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, February 14, 2004
‘Still waiting for goodwill’

The Tablet Interview - with Alexei II, Moscow's Patriarch

On the eve of Cardinal Kasper’s visit to Moscow, its Patriarch, Alexei II, tells Paul Vallely why the Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches are so divided

I have serious reservations about Patriarch Alexei of Moscow. I simply do not trust him, nor his judgments, especially regarding the Catholic Church and the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine. In any comparison with the Pope or Metropolitan Lubomyr Husar, Patriarch Alexei seems rather petty and defensive.

I have heard many other sources deny what Alexei has claimed regarding the alleged persecution of Orthodox Christians in western Ukraine (including Orthodox sources), and the violence, which he still claims is active (the ongoing violence in Ukraine is between contending Orthodox jurisdictions). And he has NEVER offered a word of repentance about the atrocities committed against the Ukrainian Catholic Church and her suppression with all her resources going to the Russian Orthodox Church.

I understand that the Pope does wish to visit Russia. I understand, too, that the Russian Orthodox Church is the largest Orthodox Church, by far. I understand, too, I hope, that the Russian Orthodox Church has a rich history and many treasures to offer the Universal Church, and has been blessed with many saints and martyrs.

But with Alexei at the helm I don't see much hope for any reconciliation at this point. May I be wrong! And may it come as the Lord leads and determines!


Once there was a little girl who had a crush on a 'little boy. He had blue eyes, brown hair and trouble pronouncing "th." Never mind: she loved him.

The little girl had an older sister who had gray eyes, honey-colored hair and terrible penmanship. Never mind: he loved her.

The older sister had an English teacher who had brown eyes, black hair and 38 years. Never mind: she loved him.

On Valentine's Day the little girl sent the little boy a card with a heart on it. Actually, she sent a card, to evervone in her class...but her fingers trembled only when they printed his name. The little boy, however, sent only one. To her older sister. The older sister sent only one, too. To her English teacher. He tossed it on the pile.

Martha, then, loved George who loved Anne who loved ...ah, forget that English teacher. He probably had his own triangle to contend with. The point is: at an early age (no one of these protagonists was over 9), Martha, George and Anne learned that you can't get love by giving it. If It hadn't been for St. Valentine, they mightn't have found that out for years.

They went right on falling in love, though, and they went right on sending cards with hearts on them. Today they're adults, old enough to know that some recipients put their cards under their pillows and that some just toss them on the pile.

Never mind: they're also old enough to know that far worse than getting no valentines is having no one to give them to.

- Editorial in New York Times, some Valentine's Day

Today in Christian history

February 14, 270: According to tradition, Valentine, a priest in Rome during the reign of Claudius II, is beheaded along the Flaminian Way. One explanation for Valentine's subsequent relationship to the romantic holiday is this: Claudius, seeking to more easily recruit soldiers, removed family ties by forbidding marriage. Valentine ignored the order and performed secret marriages—an act that led to his arrest and execution.

February 14, 869: Cyril, "apostle to the Slavs," dies. Creator of the Cyrillic alphabet (still used in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and elsewhere), translator of the Scriptures into Slavonic, and bishop, he worked with his brother, Methodius, who carried on the missionary work for another 15 years. Pope John Paul II added them to the list of "co-patrons of Europe."

February 14, 1760: Richard Allen, founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, is born. The first African-American ordained by the Methodist church, Allen also a co-founded the Free African Society, America's first organization founded by blacks for blacks.

Friday, February 13, 2004
People Warned Against Celebrating Valentine’s Day

Muslims don't seem to have more fun (in this world anyway).


Lift up your hearts!

"How many people grow wings when they fall in love and are granted a profound contact with another person! It is as if we saw the world with new eyes, as if we had waked up from a slumber to a full awareness. And yet, after a while, we seem to get used to the incredible gift granted to us, the gift of starting to LIVE instead of just vegetating.

After a while we start becoming engrossed in what is so erroneously called 'real life': everyday preoccupations wrap us up more and more, and little by little we fall back into our old self, into our 'moi'. Whether we think of the Parable of the Sower, or recall Shakespeare's line: 'Men are April when they woo, December when they wed.' they all point to the same danger: the one of falling back to sleep, the one of taking things for granted, and forgetting that to receive a great gift implies responsibility of caring for it, of sheltering it, and protecting its growth and development.

