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 21, 2004
Deal struck to heal Church rift

The Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church have agreed to set up a joint working group to try to improve relations.

A Tale of Two Bishops - and The Passion of The Christ

Bishops Brace Themselves

Two fine reflections of Amy Welborn on The Passion and the opportunity it could open. Amy has been speaking of Mel's movie for some time now - and wisely, in my opinion.

The Passion of The Christ

Order it now: The Passion

by Mel Gibson, Tyndale House Publishers, Ken Duncan

Unwelcome feeling

Anger, hurt over gay-marriage fliers at Harvard church

"When two men began handing out fliers at St. Paul Church in Harvard Square recently, they had a message that probably would not have raised an eyebrow in most Catholic parishes: Stop same-sex marriage..."

"But the priests at St. Paul have been noticeably silent on the topic, failing to bring it up in sermons, according to several parishioners. Every year, the pastor gives an opening homily welcoming everyone, regardless of their past, their race, profession, or sexual orientation, said parishioner Bevil Conway.

This approach has essentially kept the peace, making the politically liberal feel at home even as they disagree with many Catholic teachings..."


John Henry Newman, born today in 1801

The Venerable John Henry Newman

Trust the Church of God

"Trust the Church of God implicitly even when your natural judgment would take a different course from hers and would induce you to question her prudence or correctness. Recollect what a hard task she has; how she is sure to be criticized and spoken against, whatever she does; recollect how much she needs your loyal and tender devotion; recollect, too, how long is the experience gained over so many centuries, and what a right she has to claim your assent to principles which have had so extended and triumphant a trial. Thank her that she has kept the faith safe for so many generations and do your part in helping her to transmit it to generations after you."

- John Henry Newman

Father Alexander Men, the Russian Orthodox priest-pastor-martyr, said of Vladimir Soloviev that "a religious genius such as Soloviev only comes once in a century." Here I respectfully disagree with Father Alexander (for whom I do have the deepest admiration). There was another religious genius in the same century as Soloviev: John Henry Newman!

And it is fascinating that the two great religious geniuses of the 19th century, Newman and Soloviev, both came to the same conclusion: that the Church of Jesus Christ is founded on the Rock of Peter, who lives on his successors, the Bishop of Rome. Soloviev the Russian Orthodox, Newman, the Anglican, both professed their undying faith in Christ who established the Office of Peter as a sign of unity and catholicity. (And yet how timid we Catholics can sometimes be about this great gift and office and of our very identity as Catholics!).

"O long sought-after desire of the eyes, joy of the heart, the truth after many shadows, the fullness after many foretastes, the home after many storms -- come to her, poor wanderers, for she it is, and she alone, who can unfold the meaning of your being and the secret of your destiny."

- John Henry Newman

Today in Christian history

February 21, 1109: Anselm, the Archbishop of Canterbury recognized as the "founder of Scholasticism," dies. One of the most profound thinkers of the Middle Ages, his treatise "Why Did God Become Man" was the greatest medieval treatise on the atonement. He is also known for his ontological argument for the existence of God.

February 21, 1142: Medieval French philosopher, teacher, and theologian Peter Abelard dies. Perhaps best known for his passionate and complex love affair with nun Heloise, Abelard made his most important contribution in establishing a critical methodology for theology. Irritated with some of the unreasoning pietism of other monks, he wrote "Yes and No", compiling the (sometimes conflicting) sayings of the Bible and church fathers on various controversial subjects.

February 21, 1173: Pope Alexander III canonizes Thomas Becket three years after the Archbishop of Canterbury's martyrdom at the hands of King Henry II's knights.

February 21, 1595: Robert Southwell, English Jesuit priest and poet, was hanged, one of the victims of religious prejudice during Queen Elizabeth I’s reign

February 21, 1801: John Henry Newman, Anglican leader of the Oxford Movement, is born in London. The movement sought to reform the Church of England in a "high church" direction, but Newman left the church in 1845 to become a Catholic—a choice he explained in his "Apologia pro Vita Sua" (1864).

Friday, February 20, 2004
Mel, Mary, and Mothers

Mel Gibson told CHRISTIANITY TODAY: "I've been actually amazed at the way I would say the evangelical audience has—hands down—responded to this film more than any other Christian group." What makes it so amazing, he says, is that "the film is so Marian."...

