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, October 04, 2003

Archbishop meets frail Pope

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has met Pope John Paul II for the first time at a private audience in Rome.

The best saved for last

A review and some photos of latest wonderful cruise.... in your spare time (!), check it out and enjoy! I remembered you in my daily rosary on deck (a special time set aside each day that meant a lot to me).

Saint Francis of Assisi: a "universal saint"

Icon of Saint Francis of Assisi written at New Skete

Prayers to St. Francis of Assisi from the monastic typikon of New Skete Monastery (Orthodox Church in America, OCA)

Troparion Tone 3.

When riches had impoverished the world, you enriched it with the poverty of Christ, and by your love for all creation, you revealed to us the radiance of Tabor's light, so that all nations see in you the deep desire of all mankind. Beg Christ our Lord to save our souls.

Kontakion Tone 6.

Hearing the words of the Holy Gospels, you left your earthly father to serve your Father in heaven, showing us the riches of poverty and the perfect joy of the Cross. And in opposing the pride of the mighty with the humility of the simple, and breaking down the walls of hatred with the power of your love, you became yourself an image of the crucified Christ, who is everywhere present and fills all things.

The Culmination - and the Ulitmate Meaning of Francis of Assisi

The crowning of Francis life: the stigmata of the Lord Jesus given to his own flesh

Joy fall to thee, father Francis,
Drawn to the Life that died;
With the gnarls of the nails in thee,
niche of the lance,
his Lovescape crucified
And seal of his seraph-arrival!

Somehow these few verses from Gerard Manley Hopkins' "The Wreck of the Deutschland" seems to sum up so much in so few words: his Lovescape crucified!

A blessed Feast to all, including your special pets!


The Little Flowers of Saint Francis (The Fioretti)

This wonderful collection of stories about Saint Francis of Assisi and his early companions breathes the fragrance of the gospels themselves. These "fioretti" or "little flowers" indicate the poetic beauty of a life given to Christ unforgettably, and have done so for so many centuries now. Their freshness is inexhaustible! Saint Francis, the Poor Man of Assisi, who bore even the marks of Christ in his own body, leads countless souls to the very heart of all beauty and joy.

Order it from Amazon - The Little Flowers of Saint Francis (The Fioretti)

Saint Francis of Assisi by Gilbert Keith Cheserton

Catholicism is incredibly rich and her saints show forth, in their fascinating variety, some aspects of the Infinite Love and Life of the Triune God and the Image of Jesus Christ. Along with St Thomas Aquinas, the great intellectual - yet humble and faith-filled - theologian, the Church honors the Poor Man of Assisi as one of the most stunning "icons" of Christ - whose life, so "romantic" and "radical," still inspires countless believers today. Chesterton has captured something of the drama, the beauty, the daring, and the JOY of Francis and his remarkable following of Christ. This book is a jewel among many gems from the mind and heart of Gilbert Keith Chesterton.

Order it from Amazon - Saint Francis of Assisi by Gilbert Keith Cheserton

This week in Christian history

October 4, 1616: Galileo’s daughter Virginia took the veil in the Poor Clares, taking the name Maria Celeste.

October 4, 1965: Paul VI becomes the first pope to visit the United States and to address the United Nations. "War, never again!" became a famous phrase from this address.

Friday, October 03, 2003
The Word from Rome

John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter has lots about the new cardinals. Allen, who has "mellowed" quite a lot since he began his reporting from Rome, still, perhaps, views things in too political categories of "liberal" and "conservative" etc. (All the cardinals are quite orthodox and that's all that matters really). John was wrong, too, in a good many of his predictions about the next batch of cardinals. Just shows you how cautious we should be in reading most media reports.

Richard John Neuhaus' August/September "Public Square" now available online

Lots of good reading; including this poignant selection:

“We are 100 percent focused on protecting children,” a bishop tells me in a discussion of the Dallas “one strike and you’re out” rule. One hundred percent leaves slight time or energy for anything else. Herewith a letter sent me by a priest in New England: “I agree with you that protecting children is imperative, but I am not as convinced as you seem to be that doing so is the bishops’ collective and primary motive.

I was visited recently by a sixty-eight-year-old priest who, fourteen years ago, told his bishop of a sexual indiscretion that occurred thirty-one years ago and involved a then sixteen-year-old girl. His admission was the occasion of his being prudently removed from his position as pastor of a parish. The concern expressed then was that living alone could place him, and others, at risk for engaging in inappropriate relationships. The priest accepted the conditions, attended a year-long therapy and renewal program followed by three units of Clinical Pastoral Education, and found ministry at a hospital where he worked successfully, effectively, and happily for the next thirteen years while living in a small community of supportive priests in a nearby rectory. The priests, and the hospital administration, were aware of his rather ancient transgression, and in many ways he was able to offer a perspective and experience that brought home to the other priests the fragility of the human spirit and the need for fraternal support.

