our holy places, and against our people and our leadership. As long as America holds these criminal opinions, we will defeat it with Allah's help.

"Indeed, we consider America to be our No. 1 enemy, as long as it supports our enemy. Must we be killed by only American planes? [Must] our homes be destroyed only by means of American tanks? Must our enemy control us only by means of American support? America is our No. 1 enemy, and we see it as our No. 1 enemy as long as we learn from the lessons of the Battle of Tabouk [which took place in October 630 AD] :'Make ready for them whatever you can of armed strength and of mounted pickets.' [Koran 8:60] We are prepared and ready, but victory is from Allah…"


 
Saints Cornelius and Cyprian

Following up on the post entitled "Forgotten Popes", today's memorial of Saints Cornelius and Cyprian may indicate something of what I tried to express. Here we have a Pope and a bishop (who had his troubles with some popes!) - both martyrs and thus saints.

But it is the non-pope, Cyprian, who is remembered and still read in the Church today. Cornelius is mentioned at times - but largely in terms of Cyprian's life and controversies.

In the Liturgy of the Hours there are quite a few readings from Saint Cyprian, including large sections of his treatise on The Lord's Prayer.

Cyprian was wrong on some major issues yet his influence continues. In fact, there is a significant stream in the Orthodox Churches that are "cyprianic" when it comes to the issue of grace outside the Church. And while the Catholic Church opted for the more generous attitude of Rome over Carthage, still Cyprian is read, remembered, and his feast is linked to that of a pope.

May both Saints Cornelius and Cyprian pray for us and obtain for us a share of their own courage in professing Christ in a hostile world.


 
Today in Christian history

September 16, 681: The Third Council of Constantinople adjourns, having settled the Monothelite controversy in the Eastern Church. The Council, which proclaimed the orthodox belief of two wills in Christ: divine and human, condemned as heretics, the Monothelites, who believed Christ had only "one will."

September 16, 1224: During an extended period of prayer and fasting, Saint Francis of Assisi received the stigmata, the crucifixion scars of Christ, on Mount Alvernia, in Italy. Francis, the founder of the Franciscans in 1209, has been called by some the greatest of all the Christian Saints.

September 16, 1498: Tomas de Torquemada, the first Spanish Inquisitor General, dies.

September 16, 1672: Puritan Anne Bradstreet, America's first noteworthy poet, dies.

September 16, 1620: With 101 colonists and 48 crew members aboard, the Mayflower sails from Plymouth, England. Thirty-five colonists board ship, Separatists from Leiden, Holland, and later known as the Pilgrims.


Monday, September 15, 2003
 
"Liberals" still duped?

Before the fall of Communism, a good portion of the "liberals" in the various Churches seemed rather "soft" on Communism and looked the other way in regard to the persecution of fellow believers. The WCC was somewhat notorious for its "leftist" slant and its lack of criticism of the Communist countries (and, of course, the official Russian Orthodox Church was an active member of the WCC then and still is today, but not as prominently I believe).

This duping continues now, perhaps, in regard to the Islamic world. I read an article in the liberal journal The Christian Century by a professor and Director of some Religious Institute, and my distinct impression is that the author was hardly critical in her judgments and accepted, at face value, what was presented to her as "facts."

I was especially struck by this paragraph:

"I also gained insight into why, in many Muslims' view, religious forms of governance are preferable to democratic regimes. Ibrahim Maibushira, a Nigerian scholar, explained that the Nigerian government has a constitutional democracy that exactly replicates the American model. Despite this form of government and despite being the world's fifth-largest supplier of oil, 98 percent of Nigerians live in abject poverty."

Huh? Nigeria has had the same kind of government as the United States? What about the military dictatorship of so many years until just recently?

Here the author seems ready to believe what is told her - and that Nigeria's "constitutional democracy" is the cause of the abject poverty of its peoples.

But then they believed the Soviets too!

By the way, Catholics were not immune to this duping. One of the prophetic voices of the French Catholic Church, Father Daniel Ange, wrote a blistering attack on the silence of the French episcopate regarding the persecutions of the Church behind the Iron Curtain and even the cold reception given to confessors of the Faith from that area. And yet the same episcopate repents now of its sins during the Holocaust.

At any rate, the article I refer to here strikes me as yet another example of how we can too easily be duped.

