A Catholic Blog for Lovers

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

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Saturday, November 29, 2003
Dorothy Day: d. November 29, 1980

Dorothy Day: radical witness to Christ and the Gospel


We were just sitting there talking when Peter Maurin came in.

We were just sitting there talking when lines of people began to form, saying, "'We need bread." 'We could not say, "Go, be thou filled." If there were six small loaves and a few fishes, we had to divide them. There was always bread.

'We were just sitting there talking and people moved in on us. Let those who can take it, take it. Some moved out and that made room for more. And somehow the walls expanded.

We were just sitting there talking and someone said, "Let's all go live on a farm."

It was as casual as all that, I often think. It just came about. It just happened.

I found myself, a barren woman, the joyful mother of children. It is not easy always to be joyful, to keep in mind the duty of delight.

The most significant thing about The Catholic Worker is poverty, some say.

The most significant thing is community, others say. 'We are not alone any more.

But the final word is love. At times it has been, in the words of Father Zossima, a harsh and dreadful thing, and our very faith in love has been tried through fire.

We cannot love God unless we love each other, and to love we must know each other. We know Him in the breaking of bread, and we know each other in the breaking of bread, and we are not alone any more. Heaven is a banquet and life is a banquet, too, even with a crust, where there is companionship.

- Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness

Stickers Produce Unique Battle in Egypt

Almost unbelievable - and yet so telling.....

Welcome to St Blog's

The Weight of Glory - Clayton Emmer
Discernment Group - Jay
Journey to Vatican III - Rebecca Nappi
Waiting in Joyful Hope - Father Thomas Dowd
My Domestic Church - Elena LaVictoire

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

November 29, 1530: English prelate Cardinal Thomas Wolsey died on this day in disfavor with King Henry VIII because of his failure to obtain the royal divorce. Supposedly he said, “Had I served my God as I have served my King, he would not have left me here naked to mine enemies

November 29, 1950: The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States (NCC) is founded in Cleveland, Ohio, by 27 Protestant and 7 Eastern Orthodox churches. The Catholic Church is not a member.

Friday, November 28, 2003
Cracks in Russia's ice

Suddenly there are signs of a thaw in official relations between Moscow and Rome. But the two Churches have formidable obstacles to overcome

Archpriest Sergei Hackel writes well of the obstacles and hopes of closer relations between the Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches. Of particular interest to me are his observations about Father Alexander Men.

Telling the Truth, Facing the Whip

I am reading more and more about Islam (awaiting four books from Amazon right now); and this seems a voice that needs to be heard and heeded.

Rahner vs. von Balthasar

John Allen, in his weekly "Word from Rome" column may be a bit out of his depth as he discusses the divergent schools of Karl Rahner SJ and Hans urs von Balthasar. But what he writes is interesting enough, and seems mostly correct to me as well (I am no expert but have read a bit around this theme over any number of years).

I loved the "old" Rahner, who wrote up to the Second Vatican Council. His works were profound, devotional, warm. His later works struck me as getting too "politically correct" and were, to me, colder and less inducive to deepening faith. But I never lost my respect for this great thinker and Jesuit priest.

Von Balthasar appealed to me more right from the day I first read him. Sort of the Emmaus experience, mutatis mutandis. Often reading him my heart would burn within. Von Balthasar opened up the Scriptures as no other theologian has ever done for me. He opened up vistas into the vast Catholic heritage, and introduced me to some of the great saints. It is due to his book on Saint Therese of Lisieux that I fell in love with her.

Von Balthasar once said that Rahner was far superior to him in the sheer power of speculative thinking. Perhaps. He also said of the later Rahner that "Rahner's Catholic heart was endangered by his critical intellect."

Both are outstanding theologians. But, obviously, my choice is von Balthasar over Rahner. I sense that Rahner isn't "holding his own" so well anymore; while the influence of von Balthasar and his "kneeling theology" seems to deepen and expand.

May it be so!


The President of the United States, George W. Bush, serving Thanksgiving turkey to American troops in Iraq on Thanksgiving Day, 2003.

Today in Christian history

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

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

Thursday, November 27, 2003
Preface of the Mass of Thanksgiving Day

For the dioceses of the United States of America

we do well to join all creation,
in heaven and on earth,
in praising you our mighty God
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

You made man in your own image
and set him over all creation.
Once you chose a people
and gave them a destiny
and, when you brought them out of bondage to freedom,
they carried with them the promise
that all men would be blessed
and all men could be free.

