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, January 17, 2004

"Like I said earlier: I now expect nothing from the institutional Church, from Rome down to the parish level. Not holiness, not fidelity to Catholic teaching, not common sense, not even Catholicism. If we get any of that, we're coming out ahead, but I don't expect it. I only want it to give me the sacraments and otherwise to leave me and my family the hell alone." - prominent Catholic writer and commentator on things Catholic.

Rather than reply myself, I post this from one of my heroes, Father Henri de Lubac. If only I could express myself as he does! He speaks my very soul! Here is the concluding section from an address by Henri de Lubac, SJ, May, 29, 1969, upon receiving an honorary doctorate from the St Louis University

“....The second fundamental condition (for true renewal according to the intent of Vatican II) is the love and concern for Catholic unity. It is closely liked with the first condition: personal love of Jesus Christ.

The shop-worn contrast which some still delight in making between the Church and the gospel of Christ is an easily exploitable theme because it is all too evident that the Church seen in her members is never completely faithful. Sin, which is to be found everywhere, does not spare the Church—neither sin nor all the other marks of human frailty. It is no less true, however, that is is still the Church which brings us the gospel of Christ and, still more important, more true today than ever before that the generalized criticism of the Church is linked to a movement that draws away from the gospels.

I would not be so concerned if this were something from outside the Church. But when each one takes as his mission to criticize everything, when each one sets out to rewrite dogma and morality according to his own wishes, the Church disintegrates. When the center of unity becomes the target of the most impassioned attacks, each one feeling that he has the right to criticize the successor of Peter before the whole world on any point whatsoever, the Church herself is therefore wounded. Those who take this liberty do not fully realize what they are doing. Regardless of what pretext they may invoke, however, they are turning their backs on the gospel of Christ, and they scandalize, in the fullest sense of the word, many of their brethren.

Whether they wish to or not, they encourage the formation of small groups whose sectarian pretensions are equaled only by the poverty of their spirituality. The weakening of faith is coupled with the decomposition of the Christian community. They insult all those who hold on to what their faith requires of them as Christians. Inasmuch as it depends on them, they ruin the Church. A Church in which this form of disorder exists and where such morals are accepted is doomed, for it cannot be efficacious; it will have no missionary zeal, no ecumenical force.

In conclusion I would like to refute these excesses—excesses disguised under impressive titles—with a very simple witness, the witness of an exceptionally intelligent woman who spent her life helping the poor in a hostile and atheistic milieu. Since her death in 1964, some of the notes and papers of Madeleine Delbrel have been published. Whoever reads them will be able to recognize and learn what an authentic Christian spirituality is and be able to compare it with the refined purity of certain cerebral spiritualities in whose name ordinary Christianity—the only one familiar to the saints and to the ordinary Christians for the past twenty centuries—is criticized. This what Madeleine Delbrel wrote in 1952:

“Inasmuch as I have, for the past eighteen years, shared the life of a people not only without my faith but with no memory whatever of Christianity; inasmuch as I feel intimately connected to what the Church in France brings to me both nova et vetera (old and new); and inasmuch as I am convinced that our fidelity requires an ever more ardent missionary zeal as well as a stronger rooting in obedience, I decided to go to Rome in the name of all....and so that this would be an act of faith and nothing else, I arrived in Rome in the morning, I went directly to the
tomb of St Peter....I spent the entire day there and left for Paris in the evening.”

There is nothing grand about so simple a gesture. Yet it will do more to maintain the cohesion of the Church than so many opposite gestures which merely dig away at this very cohesion. Such a sense of the necessity of Catholic unity is prior to and subsequent to all legitimate discussion—within the limits of divine institution and without unduly forcing the Church’s hand—of the best means of governing the Church at a given time and in given circumstances.......

