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

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Saturday, November 13, 2004
 
Today in Christian history

November 13, 354: Augustine of Hippo, convert, bishop, and Christian thinker, was born in Thagaste in North Africa. Of his many writings, two are still read widely: "Confessions" describes the circumstances leading to his conversion to the Christian faith, and "The City of God" was written as a Christian view of the sacking of Rome by the Visigoths in the year 410.

November 13, 867: Pope Nicholas I, one of the strongest proponents for Rome's primacy in the Church, dies. He is referred to, along with Popes Leo I and Gregory I, as "the Great."

November 13, 1618: The Dutch Reformed Church convenes the Synod of Dort to "discuss" the Arminian controversy. Of course, the synod's condemnation of Arminianism was a forgone conclusion—Arminians weren't even invited for another month. By April, 200 Arminian ministers (known as Remonstrants) were deposed by the Calvinist Synod, 15 were arrested, and one was beheaded for high treason.

November 13, 1938: The Catholic Church canonizes Francis Xavier Cabrini (1850-1917), founder of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, the first saint who was an American citizen.

November 13, 1962: The name of Saint Joseph was added to the Roman Canon. It constituted the first alteration made to this canon since the seventh century.


Friday, November 12, 2004
 
Remembering our dead

The Reformation cut off the living from the dead. But Catholic prayers for the departed are not about fear, or appeasement. They form part of a web of love


 
Prayer request

It seems like several regulars of St Blog's are "under the weather" these days. I'm not exactly sure what's going on with me but sense I am not running at my usual and relative "one hundred percent." Some ominous signs (if they continue and get worse). I have a moved up appointment with my wonderful doctor this coming Thursday. I am planning a 2 night trip to Lancaster Pa. with my twin sister Peg and her husband and Father Michael - and seeing some friends, too, 2 sets of which just happen to be in Pennsylvannia Dutch country the same time as I happen to be passing through. And hopefully a few fun meals at places like "Good and Plenty" with its Amish style meals, plentiful indeed!

Things have been somewhat out of whack since returning from Paris. Since then something changed. Before that I used to envy those who could fall asleep at their desks and in cars and planes, etc. I couldn't. Now I have a hard time staying awake at my own desk!!! That's no big deal of itself, but combined with some water retention, congestion, and swelling in the akles - a matter of some concern. I don't write this to panic anyone. I am doing OK right now. But I am asking your prayers. And the fact that I have heard absolutely nothing from Carnival about my lost and priceless left behind items has not helped much either.


 
THE CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ON PRAYER

PART FOUR: CHRISTIAN PRAYER
SECTION ONE: PRAYER IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE

CHAPTER ONE: THE REVELATION OF PRAYER

ARTICLE 2: IN THE FULLNESS OF TIME

2598 The drama of prayer is fully revealed to us in the Word who became flesh and dwells among us. To seek to understand his prayer through what his witnesses proclaim to us in the Gospel is to approach the holy Lord Jesus as Moses approached the burning bush: first to contemplate him in prayer, then to hear how he teaches us to pray, in order to know how he hears our prayer.

Jesus prays

2599 The Son of God who became Son of the Virgin also learned to pray according to his human heart. He learns the formulas of prayer from his mother, who kept in her heart and meditated upon all the "great things" done by the Almighty.[41] He learns to pray in the words and rhythms of the prayer of his people, in the synagogue at Nazareth and the Temple at Jerusalem. But his prayer springs from an otherwise secret source, as he intimates at the age of twelve: "I must be in my Father's house."[42] Here the newness of prayer in the fullness of time begins to be revealed: his filial prayer, which the Father awaits from his children, is finally going to be lived out by the only Son in his humanity, with and for men.

