A Catholic Blog for Lovers


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

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?
Saturday, December 20, 2003
 
THE SEASON OF GIVING

One of the happiest experiences in the world is when we look forward with the eager expectation of a child to a Christmas present or the surprise that we feel - or pretend, with a rather painful smile, to feel - when the packages lying under the Christmas tree are unwrapped. What is revealed in all this is a deep human longing.

In every one of us, there is hidden, somewhere in the depths of our being, a poet or an artist who is prevented from expressing himself or herself by the everyday tasks. As Baudelaire said, our heart is like a captive albatross on the deck of the ship of life - an awkward, incongruous, ridiculous creature when not in the sky, because it is made for flight and its huge wings prevent it from walking.

Every gift is... a symbol of our love. Every present is like a sacramental, a making visible of an invisible good that goes further than our calculations, has no boundaries and recognizes no frontiers.

And however poor we may be, so poor that we have, in the weeks before Christmas, to go past the shop windows and their glorious displays of gifts perhaps with a troubled, hurt, and even envious heart, we can still say on Christmas day to those we love: I give you my heart. My heart, my loving heart, is like a carefully locked Christmas present. It contains treasures that have still not been discovered. My love is new and full of surprises. It looks forward to receiving a gift in return. And it is renewed and made young again when it hears the only possible answer: I love you too.


- Hugo Rahner, SJ


 
Reason and Faith, Eternally Bound

If the author had only encountered Thomas Aquinas! Or grasped the Pope's Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason). But, alas, no. But its the New York Times and it could be worse I guess....


 
Newsweek on John Allen

John Allen, quite well known in some circles for his reports from Rome in The National Catholic Reporter and his weekly column, The Word from Rome, is featured by Ken Woodward in a recent Newsweek.

I am no fan of the "NCR" and stopped my subscription MANY years ago. But I still search around its online version and faithfully read John Allen's columns and articles. I have noticed a change/shift in John over these past years. My impression is that when John started out he was what some might consider a "liberal" and "dissenter" and seemed rather critical of this Pope and his collaborators. He spoke with the vocabulary of the mainstream NCR writers and readers.

But as he got to know the Pope and his collaborators better and to taste ecclesial life in one of its central spots, I noticed a growing admiration for the Pope and others. I noticed more nuancing - and even defending against some of the old criticisms. I may be wrong but now I see John occasionally saying something to please-pacify the mainstream of NCR, but his best and most sustained work is quite positive and I would even say now quite "conservative!" (at least by NCR standards).

At least this is my own reading of things. I still dislike the NCR a good bit. But they lucked out when they hired John Allen and to their credit keep him aboard. Of course, as John's reputation grows, the likelihood is that NCR will keep him for a long time. I can live with that!


 
French Muslims Offer Little Opposition to Head Scarf Ban

"...Since Chirac made his announcement in a nationally televised speech Wednesday, the reaction from the political class has been largely favorable, with the main parties - Chirac's ruling coalition and the opposition Socialists - all voicing their support. Party leaders said the law could be passed by February. Only the Greens, Communists and members of other small parties opposed the new law on civil liberties grounds. The anti-immigrant National Front party also expressed opposition because the proposed ban includes Christian symbols..."


 
The O Antiphon

December 20

O CLAVIS DAVID, et sceptrum domus Israël, qui aperis, et nemo claudit, claudis, et nemo aperuit: veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

O KEY OF DAVID, and Scepter of the House of Israel, who opens and no man shuts, who shuts and no man opens: COME, and bring forth the captive from his prison, he who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death. Amen.



Friday, December 19, 2003
 
A new hope!


The proposed Freedom Tower

Reading about the newly designed "Freedom Tower" to be constructed upon the site of the World Trade Center, a hope broke forth from within. That I might live long enough to see the completion of this dramatic symbol of rebirth. The article says that this may be accomplished by 2008 or 9. I pray that - if it is God's will - that I may be alive to witness this rebuilding, which seems so much more beautiful than what was so brutally destroyed.