The Passion of Mel Gibson

Why evangelicals are cheering a movie with profoundly Catholic sensibilities

Christian businesses have faith in 'Passion'

Firms rally behind Mel Gibson's account of Jesus' death as a way to spread their message and boost their profit

Mel Gibson's The Passion of The Christ and Anne Catherine Emmerich and Mary of Agreda

EWTN offers some observations on the role of private revelations, and as it relates to the much awaited movie, "The Passion of The Christ."

Russian church denies links with Saddam

Theological news from ekklesia

The Russian Orthodox church has denied allegations of links with Saddam Hussein's regime through illegal oil deals.

The denial comes after more than 40 Russian companies, including entities linked to the Russian Orthodox Church, the Communist Party and the Liberal Democratic Party, allegedly took part in an illegal kickback scheme for trading Iraqi oil under Saddam Hussein's regime, according to documents obtained by Baghdad-based newspaper al-Mada.

"Almost all Russian companies that worked in Iraq [were involved in this]," said Fakhri Karim, the editor of the recently created newspaper.

Vremya Novostei published last weekend a list of more than 270 people and organizations from 46 countries including Russia, France, China, Italy, Austria, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates, who allegedly took part in a scheme to trade contraband Iraqi oil in breach of the United Nations regulated oil-for-food deal.

The newspaper says it based its list on documents obtained from the Iraqi Oil Ministry.

Iraq's Governing Council on Wednesday ordered an investigation into al-Mada's allegations.

The Orthodox Church has however called its inclusion in the list "nonsense."

"This is an absurdity, I cannot think of any other word. Nothing of the sort could happen," Metropolitan Kirill, the head of the Orthodox Church's external relations department told a press conference in Moscow.

The metropolitan said he "will thoroughly analyse the origin of the press reports and see what is behind them."

Christ in the crossfire

The Tablet has a long discussion of Mel's film. I never thought I'd live to see this day: when Mel Gibson seems about the most influential Catholic after the Pope!

The wheat and the tares

The Parable of the wheat and tares, Richard Jugge, 1552

I suspect that there would be strong outcries addressed to Our Lord Himself for His serious mismanagement of the "apostolic college" with the failures, infidelities, sins of those He chose.

I suspect that there would be strong outcries of Our Lord's own strategy and plan of action (and lack of action):

Matthew 13:

24 Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.
25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.
26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
27 "The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?'
28 "'An enemy did this,' he replied. "The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?'
29 "'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them.
30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'"

I suspect there are some who want desperately to move up the Last Day to today and pull up all the weeds.

And who would give Jesus hell for not doing so NOW.

Something to think about....

N.B. Take note at those who write the most about the scandals and reform and criticize the Bishops and Pope the most for ineptitude and inaction, etc. etc. Note that Our Lord is almost never mentioned or referred to. It's as if there is no Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior, who has shown us the way and gave us His own example and words. The norms of these "new puritans" are from other sources.

Or so it seems to me.

Henri de Lubac, SJ: saintly scholar and architect of (the real) Vatican II

Today, in 1896, Henri de Lubac was born in northern France. He entered the Jesuits and became one of the most influential theological-spiritual voices of the second half of the 20th century. A saintly scholar! Yes, he would be on my list of those I would canonize if it were up to me.

A mentor to those like Hans Urs von Balthasar - also canonizable! - and countless others (including me! Ever since I met de Lubac he has been like a father to me). A mild voice usually, gentle and calm. But once in a while he could speak out crisply and clearly in defense of his beloved Church and her ever-new Tradition! His reflections on the Church are among the most beautiful I have ever read and all the more powerful knowing how he himself was once silenced and dismissed. Instead of embittering him, this set-back deepened his faith and vision.

De Lubac knew the Bible, the Fathers, the saints, as few others. He was extraordinary in an age with some quite remarkable priest-scholars!

Along with some others who were all involved in the authentic renewal of the Church, like Danielou, Congar, von Balthasar (all of whom suffered, too, at the hands of Church officials), he was named a cardinal. He remained, though, a simple priest and religious and scholar to the very end.