This danger is all the more serious that people do not realize how serious it is; for they reason, the time of 'romance' must come to an end, the honeymoon cannot last forever; now is the time to return to 'serious life'.

This may be the most ominous mark of our epoch: namely the tendency to see love, marriage, friendship as relaxations from the more serious part of life, which is work..... Apart from our relationship with God, marriage and friendship should be at the very center of our lives; work is a necessity, a duty. No, the time we spend with our loved ones is not the time to relax but rather the moment to put on our festival garment, the moment to achieve a real Sursum Corda, (Lift up your hearts), the moment to realize that my love for another person is, humanly speaking, the precious pearl of my life."

- Alice and Deitrich von Hildebrand

ROMA is AMOR spelt backwards

"Cardinal Bernard Law, the former archbishop of Boston, has been spending a fair bit of time in Rome. I last saw him at the Centre Pro Unione, where he quietly slipped in as a member of the audience for a lecture and liturgy to mark the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in late January. I suspect that Rome is in some ways a more comfortable environment for Law than the States; he is not stalked by TV cameras here, and, rightly or wrongly, many Roman observers regard him with sympathy, believing Law was unfairly made the scapegoat of the American sex abuse crisis."

- An excerpt from John Allen's latest Word from Rome column.


Pilgrims recently flocked to the following places: (1) Brancaleone, Italy, to see a life-sized bronze statue of the recently sainted Padre Pio supposedly weeping blood (December); (2) Passaic, N.J., to see a 2-foot-high tree stump whose shape resembles the Virgin Mary (October); (3) Bridgeport, Conn., to see a stainlike image on the ceiling of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church resembling the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus (December); (4) Bethlehem, to see a baby born with a birthmark across his cheek resembling the Arabic letters of the name of his uncle, a Hamas militant killed by Israeli soldiers (December).

- From the Biloxi Sun Herald

Europe’s Problem—and Ours

George Weigel addresses some vital questions regarding Europe and its future. Some very troubling realities of today's Europe:

"Above all, and most urgently of all, why is Europe systematically depopulating itself? Why is Europe committing demographic suicide? Why does no Western European country have a replacement-level birthrate? Why will Spain’s population likely decline from 40 million to 31.3 million by the middle of the century? Why will 42 percent of Italians be over age sixty by 2050? What is happening when an entire continent, wealthier and healthier than ever before, declines to create the human future in the most elemental sense, by producing a next generation? Why will Europeans not admit that these demographics—which are without parallel in human history, absent wars, plagues, or natural catastrophes—are the defining reality of their twenty-first century?"


"We have already seen what the emergence of significant Islamic populations has done to the politics of France. Is there no connection between the problems posed domestically in France by its new immigrant population, on the one hand, and the strategy of appeasement toward radicalized Islam adopted by French political leaders, on the other? It seems very unlikely. Is a European future dominated by an appeasement mentality toward radical Islam in the best interests of the United States? That seems even more unlikely.."

Thanks to First Things for publishing this important article.

Today in Christian history

February 13, 1566: St. Augustine, Florida, was founded, the oldest city in the United States.

February 13, 1633: Called to trial by the Inquisition, Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei arrives in Rome ready to explain his belief that the earth revolves around the sun. He was compelled to recant the view, and was placed under house arrest until his death in 1642.

February 13, 1826: The American Temperance Society (later renamed the American Temperance Union) is founded in Boston to promote total (but voluntary) abstinence from distilled liquor. Among the 16 founders were Protestant clergymen. (And not a Catholic priest among them!).

Thursday, February 12, 2004
Suicide bombing 'pig fat threat'

"Israeli police are to hang bags of pig lard on buses and in other public places to deter would-be Muslim suicide bombers, Israeli media have reported.
The Maariv daily said rabbinical authorities sanctioned the plan to use the product - considered impure by Jews and Muslims - if it might save lives.

According to Islamic tradition, Muslims who touch a pig before dying will be denied entry to Heaven.

Hundreds of Israelis have been killed by suicide bombers in recent years..."


