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, May 15, 2004

A prayer from the (old) Roman Breviary for those who are about to make a journey:

Ant. Into the way of peace.
Benedictus - Canticle of Zachary
Glory be ....

Ant. Into the way of peace and prosperity, may the almighty and merciful Lord lead us and may the Angel Raphael be with us along the way, that we may come to our home again in peace, and health, and gladness.

Kyrie, eleison.
Christe, eleison.
Kyrie, eleison.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Our Father (silently as far as):
V. And lead us not into temptation.
R. But deliver us from evil.
V. Save Thy servants.
R. My God, who hope in Thee.
V. O Lord, send us help from the sanctuary.
R. And strengthen us out of Sion.
V. Be unto us, O Lord, a tower of strength.
R. In the face of the enemy.
V. Let not the enemy prevail against us.
R. Nor the son of iniquity have power to harm us.
V. Blessed be the Lord daily.
R. The God of our salvation maketh our way prosperous.
V. Show us Thy ways, O Lord.
R. And teach us Thy paths.
V. O that our ways were directed.
R. To keep Thy precepts.
V. The crooked shall be made straight.
R. And the rough ways plain.
V. God has given His Angels charge over thee.
R. That they may keep thee in all thy ways.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.

Let us pray:

O God, who madest the children of Israel to walk with dry feet through the midst of the sea, and who didst open unto the three wise men, by the guiding of a star, the way that led unto Thee, grant us good speed, and quietness: may thy holy Angel accompany us during our pilgrimage and in the end, may we attain the haven of eternal salvation.

O God, who didst call Thy servant Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees, and didst keep him from evil through all the ways of his pilgrimage, we beseech Thee, that it may please Thee to keep us Thy servants. Be Thou unto us, O Lord, a help when we go forward, a comfort by the way, a shadow from the heat, a covering from the rain and the cold, a chariot in weariness, a refuge in trouble, a staff in slippery paths, a haven in shipwreck. Do Thou lead us, that we may happily come thither where we would be, and thereafter come again safe unto our own home.

Graciously hear our supplications, O Lord, we beseech Thee, and order the goings of Thy servants in the safe path that leadeth unto salvation in Thee, that amidst all the manifold changes of this life's pilgrimage, Thy shield may never cease from us.

Grant, we beseech Thee, O almighty God, that Thy family may fare onward in the path of salvation, and by giving heed to the preaching of the blessed Fore-runner John, may safely attain unto Him whom John preached, even our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. R. Amen.

V. Let us proceed in peace.
R. In the name of the Lord. Amen.

Friday, May 14, 2004
Another Adventure!

Will I be able to bear so much beauty?

Mostly packed and ready to leave early in the morning. Very hard to leave ONION behind! Some anxiety - will I be up to this first trip of so many planned? Yet eager, excited, enthusiastic as well - and trying to entrust all to the loving Providence of God. I do ask your prayers. I will remember you in my daily prayers (sometimes expanded on trips such as this). I hope to share some of this adventure upon return, God willing.

Saturday, and return on Thursday, leaving for home, Friday: Salt Lake City, Utah.

Sunday afternoon, Monday morning, ride through park on return trek Thursday: Grand Teton National Park, a view from the chapel of the Transfiguration.

Monday afternoon, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday morning: Yellowstone National Park, the Lower Falls.

Saturday afternoon: God willing, a tour of the Cathedral of the Madeleine given by a reader of this blog and parishioner, Larry.

Vatican Warns Catholics Against Marrying Muslims

"..The document highlighted the contrasting approaches the Vatican has taken in recent years toward Islam, which has emerged as a strong rival for souls, especially in Africa.

Pope John Paul has broken ground in dialogue with Muslims and even prayed in a mosque in Damascus. He won plaudits in the Muslim world for his strong opposition to the Iraq war.

But Vatican officials and leading Catholic prelates have expressed increasingly critical views about the spread of Islam and the challenge this poses for Catholicism.

The Vatican's top theologian, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, said earlier this week the West "no longer loves itself" and so was unable to respond to the challenge of Islam, which was growing because it expressed "greater spiritual energy."

The migration document also discouraged churches from letting non-Christians use their places of worship.