Speaking before this noble assembly in this great University of Saint Louis, I am conscious of not having spoken—as some of you may have expected me to do—as a learned man. Perhaps I should ask your forgiveness. I do feel, however, that I have spoken as a theologian. And is it not necessary, when the seriousness of the hour requires it, to suspend for a moment his historical studies or his personal constructions—to which he would be wrong to attach an exaggerated importance—to recall that his entire existence as a theologian and all the authority that his profession gives him are rooted in the task that he has received: the defense and the explanation of the faith of the Church.”

"It happens that men, blindly forgetting that all they have they owe to her, leave this holy Church. It happens too, as no one living in our age will deny, that the mother is attacked by those she is still nourishing. A wind of sweeping, mindless criticism is blowing through the Church and has not been unsuccessful in turning heads and alienating affections. It is a sirocco, sterile and hostile to the breath of the Spirit.

Contemplating my mother's humiliated face, I will love her only twice as much. Without trading polemic for polemic, I will take pains to show her my love even in her guise of slave. While others allow themselves to be hypnotized by the wrinkles that are only natural to the features of the old, how much more truly will love show me her hidden strength, her silent dynamism - in a word, her perpetual youth - 'the mighty forces issuing from her heart, finally ravishing all men’s hearts'. "

- Henri de Lubac, SJ, "The Church: Paradox and Mystery"

Bishops try to mobilize on marriage

Massive mailing to urge Catholics to back measure

"The four Roman Catholic bishops of Massachusetts, in what they described as an unprecedented effort to mobilize the state's 3 million Catholics, yesterday said they will distribute mailings to 1 million households urging laypeople to speak out in favor of a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman..."

Longtime parishioner St. Mary's 'guardian angel'

A nice report in the Baltimore Sun about a fixture of Saint Mary's parish, Annapolis MD: Henry Robert. I know Henry quite well and he surely is up there among the great characters I have known. He is the grandson of the author of Robert's Rule of Order and has updated these several times. He has been, naturally, the parlimentarian for the US Catholic Bishops conferences over the years.

Henry is a convert and very devout! A man of few words but lots of prayer and work.

Nice to read such positive things about my beloved Saint Mary's. It is a remarkable parish. So many wonderful parishioners, such beautiful church(es!), Perpetual Adoration, the Carroll House and Carroll Gardens and the magnificent Mary Garden. If you are ever in Annapolis (a fantastic town), stop by. The church is open all day and evening - go in a light a candle (yes, real candles!), and say a prayer at the lovely shrine of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

More on the New English Missal

John Allen in his Word from Rome column discusses this topic (see post below from the Tablet), and gives some more examples. They are fine with me - and I post a few of my own comments in maroon text.

"Ever since the Vatican document Liturgiam Authenticam appeared in May 2001, demanding more literal translations of liturgical texts from Latin into English, observers have waited to see what practical difference it would make in Catholic worship.

This week we got our first look.

The International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) has been working on a translation of the Order of Mass, the core prayers for Sunday worship, in light of Liturgiam Authenticam. Drafts have been circulating in liturgical circles. I obtained a copy last week, and although it is already out of date, sources confirmed that the following changes have survived the most recent editing:

- Gone is the familiar "And also with you" response to the priest's greeting, "The Lord be with you," and at other points in the Mass. According to the draft translation, the congregation responds, "And with your spirit," a more literal rendering of the Latin.

Glad to see the priest's greeting isn't one that was popular in the 70s and 80s: "The Lord IS with you." Remember?

- In the Creed, the congregation begins each section by saying "I believe" rather than "We believe," a shift to the plural seen by some critics as part of an excessive post-Vatican II emphasis on the communal dimension of worship.

Isn't it just a more faithful translation of "Credo?" "I believe". The Liturgical text is NOT "credimus"...... Pretty simple to me anyway.

These two changes were mandated by Liturgiam Authenticam.

- In the penitential rite (often known by its Latin opening word, Confiteor), the congregation recites "through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault" while striking their breasts, a custom that hearkens back to the mea culpa from the Latin Mass prior to Vatican II.

Thank God it may be coming back! It is part of the language of the west... "mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa" and could easily have been lost.... the more literal translation may keep it alive for a long time yet. And, of course, it is a more accurate translation of the Latin.