Sixth Cruise: The Norwegian Sun
January 25 - February 1, 2004

A Review for Cruise Critic

My first cruise ever was on the Norwegian Majesty, Feb.3-7, 2003. And here it was now, less than 12 months later, and my SIXTH cruise! Now, to me, that is amazing. Considering that after a close call with death several years ago, I am "disabled" and need a wheelchair for any distances; and considering I really am "poor" in material and financial resources. Some say I am on "God's alternate economic plan": some people are poor as church mice, yet, in God's mysterious design, live like kings!

As anyone who cruises knows, part of the joy of cruising is that the passengers are treated royally and made to feel like kings and queens, so to speak. So to be able to have so many cruises (each wonderful) in so short a period would indicate that I am indeed living like a king.

This particular cruise was the third cruise on the beautiful Norwegian Sun within that 12 month period. So I knew the ship quite well already, what to expect, and even some of the crew by name. So many happy memories.

So I wanted this cruise to be unique and different from the others. I decided to make it more of a time of spiritual refreshment with more "quiet time" than I usually give to each day on the ship. That proved to be a good decision. More on that later. Just wanted to set some background for this cruise.

My traveling companions were the same as on my last cruise on the gorgeous Norwegian Dawn: Michael and two of his twentysomething children: Mike and Julie. We had booked the same large interior cabin we have had in the past: a very attractive and roomy modified cabin, 8312.


Something new for me on this cruise: for the first time since my illness I traveled alone. The others had free miles and couldn't get the same flights I had. It was an adventure at times! As I was being wheeled by a helper in the Miami Airport we came to a steep escalator with about 15 steps. I wondered why we stopped. Then the helper, in very poor English, seemed to want me to step on the escalator. I did so, asking "where is the elevator?" He coached me to take another step; I did. I thought he wanted to start the escalator so I could be ridden up. No, he wanted me to walk up all those steps. INCREDIBLE! I managed to do it, thankfully, but it wasn't exactly easy. Luckily I was able to put this aside quickly and not let it dampen my spirits.

At any rate, I found out I could travel alone if necessary. With this one exception, everyone along the way was most helpful and sensitive.


We met up at the airport and got to the pier about noon. I love that first sight of the ship! We boarded easily and went to our cabin. On the Dawn we had a large modified balcony cabin and I wondered how we would do with an interior cabin now. It was just fine. A bit more roomy, in fact, than the Dawn cabin. We all loved it. Plenty of room for the four of us.

Again, our friend from the main office, Arturo, who I met on my first cruise on The Sun, had arranged that we have a bottle of champagne and the daily treats given to those in suites, etc. We are given VIP treatment! This time we were also given a free evening in any of the alternative restaurants with a complementary bottle of wine. LIVING LIKE KINGS even in an I interior cabin! Thanks, Arturo and Michael, the Hotel Director.

PHOTO: Here you can see all four beds, though photo doesn't show the size of the room

We all realized that, while all things being equal we prefer a balcony cabin, yet we are delighted with a good interior cabin, which often is much less expensive. We can go either way! But we will usually book the interior. And hope for an upgrade such as the 13 category upgrade we got on The Dawn!

PHOTO: One reason my traveling companions love the modified cabins is the large and well laid out bathroom


Our first activity is to get those important soda cards, so we can use them even at the first lunch served in the Dining Room. After lunch then it's up to muster and then up to the deck for the Sailaway party. We were blessed with good sunny weather (the whole cruise). I love those Sailaways and have taken enough cruises now to feel "at home" as we pull away.
I guess the NCL Sun can be considered a "home away from home" since I have sailed her so often this past year. At this time it was good to make contact with fellow Cruise Critics, Kevin and Kathy, and Karen. Our paths crossed several times on the cruise and we even got a tour of Kevin and Kathy's magnificent Penthouse Suite. The photo I took of them and Karen somehow disappeared from my memory card. (Really).

PHOTO: Bidding farewell to Miami - again!

It was good to see some old faces and sad that a few were no longer on board or were on vacation. Nice to be remembered! And given the same marvelous service we have come almost to expect now, spoiled as we are.

GREAT FOOD (except...)