LORD, that I may see!


 
Forgotten Popes

Disputations has several excellent (as usual) reflections on the role of the Pope in Catholic ecclesiology.

I have often thought that after a Pope passes on few read his Encyclicals or Apostolic Letters, etc. (with a few exceptions that come to mind). Few Popes are quoted at all, except those that were saints. It seems that sanctity counts for much more than office. Look at the Doctors of the Church: a stunning constellation of brilliant saints and profound theologians - just a few Popes included, and each of them, of course, a saint. Popes Saint Leo the Great and Gregory the Great are still quoted rather frequently. "Greats", yes, but "saints" too.

I think this will be true about John Paul II as well. Most of his writings will be forgotten. He will be remembered as a saint and a remarkable witness to Christ in a crucial period; those who quote him will quote phrases like: "Be not afraid!" more than his latest encyclical on the Eucharist.

A balanced Catholic ethos will give the Pope his proper place - important indeed. But in the catholic whole, a relatively minor role, when all is said and done.

Newman is a good example: before his conversion he spoke quite a bit about the Pope and wrestled with his role in the Church. But after converting, he spoke less and less of the Pope. He was now in "the realm of freedom" (in good part, due to the Petrine Office) and could enter into the glorious communion of the saints, entering into an enriching relationship with those that he loved so dearly, and being filled with all the fulness of God.

Catholicism is less about popes and more about saints.


 
Mouse Problems

For the first time since I moved into this house about 9 years ago or so, I have seen mice darting behind whatever is there and even scurrying up the few steps in my stairwell to go outside for a break, I guess. Kind of cute. And I wouldn't think of setting traps or laying down poison. (Of course, we do have a large black cat in the household).

So that is not the "mouse problem" I speak about, since it is not, at least for me, a problem.

I had serious problems with my computer mouse today (and last few days). It went wild earlier today, all kinds of screens opening here and there and all over, strange sights, and finally leading to a shut down in mid-stream (many times repeated). Opening Netscape I see all my "bookmarks" now gone! IE fared better.

So I splurged and just installed a new "optical" mouse. WOW! What a difference. Saves me numerous movements trying to select the exact text. So far, so good.

Thus the rather light blogging today.


 
If only he knew....

Indomitable Andrew Sullivan once again theologizes a bit on his popular Daily Dish. This time he waxes eloquently in praise of a new book on the Gospel of Thomas (yes, yet another new book on this old topic, and still selling briskly!).

"And it's encouraging to see some of the frustrations many of us now have going back to the earliest days of the Church. I loved the story of Tertullian who saw both sides of orthodoxy and dissent:

'Not long afterward, Tertullian, already famous as a champion of orthodoxy, himself joined the new prophecy and defended its members as genuinely spirit-filled Christians. Although to this day, Tertullian stands among the "fathers of the church," at the end of his life he turned against what, at this point, he now began to call "the church of a bunch of bishops'" (Elaine Pagels, Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas).

I doubt if Sullivan really knows much about what he says. I doubt very much if he would be so appreciative of Tertuallian if he knew the genuine later Tertullian, no longer Catholic, but "Montanist" - rigorist of rigorists. Tertullian might have a word or two for Andrew, in fact. I suspect Andrew would "dissent." Heck, Andrew may even quote Catholic doctrine to Tertullian to get him off his back!!! (Just realized that if you don't know Andrew Sullivan and his - strong! - opinions you may not grasp the context of my own remarks. Sorry).

I am fascinated by the story and times surrounding the new Prophecy that drew someone as seemingly solid as Tertullian and how this pattern has continued throughout the ages. Even today.

Credit where credit is due. The other day Andrew Sullivan posted a quote from Carlo Caretto that I have added to the Church Page of my own website:

"How much I must criticize you, my Church, and yet how much I love you! You have made me suffer more than anyone, and yet I owe more to you than anyone. I should like to see you destroyed, and yet I need your presence. You have given me much scandal, and yet you alone have made me understand holiness. Never in the world have I seen anything more compromised, more false, yet never have I touched anything more pure, more generous, or more beautiful. Countless times I have felt like leaving you, my Church; and yet every night I have prayed that I might die in your warm, loving arms."

Of course, when Caretto speaks of criticizing the Church he does not mean broadcasting the alleged sins and failures of others all over the world! His criticism would be along the lines of the great saints.