This issue arose last month when Muslims in Spain asked to be able to pray in Cordoba cathedral, which was once a mosque. A senior Vatican official said this would be "problematic."

Europe of the heart

Charismatic and evangelical movements from across the denominations are setting an example of togetherness for the whole of the EU

"The battle for the soul of Europe is under way – the battle, that is, to convince the EU that it has a soul. What gains Europe by an EUtopia of free-flowing goods and capital, the continent’s Catholic bishops asked on 1 May, if it loses that soul? Europe, they said, has a mission to fulfil which it forgets at its peril.

Last Saturday a historic gathering of church movements in Stuttgart put flesh on that idea. “Together for Europe” took place just a week after enlargement and on the eve of the anniversary of the Schuman declaration of 1950 which laid the foundations of the Union.

Historic, because this was the first Europe-wide interdenominational meeting of movements from the Catholic, evangelical, Orthodox and Anglican traditions. That such a meeting could take place at all is down to a sudden new connectedness in the late 1990s among and between the charismatic movements within the Churches...

..Cardinal Kasper, whose trademark grin does wonders for defrosting the Orthodox in Russia, wound the day up in great excitement. What Europe needed, yes, was “its heart – a heart full of God”. The movements were carrying on what the monks and the saints did in early Europe – building up a spiritualität der Gemeinschaft, a “spirituality of communion”, he said, adding that unity was breaking out everywhere, and the energy and spirit of the movements were testimony to that. “What we need”, he said, was “a new Pentecost” – but from his speech it appeared that was exactly what we had..."


I just received a phone call from a good friend, Mary Lee Schab. To make a long story short: Mary Lee and her husband Hank were recently contacted by a long-lost relative's daughter. They made good contact and this relative even visited Mary Lee and Hank a few months ago. Hank wrote her and sent along the addresses of their six children. One of them, Ray, called Mary Lee and Hank to let them know that this relative sent him a print out of a piece about Mary Lee and Hank she had found on the internet. Turns out it is a blog I wrote back in September after running into Mary Lee and Hank in Annapolis.

I am so happy that Mary Lee and Hank discovered these words and thoughts of mine. I think they made them feel good and warmed. I know I wrote from my heart and had wished that Mary Lee and Hank owned a computer with internet access to read them (I didn't think of printing them out and sending them at the time). I didn't think that they would somehow or other find them - through, it turns out, a long-lost relative making contact after many years.

Amazing how God works!

Thursday, May 13, 2004
A Koranic verse I had never seen before

"When you meet the unbelievers, strike off their heads; then when you have made wide slaughter among them, carefully tie up the remaining captives." Surat Mohammed: 47: 4


Jean Baptiste Henri Marie Dominique Lacordaire OP

Yesterday was the anniversary of the birth in 1802 of Jean Baptiste Henri Lacordaire and I missed mentioning it. Well here I do belately. Lacordaire is something of a hero of mine, discovering him years ago through the writings of Yves Congar OP. On my own website I have a small selection of Lacordaire's writings to appreciate and enjoy. He speaks to my heart as few others do. Lacordaire is known as the "second founder" of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) in France. And I especially love his comment: "A God on a Cross! That is all my theology!"

Perhaps his best known piece is the paean of praise to the priesthood of the (Roman) Catholic Church (this reflection of Lacordaire is sometimes criticized and held up for contempt):

"To live in the midst of the world without wishing its pleasures; to be a member of each family, yet belonging to none; to share all sufferings; to penetrate all secrets; to heal all wounds; to go from men to God and offer Him their prayers; to return from God to men to bring pardon and hope; to have a heart of fire for charity and a heart of bronze for chastity; to teach and to pardon; console and bless always. My God, what a life! And it is yours, O Priest of Jesus Christ!"

Today in Christian history

May 13, 1917: Three shepherd children report that the Virgin Mary appeared to them in Fatima, Portugal.

May 13, 1925: Florida's House of Representatives passes a bill requiring schools to conduct daily Bible readings.

May 13, 1963: A.W. Tozer, Christian and Missionary Alliance pastor and devotional author of "The Pursuit of God" and "The Knowledge of the Holy," dies.