This time around we decided to try some of the alternative restaurants. We have always appreciated the meals and service in the regular dining rooms, the Four Seasons and The Seven Seas. And we like the buffets too. We find the food usually quite good with a nice variation. We are, perhaps, easy to please! But on this my 5th NCL cruise in a year, I pretty much know what to expect in the menus. So a change seemed appropriate.

We ate in Il Adagios (twice) and East Meets West. All these meals were outstanding, the service flawless. Food delicous and abundant!

One culinary complaint, however. Friday evening's lobster was quite poor: tough, dry, and tasteless unlike the succulent lobster on our last sailing on The Sun to Alaska in May. But... the filet mignon was heavenly!

The intinerary was not a major issue for me. The "kids" did get off the ship at most of the ports and enjoyed swimming with the sting rays and hanging out on some lovely beaches. I just got off at Cosa Maya and enjoyed the newly built "complex" that struck me as full of charm (even though it could've probably been anyplace in the world!). The young ones did prefer the night life on The Dawn but loved this ship and cruise as well. And it's look like we may all be sailing The Dawn again in January of next year, God willing!

PHOTO: One of our favorite spots: the aft of the pool deck by the Great Outdoor Cafe

For me, I am mostly content to enjoy the ship itself with its own sights and smells and sounds, its own sun and sky, its nooks and crannies, its eateries, lounges, entertainment, etc. Easy to please.


We were invited to a special gathering with the Captain and decided to attend. Glad we did. We had a good chat with the Captain and he even spent some time with us. He has a great ship and crew working for him. And we let him know our feelings about this. I suppose he wasn't unhappy to get such warm and glowing reports.

PHOTO: Michael and myself with Captain Trygve Vorren


I did give more time each day to my "quiet time" and my mornings were mostly taken up with reflection and prayer. A much needed exercise for my soul.


There are, some say, no coincidences. On the first full day at sea I was being wheeled by Michael and we came across a sign that said: "Living His Life Abundantly: Catholic Conference at Sea." I recognized that phrase as the theme of a TV show I know, hosted by Johnnette Benkovic. Doing some detective work, I found out that the attractive and articulate Johnnette was indeed on board with a Cruise-Conference.

PHOTO: Johnnette and husband Anthony Benkovic

And not only Johnette but another well known TV host, Marcus Grodi of the EWTN program "The Journey Home."

PHOTO: Marcus Grodi and wife and one of his children flanked by Father Ed Sylvia and Father Michael

To my delight I was able to make contact with these folk and others from the conference. They helped me stay centered and on track. And I was able to attend two Masses as well; something I've always wanted to do while cruising but never had been able to do (there have been priests offering Mass on prior cruises but we found out too late). This seemed like "icing on the cake" for me and an unexpected "bonus" towards meeting my goal for this particular cruise.

Thus I entitle this review "Living Life Abundantly." The week on The Sun abounded in blessings, material and spiritual. For which I am most grateful.

PHOTO: Traveling companions: Michael, Julie, Mike

For full review with photos.

Georges Rouault

Today is the anniversay of the death of this great and fervent artist of the Lord: Georges Rouault. His work, Miserere, is considered by some one of the finest "Christological" statements of the 20th century. Art as theology! One of Rouault's hopes was to paint such an image of Our Lord that when someone would behold it, they might be converted. His images have power! His images of Christ seem to go to the depths of me in a way few other images do. It is not by chance that I have a Rouault image as the very head of my Home Page in my Catholic Page for Lovers. Along with a quote from Hans Urs von Balthasar, whose writings have a similiar effect on my soul.

I give thanks to God for the life, talent, and work of this fine artist (even if Leon Bloy never liked his work!). I thank God that we are left with so many powerful images by Georges Rouault. Memory Eternal!

Christ Mocked by Georges Rouault

Today in Christian history

February 12, 1663: Congregational minister Cotton Mather is born in Boston. The most celebrated New England writer of his day, he was a scientist (whose work included early studies of inoculation), one of the founders of Yale University, and pastor of Boston's Second Church (just as his father, Increase Mather, had been). He also wrote "Wonders of the Invisible World" a description of the Salem witch trials.