-In several places, sacral adjectives deleted in current texts for the sake of simplicity are restored. For example, the people would now say: "May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of his name, for our good, and the good of all his holy church."

Good! I have kept saying it anyway, bad person that I am.

-In the "Glory to God,:" an extra phrase is added: "We praise you, we bless you, we worship you, we glorify you, we give you thanks for your great glory." This restores Latin phrases originally dropped from English translations to avoid what was seen as redundancy.

For this restoration I can only praise, bless, worship, glorify, and give thanks for such a great mercy.

- In the Eucharistic prayer, when the priest says "Let our hearts be lifted high," the people respond, "We hold them before the Lord," rather than the familiar "We lift them up to the Lord."

I can live with either of these translations but prefer the newer one.

-In the fourth Eucharistic prayer, use of the word "man" to mean "human being," which had been eliminated by an earlier ICEL draft rejected by the Vatican in 2000, is restored in some cases. On the other hand, there are also instances where the text currently in use says "man" that the new draft uses the more inclusive "men and women."

Common sense and theological accuracy can guide in making such adaptations, with the sense of the original as a basis. No big deal as long as the phrase is accurate and not calling attention to itself.

In general, the translation sounds more formal than what is currently in use, in part because it sticks much closer to Latin cognates and Latin syntax.

Perhaps predictably, observers who backed Liturgiam Authenticam seem pleased, while those who criticized the Vatican document are not. I report on those reactions in the Jan. 23 issue of NCR. Look for the headline: "New Mass translation said to be 'elegant, closer to Latin.'"

This week, the draft goes to English-speaking bishops conferences for review. The bishops who govern ICEL will meet again in July to sift through reactions from the conferences and to issue a final text. It will then be up to the individual conferences to petition Rome for final approval. If the U.S. bishops approve the translation in November 2004, it could conceivably be ready for use in American parishes by early 2005."

Today in Christian history

January 17, 356 (traditional date): Antony of Egypt, regarded as the founder of Christian monasticism, dies at age 105. Committed to a life of solitude and absolute poverty, he took two companions with him into the desert when he knew his death was near. They were ordered to bury him without a marker so that his body would never become an object of reverence.

January 17, 1377: Gregory XI moves the papal see from Avignon (where it had been for 72 years) back to Rome. However, when he died the next year, two men (one in Rome, the other in Avignon) both claimed to succeed him, creating "The Great Schism." (The break between eastern and western churches sometimes dated from 1054 is also called "The Great Schism.")

Friday, January 16, 2004
A Priest Who Lived Through the Grim Pinochet Era

A New York Times review of a book, "By Night in Chile," whose main character is a priest of Opus Dei. Opus Dei seems the stuff of which fiction is made!

No Talking. No Fun. It's Called a Vacation

Something Catholics once knew well; not so sure lately however. (The absence of anything Catholic in the article might or might not be significant).

First rumblings about the new English Missal

Interesting, if seemingly biased, article on the new proposed English translation of the Roman Missal, even giving some examples. One thing I know: the older, original ICEL translation has many omissions and distortions that greatly diminished the good qualities of some of that work. We need a new translation! I hope it is faithful to the Latin original and is beautiful, poetic, and accessible as well (and not esoteric or archaic - and I don't think this will be the case at all). I am hopeful that the new Missal will be a real improvement. And, as for me, I thank God that Rome intervened in this matter. I also have confidence in the abilities of the new director of ICEL, Father Bruce Harbert (a former Anglican priest). I hope I live to reap some of the fruit of all this hard work and effort on the part of so many.

Rabbis in Vatican treasure quest

Israel's chief rabbis are to ask the Pope for permission to search the Vatican cellars for treasures stolen from the biblical Temple in Jerusalem

Today in Christian history

January 16, 1543: British Parliament prohibits any "women or artificer's prentices, journeymen, servingmen of the degree of yeoman, or under, husbandmen or labourers to read the New Testament in English."