What the prophets pledged
was fulfilled in Jesus Christ,
your Son and our saving Lord.
It has come to pass in every generation
for all men who have believed that Jesus
by his death an resurrection
gave them a new freedom in his Spirit.

It happened to our fathers,
who came to this land as if out of the desert
into a place of promise and hope.
It happens to us still, in our time,
as you lead all men through your Church
to the blessed vision of peace.

And so, with hearts full of love,
we join the angels today and every day of our lives,
to sing your glory in a hymn of endless praise:

Lord God of power and might.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.
Hosanna in the highest.

To all those celebrating: A HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Today in Christian history

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

November 27, 1970: On a trip to the Philippines, Pope Paul VI is attacked by a dagger-wielding Bolivian painter disguised as a priest. Though the Vatican announced the pontiff was unhurt, he suffered a chest wound in the assault.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

The crowning gift

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

- George Herbert

To all of you celebrating, a most blessed, joyous Thanksgiving Holiday. Enjoy the greatest gifts God has given us: faith, freedom, family, friends, and the abundance of the fruits of the earth. Even those of us who are "poor" - how much to be thankful for. Another Thanksgiving, and my cup overflows. And I thank God for you, such fine and faithful readers. "I will bless the LORD at all times; praise shall be always in my mouth. My soul will glory in the LORD that the poor may hear and be glad. Magnify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together." (Psalm 34).

Imam Expelled from Italy

Senegalese Imam Fall Mamour, flanked by his Italian wife Aisha, holds his son Salahuddin Yahya in this February 2000 photo. Fall Mamour, who warned that Italian soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan risked attack as allies of the United States, will be deported from Italy, officials announced Monday, Nov.17, 2003. (AP)

Somehow I'll take the report's word for it that the wife is Italian..... great photo which I found on another blog and couldn't resist passing it on.

Dies Irae

The Church's liturgy (Roman Rite) focuses these days on the Manifestation (Parousia) of the LORD at the end of time. The coming Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords - who loves us infinitely and eternally and passionately and, in return, asks for our undivided heart.

"For I know your works: and you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were either hot or cold. But because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth." (Rev 3:15-16)


Today in Christian history

November 26, 1504: Death of Queen Isabella I, loyal Catholic Queen of Spain who, along with her husband King Ferdinand, commissioned Christopher Columbus to set sail for the west indies and the ultimate discovery of America.

November 26, 1539: The monastery at the Fountains Abbey in England was surrendered to the crown. It was the richest of the Cistercian houses, prior to the time of the Dissolution of all monasteries in England, under the reign of Henry VIII.

November 26, 1793 - The Church in France is thrown into further confusion when Napoleon Bonaparte orders the abolishment of the established Gregorian calendar and installs the short-lived Republican calendar. It was one of the little general's devious means to smite the Church further before he would shortly invade the papal states.

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

Don't Tell the Pope

An op-ed piece in the New York Times; the Catholic Church is, by far, the most discussed religion in its pages and yet rarely is its teachings given any credibility. Dissent and disobedience are praised over and over. Pope and bishops, bad; those who disagree and disobey, good.

And the BBC joins in (interesting that this topic is covered simultaneously in the NYT and the BBC):

The Vatican's condom challenge

Tuesday, November 25, 2003
Church revises details of worship

"Thirty-four years after the Catholic Church put into place dramatic changes in worship resulting from the Second Vatican Council, the Archdiocese of Boston this weekend will revise some details of the Mass in an effort to introduce more reverence and solemnity...."

Prophets of Gloom

They're still with us, of course!

"In the daily exercise of our pastoral office, we sometimes have to listen, much to our regret, to voices of persons who, though burning with zeal, are not endowed with too much sense of discretion or measure. In these modern times they can see nothing but prevarication and ruin. They say that our era, in comparison with past eras, is getting worse, and they behave as though they had learned nothing from history, which is, none the less, the teacher of life. They behave as though at the time of former Councils everything was a full triumph for the Christian idea and life and for proper religious liberty.

We feel we must disagree with those prophets of gloom, who are always forecasting disaster, as though the end of the world were at hand."