February 12, 1809: Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president of the United States and author of the Emancipation Proclamation, is born near Hodgenville, Kentucky.

February 12, 1834: German theologian and philosopher Friedrich Schleiermacher dies. He made religion a matter of the will, defining it as "feeling and intuition of the universe" and "a sense of the Infinite in the finite" in works including "On Religion: Speeches to Its Cultured Despisers" (1799).

February 12, 1958: French Catholic painter, Georges Rouault, dies. He wanted to paint an image of Christ that, when beheld, would convert. (He comes as close as any, in my opinion).

Wednesday, February 11, 2004
Happy Hour

"...But that does not mean a funeral mass has to be grim. In churches that allow it, Father Wasielewski, the industry critic, drapes the pews with balloons and crepe paper. "I try to leave grief out of the funeral," he said. "St. Paul says, `Do not grieve unless you have no hope.' "

At the service, he said, he tells relatives and friends of the dead: " `How many of you think George here went to hell?' No hands go up. `Went to heaven?' All hands go up. `So let's have a celebration. We don't want anyone grieving. If anyone's going to grieve, we'd like them to leave right now.' "

Hard to believe this isn't a parody. God save the Church from priests like Father Wasielewski if this is what he actually believes and does!

I miss the gesimas!

I miss the classical Latin Liturgy's calendar in quite a few ways; one of the "seasons" I miss are those in immediate preparation for Lent. I miss "Septuagesima," "Sexagesima," and "Quinqagesima" Sundays, which gradually led to the "rigors" of Lent. Made good sense. Not a useless accretion.

But with Lent fading away as a time of real penace and fasting and abstinence it doesn't make so much sense to have this preparation I suppose.

So now we can settle for the blander "Sundays in Ordinary Time" as Lent draws near. I am glad I am old enough to remember that at one time we had the "gesima" Sundays to get ready. At least it lives on in memory (and in the sectors that continue to celebrate the "Tridentine" Rite, but I wonder how much of the older fasting and abstinence regulations are kept even by these traditionalist Catholics - and the older Liturgy springs forth from an "ethos" that may no longer exist except in some blessed oasis, such as the monastic communities that use the older rites).

Latest report on Father Benedict Groeschel

Out of intensive care; signs of progress. How much we need this much loved priest! Our Lady of Lourdes, intercede for him and for so many others in need of the healing touch of Jesus.


"Be healed!" Our Lord continues to heal today and Lourdes testifies to this healing grace of Jesus through Mary his mother - even for those who just touch the hem of his garment

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. I have never been to this great Marian Shrine, and would love to be able to visit it. Unlikely! But it is good to know Lourdes exists. Where the sick and suffering are the royalty. Where hope abounds, even as prayer and resignation deepen. Where an incarnated faith radiates in the processions with the Blessed Sacrament and the dippings into the grotto's waters.

Someone has said that while Rome is the head of the Church, Lourdes is her heart. How good God is to have given us this precious gift, so fruitful for so many. Deo gratias! Ave Maria!

Episcopal 'civil war' tests old friendships

Conflict: The confirmation of an openly gay bishop has members debating across the aisles.

Today in Christian history

February 11, 1790: The Society of Friends (Quakers) presents a petition to Congress calling for the abolition of slavery.

February 11, 1858: Bernadette Soubirous, a 14-year-old peasant from Lourdes, France, experiences her first vision of the Virgin Mary. By July she had 18 similar visions.

February 11, 1929: The Lateran Treaty is signed by Mussolini and the Holy See, recognizing Vatican City as a sovereign state. At a mere 109 acres, it became the smallest nation in the world.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004
Episcopal protest hits collection plate

"Episcopal Church officials yesterday announced a $3 million shortfall in the church's 2004 budget, caused chiefly by parishes and dioceses withholding funds to protest the ordination of a homosexual bishop. The shortfall equals 6 percent of the $48 million in revenue the church had expected this year..."

Who Killed Jesus?

Mel Gibson's powerful but troubling new movie, 'The Passion of the Christ,' is reviving one of the most explosive questions ever. What history tells us about Jesus' last hours, the world in which he lived, anti-Semitism, Scripture and the nature of faith itself

A long Newsweek article as the movie comes closer to opening.