2600 The Gospel according to St. Luke emphasizes the action of the Holy Spirit and the meaning of prayer in Christ's ministry. Jesus prays before the decisive moments of his mission: before his Father's witness to him during his baptism and Transfiguration, and before his own fulfillment of the Father's plan of love by his Passion.[43] He also prays before the decisive moments involving the mission of his apostles: at his election and call of the Twelve, before Peter's confession of him as "the Christ of God," and again that the faith of the chief of the Apostles may not fail when tempted.[44] Jesus' prayer before the events of salvation that the Father has asked him to fulfill is a humble and trusting commitment of his human will to the loving will of the Father.

2601 "He was praying in a certain place and when he had ceased, one of his disciples said to him, 'Lord, teach us to pray."'[45] In seeing the Master at prayer the disciple of Christ also wants to pray. By contemplating and hearing the Son, the master of prayer, the children learn to pray to the Father.

2602 Jesus often draws apart to pray in solitude, on a mountain, preferably at night.[46] He includes all men in his prayer, for he has taken on humanity in his incarnation, and he offers them to the Father when he offers himself. Jesus, the Word who has become flesh, shares by his human prayer in all that "his brethren" experience; he sympathizes with their weaknesses in order to free them.[47] It was for this that the Father sent him. His words and works are the visible manifestation of his prayer in secret...

41 Cf. Lk 1:49; 2:19; 2:51.
42 Lk 2:49.
43 Cf. Lk 3:21; 9:28; 22:41-44.
44 Cf. Lk 6:12; 9:18-20; 22:32.
45 Lk 11:1.
46 Cf. Mk 1:35; 6:46; Lk 5:16.


 
Today in Christian history

November 12, 1651: Mexican poet, nun, and "feminist" Juana Ines de La Cruz was born.


Thursday, November 11, 2004
 
THE CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ON PRAYER

Summing up the first article in bite-size pieces, some perhaps appropriate for memorization:

IN BRIEF

2590 "Prayer is the raising of one's mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God" (St. John Damascene, De fide orth. 3, 24:PG 94, 1089C).

2591 God tirelessly calls each person to this mysterious encounter with Himself. Prayer unfolds throughout the whole history of salvation as a reciprocal call between God and man.

2592 The prayer of Abraham and Jacob is presented as a battle of faith marked by trust in God's faithfulness and by certitude in the victory promised to perseverance.

2593 The prayer of Moses responds to the living God's initiative for the salvation of his people. It foreshadows the prayer of intercession of the unique mediator, Christ Jesus.

2594 The prayer of the People of God flourished in the shadow of the dwelling place of God's presence on earth, the ark of the covenant and the Temple, under the guidance of their shepherds, especially King David, and of the prophets.

2595 The prophets summoned the people to conversion of heart and, while zealously seeking the face of God, like Elijah, they interceded for the people.

2596 The Psalms constitute the masterwork of prayer in the Old Testament. They present two inseparable qualities: the personal, and the communal. They extend to all dimensions of history, recalling God's promises already fulfilled and looking for the coming of the Messiah.

2597 Prayed and fulfilled in Christ, the Psalms are an essential and permanent element of the prayer of the Church. They are suitable for men of every condition and time.


 
Today in Christian history

November 11, 397 (traditional date): Martin of Tours, a bishop responsible for the evangelization of Gaul, dies. He is France's patron saint.

November 11, 1215: The Fourth Lateran Council opens. It officially confirmed the doctrine of transubstantiation—that the substance of Eucharistic bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ, with only the accidents (appearances of bread and wine) remaining. The council also prescribed annual confession for all Christians.

November 11, 1620: Forty-one Puritan separatists arrive in Plymouth, Massachusetts. They had hoped to settle further south, but as William Bradford wrote in his journal on December 19, "We could not now take much time for further search . . . our victuals being much spent, especially our beer".

November 11, 1855: Danish Christian philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, regarded as the founder of existentialism, dies at age 42. Trying to "reintroduce Christianity to Christendom," he believed that Christianity was far more radical and difficult than did his Danish contemporaries.

November 11, 1992: The Church of England voted to ordain women as priests.