In the months following implementation of the reactionary Dallas policy, my friend was ordered to resign his ministry as hospital chaplain and accept early retirement. He tearfully conceded. Last month, he was instructed to move out of the rectory in which he had found support, friendship, and community over the last fourteen years. At the age of sixty-eight, thirty-one years after his indiscretion, fourteen years into his repentance and renewal, the wisdom of the bishops is now that this priest should live alone and away from the support of his brother priests.

This scenario is being repeated throughout the United States, and I believe it has nothing to do with protecting children. It has everything to do with ‘risk aversion,’ a term you used to describe the response of bishops to accusations against priests. Risk aversion is a concept that is wholly antithetical to ‘the gospel of sin and grace, repentance and restoration.’”

O'Malley calls gay marriage a threat

Archbishop opposes definition change

Today in Christian history

October 3, 1226: Francis of Assisi, the Poverello, dies in Umbria. Francis received a vision in which Christ told Francis to "rebuild My Church" and Francis inaugurated the "Franciscan Spring" of renewal and new life. He received the Stigmata on Mount Alverno, and was canonized 2 years after his death. His influence up to today is incalculable and Francis of Assisi is one of the most well known and loved of the saints. His feastday is October 4th.

Thursday, October 02, 2003
More of the same depressed, negative, suspicious, joyless, judgmental junk that has worked against the renewal of the Church

In the above title I refer not so much to the author of the original post, but rather to the Comments section with its promotion of the "hermeneutics of suspicion". Not very surprising, seeing who writes there! Same old, same old, same old, endlessly. Words, words, words.....

As always, Disputations disputes this and offers some sanity. His sanity continues on into the Comments. God bless you, John/Tom!

What continues to baffle me is how those who are SO CONSISTENTLY NEGATIVE about the others really think they are helping to renew the Church.

Imagine speaking so consistently negatively about one's beloved spouse or friend, or mother or benefactor? One might question the quality of the love, no?

Survey on Happiness

A new study of more than 65 countries published in the UK's New Scientist magazine suggests that the happiest people in the world live in Nigeria - and the least happy, in Romania.

People in Latin America, Western Europe and North America are happier than their counterparts in Eastern Europe and Russia.


The happiest

El Salvador
Puerto Rico

The least happy


Source: New Scientist

Interesting, for what it's worth.

Today in Christian history

October 2, 1187: Muslim general Saladin captures Jerusalem from the crusaders after an 88-year occupation. The Third Crusade ensued, with Frederick Barbarossa of Germany and Richard the Lion-Heart of England as leaders.

October 2, 1904: The novelist and Catholic convert Graham Greene was born on this day in 1904.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003
A year ago today

On October 1, 2003, I wrote in this blog:

The Little Flower

"My mission - to make God loved - will begin after my death, I will spend my heaven doing good on earth...I will send a shower of roses" - Therese of Lisieux

Yet more tears. I just received, a little while ago, a magnificent bouquet of a dozen ROSES: and the card just says "from Therese".....

(I had prayed quietly for a rose from Saint Therese this morning - hoping against hope).

O my God! O my God!

These magnificent and meaningful roses "from Therese" were made into the most beautiful rosary I have ever seen or used, done by the Carmelites of Port Tobacco, Maryland. They still are fragrant with the scent of roses! I have prayed at least a decade on these beads almost daily since receiving them (and I remember especially all my benefactors and the "instrument" God used to send me those roses). They are not only a means of prayer but a sign of God's provident Love. The roses came to me during a devastasting season of my life as a surprise gift that helped me meet the challenges and, through the grace of God and the incredible love and support of so many good people, to come through to newness of life.

Thanks, Saint Therese!

A favorite from Therese of Lisieux

Icon of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face written by the Byzantine Carmelites of Saint Elias, Saint-Remy, France

I am always moved by Hans Urs von Balthasar's recounting of a play written by St Therese of Lisieux for her community to celebrate Christmas.

"...she has various angels assemble around the crib: the 'Angel of the Child Jesus' and the 'Angel of the Holy Countenance' (the Passion) sing of the infinite love of the Son of Man in anticipation of his coming suffering but also of his Resurrection and triumph.

Then there appears the 'Angel of the Last Judgment,' armed with a sword and a pair of scales.

The following excerpt from his lines may be cited here:

'The day of reckoning is coming soon; this impure world will be forced to go through fire. We will see the radiance of his glory, no longer concealed beneath the features of a child; we will extol his triumph and acknowledge him as the Almighty. You will tremble; the inhabitants of the earth will not bear the wrath of this Child, who today is the God of love. He chooses suffering and demands in return only your frail heart. At the time of judgment, you will recognize his power and quake before the avenging God.'