May 13, 1981: Pope John Paul II was shot and seriously wounded in St. Peter's Square by Turkish assailant Mehmet Ali Agca. The 24-year-old terrorist was arrested and convicted. He was forgiven by the Pope.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004
Updated Travel Plans

Soon the "season of travels" begins, with the flight to Salt Lake City and the trek to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. Here is the updated "schedule" up until Easter of 2005. The only lacuna is there is nothing for "Carnival" before Lent - the package deals to New Orleans or Rio are just too expensive! :-)

MAY 15-21: Salt Lake City, Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone.

JUNE 2-8: Lake Tahoe, California, Yosemite, Carmel, San Francisco.

JULY 11-16: 5 night Cruise on Voyager of the Seas to Canada out of New Jersey.

AUG 9-13: 5 day (4 nights) in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada.

SEPT 1-8: Paris, France, Chartres, Taize, Lourdes (?).

OCT 11-15: 5 day (4 nights) stay in Boston area for foliage season.

OCT 31-NOV 2: 2 night Cruise to Nowhere on Carnival Miracle out of Baltimore.

DEC 6-10: 5 day (4 nights) stay on Marco Island, Florida, near Everglades National Park.

JAN 20-30, 2005: 10 night Cruise on Norwegian Dawn out of NYC to eastern Caribbean.

MARCH 21-28: Holy Week and Easter in Seville, Spain, Cordoba.

Some future "dreams": Rome, Istanbul, Guadalupe, Cologne for WYD celebrations, Gasna Gora....

I pray for God's blessings on these ventures and booked trips; I pray that I will be up to them and able to enjoy the various sites and uniquenesses of each place. I hope to take photos and keep some sort of journal. I hope to share some of this with you.

And I ask your prayers.

St. Joseph nuns sued in abuse claim

"..William H. Shaevel, a Boston lawyer representing the Sisters of St. Joseph order, did not return telephone calls yesterday. A lawyer for one of the accused priests, however, adamantly denied that his client did anything wrong, and voiced skepticism about the complaints in general.

"In his 20 years at the school, he saw absolutely no hint of physical or sexual abuse of any kind," George McMahon, a Quincy lawyer, said of his client, the Rev. Charles J. Murphy, who was accused of walking into a 14-year-old female student's dorm room while she was undressing.

"He never witnessed anything, and it seems very strange to me that such allegations of widespread abuse would not have been heard before," McMahon said.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Boston, the Rev. Christopher Coyne, said that while the church kept extensive files on hundreds of allegedly abusive priests, the archdiocese has no record of any prior complaints against anyone affiliated with the Boston School for the Deaf or the Sisters of St. Joseph. He also said he could not recall any prior complaints "of a sexual nature" against a nun in the archdiocese. Though it was affiliated with the school, the archdiocese was not named as a defendant in the case.

The claims of sexual abuse included an alleged incident of sexual intercourse in nearby woods between a nun and one of the boys at the school, Garabedian said. One plaintiff, Paul Larocque, 67, said at the news conference in Garabedian's office yesterday that a nun fondled him in the bathroom when he was 5 years old.

In response to questions, Garabedian said in an interview later that some of his clients first approached him as a group late last year, after the historic $85 million settlement between the Archdiocese of Boston and more than 500 alleged victims of abuse was made public.

"I believe my clients are telling the truth," Garabedian said..."

Today in Christian history

May 11, 1982: In Fatima, Portugal, a Spanish priest with a bayonet was stopped prior to his attempt to attack Pope John Paul II.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004
Muslim Europe

Not comforting to read.

And another longer piece about a new book by Italian firebrand, Oriana Fallaci, La Forza della Ragione (The Force of Reason).

"..The last chapters of The Force of Reason are dedicated to explaining why Europe's three main political and social forces (Left, Right, and the Church) gave in to what she calls "the Islamic invasion." While Fallaci accuses the Left and Right mostly of ignorance and opportunism, her harshest words are left for the Church.

Fallaci has been known throughout her long career for her strong anti-clericalism (she is a long-time leftist, daughter of an Italian partisan who fought the Fascists), but describes herself as a "Christian atheist." While stating that she does not believe in God, she claims that the West cannot ignore its Christian origin and identity. Even if we deny God's existence, Fallaci says, Christianity has shaped the Western world. It defines "who we are, where we are coming from, and where we are going."