The pain has been great in the loss of the Twin Towers, most especially the sensless loss of so many precious lives; yet there can be a great joy in the rebuilding - especially if the world is by then truly safer. "Weeping cometh in the night; but with the dawn, rejoicing" (Psalm 30:5).

After my grave illness of 2001, I didn't think I'd make it to 2003. And now I am hoping to be around in 2008 (or 9!). A new hope! And to "take it to the limit one more time" (one of my theme songs): I am hoping against hope (Rom 4:18) to be alive when all the new buildings (5) are glistening in the NY skyline. Target date: 2013. (Of course, "our hope does not disappoint" [Rm 5:25] and I can hope to see it either from here or "the other side").


 
The O Antiphon

December 19

O RADIX JESSE, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem gentes deprecabuntur: veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.

O ROOT OF JESSE, that stands for an ensign of the people, before whom the kings keep silence and unto whom the Gentiles shall make supplication: COME, to deliver us, and tarry not. Amen.



 
Jesus in America

Behind the wild success of "The Da Vinci Code" lies a centuries-old urge to recapture the original Jesus.

Long cover story in US News online. I will never read "The Da Vinci Code" and don't keep abreast much of the controversy around it. But it sure is popular! And it does seem so many are ready to believe the worst... especially about the Catholic Church. But the Church has survived a lot worse than this piece of fiction... but I do pray for those who may be negatively affected by this mediocre book (I base that judgement on critics whose opinion I trust).


 
Some feminists want to dump Mary

"...To discard the story that the Madonna and Child have told for a millennium and a half (at least) and every year at Christmas is to reject in the name of contemporary ideology perhaps the richest religious symbol the world has ever known - as the painting, architecture, music, sculpture and poetry of the Catholic heritage have demonstrated..."

Greeley can be outrageous; he can annoy and rub the wrong way; he can be wrong, very wrong. But he can also speak the truth with zest and jest, and his own "Catholic heart" breaks through once again. (Thanks to Amy Welborn for pointing me to this little piece by Greeley).


 
Today in Church history

December 19, 1734: Count Nicholaus von Zinzendorf, founder of the modern Moravian church and a pioneer in ecumenism and missions, is recognized as a minister by the theology faculty of Tubigen, Germany. (Some fascinating information about von Zinzendorf can be found in Ronald Knox's delightful classic ENTHUSIASM).


Thursday, December 18, 2003
 
O Antiphon

December 18

O ADONAI, et dux domus Israël, qui Moyse in igne flammae rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina legem dedisti: veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.

O LORD AND RULER of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the flame of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: COME, and redeem us with outstretched arms. Amen.



 
Headscarf and Fashion

So what else is new?


An Indonesian Muslim woman browsers for accessories at a shopping mall in Jakarta, November 17, 2003. Forget the stereotype image of Muslim women draped from head to toe in all-enveloping robes, or girls shrouded in modest white veils. In Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, the Islamic Hijab is hip, particularly among the rich and upwardly mobile. (Reuters)



 
Today in Christian history

1707: Charles Wesley, a priest of the Church of England, led the Methodist Revival with his brother John, is born in England. A celebrated and prolific hymnwriter, his "Come Thou long Expected Jesus" and "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" are widely sung this time of year. Charles' hymns are abundant and some of them among the finest written in English.

1819: Born today, Isaac Thomas Hecker. A convert who joined the Redemptorists, but later left - over misunderstandings and disagreements about the use of English in the Parish Missions - and later founded the Missionary Society of St Paul (the Paulists).

1865: Slavery is abolished in the United States as the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified. Many of the abolitionists who pushed for its passage were Christians seeking to make America more like the Kingdom of God.

1957: English author Dorothy Sayers, a Christian apologist who was also the most popular mystery writer in England, dies.


Wednesday, December 17, 2003
 
The O Antiphon

December 17

O SAPIENTIA, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem fortiter, suaviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.

O WISDOM, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: come, and teach us the way of prudence. Amen.



 
Saudi Arabia Bans Dolls, Stuffed Animals

If true, another indication of a region/religion stripped of joy.

(I wonder how Cherie Blair would spin this one!).