The 'Angel of the Holy Countenance' speaks, requesting of the Child the promised mercy for those sinners whose conversion gives God greater joy than do the ninety-nine righteous who have no need of repentance.

After this comes the voice of the Child:

'I will listen to your request: every soul will find forgiveness.'

The Angel of Vengeance once again objects:

'Do you forget, Jesus, that the sinner must be punished; do you forget, in your exceeding love, that the number of the godless is endless? At the time of judgment, I want to punish the crimes, to destroy all the ungrateful; my sword is ready, well will I know how to avenge you!'

Then the Child Jesus:

'Beautiful angel, lower your sword. It is not for you to judge the nature that I desired to set in being and to redeem. I myself am the Judge of the world, and my name is Jesus.'

The Angel of Judgment kneels down and, 'quite beside himself (eperdu), wonders at your unutterable love.'

At the end, all the angels together say:

'How great is the bliss of the lowly creature. Despite their rapture, the seraphs would like to forsake their angelic nature and be changed to children with you.'"

If you have a few extra minutes (!), read the greatest theologian of our time's "take" on The Little Way of Saint Therese.

This is the autobiography of the great little Therese: written under holy obedience. Thank God she was commanded to write down the story of her soul! She obeyed, and God blessed. And this beautiful work still blesses countless souls as Therese invites us to glimpse Jesus in His relationship with His "little flower."

Here we see a miracle unfold before our very eyes: this young, sensitive, fully human heart (she died at age 24), full of the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Therese cuts through all the pieties and formalities of her times (and at first these may put you off since she still writes from this ethos - but if you perservere you will see just how authentic and radical - even shocking! - she is!), and she opens up incredibly new insights into His Love: taught by Jesus Himself. And with what familiarity and even humor! She makes the way of holiness accessible as no other.

Now a Doctor of the Universal Church, Therese is perhaps the most popular saint of modern times, and she fulfills her own promise of spending eternity doing good on earth: even in this fragrant book, which has touched countless souls up to TODAY.

You can order it now through Amazon: The Story of A Soul

Two Sisters in the Spirit
by Hans Urs von Balthasar

In this great book, the theologian of theologians, Hans urs von Balthasar, learns at the feet of two "sisters in the Spirit", the little Therese and Elizabeth of the Trinity, the rich doctrine of Christ and of St Paul. Both of these Carmelites, von Balthasar believes, were given to the Church with a special "theological mission" to open up the treasures of God's Word to ordinary believers like you and me. Here we can take a short cut into the riches of von Balthasar's heart as well - unlike so many other theologians, he seems most at home with the saints. This is the book that endeared me, beyond any ability to articulate, to St Therese of Lisieux and revealed why she would become a Doctor of the Church and Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, whose name in heaven, given her on earth, is Laudem Gloriae, Praise of Glory - one of the patronesses of my own website which is for "the praise of glory!"

You can order it from Amazon here: Two Sisters in the Spirit

Geoghan's sister expected to break silence

Breaking five weeks of silence, Catherine T. Geoghan, the sister of defrocked priest John J. Geoghan, today will express concerns about what she sees as bias in the official investigation into her brother's death, according to a person who has read a two-page statement Geoghan plans to release....

Oct 1: Feast of Saint Therese of Lisieux: Doctor of the Universal Church

Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face

More coming.....

Tuesday, September 30, 2003
Another reason I am glad to be a Catholic

I already linked to this piece by Mark Shea: it begins with showing two images of the Crucifixion: a western one Mark calls ghastly and an eastern icon Mark calls luminous.


In Orthodoxy, only one would have a place.

I believe having both is the best! Both are wonderful and both are luminous!

Report: Pope's Health'In a Bad Way'

This time it seems different than the decade long "story" of the frail Pope and the sickly Pope and the dying Pope. Here it seems that the Pope is indeed showing signs that he may not be with us much longer (O my God! I can hardly take those words in as I type them).

May he rebound again; may he stay with us longer; and may God's Holy Will be done.

Read these moving comments on Mark Shea's blog where he links to this article; as I read, tears well up.

My home parish church

OLPH from 5th Avenue

One of the delights of my latest trip was an overnight in my hometown of Brooklyn, NY. I had a chance to explore the old neighborhood (and to marvel at the changes!). The neighborhood is teeming with life and various languages, with some of the "old guard" still alive. But one thing hasn't changed: on the highest spot in this area sits the largest church in Brooklyn, literally the center of the neighborhood, presiding, so to speak, in splendor. Spiritually, too, for countless thousands Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish was the center of our lives. How beautiful she looks today! Here are some exterior shots (due to my condition I sadly decided not to attempt going inside and have saved that for the next trip, God willing).