But the Church, she says, is not able — or worse, not willing — to defend Christianity. Fallaci accuses the Church of helping the expansion of the "Islamic empire," lobbying for more Muslims to come to Europe. She points out that Christianity offers its churches as shelters to Muslim immigrants, who immediately turn them into mosques, as it has happened repeatedly in France and Italy. It continuously apologizes for the Crusades, but never expects an apology for what Muslims are doing now to Christians in Sudan or Indonesia.

Amid Fallaci's bleak vision for Europe, however, a ray of hope comes from America. In a very emotional last chapter, Fallaci describes her admiration in witnessing the 2004 New Year's Eve celebrations in Times Square. In a sharp contrast with the fear-constrained Europeans, thousands of New Yorkers decided to defy the Code Orange terror alert and party hard in the face of the terrorists. Proud to honor itself, young and determined, America is perceived by Fallaci as the only hope for the West.

In this unprovoked cultural war that has been waged on the West, America should lead the way, but it cannot do it alone. According to Fallaci, the West has not realized that it is under attack, and that this war "wants to hit our soul rather than our body. Our way of life, our philosophy of life. Our way of thinking, acting and loving. Our freedom. Do not be fooled by their explosives. That is just a strategy. The terrorists, the kamikazes, do not kill us just for the sake of killing us. They kill us to bend us. To intimidate us, tire us, demoralize us, blackmail us..."

Matteo Ricci SJ

Matteo Ricci SJ Missionary to China, known as Li-ma-teu

A wonderful account of an amazing Jesuit and missionary and visionary, who died today in 1610. One of many great witnesses given to the Church and the world by the Society of Jesus.


Three years ago I lay in a hospital bed and was "in the woods" - the doctors were not at all sure I would make it. I was so sick and weak. I stayed in a hospital bed for several more months (I had started on March 16th). As I began, slowly, to regain some strength and health, and as I began some physical therapy, I had hoped I would at least be able to sit up and not need help to get into a chair.

Little would I have dreamed that my life would have unfolded as it has!

Last year, today, I began a journey that fulfilled a lifetime's dream: going to Alaska. And I went by a cruise, which makes it quite easy and comfortable for me in my condition. That seemed an utter miracle to me.

In a few days, Saturday, I will be leaving for yet another journey dreamed of for many years: a trip to Yellowstone National Park (along with a visit to Salt Lake City and Grand Teton National Park). Three years ago this would have been totally unthinkable to me (and most others). Talk about miracles!

And there is, God willing, more to come! I am so grateful to God, and to the wonderful care of doctors, nurses, health professionals, and to the abiding love and friendship of so many - life is good beyond hopes and expectations.

I know I say things like this fairly often. I hope you can understand why. It has come to me as a grand surprise. I think I know why CS Lewis entitled his biography "Surprised by Joy." I have been surprised by the ongoing gifts and blessings of the LORD despite my utter unworthiness. (Not the least of which is my buddy and mentor, ONION).

I have been amazed at how becoming "disabled" has "enabled" me in ways undreamt of. I hope and pray that this unfolding unfolds as God intends. May God's will be done! May I do God's will! May God bless and keep not only me but you and all of us.

Thank you for your prayers and support.

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

- George Herbert

Today in Christian history

May 11, 330: Roman emperor Constantine, the first Christian emperor, inaugurates Constantinople as his capital on the site of the Greek city of Byzantium (see issue 57: Converting the Empire).

May 11, 603: Comgall, founder and first abbot of Bangor, dies. Considered the founder of Irish monasticism, by his death he oversaw 3,000 monks —including the famous missionary Columbanus.

May 11, 1610: Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci, the first Catholic missionary to China, dies. Entering the country as a repairer of clocks, Ricci was criticized for becoming a Confucian scholar and allowing ancestor "worship." Though the number of his converts was relatively small, it included many influential Chinese scholars and families, who played key roles in the future of Christianity in China.

May 11, 1682: The General Court of Massachusetts repeals two 2-year-old laws: (1) a ban on the celebration of Christmas, and (2) capital punishment for banished Quakers who returned to the colony.