 
French Leader Calls for Ban on Religious Symbols in Schools

"PARIS (AP) -- French President Jacques Chirac asked parliament on Wednesday for a law banning Islamic head scarves and other religious insignia in public schools, a move that aims at shoring up the nation's secular tradition, despite cries that it will stigmatize France's 8 million Muslims (sic).

Chirac said he also wanted to open the way for businesses to impose the same ban for reasons of safety or customer relations.

``Secularism is one of the great successes of the Republic,'' Chirac said in an address to the nation. ``It is a crucial element of social peace and national cohesion. We cannot let it weaken.''

Chirac said he would push for a law to be enacted in time for the school year that begins next autumn. Islamic head scarves, Jewish skullcaps and large crucifixes would fall under the ban.

Adoption of a law seemed likely, as lawmakers from both sides of the political spectrum have voiced support for a law on secularism.

For many French, the Islamic head scarf symbolizes Muslim militancy and fears that fundamentalists are making dangerous inroads in France. But Muslims say a ban is discriminatory, violates their freedoms and could provoke a backlash...."

The BBC's report on Chirac's Proposal

BBC's Q & A on Muslim Headscarfs


 
Cherie Blair: Saudi image 'appalling'

From Aljazeera, Wednesday 17 December 2003, 9:52 Makka Time, 6:52 GMT

Cherie Blair's comments echo the British government's views on Saudi Arabia

Cherie Blair, wife of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, has said that Saudi Arabia has an "appalling" world image that needs to be corrected.

However, she added that it was wrong to say that the country did not treat its women equally, The Independent newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Cherie was speaking at a dinner held in the House of Lords on Monday to promote Muslim women in public life, an event also attended by the Saudi ambassador to Britain.

Addressing Prince Turki al-Faisal, Cherie said: "I am so delighted that his Royal Highness came from Saudi Arabia because as I said to your wife when I met her Sir, Saudi Arabia's image in the world is appalling and we need to do something about that, we need to help you do something about that."

She added: "Part of the reason it's appalling is the perception that you treat your women like they are not equals but some sort of 'other'.

"And I know that that is not in fact the reality. You have many strong women."

Cherie, a Roman Catholic, vowed to change the "perception of Islam being backward-looking, oppressive - somehow not as good as western Christianity."

She added: "Some of you know my own religion has not always been in the forefront of women's rights, and indeed still isn't sadly...."



Cheri forgot to mention that in her religion women are not allowed to drive or vote, and are not allowed to go outside the house without a male accompanying them (a family member or driver), and that the Bible of her faith encourages the beating of disobedient women......

Of course, maybe she didn't forget - since her religion doesn't mandate any of these restrictions on women in place and enforced in Saudi Arabia.

But perhaps she was paid generously to overlook some things in Saudi Arabia? :-)


 
O'Malley plans aggressive cuts

Vows to decide church closings as early as June


 
Dissident Episcopal Bishops Form New Group

"Thirteen Episcopal bishops opposed to their church's approval of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire plan to announce today that they are forming a rival network of dioceses and parishes, Bishop Robert W. Duncan of Pittsburgh said.

Bishop Duncan, who has been in the forefront of the Episcopalians challenging the direction of their church, said he was named "moderator and convening authority" of the dissident network. The group plans to release its founding theological statement on its Web site today.

"We are called," the statement says, "to oppose assaults on the authority of the Scriptures."

While leaders of the new group insist they are not creating a schism, they are laying the groundwork for a confrontation that could test the authority of the leadership of the the Episcopal Church U.S.A., which has 100 dioceses in the United States..."


 
Today in Christian history

1538, Pope Paul III excommunicated England’s King Henry VIII because of his role in the Reformation.

1917: Bolsheviks confiscate all property of the Russian Orthodox Church and abolish religious instruction in the schools. Within two decades, at least 45,000 priests were reportedly martyred in the country.


Tuesday, December 16, 2003
 
Projects update

A while back I mentioned I was working on two major projects: paring down my library to help ease the crowding of my living quarters, and learning more about Islam (and that has involved getting more books!).