Britney 'in-law' boos Egan slam

"Britney Spears' ex-father-in-law dismissed Cardinal Egan's condemnation of the singer's super-short marriage to his son, saying yesterday that judgment rests with a far higher authority..."

"...Jeff Stone of the New York chapter of Dignity, representing gay Catholics, said lumping the issue of same-sex marriage and Spears' wedding follies was "cruel and inappropriate.

"I just find it amazing that the church is spending so much energy on gay marriages right now. If they had spent half as much on preventing sex abuse, we'd all be a lot better off," Stone said..."

Christ's real passion was life

James Carroll, the former Paulist priest, asserts that Mel Gibson's "Passion" (which he admits he has not seen) is in contradiction to the reform of Vatican II. But Carroll seems not to realize that in the gospels the Passion Narrative takes up about one third of the text. That may have some significance in any discussion of the "theology" behind the Passion movie of Gibson's (which I have no intention of seeing at this point).

Today in Church history

February 10, 60 (traditional date): The Apostle Paul is shipwrecked at Malta.

February 10, 1535: A dozen Anabaptists run stark naked through the streets of Amsterdam. Such strange actions, usually by Melchoirite Anabaptists, led to the group's ridicule by Protestants and Catholics alike. Former Catholic priest Menno Simons (1496?-1561) was finally able to bring the group into a nonresistant, discipled, and disciplined vision.

February 10, 1751: John Wesley suffers a fall on the ice-covered London Bridge and is carried to the home of Mary Vazeille, a sailor's widow. Within a week, the two were married—with disastrous results. The unhappy couple spent so little time together that, in 1771, Wesley recorded this in his journal: "I came to London and was informed that my wife died on Monday. This evening she was buried, though I was not informed of it".

Monday, February 09, 2004
Cor ad cor loquitur

New blog by the zealous apologist David Amstrong of "Biblical Evidence for Catholicism" website. Welcome, Dave, to St Blog's!

Father Rob Johansen on Clerical Secrecy

Good words from a good priest. However, I wonder if he isn't a bit hard on the bishops, making them a distinct "class" apart from the priesthood. I doubt if the bishops acted much differently than the bulk of priests - including good priests - would have done. For example, the Provincials of religious orders acted in a similiar fashion and they were not bishops at all.

Of course, this is coming from someone (me) who thinks Cardinal Bernard Law became a scapegoat and that, while he - and others - made serious mistakes - he never deliberately put any child at risk and never condoned abusive behavior. Like most during that period, steps were taken (how inadequate we know now), according to the norms in place at that time and with the knowledge accepted at that time (much of it inadequate and even false). I personally think Cardinal Law a good and holy priest.

But at least Father dispels any notion of a "clerical conspiracy" which some seem to think was part of the problem and may still be. Thanks, Father Rob!

9/11 rap wows British Muslims

A music video glorifying Usama bin Ladin and containing images of the 11 September attacks in New York has become a big hit with young Muslims in Britain.

The Patriarch and Fidel

Mural on the newly consecrated Church

"..The first was the Patriarch’s honoring of Castro with “The Cross of St. Andrew.” No such award actually exists. It’s a scaled down version of the “The Order of St. Andrew,” the highest honor given to laymen for exemplary service to the Church. How Castro qualified is anyone’s guess since the Order presumes obedience to such basic commandments as “Thou shalt not kill.”

Patriarch watchers report that Bartholomew I, although well educated and well traveled, misunderstands the symbolism of public acts. He doesn’t understand that it makes no sense to offer a cross to an avowed atheist and persecutor of Christians. Contrast the Patriarch’s gift to the action taken by Pope John Paul II during his 1998 visit to Cuba when he wagged a finger at a liberationist priest in full view of the world press. Who communicated the Christian moral tradition more clearly?"

The contrast with the Pope is well taken. However, if I am not mistaken, the Pope's famous finger wagging incident took place in Nicaragua with one of the Sandanista priests, not in Cuba. The Pope's visit to Cuba was both daring and dramatic.