Wednesday, November 10, 2004
 
PRAYER REQUEST FOR KAREN MARIE KNAPP

Received this a few moments ago:

"Gerard,
This is Chris, Karen Marie's sister from Pittsburgh, and I wanted to make you aware that Karen is in need of prayers as she is in the hosptial.

..Now she has pneumonia, cellulitis because of an infection in her leg. She is at St.Mary's hospital in Milwaukee, I would appreciate if you could put up a request for prayers on your blog for my sister..."

Karen's wonderful blog, From the Anchor Hold. O LORD, heal your servant and bring her home to us. Let her cling to Christ even as Christ clings to her. Thy will be done!


 
Nada

Still nothing on the status of the (precious) items left behind in my cabin after the 2 night cruise. Wish I didn't have the fears that sometimes emerge! Things should be relatively easily recoverable. But life has a way at times....

Carnival has a strict procedure in place. It strikes me as less than customer friendly. But I do get a sense that the staff so far involved with me are hoping for a full recovery and quick return. Prayers still very much appreciated.


 
FROM THE CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ON PRAYER

SECTION ONE: PRAYER IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
CHAPTER ONE: THE REVELATION OF PRAYER

ARTICLE 1 cont'd
IN THE OLD TESTAMENT cont'd

Elijah, the prophets and conversion of heart

2581 For the People of God, the Temple was to be the place of their education in prayer: pilgrimages, feasts and sacrifices, the evening offering, the incense, and the bread of the Presence ("shewbread") - all these signs of the holiness and glory of God Most High and Most Near were appeals to and ways of prayer. But ritualism often encouraged an excessively external worship. The people needed education in faith and conversion of heart; this was the mission of the prophets, both before and after the Exile.

2582 Elijah is the "father" of the prophets, "the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob."[30] Elijah's name, "The Lord is my God," foretells the people's cry in response to his prayer on Mount Carmel.[31] St. James refers to Elijah in order to encourage us to pray: "The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective."[32]

2583 After Elijah had learned mercy during his retreat at the Wadi Cherith, he teaches the widow of Zarephath to believe in The Word of God and confirms her faith by his urgent prayer: God brings the widow's child back to life.[33]

The sacrifice on Mount Carmel is a decisive test for the faith of the People of God. In response to Elijah's plea, "Answer me, O LORD, answer me," the Lord's fire consumes the holocaust, at the time of the evening oblation. The Eastern liturgies repeat Elijah's plea in the Eucharistic epiclesis.

Finally, taking the desert road that leads to the place where the living and true God reveals himself to his people, Elijah, like Moses before him, hides "in a cleft of he rock" until the mysterious presence of God has passed by.[34] But only on the mountain of the Transfiguration will Moses and Elijah behold the unveiled face of him whom they sought; "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God [shines] in the face of Christ," crucified and risen.[35]

2584 In their "one to one" encounters with God, the prophets draw light and strength for their mission. Their prayer is not flight from this unfaithful world, but rather attentiveness to The Word of God. At times their prayer is an argument or a complaint, but it is always an intercession that awaits and prepares for the intervention of the Savior God, the Lord of history.[36]

32 Jas 5:16b-18.
33 Cf. 1 Kings 17:7-24.
34 Cf. 1 Kings 19:1-14; cf. Ex 33:19-23.
35 2 Cor 4:6; cf. Lk 9:30-35.
36 Cf. Am 7:2, 5; Isa 6:5,8,11; 1:6; 15:15-18; 20:7-18.


 
Today in Christian history

November 10, 1483: Controversial German religous figure Martin Luther is born in Eisleben, Germany.

November 10, 1899: Southern Fugitive poet and critic Allen Tate was born. He once observed that it was a shame that Southerners were so anti-Catholic because they loved ceremonials everywhere except in church and every Southern mother was a mater mediatrix.