Well, some progress to date. I have already given away to a dear friend and excellent reader two very large boxes of books, which included some real treasures, such as the 3 volume English Summa Theologica and the 4 volume Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers. Hard to say "goodbye" to these old stand bys. But it seems good to me to get them into the hands of a younger person who can use them over many years (even as I was able to do). I have also packed up, so far, four more large boxes for another friend, who is also a good reader and young. More treasures, such as a "Liber Usualis" and another Latin-English "Tridentine" Roman Missal.

Giving away, too, tons of music tapes and old records to someone who just purchased a turn table.

Right now my room is somewhat chaotic. It takes a good bit out of me to move books and to rearrange, so I do it little by little. Every once in a while, a good neighbor and buddy stops by and does some of the heavier work. What he can do in a few minutes would take me all day! I am hoping that the basic paring can be done by Dec. 20 and then I can put it aside during the main part of the Christmas season. I am hoping to use next Lent to go through papers and files and sort through "stuff" and pare down even more.

I am also reading up on Islam. I have gotten several good books, by Robert Spencer (2), Bernard Lewis (2), David Pryce-Jones (thanks, Father Wilson, for the tip), and several versions of the Qu'ran (lovely editions that are quite inexpensive - wonder if Saudi money isn't involved!). So far I find the Qu'ran ponderous, dry, and very inferior to the Bible in content and literary style - though, of course, the only real Qu'ran is the Arabic and that is supposed to be quite beautiful. I think I am learning a fair amount and it is always exciting to have one's vision expanded and to get new knowledge and insight. I have discoverd, too, several utterly fascinating (and time-consuming) blogs and websites on this theme but I won't mention them lest some think I agree with everything on them. But some really make me laugh as well as raise my awareness of the situation of our world today.

Just thought I'd fill you in and give an update. Lots to do yet. But a dent has been made. Thanks be to God.


 
The O Antiphons of Advent

December 17

O WISDOM, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: COME, and teach us the way of prudence. Amen.

O SAPIENTIA, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem fortiter, suaviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.

December 18

O LORD AND RULER of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the flame of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: COME, and redeem us with outstretched arms. Amen.

O ADONAI, et dux domus Israël, qui Moyse in igne flammae rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina legem dedisti: veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.

December 19

O ROOT OF JESSE, that stands for an ensign of the people, before whom the kings keep silence and unto whom the Gentiles shall make supplication: COME, to deliver us, and tarry not. Amen.

O RADIX JESSE, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem gentes deprecabuntur: veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.

December 20

O KEY OF DAVID, and Scepter of the House of Israel, who opens and no man shuts, who shuts and no man opens: COME, and bring forth the captive from his prison, he who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death. Amen.

O CLAVIS DAVID, et sceptrum domus Israël, qui aperis, et nemo claudit, claudis, et nemo aperuit: veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

December 21

O DAWN OF THE EAST, brightness of light eternal, and Sun of Justice: COME, and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. Amen.

O ORIENS, splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae: veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

December 22

O KING OF THE GENTILES and their desired One, the Cornerstone that makes both one: COME, and deliver man, whom you formed out of the dust of the earth. Amen.

O REX GENTIUM, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum: veni, et salva hominem, quem de limo formasti.

December 23

O EMMANUEL, God with us, Our King and Lawgiver, the expected of the nations and their Savior: COME to save us, O Lord our God. Amen.

O EMMANUEL, Rex et legifer noster, expectatio gentium, et Salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos, Domine, Deus noster.



 
Today in Church history

345: Eusebius (not to be confused with historian Eusebius of Caesarea) becomes bishop of Vercelli, Italy. After refusing to sign the condemnation of Athanasius at the Council of Milan, he was exiled. But he was pardoned by Julian the Apostate and led the movement to restore the Nicene Creed—and thus orthodoxy—to the empire.

1714: Revivalist and evangelist George Whitefield, the best-known figure of the American Great Awakening, is born in Gloucester, England. A colleague of the Wesley brothers, they parted ways over the issue of predestination versus the availability of grace to all. Whitefield was a Calvinist. The Wesleys were arminians.