Monday, May 10, 2004
Virginia diocese split over gay bishop

Six months after the Nov. 2 consecration of V. Gene Robinson as the world's first openly homosexual Episcopal bishop, the issue divides the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia more than ever.

After Virginia Bishop Peter J. Lee became one of 62 bishops who voted last summer at a church convention to approve Bishop Robinson's consecration, 24 parishes staged an economic boycott of the diocese.

That resulted in a $900,000 budget deficit. The diocese produced a "task force on giving" that will begin hearings this month, aimed at coaxing churches into giving far more to the Richmond-based headquarters.

But in the 89,000-member diocese, the country's largest, many churches already have cut back budgets, frozen their building campaigns and lost members over the contentious issue. And just before diocesan clergy left for their annual retreat last week, word came out of a retired Episcopal bishop, 87-year-old Otis Charles, "marrying" his 62-year-old partner in an Episcopal church in San Francisco..."

“Me Christian! Me Christian!”

A chance encounter with an Iraqi priest.

Today in Christian history

May 10, 1886: Karl Barth, the most important Protestant theologian of the twentieth century and opponent of theological liberalism and political fascism (especially under Hitler), is born in Basel, Switzerland. When asked in 1962 (on his one visit to America) how he would summarize the essence of the millions of words he had published, he replied, "Jesus loves me. This I know, for the Bible tells me so"

Sunday, May 09, 2004
Less than a week to go

Next Saturday, God willing, I leave for my trip to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. This will be the first of a good number of such trips and I am hoping so much that I do OK with it all. It will not exactly have the comfort and ease of a cruise and I will need to exert myself a good bit more along the way. But it will allow me to see things I have never seen and always wanted to see or in some cases to revisit some of my favorite places in the world.

Learning from my mentor

I am learning a lot about facing challeges and limitations from my buddy, and now my mentor, ONION. I am so impressed at the spirit he is showing as he fails more and more and can't do things he's always done or at least can't do as well. He doesn't give up! As he faces the challenge of getting up stairs, his tail wags, and he tries. Sometimes he doesn't make it. His tail wags and he starts over and does it. In other ways, too, he is teaching me about facing limitations, about aging with grace and naturalness, and keeping a spirit of joy alive. May I be half as good as ONION in all of this.

I leave him behind for these various trips and excursions. Not easily. But I leave him in good hands and with lots of company. ONION is very undemanding but does much prefer the company of others to being alone. My neighbor, James, comes and lives here with ONION and takes real good care of his buddy.

A new season of my life opens with next week's trips: the season of travels. For every month, except February, there is something planned until Easter of next year. More to come...

New Blogger

Just testing the "new blogger" - hope it is an improvement. I have gotten used to the "old" version and as is usual had no desire to change it. But often enough the change can be for the better. So I hope for this one (the changes are more, I think, for the "inside" rather than the blog you see).

Peter Maurin's Easy Essays

Peter Maurin, the co-founder of The Catholic Worker along with Dorothy Day, who was born on this day, expressed himself and his vision in simple words and in what he called "Easy Essays." Here is one of the most famous. You can read more of them by clicking on the link above.

Better Or Better Off

1. The world would be better off,
if people tried
to become better.

2. And people would
become better
if they stopped trying
to be better off.

3. For when everybody tries
to become better off,
nobody is better off.

4. But when everybody tries
to become better,
everybody is better off.

5. Everybody would be rich
if nobody tried
to be richer.

6. And nobody would be poor
if everybody tried
to be the poorest.

7. And everybody would be
what he ought to be
if everybody tried to be
what he wants
the other fellow to be.

Today in Christian history

May 9, 1760: Count Nicholaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf, founder of the Moravian Brethren and a pioneer of ecumenism and mission work, dies in Herrnhut, Germany. By his death the Moravians (which themselves only numbered in the hundreds) had sent out 226 missionaries around the world.

May 9, 1877: Peter Maurin, "fool for Christ", and, with Dorothy Day, founder of The Catholic Worker movement, was born in France. Peter was a lover of truth and of the poor; he is perhaps best known for his "Easy Essays". Peter died in 1949.

May 9, 1983: Pope John Paul II rescinds the Catholic Church's 1633 condemnation of Galileo Galilei's Copernican heliocentric theory of the universe.

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