January 16, 1604: Puritan John Rainolds suggests "…that there might bee a newe translation of the Bible, as consonant as can be to the original Hebrew and Greek." England's King James I granted his approval the following day, leading to the 1611 publication of the Authorized (King James) version of the Bible.

January 16, 1656: Jesuit missionary to India, Roberto de Nobili, who embraced a profound "inculuration" and aroused controversy, dies. De Nobili was condemned by a Church council but vindicated by Pope Gregory XV.

January 16, 1920: Largely the result of Christian activists, the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution goes into effect, prohibiting the sale of alcohol. Thirteen years later, Congress repeals the prohibition.

Thursday, January 15, 2004
Another update on Father Benedict Groeschel

Already his troubles bring "something beautiful for God" to our world. Read the update and know what I mean.


My beloved peke, ONION, with a snack in his mouth today. He had just been unable to get up and I had to carry him to the sofa and I gave him a snack and he just kept it there in his mouth for a long time.

Today, after ONION went outside with great happy enthusiasm, I waited for his return. I heard him come back and I opened the door and there he was, right outside my door, but on his side, unable to get up. I carried him inside and kept him in my lap as long as I was able to do so. He seemed calm and even content. His eyes are large and clear; his nose, cold. I then placed him on the sofa and he moved a bit but couldn't jump down. So I took him down myself and now he gets about some but seems unable to jump up as usual or go up stairs.

Of course, he is getting up there in age: in April he will be 17! All the books say that the life span of the peke is between 13 and 15 years. So he is already something of a miracle. He has been so healthy and happy (even if not always "holy!"). I know I have to get ready now for the inevitable.

Providentially and poignantly I was scanning from a book I just got back from a friend some passages of the great Catholic thinker, Baron Frederick von Hugel, on his relationship to his own dogs, especially the "putting down" of his own beloved peke, Puck. Of course, tears flowed as I edited these words. Here it is: Baron von Hugel and his beloved dogs. Von Hugel is a hero of mine especially after discovering this dimension of his own heart.

I am planning on going on a 7 night cruise on Sunday, January 25th. I hope ONION is well enough for me to leave him behind. He will have company; a wonderful neighbor moves in when I go away and takes great care of ONION. ONION used to go upstairs too, where he was raised. But that may be too much; but James said he would carry him up when he leaves. ONION is very loved in this household.

Lately I have started praying for ONION, something I never did before. Now I ask your prayers! He is my buddy. Beyond anything I can ever express. Some of you will know what I mean, of course.

P.S. Update: Just a moment ago, ONION jumped up on the sofa! ALLELUIA!

Beyond words....beyond comprehension

Mother of two blows herself up and kills four Israelis

"In a video made before the bombing, Reem Raiyshi, 22, wears the traditional hijab covering for women, holds an assault rifle (and Koran - ed. by Gerard) and stands before two green Hamas flags.

"I always wanted to be the first woman to carry out a martyr attack, where parts of my body can fly all over. That is the only wish I can ask God for," she said with a smile.

Raiyshi had two children: a girl, Doha, 18 months, and a boy, Obedia, 3."

- From Arab News online

Sadly, she will be a heroine to many Palestinians, including children and youth in that strange cult of death fostered amongst them and other sectors of the Islamic world. And as troubling as the assault rifle is, I find it even more troubling to see that Koran.

May God protect us and have mercy.

Veiled Threat

"...Banning the veil is not about Anglo-Saxon constitutional niceties, it is about a clash of civilizations. France's Muslims bring higher rates of practice and much more passion to their religion than France's post-Christian secularists bring to the defense of the Republic. Those Frenchmen who cling to the order of la?cit? have begun to fear that Islam is strong enough to overthrow it. That is a problem for people of all non-Islamic religions. Devout Catholics have at times been shabbily treated under la?cit?, and many likely think the world it structures is arid and unspiritual. Yet in a country where the public square is dominated by la?cit?, Catholics are able to practice their faith unmolested. What guarantee do they have that they will be able to do so in a public square dominated by Islam?