- Pope John XXIII, Opening Address of the Second Vatican Council, 1962

Lawyer for Church Says He Hid His Own Sexual Abuse by Priest

Something seems"fishy" to me; the pieces just don't fit, in my opinion. Of course, some will jump on this as yet another opportunity to blast away. Some have already done so here. But I agree more with Donald R. McClareyd's comment.

Today in Christian history

November 25, 1748: The Christian hymnodist Isaac Watts was born. He wrote innumerable hymns of the church, including "When I survey the wondrous cross" and "O God, our help in ages past." (I consider "When I survey" one of the finest hymns ever written, and perhaps the best hymn composed in English).

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

Monday, November 24, 2003
New Public Square of Father Richard John Neuhaus online - November 2003

This popular column contains so much richness as usual; but this really touched me:

"Thirteen years ago, Sister Mary Rose McGeady was asked by John Cardinal O’Connor to take over Covenant House, which was wracked by sexual and financial scandal and close to going under. Covenant House, established by Father Bruce Ritter, works with street kids, mainly multiply-troubled teenagers who have run away from home. Sister Mary Rose is one formidable woman, and she turned the apostolate around to the point where it now has a budget of nearly $120 million and works with sixty thousand teenagers through centers in twenty-two cities.

She joined the Daughters of Charity when she was a teenager and there were 1,300 sisters. Today there are 800, and the average age is sixty-nine. At age seventy-five she says, “I’m on the young half.” From the beginning, her work has been with troubled children. She wears her blue habit and veil, and lives very modestly with a group of sisters in Brooklyn, getting up at 5:30 to begin the day with common prayer. Soon she will be moving to the community’s house in Albany, New York, situated beside the cemetery where she expects to be buried. But she still has projects in mind, related, of course, to caring for kids in trouble.

“I look back on my life and wish I had been holier,” she says. “I wish I hadn’t fallen asleep at prayers. I wish I had kept all my promises to people. I make more promises than I keep. I wish I could have a wand and mend a child’s broken heart.” Don’t dare mention the idea to her, but it would be no surprise if the time comes when her cause is submitted to the Congregation for Saints."

40 Years Later: The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of this pivotal text of Vatican II, Sacrosanctam Concilium (SC) I will post much of it piece by piece over these next weeks. My own comments are in maroon. I wonder if the entire Church shouldn't reread SC with a spirit of humility, openness, and repentance.


1. The Nature of the Sacred Liturgy and Its Importance in the Church's Life

9. The sacred liturgy does not exhaust the entire activity of the Church. Before men can come to the liturgy they must be called to faith and to conversion: "How then are they to call upon him in whom they have not yet believed? But how are they to believe him whom they have not heard? And how are they to hear if no one preaches? And how are men to preach unless they be sent?" (Rom. 10:14-15).

Therefore the Church announces the good tidings of salvation to those who do not believe, so that all men may know the true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent, and may be converted from their ways, doing penance (24). To believers also the Church must ever preach faith and penance, she must prepare them for the sacraments, teach them to observe all that Christ has commanded (25), and invite them to all the works of charity, piety, and the apostolate. For all these works make it clear that Christ's faithful, though not of this world, are to be the light of the world and to glorify the Father before men.

24. Cf. John 17:3; Luke 24:27; Acts 2:38.
25. Cf. Matt. 28:20.

Here SC emphasizes again the importance of hearing the Word of God and the call to faith and repentance. The liturgy does not exhaust the Church's activity. Traditionally there have been established ways of giving the Word of God prominence, such as Parish Missions and Retreats. This "evangelical" dimension is what gives substance and meaning to the sacramental and liturgical celebrations of the Church. At times I wonder: have we become too tied to the Mass as the only way Catholics pray? We may be in danger of being "massed out" - some parishes may offer nothing other than Mass perhaps. I remember long ago when Sunday Vespers with Benediction was offered in at least some parishes. I remember, too, when Parish Missions were BIG events. Have we kept the balance of SC in our current Church life?

Recovery. It Can Be So Addicting

Thanks to Amy Welborn for pointing out this fascinating piece in today's Washington Post.

AA is an important phenomenon of our times; once I heard Father Benedict Groeschel call it "the most successful spiritual miovement of our times" and that this was accomplished "without property" and with minimal organization.

Many know of the Twelve Steps - and they are remarkable enough.

But there are also the Twelve Traditions - and these are perhaps the secret to AA's ability to endure and remain effective.