November 10, 1908: Ten years after Samuel Hill and John Nicholson met in Boscobel, Wisconsin, to begin what would become Gideons International, the organization places its first Bible in a room at the Superior Hotel in Iron Mountains, Montana. Those "Gideon Bibles" are still everywhere to be found (and perhaps even used).


Tuesday, November 09, 2004
 
Bridgebuilder par excellence


Second from left, Bishop Seraphim (Sigrist) at St Benedict's Rectory, beautifully decorated by pastor Paschal Morlino, OSB, for after discussion "dessert"

Our local ecumenical group met this past Sunday and our guest speaker was Bishop Seraphim (Sigrist) of the OCA, former Bishop in Japan. This was +Seraphim's third visit to our group these past years and he never disappoints. Now here is a true bridgebuilder! I don't know if I've ever known anyone who is so consistently open minded and open hearted and who knows how to reach for commonalities rather than divisions. At times it can drive me crazy! But the longer I live the more I admire and revere this quality, so lacking in so many quarters today. Yes, Bishop Seraphim is to me like a breath of fresh air. You can check it our for yourself by reading his entres and comments in his Live Journal. I think you well see quickly what I mean. His journal can be accessed at:

http://www.livejournal.com/users/seraphimsigrist


 
The Basilica of Saint John Lateran: The Mother of all Churches


Inscription on its facade:

SACROSANCTA LATERANENSIS ECCLESIA OMNIUM URBIS ET ORBIS ECCLESIARUM MATER ET CAPUT

"The Most Holy Lateran Church, Mother and Mistress of all churches of the City and the World"

Today is the Solemnity of the Dedication of this great church, which is the cathedral church of the Diocese of Rome. Theologically and ecclesiologically perhaps the most important church in the Catholic world - if not the most popular or most used by the Popes. But it retains a special place and its Feast even superceded a Sunday 2 years ago. I prefer it myself to Saint Peter's as I do the other major Roman Basilica's of Saint Mary Major and Saint Paul's Outside the Walls.

Monday, November 08, 2004
 
Church struggles with change

A provocative piece in USA Today online regarding the state of the Catholic Church in the United States.

Not terribly hopeful...


 
Memorial of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity


Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity of the Carmel in Dijon

A contemporary of her better known sister in Carmel, St Therese of Lisieux, Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity seems also to have been given to us by God to announce the Good News of His Love, entrusted with what Hans Urs von Balthasar calls a "theological mission."

Like St Therese, Elizabeth died at a young age, and left behind a rather slim corpus of writings. But how rich they are! Filled out with many letters written to family and friends, Elizabeth opens for us especially the riches of Saint Paul and Saint John the Beloved Disciple.

Her most sustained writings are contained in notes she kept during two Retreats - and in these reflections we are given a glimpse into a heart completely given to the Praise of Glory - heaven on earth, the heaven of the soul.

Receiving on earth her new name in heaven, Laudem Gloriae, The Praise of Glory, Elizabeth points us to the Mystery of Christ in our own midst, and the indwelling of the Most Blessed Trinity.

May she intercede for all of us that we, too, may live for the praise of God's Glory - which is His Love that stoops so low to raise us so high. I choose her as a special patron of my website, "A Catholic for Lovers", since she expresses so magnificently the hopes I have for these pages and for all who visit - to the praise of God's Glory (thus its very address: praiseofglory.com).

Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, Praise of Glory, pray for us and teach us the way of love, the way of praise of God's Glory... Amen!

A prayer of Elizabeth of the Trinity

O MY GOD, TRINITY WHOM I ADORE

J.M. + J.T.

O my God, Trinity whom I adore, help me to forget myself entirely that I may be established in You as still and as peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity. May nothing trouble my peace or make me leave You, 0 my Unchanging One, but may each minute carry me further into the depths of Your Mystery. Give peace to my soul; make it Your heaven, Your beloved dwelling and Your resting place. May I never leave You there alone but be wholly present, my faith wholly vigilant, wholly adoring, and wholly surrendered to Your creative Action.