Such questions show why this law, which looks illogical and off-the-point to foreigners, is nothing of the sort. France's problem is not some short-circuiting of individual freedom due to a faulty constitutional code--in fact, looking at the problem that way is what has led France to delay acting on the veil for 15 years. The problem is finding a way to deal with Islam while it is still, as condescending editorialists put it, the second religion of France, and before it becomes, more simply, the religion of France."

Today in Christian history

January 15, 345: (traditional date): Paul of Thebes, traditionally considered the first Christian hermit and an inspiration for Antony of Egypt and later Christian monasticism.

January 15, 1535: Henry VIII declares himself head of English Church.

January 15, 1697: Massachusetts citizens observe a day of fasting and repentance for the Salem witch trials of 1692, in which 19 suspected witches were hanged and more than 150 imprisoned. The day was declared "That so all of God's people may offer up fervent supplications unto him, that all iniquity may be put away, which hath stirred God's holy jealousy against this land; that he would show us what we know not, and help us, wherein we have done amiss, to do so no more".

January 15, 1844: The University of Notre Dame, one of America's premiere Catholic institutions of higher learning, is chartered in South Bend, Indiana.

January 15, 1929: Baptist minister Martin Luther King, Jr., America's most visible civil rights leader from 1955 until his assassination in 1968, is born in Atlanta.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004
Church must affirm Islam as well as Judaism

An article in The National Catholic Reporter that seems to me to overlook some serious issues and contains some strange opinions, e.g. that Islam has as a close relationship to the Church as Judaism. He seems to accept that Islam is a (valid) interpretation of the two previous faiths: Judaism and Christianity. Islam affirms that. I don't think Catholics do!

The author also seems to minimize the reality of the acceptance and support of terrorism in too much of the Islamic world.

Aljazeera on Cardinal Danneels of Belgium

A senior Christian clergy tipped to be the ailing Pope's likely successor says he would accept the use of condoms to counter the spread of AIDS.

I hadn't seen anything about this until scanning through aljazeera.net. I wonder how accurate it is. Anyone know?

Update: Philemon points us to the article on Cardinal Danneels in the BBC online.

Looking better and better

As time goes on the sketches for the rebuilding of the World Trade Center are being filled out and what is starting to emerge strikes me as fitting and beautiful. I pray that I will someday be able to see this with my own eyes. My life changed as a result of 9-11; I want to be present where something beautiful has arisen from the wreckage and the horror: to honor the dead, to pray for the living, and to entrust to the mercy of God and give thanks. To know the terrible absence; to know the presence of the Eternal who is Life and Beauty. It is my hometown and I love New York!

Imam rapped for wife-beating book

A Muslim cleric who wrote a book that advised men how to beat up their wives without leaving incriminating marks has been sentenced by a Spanish court.

Young Fogeys

Hap tip to Serge

Father Andrew Greeley writes of "young reactionaries, aging radicals - the U.S. Catholic Church's unusual clerical divide."

Windows to church's past

Restoration: A city hearing today will decide the fate of the Basilica's nine arched stained-glass windows.

"January 13 - By all accounts, the stained-glass windows at Baltimore's Basilica of the Assumption are unforgettable works of art inside an early American masterpiece - the nation's first Roman Catholic cathedral. But the tranquillity of the biblical and Maryland historical scenes portrayed in the windows belies the tumult raised by the likelihood of their removal.

It is a prospect that dismays some Baltimoreans in preservationist and Catholic circles..."

The arched stained-glass windows were installed in the Basilica in the 1940s

The panes would be replaced with clear glass, part of the original design

I have never warmed up to the Basilica of the Assumption; it is quite stately and handsome. But, for me, it somewhat lacks warmth. The stained glass windows helped for me. But I can appreciate the original concept of lots of natural light as well, which may enhance the feel of the Basilica even. I love Mass celebrated there; and I love the good pastor, Msgr. James Hobbs (who is not even mentioned in the Sun article!). But I prefer the just around the corner Saint Alphonsus Church (built by the Redemptorists). Now this is warm!