I know AA a bit and in my own area there are two different types of AA groups (though they are similiar and in "fellowship"): the old-timers AA meetings, with lots of young people, who follow the Blue Book quite literally and this is quite foreign to the "New Agey" and over "psychologized" element that has infiltrated much of the Renewal Movement. One difference is that in the old-style AA they do not hold hands during the concluding Lord's Prayer.

On my own website I have a bit about Alcoholics Anonymous and about some of the great Catholic personalities involved in its earliest days, especially the beloved Father Edward Dowling, SJ, and the "incomparable Sister Ignatia" as Bill W. referred to her. Don't miss (Episcopal) Father Sam Shoemaker's wonderful essay on What the Church can learn from AA. (Answer: a lot!).

Today in Christian history

November 24, 1713: Junipero Serra, "the Apostle of California," is born in Petra on the island of Majorca. He would go on to enter the Franciscan Order in 1730 and become the pioneer missionary of the west coast of America, establishing 21 missions in California and dying there in Monterrey on August 28, 1784.

Sunday, November 23, 2003
New Basilica in Fatima to Accommodate 10,000 Pilgrims

Designed by Greek Orthodox Architect Alexandros Tombazis


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

- Dorothy Sayers

Andrew Greeley's "Dirty Secret?"

Yes, this is a good point raised by Matt Abbott. Wonder how Greeley would reply.

Fire! Blaise Pascal's Memorial

One of the greatest and most influential Christians of all ages, Blaise Pascal, had a "spiritual awakening" on November 23, 1654. Pascal, the scientist and mathematician, had a flashing moment of "conversion" which he memorialized in what has come to be known as The Memorial. Pascal attempted to convey something of the magnitude and intensity of this searing experience in words, and this Memorial meant so much to Pascal that he sewed the parchment on which it was written to his clothes so it was always with him and near his heart. It is a joy to post, once again, the text of this beautiful testimony to the Reality of God's Grace in Christ:

The year of grace 1654,

Monday, 23 November, feast of St. Clement, pope and martyr, and others in the martyrology.
Vigil of St. Chrysogonus, martyr, and others.
From about half past ten at night until about half past midnight,


GOD of Abraham, GOD of Isaac, GOD of Jacob
not of the philosophers and of the learned.
Certitude. Certitude. Feeling. Joy. Peace.
GOD of Jesus Christ.
My God and your God.
Your GOD will be my God.
Forgetfulness of the world and of everything, except GOD.
He is only found by the ways taught in the Gospel.
Grandeur of the human soul.
Righteous Father, the world has not known you, but I have known you.
Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy.
I have departed from him:
They have forsaken me, the fount of living water.
My God, will you leave me?
Let me not be separated from him forever.
This is eternal life, that they know you, the one true God, and the one that you sent, Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ.
I left him; I fled him, renounced, crucified.
Let me never be separated from him.
He is only kept securely by the ways taught in the Gospel:
Renunciation, total and sweet.
Complete submission to Jesus Christ and to my director.
Eternally in joy for a day's exercise on the earth.
May I not forget your words. Amen.

Today in Christian history

November 23, 101 (traditional date): Clement of Rome dies. According to spurious legend, he was tied to an anchor and thrown into the sea. Considered "the first apostolic father," his letter to the church of Corinth was regarded as Scripture by many Christians in the third and fourth centuries.

November 23, 615: Irish scholar and missionary Columbanus dies in Bobbio, Italy. One of the greatest missionaries of the Middle Ages, he established monasteries in Anegray, Luxeuil, and Fontaines.

November 23, 1621: Poet and cleric John Donne is elected Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral in London.

November 23, 1654: French scientist and mathematician Blaise Pascal experiences a mystical vision and converts to Christianity. The creator of the first wristwatch, the first bus route, the first workable calculating machine, and other inventions then turned his life to theology.

1927 - Death of Miguel Agustin Pro, Mexican priest and martyr. He fled the country in 1914 to escape religious persecution but returned in 1926 to meet the needs of his people. Often traveling in disguise, he was arrested on phony charges and martyred for his faith. As he stood bravely before the firing squad, he refused the blindfold, forgave his executors and uttered his last words "Viva Cristo Rey" - "Long live Christ the King."

The Great Choice

"To love at all is to vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung, possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping your heart, you must give your heart to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it up carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries, avoid all personal entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket of your selfishness. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable."

- C.S. Lewis

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