Bartholomew, for whatever reasons, seems rather blinded when it comes to consistency in moral vision. His award to Senator Paul Sarbanes and his comment that Sarbanes represents the highest ideals of Orthodoxy seem inconsistent with the Senator's voting record: one of the strongest proponents of abortion rights in the Senate.

Father Hans Jacobse does us all a service by expressing the opinion of an Orthodox priest who sees more clearly, it seems, than the Patriarch.

Today in Christian history

February 9, 1404: Constantine XI, the last Byzantine emperor (1449-1453), was born. His famous speech given to the Greek and Latins fighting off the Muslim invaders of Constantinople is a stirring call to arms, even though the end result was the Fall of Constantinople.

February 9, 1881: Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky dies. A devout Russian Orthodox Christian, the author of "Crime and Punishment" (1866) and "The Brothers Karamazov" (1880) once wrote "If someone proved to me that Christ is outside the truth, and that in reality the truth were outside of Christ, then I should prefer to remain with Christ rather than with the truth." He also wrote: "It is not as a child that I confess Christ. My hosanna rings forth from the crucible of doubt."

Sunday, February 08, 2004
Bring back the old!

John Allen, in his recent column, spoke of the review some are making of the Missal of Paul VI and what some consider defects found in this reformed Missal. I agree that there were some deletions that make no sense and actually diminish the full effect of the prayers involved. Just one example I thought of today during the beautiful and powerful first reading from the prophet Isaiah and the burning coal:


Missal of Pius V:

P: Munda cor meum ac labia mea, omnipotens Deus, qui labia Isaiae Prophetae calculo mundasti ignito: ita me tua grata miseratione dignare mundare, ut sanctum Evangelium tuum digne valeam nuntiare. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

P: Cleanse my heart and my lips, O Almighty God, Who cleansed the lips of the Prophet Isaias with a burning coal. In Thy gracious mercy purify me that I may worthily proclaim Thy holy Gospel. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Missal of Paul VI:

P. Munda cor meum ac labia mea, omnipotens Deus, ut sanctum Evangelium tuum digne valeam nuntiare.

P. Almighty God, cleanse my heart and my lips that I may worthily proclaim your Gospel. (ICEL translation).

Two Weeks Ago

View from aft of Norwegian Sun leaving Miami Sunday, January 25, heading south into the sun!

Waiting for some inspiration to write a review of my sixth cruise within 12 months! Life is hard!!!!

Top clerics join to support amendment

"...Separately a multifaith coalition, featuring not only Catholic leaders but also leading evangelical Protestants, Orthodox Christians, Orthodox Jews, and Muslims, declared their opposition to gay marriage. Signatories to the statement included the Rev. William P. Leahy, president of Boston College; the Rev. Eugene F. Rivers III of the Azusa Christian Community; the Rev. David M. Midwood, the president of Vision New England, an umbrella organization of 2,000 evangelical Protestant churches; and Metropolitan Methodios, the Greek Orthodox hierarch of New England..."

A glimpse of archdiocese future

By Michael Paulson, Globe Staff, 2/8/2004

"NORTH ANDOVER -- In an archdiocese of 357 churches, many of which are small, struggling, and bracing for possible closure, St. Michael Parish is giant, thriving, and growing.

Known as "the pink church" because of its unusual pink stucco facade, the parish routinely draws more than 3,000 people to weekend Mass in its light-filled new church. Last Christmas, 12,000 people came to worship. Each week, there are an average of six baptisms, three funerals, and two weddings; the average contributed weekly by parishioners at collection is $28,000, more than 18 times what is contributed in some inner-city parishes..."

Today in Christian history

February 8, 356: For the third time since the Council of Nicea in 325, Athanasius goes into exile. The defender of orthodoxy was out of favor as Arianism, a heresy condemned at the council, ran rampant throughout the Empire. He would be exiled twice more before he died.

February 8, 1587: Mary, Queen of Scots, is beheaded. Attempting to restore Catholicism to England, largely thanks to the work of John Knox, her attempts failed.

February 8, 1693: The College of William and Mary is founded in Williamsburg, Virginia. Originally intended to educate Anglican clergymen, it is America's second-oldest higher education institution (Harvard is the oldest).

February 8, 1949: Hungarian Cardinal Mindszenty was sentenced to life imprisonment.

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