During a boring homily at St Alphonsus one could spend the entire time trying to count all the statues and all the angels (over)populating its sacred space!

Today in Christian history

January 14, 1529: Spanish diplomat and writer Juan de Valdes publishes his "Dialogue on Christian Doctrine," which paved the way for Protestant ideas in Spain.

January 14, 1875: Theologian, medical missionary, organist, musical historian, and winner of the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize Albert Schweitzer is born. His "Quest of the Historical Jesus" (1906) is considered a foundational work on that subject.

January 14, 1892: Lutheran pastor and political activist Martin Niemoller, who was imprisoned by Hitler for his leadership role in the Confessing Church, is born.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004
The Gift of TODAY

"We crucify ourselves between two thieves:
the regret of yesterday and the fear of tomorrow."

O'Malley seeks advice on closings

Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley is giving Catholic churches in Boston eight weeks to decide which among them should be closed

Today in Christian history

January 13, 367 (traditional date): Hilary of Poitiers, the leading orthodox Church father during Arianism's heyday, dies. His writings about the Trinity and his organization of anti-Arian allies were influential in fighting the heresy but did not have their full effect until after his death.

January 13, 1501: The first vernacular hymnal is printed in Prague, containing 89 hymns in Czech. Only the title page survived—no hymns.

January 13, 1616: Flemish mystic Antoinette Bourignon is born. A mystical writer whose works were included by John Wesley in his Christian Library, she soon found herself estranged from mainstream Christianity, especially when she declared herself the "woman clothed with the sun" of Revelation 12. Still, her ideas were so influential that, for 178 years, ministers of the Church of Scotland had to make an explicit denial of Bouringnonism before they could be ordained.

January 13, 1635: Philip Jacob Spener, founder of German pietism, is born in Rappolstein. His emphasis on new birth and holy living revitalized the German Lutheran Church and many later movements, including American evangelicalism.

January 13, 1691: George Fox, founder of the Society of Friends (Quakers), dies. Fox left the Anglican church to rely on the "Inner Light of the Living Christ."

January 13, 1964: The future pope John Paul II, Karol Wojtyla, became archbishop of Krakow.

Monday, January 12, 2004
"We are falling under the iman's spell"

I don't know much about the author but, in my opinion, he writes well and expresses some important thoughts and cautions. I guess I understand what he says about the acceptability of criticizing Catholicism and the unacceptability of criticizing Islam. Sort of strange. But I see it more and more....

Anyway, for what it's worth.

Brennan Manning's Trial by Fire

New Orleans home of popular author, speaker, and retreat director burns.

"Brennan Manning, author of The Ragamuffin Gospel and The Wisdom of Tenderness and, arguably, evangelicals' favorite Catholic, is used to living with few material possessions. As a member of the Little Brothers of Jesus, an order that lives a contemplative life while working among the poor, Manning used to transport water on a donkey to Spanish villages, was a dishwasher in France, and a voluntary prisoner in a Swiss jail for hardened criminals..."

Shame on me! I had thought Brennan Manning, who I recall - rightly or wrongly - as a TOR Franciscan, had left the priesthood and married. Here he winds up one of the followers of that great witness, Charles de Foucauld, as a Little Brother of Jesus.

I am sorry to hear of the fire and the damage; delighted to hear of Brennan Manning's continuation as a disciple of the LORD. May the LORD sustain him and keep him always faithful, step by step.

The Pope on Iraq

"The many steps taken by the Holy See to avoid the painful conflict that took place in Iraq are well known. What matters today is that the international community help the Iraqis, freed from a regime which oppressed them, so that they might be in shape to take up the reins of their country, to consolidate its sovereignty, to democratically determine a political and economic system in conformity with their aspirations and that Iraq will become a credible partner in the international community..."