At any rate, I thank Andrew Sullivan for leading me to that powerful quote.


 
Today in Christian history

September 15, 1853: Antoinette Brown Blackwell was ordained into the Congregational Church clergy in South Butler, New York, the first American woman clergy in a mainline Christian denomination.

September 15, 1920: Pope Benedict XV published the encyclical Spiritus Paraclitus, which restated the Catholic position on Scripture: “...the Bible, composed by men inspired of the Holy Ghost, has God himself as its principal author, the individual authors constituted as his live instruments. Their activity, however, ought not be described as automatic writing.”


Sunday, September 14, 2003
 
An Exhausted Pope Finishes Visit to Slovakia

"...Dr. Navarro-Valls predicted that the pope would press on, mentioning four other countries that have invited the pope to visit next year.

"Knowing the Holy Father, I think it's very difficult to say this will be the last trip of his pontificate," he told reporters at this morning's Mass.

"It's obvious there are some physical limitations there that everybody can see," he said, later adding, "Those physical limitations don't hamper in any way the way he performs his duties..."


 
The Power of the Cross

1. 0 my God, who could have imagined, by any light of nature, that it was one of Thy attributes to lower Thyself, and to work out Thy purposes by Thy own humiliation and suffering?

Thou hadst lived from eternity in ineffable blessedness. My God, I might have understood as much as this, that, when Thou didst begin to create and surround Thyself with a world of creatures, that these attributes would show themselves in Thee which before had no exercise.

Then too, Thou didst begin to show Thy wonderful and tender providence, Thy faithfulness, Thy solicitous care for those whom Thou hadst created. But who could have fancied that Thy creation of the universe implied and involved in it Thy humiliation?

0 my great God, Thou hast humbled Thyself, Thou hast stooped to take our flesh and blood, and hast been lifted up upon the tree! I praise and glorify Thee tenfold the more, because Thou hast shown Thy power by means of Thy suffering, than hadst Thou carried on Thy work without it.

It is worthy of Thy infinitude thus to surpass and transcend all our thoughts.

2. 0 my Lord Jesu, I believe, and by Thy grace will ever believe and hold, and I know that it is true, and will be true to the end of the world, that nothing great is done without suffering, without humiliation, and that all things are possible by means of it.

I believe, 0 my God, that poverty is better than riches, pain better than pleasure, obscurity and contempt than name, and ignominy and reproach than honour.

My Lord, I do not ask Thee to bring these trials on me, for I know not if I could face them; but at least, 0 Lord, whether I be in prosperity or adversity, I will believe that it is as I have said. I will never have faith in riches, rank, power, or reputation. I will never set my heart on worldly success or on worldly advantages. I will never wish for what men call the prizes of life. I will ever, with Thy grace, make much of those who are despised or neglected, honour the poor, revere the suffering, and admire and venerate Thy saints and confessors, and take my part with them in spite of the world.

3. And lastly, 0 my dear Lord, though I am so very weak that I am not fit to ask Thee for suffering as a gift, and have not strength to do so, at least I will beg of Thee grace to meet suffering well, when Thou in Thy love and wisdom dost bring it upon me.

Let me bear pain, reproach, disappointment, slander, anxiety, suspense, as Thou wouldest have me, 0 my Jesu, and as Thou by Thy own suffering hast taught me, when it comes. And I promise too, with Thy grace, that I will never set myself up, never seek pre-eminence, never court any great thing of the world, never prefer myself to others. I wish to bear insult meekly, and to return good for evil.

I wish to humble myself in all things, and to be silent when I am ill-used, and to be patient when sorrow or pain is prolonged, and all for the love of Thee, and Thy Cross, knowing that in this way I shall gain the promise both of this life and of the next.

- from John Henry Newman's Meditations and Devotions


 
The globe-trotter Pope

By David Willey
BBC Rome correspondent


"The Church of Rome is the world's oldest surviving international organisation, the Vatican the world's smallest sovereign state."


 
Today in Christian history

September 14, 407: Early Church father of the Eastern Church St John Chrysostom died at Commana in Pontus.

September 14, 1321: The Italian medieval poet Dante died in exile from his native Florence.

September 14, 1975: Mother Elizabeth Seton, the first American-born saint, was canonized by Pope Paul VI.


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