0 my beloved Christ, crucified by love, I wish to be a bride for Your Heart; I wish to cover You with glory; I wish to love You ... even unto death! But I feel my weakness, and I ask You to "clothe me with Yourself," to identify my soul with all the movements of Your Soul, to overwhelm me, to possess me, to substitute Yourself for me that my life may be but a radiance of Your Life. Come into me as Adorer, as Restorer, as Savior. 0 Eternal Word, Word of my God, 1 want to spend my life in listening to You, to become wholly teachable that I may learn all from You. Then, through all nights, all voids, all helplessness, I want to gaze on You always and remain in Your great light. 0 my beloved Star, so fascinate me that I may not withdraw from Your radiance.

0 consuming Fire, Spirit of Love, "come upon me," and create in my soul a kind of incarnation of the Word: that I may be another humanity for Him in which He can renew His whole Mystery. And You, 0 Father, bend lovingly over Your poor little creature; "cover her with Your shadow," seeing in her only the "Beloved in whom You are well pleased."

0 My Three, my All, my Beatitude, infinite Solitude, Immensity in which I lose myself, I surrender myself to You as Your prey. Bury Yourself in me that I may bury myself in You until I depart to contemplate in Your light the abyss of Your greatness.



Two Sisters in the Spirit
by Hans Urs von Balthasar

In this great book, the theologian of theologians, Hans urs von Balthasar, learns at the feet of two "sisters in the Spirit", the little Therese and Elizabeth of the Trinity, the rich doctrine of Christ and of St Paul. Both of these Carmelites, von Balthasar believes, were given to the Church with a special "theological mission" to open up the treasures of God's Word to ordinary believers like you and me. Here we can take a short cut into the riches of von Balthasar's heart as well - unlike so many other theologians, he seems most at home with the saints. This is the book that endeared me, beyond any ability to articulate, to St Therese of Lisieux and revealed why she would become a Doctor of the Church and Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, whose name in heaven, given her on earth, is Laudem Gloriae, Praise of Glory - one of the patronesses of my own website which is for "the praise of glory!"

You can order it from Amazon here: Two Sisters in the Spirit


 
Today in Christian history

November 8, 1308: John Duns Scotus, the Scottish theologian who brillianlty posited Mary's immaculate conception (that she herself was born without original sin), dies in Cologne, Germany. Mary's immaculate conception was declared dogma by Pope Pius IX in 1854.

November 8, 1674: English poet John Milton, author of "Paradise Lost"(1667), "Paradise Regained"(1671), and many other works, dies at age 65.


Sunday, November 07, 2004
 
Today in Christian history

November 7, 739 (traditional date): Willibrord, a missionary monk who was trained in Ireland and traveled over northwestern Europe, dies. Called the "Apostle of Frisia," he was highly instrumental in the conversions of Germany and Scandinavia.

November 7, 1637: Anne Hutchinson is convicted of spreading heresy and banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Her idea that believers are so united with the Holy Spirit that human categories (like moral law) are irrelevant, and her claim of direct revelation from the Holy Spirit rather than Scripture, caused many of her supporters (including influential minister John Cotton) to back off. Hutchinson was later killed in New York in an American Indian raid.

November 7, 1793: During the French Revolution, "Christianity" was abolished on this date. Reason was deified, and as many as 2,000 churches were afterward destroyed throughout France.

November 7, 1837: Presbyterian minister and abolitionist Elijah Lovejoy is murdered in Alton, Illinois. A newspaper editor whose press was destroyed by vandals three times, he was accused of inciting slaves to revolt when he defended a black man burned at the stake by a mob. When another mob tried to burn down his warehouse, Lovejoy was shot trying to save it. His death helped to galvanize the abolitionist movement.

November 7, 1918: Evangelist William ("Billy") Franklin Graham, Jr., is born in Charlotte, North Carolina.


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