- Pope John Paul II to the Diplomatic Corps, Januray 12, 2004

Fr. Groeschel Critically Injured in Car Accident in Florida

EWTNews- Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR, well known to EWTN viewers for his numerous series and appearances on the network, is in critical but stable condition at Orlando Regional Medical Center after being struck by a car near Orlando International Airport in Florida. The incident occurred Sunday evening. Details are sketchy but sources say the priest was walking to a restaurant for a meal when he was hit. EWTNews will keep you informed of this situation as it develops.

Please keep Fr. Benedict (Groeschel) in your prayers.

A Real Treasure Chest

Christopher, of the outstanding Cardinal Ratzinger Fan Club website, pointed me to a page put togerther on Muslim-Christian Relations and dialog. It is wonderful! I just surfed throught the Fan Club website and its immense resources and am very impressed and grateful. Visit it and garner some of its immense riches.

The true reform of the Church

From a bishop who actually helped reform the Church in dark times

"You will catch more flies with a spoonful of honey than with a hundred barrels of vinegar."

Many "reformers" today seem to me to bespeak the bitterness of a thousand barrels of vinegar. Saint Francis de Sales models another way - and he caught thousands upon thousands with honey. He still catches multitudes today. May those who follow his way increase in our own dark times.

The true reform of the Church

Thanks, Peg, for sending me this wonderful quote!

"I discovered something which I had never confronted before, that there were immense forces of darkness and hatred within my own heart. At particular moments of fatigue or stress, I saw forces of hate rising up inside me, and the capacity to hurt someone who was weak and was provoking me! That, I think, was what caused me the most pain: to discover who I really am, and to realize that maybe I did not want to know who I really was! I did not want to admit all the garbage inside me.

And then I had to decide whether I would just continue to pretend that I was okay and throw myself into hyperactivity, projects where I could forget all the garbage and prove to others how good I was. Elitism is the sickness of us all. We all want to be on the winning team. That is the heart of apartheid and every form of racism. The important thing is to become conscious of those forces in us and to work at being liberated from them and to discover that the worst enemy is inside our own hearts not outside."

- Jean Vanier

Catholics urged to fight gay marriage

"A call to fight the legalization of gay marriage was issued by several prominent voices yesterday, including Boston Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley and former US Supreme Court nominee Robert H. Bork, who strongly urged the state's Catholic lawyers and judges to oppose last year's historic decision by the state Supreme Judicial Court..."

Today in Christian history

January 12, 1167: Aelred, the Anglo-Saxon abbot of the Cistercian monastery of Riveaulx and author of several important books, dies.

January 12, 1777: Blessed Father Junipero Serra founds the mission of Santa Clara of Assisi in northern California.

Sunday, January 11, 2004
Surprised by Joy

Today is the official closing of the Christmas Season in the Roman Rite. The feast of the Lord's Baptism.

So I spent much of the afternoon (after a beautiful Mass and good lunch and excellent siesta) rereading all my Christmas mail. I turned on some wonderful Christmas music on my Bose radio (my one luxury), and in no time, tears were flowing. I felt so blessed to know such good and caring persons! I felt humbled that they would consider me a part of their lives, even their friend. It is good to be alive! It is good that they are alive! It is good that you are alive! And that our paths have somehow crossed.


I am once again "surprised by joy."

The Baptism of the Lord

It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee
and was baptized in the Jordan by John.
On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open
and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens,
"You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased."

- Mk 1:9-11

I hope for all of us that the Christmas Season was a time of renewal and joy. If God wills, may we all see another Christmas season (which will be here before we know it!). And now to "ordinary time" after today's Feast of the Baptism of the LORD. Ordinary time can come as a relief of sorts perhaps; and yet is any time ordinary?

Today in Christian history

January 11, 1759: The first American life insurance company is incorporated in Philadelphia - the "Corporation of Poor and Distressed Presbyterian Ministers and of the Poor and Distressed Widows and Children of Presbyterian Ministers."

January 11, 1875: The "Scandal of the Century" goes public as journalist Theodore Tilton sues prominent liberal pastor Henry Ward Beecher for alienating his wife's affections (i.e. having an affair with her). The trial, which became a national sensation, finally ended with a hung jury.

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