This has to be the most beautiful book ever written on the Mystery of the Church! Henri de Lubac, like Guardini and von Balthasar, was an exquisite scholar - but even more a man of faith, a man of the Church - a "lover!" His love for the Church spills into these profound meditations on the Body and Bride of Christ, who has given us birth in Christ, our Mother. How blessed we have been, in our own times, to have such a gifted writer who blesses us still with this precious work. I owe much to de Lubac and this book - and I think you will know why if you read it - IT IS FILLED WITH THE FRAGRANCE OF LOVE AND GRATITUDE!

Order it now: THE SPLENDOR OF THE CHURCH by Henri de Lubac, S.J.

"She has her problem children: some take fright, some are scandalized; some, losing touch with her Spirit, declare that the time is ripe for a complete overhaul and present, for its accomplishment, their 'private blueprints -- revolutionary or subversive'. At such times it is the duty of all who recognize her as mother to demonstrate their unfaltering attachment and their anxiety, in St. Paul's words, 'to be made new in mind and spirit', that they may thereby accomplish her mission in a patience at once humble and dynamic. Because she carries the hope of the world.

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: From Paradox to Mystery

Thursday, February 19, 2004
Award Rejected!

As some probably know, there was a sort of voting of St Blog's for the best blogs in different categories. Somehow my blog was selected in several of the categories (and, frankly, I wouldn't have selected myself in any of the ones chosen). And, lo and behold!, I win in the category of "Most Pious Blog." :-(

I reject that award. Perhaps it is just the sound of the word "pious" that I don't like. If it had been instead "Most Prayerful Blog" or "Most Christ-centered Blog" I would have rejoiced (though unlikely to win in those categories).

God bless the efforts of those who put the voting together! But I wish I had been consulted beforehand so I would have bowed out or tried to come up with a category that I try to be "best at" - like, beauty in art and beauty in selections posted from the great Catholic heritage and demonstrating love of the Church and hopefully some warmth, even "piety." But I really don't want to be "pious!" So I renounce my award! :-)

Area churches will use 'Passion' for outreach

"Area church leaders say the opening of filmmaker Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" next week could be the evangelical tool of a lifetime — and they are poised to take advantage of it.

McLean Bible Church, an 8,500-member Fairfax County congregation, bought more than 11,000 tickets for private screenings of the film next week. Other pastors have canceled or scaled back services, encouraging their flocks to see the R-rated movie instead. A Fairfax resident has plunked down $2,675 to rent out a theater for himself and his friends for a showing.

This appears to be a nationwide phenomenon.

"Pastors have awakened to the fact that this is a major cultural phenomenon that will present many opportunities to share the Gospel," said Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky..."

Catholics want to see Mel film


"It's gory, the characters speak ancient languages and everyone knows how it ends - but "The Passion of The Christ" is already a hit with many Catholics across New York..."

Today in Christian history

February 19, 843: Empress Theodora reinstates icons once and for all in the Eastern churches, effectively ending the medieval iconoclastic controversy. A council in 787 had allowed the veneration of icons, but opponents of images still controlled most of the government and much of the church leadership.

February 19, 1377: John Wycliffe stands trial in London's St. Paul's Cathedral for his criticism of the church. He argued against the sale of indulgences, the worship of saints, the veneration of relics, the "emptiness" of some church traditions, and the indolence of clerics. In spite of five papal bulls ordering his arrest, he was never convicted as a heretic.

February 19, 1473: Astronomer and cleric Nicolaus Copernicus, whose "heliocentric" concept of the solar system became the foundation of modern astronomy, is born in Poland. Both Martin Luther and the Roman Catholic hierarchy condemned the theory (his revolutionary book was banned until 1758), but Copernicus remained a faithful member of the Catholic Church. He was even a member of the clergy at Frauenburg Cathedral, where his uncle was bishop. "[It is our] loving duty to seek the truth in all things, in so far as God has granted that to human reason," he wrote.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

If one member suffers, all suffer together with it - 1 Cor 12: 26

We are all in this together - and share in the humiliation of those who have failed (and we all have failed in some ways); we are all made of the same stuff and united in Christ our common Lord and SAVIOR.

Jury Finds Bishop Guilty in a Fatal Hit-and-Run Accident

Fighting Claims of Gay Affairs, a Bishop Turns to the Public

May God have mercy on us sinners and may He give us holy and faithful bishops!