1859: The Victorian poet Francis Thompson, whose sometimes complex religious poems can bring to mind the Metaphysical Poets of the 17th century, was born on this day. His most famous poem is "The Hound of Heaven" - which playwright Eugen O'Neil memorized and recited at a pub in the presence of Dorothy Day, who was deeply touched by Thompson's poem.

1916: Gregory Rasputin, the "holy man", who had wielded powerful influence over the Russian court, was murdered by a group of noblemen.


Monday, December 15, 2003
 
Guatemala 'political' priest dead

Gunmen in Guatemala have shot dead a Roman Catholic priest who was twice a candidate for mayor of the capital.


 
New Literary Journal

Received this email today:

"Hi Gerard,
I was wondering if you could post an announcement for me on your blog. I'm doing some publicity for a literary journal of orthodox Catholic poetry and prose that will be started up next year. We're looking for contributors and subscribers. The journal is called the St. Linus Review. Let me know if you need any other info. Thanks!

Sarah DeCorla-Souza


 
Cardinal John J O'Connor

I miss him! I happen to have known him personally as well and was taken with his charm and his warmth and faith (and piety). I once was the object of his Irish temper - wow! But no matter; he towered for me as a model priest, and later, Bishop. I knew him when he was Chief of Chaplains at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis. He came over every Thursday for dinner and a visit to the local Redemptorist community.

I wonder how it would have been for him during the latest chapter of the "scandals" in the Church. I wonder if he would have been criticized or spared such criticism for his oversight of the New York Archdiocese. I don't know that much about how he handled offending priests, etc. I do know, though, that he had a loyal and abiding love of the Church and of the priesthood. He held to a high ideal of holiness for priests as well (and today is the anniversary of his ordination in 1945).

At any rate, I miss the outspoken messages he gave over and over; I miss his deft touch of humor; I miss his "presence" - cultured, yet populist - a credit to the Church.

Reqiescat in pace.


 
Advent Prayer

Like foolish folk of old I would not be,
Who had no room that night for Him and thee.
See, Mother Mary, here within my heart
I've made a little shrine for Him apart;
Swept it of sin, and cleansed it with all care;
Warmed it with love and scented it with prayer.
So, Mother, when the Christmas anthems start,
Please let me hold your baby - in my heart.


- Sr. Maryanna, O.P.

Robert, Cyril. Mary Immaculate: God's Mother and Mine. New York: Marist Press, 1946.


 
Today in Christian history

1945: John J. O'Connor is ordained a priest at the age of 25 in Philadelphia. He, of course, would go on to be elevated to bishop and appointed cardinal by Pope John Paul II on May 25, 1985. One of the most visible and highly regarded prelates of the Church, O'Connor died in May, 2000. The sermon at his Funeral was delivered by Cardinal Bernard Law.

1952: Pope Pius XII publishes his 25th encyclical Orientales Ecclesias on the persecutions suffered by the Eastern Church.


Sunday, December 14, 2003
 
Two Very Happy Iraqi Bloggers!

See The Mesopotamian, "The Mother of Days".

And visit Iraq the Model, "Big Brother in a small hole".



 
Juan de la Cruz


The Crucified Christ painted by John of the Cross

"Mine are the heavens and mine is the earth. Mine are the nations, the just are mine and mine the sinners. The angels are mine, and the Mother of God, and all things are mine; and God himself is mine and for me, because Christ is mine and all for me."

- Saint John of the Cross



For more on this great saint: Thomas Merton on Saint John of the Cross.

Hans Urs von Balhasar's magnificent - long and meaty - essay in the third volume of The Glory of the Lord on Saint John of the Cross: the Perfect Adventure.


 
Today in Christian history

December 14 1591: Spanish poet John of the Cross, one of the greatest Christian mystics, dies. His influence continues to this day. Perhaps the greatest mystic of all ages, his poems are considred by some the zenith of Spanish poetry.


Google
Search WWW Search praiseofglory.com Search blogforlovers.blogspot.com