OLPH from 59th Street entrance

Today in Church history

September 30, 420: Jerome, translator of the Bible into Latin (Vulgate) and producer of Bible commentaries, dies while at work on a commentary on Ezekiel.

September 30, 1268: Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury dies. Langton was one of the chief theologians at the University of Paris prior to becoming archbishop. He developed the chapter divisions for the Bible we use today.

September 30, 1770: Having preached his last sermon the evening before, English revivalist George Whitefield dies. Regarded as the most striking orator to come out of 18th century English revivalism, Whitefield's last spoken words were: “I had rather wear out, than rust out.”

Monday, September 29, 2003
Welcome to St Blog's

Find me in Florida - Jeanne Stark
The Wonderful and the Wlatsome - group effort
Whispers in the Wasteland - Bob
De Fidei Oboediencia - JMT resurrected!
Heroic Moments - Lisa
Dei Gratia
Notes to myself - Nicole M. DesOrmeaux

Frederica again

Here's lots to read and ponder if you follow the links!

Not too long ago I posted an article by popular writer, Frederica Mathewes-Green, on her vision of the differing views of the "east" and "west" on the Atonement. It opened an enlightening discussion.

Now Frederica uses some of the same thoughts in an article on Beliefnet on Mel Gibson's new movie in which she once again attempts to show that the "west's" view is somewhat deforming of the more original vision of the earlier Church, especially since the middle ages.

Mark Shea highly praises this piece by Frederica. And opened another discussion with some of the same participants as the discussion on my own blog.

That's a lot of reading. And one more to be brought pretty much up to date. Frederica apparantly received some criticism from some "conservatives" and this is her response.

I can hardly respond adequately to so much from Frederica (one of the most prolific writers I know!), and the commentators who add so much, and much of which I agree with as well.

I still think Frederica an excellent and talented writer but find her theology quite shoddy. I see in her a "black and white" understanding of very complex realities and a distinct tendecy to paint "the east" in its best light and to critique "the west" with some of its worst aspects. Frederica strikes me as somewhat "sectarian" and cannot see the immense commonality in both east and west even with regard to the place of the Cross and suffering in the Christian life and vision of the fathers and saints of all the ages. Frederica also seems incapable to me to accept any "development" since the Great Schism and seems a bit oblivious to the immense developments in the east over the earliest centuries, which was far more innovative and speculative than the "west" (and fostered most of the heresies as well).

Frederica, for instance, cites some beautiful Orthodox hymns from Good Friday, that show Jesus as the Triumphant Lord who does not evoke empathy. Yet the same Orthodox Church has heart-rending Lamentations, and has an action in the midst of a Holy Week Liturgy of actually nailing the image of the Crucified to the Cross. I have been there and there are often tears.

The "difference" just isn't there when all is said and done. Yes, different emphases. Yes. But both east and west recall the major aspects of the Redemption and have done so from the beginning.

For myself, I think the development in the west has been a boon. I think the more realistic images of the Crucifixion have made the enfleshment of Jesus better perceived and known and the person of the LORD more loved. I think the type of icon Mark Shea calls "luminous" can also become somewhat two dimensional, stiff, and off putting. Chesterton has some strong words on this - and I hope to post some of them soon.

Of course, what is truly wonderful that in the Catholic Church we have room for the explicit differences and emphases with the communion of eastern and western Catholic Churches! And we use both in the western Catholic Church as well. Sadly the east seems not able to share in anything from after the Schism if it originates in the west. The Catholic Church strikes me as much more Catholic than the Orthodox Church in this regard. Maybe if Frederica were a Catholic whe might see more of the similiarities and less of the differences.

At any rate, I hope Frederica continues to write and to keep studying history and the theological sources of east and west, and that she may become more nuanced and accurate in her writings.

One final thought as an example: in her reply to some criticism Frederica mentions that the "western" Christian churches are attended by more women than men. And this is stated in a negative way.

The implication might be that Orthodoxy, which did not have these developments, is different and that there are more men in Orthodox Churches than women.

Go to Greece, Russia, Ukraine, Romania, and any Orthodox country.

Then tell me if Frederica's insinuation is accurate.

Today in Christian history

September 29, 1803: The first Roman Catholic Church in Boston was formally dedicated. (Catholics had not been permitted any religious freedom within this predominantly Puritan colony prior to the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780.)

September 29, 1978: Pope John Paul I was found dead after only one month of serving as pope.

September 29. 1979: Pope John Paul II became the first pope to visit Ireland.


Yet another wonderful cruise. (You will, of course, hear a bit more!). But, as always, good to be home and good to be reunited with ONION, my beloved peke. Some catching up to do and then hope to be back here soon. Hope you are all doing well and prospering in the LORD.

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