Today in Christian history

February 18, 1546: German reformer Martin Luther dies in Eisleben. In one of his pockets he had placed the beginning of a projected manuscript against Roman Catholics. In another pocket was a slip of paper reminding him, "We are beggars, that's the truth".

February 18, 1564: Michelangelo Buonarroti, the Italian Renaissance artist whose works include the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, dies.

February 18, 1678: Puritan preacher John Bunyan publishes "The Pilgrim's Progress". Next to the Bible, it is the most frequently reprinted book in English. The allegorical tale, which describes Bunyan's own conversion process, begins, "I saw a man clothed with rags … a book in his hand and a great burden upon his back".

February 18, 1688: Quakers in Germantown, Pennsylvania, issue America's first formal protest of slavery. The historic "Germantown Protest" denounced both slavery and the slave trade.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Sunday, February 15, 2004
Going for it!

I will be away until Tuesday night. Hitching a ride up to New Jersey (exit 11!) and will visit with my brother and sister and their families. I don't see them enough and so decided to go for it and accept the kind invitation of someone driving up to that area for business purposes - who just happens to be my favorite traveling buddy, Father Michael.

Since my brother has two Havanese in residence right now I am leaving ONION home. But my angel-neighbor James will be moving in again and taking good care of my special buddy, who is doing remarkably well these days, thank God.

For me, it still fills me with awe that I can do anything like this. I am grateful that, despite some inconvience, "work", and challenges, I have chosen to "go for it." It is a lot easier for me to stay at home and not move too much. It really has been like a new lease on life.

Hope to be back with you soon.

Chicago Catholic

A profile of Cardinal Francis George

Commonweal takes a look at the Archbishop of Chicago; fascinating.

For local parishes, a reckoning

"..Meeting with more than 40 parish leaders from South Boston's Catholic churches, Mahoney has been among those asked by the Archdiocese of Boston to perform a brutal winnowing of the neighborhood's seven parishes.

In the next three weeks, they must answer two questions: Which parish will they recommend for closure? And, if it comes to that, which two?.."

"..Rick Chasse, a youth minister for St. Joseph in Belmont said the church closings could have a greater impact on young people than the fallout from the clergy sex-abuse scandal.

"As much as that has rocked the church over the past three years, this could even be more painful because it touches more people," Chasse said. A few young people have already asked him whether their parish will close. "They ask, `Where will I go to church? Where will I fit in?' " Chasse said. "We have to reassure them that the church will always be there for them."

Southern Baptists Bring New York Their Gospel

"..Born and raised in Fairburn, Ga., Mr. Rourk is a missionary, one of more than a dozen sent north to New York by the Southern Baptist Convention at the vanguard of a two-year campaign to bring the denomination's evangelical gospel to Gotham in 2004 and 2005.

And to reach jaded, materialistic New Yorkers, Mr. Rourk and his fellow missionaries are adapting to the local culture, by giving away free candy bars or doughnuts on wintry street corners, for example, or by applying fuzzy New Age lingo to a Sunday worship service.

"I just didn't use the word `church,' " said Mr. Rourk, 33, who dresses for his work in a long black leather jacket. "It drives people away." He added, "It is a postmodern city, which means it's a post-Christian city, a truly secular city, so we want to come out in a way that is relevant."

The Southern Baptists' New York campaign is the latest and most ambitious stage in a national missionary strategy the denomination's North American Mission Board laid out six years ago..."

Today in Christian history

February 15, 1386: Jagiello, king of the Lithuanians, is baptized. His conversion, the condition of an alliance with Poland, marks the end of established paganism in Europe.

February 15, 1571: The German composer Michael Praetorius was born on this day in Thuringia in 1571. He was a prolific composer. His most famous works are sacred pieces for Christmas, including the most famous arrangement of the beautiful hymn "Es ist ein' Ros' entsprungen" ("Lo, how a rose e'er blooming"). He died on his 50th birthday.

February 15, 1631: John Donne, the greatest love poet of the English language and dean of St. Paul's Cathedral, preaches his last sermon titled "Death's Duel." "We celebrate our own funeral with cries, even at our birth," preached the poet, who was seemingly obsessed with the subject for his entire life (32 of his 54 songs and sonnets are about death).

February 15, 1860: Wheaton College (formerly Illinois Institute), one of American evangelicalism's top institutions of higher education, is chartered in Illinois.

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