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, October 05, 2002
"From sour-faced saints, O Lord, deliver us!" (Saint Teresa of Avila)

Our contrarian, Patrick Rothwell (and joined by our Father Jim) have called our attention to this photo taken sometime during the consecration to the episcopate in the Episcopal Church in the US. Neither seemed too pleased....

However, I may play the contrarian here and wonder which is better:

the playfulness of this....

The Rev. James Gary Gloster (left) and his consecrators, including the Rt. Rev. Edmond Browning (behind Gloster), presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, sport red clown noses during a ceremony at Duke Chapel to ordain Gloster as Suffragan Bishop. Gloster, who has used a clown in his ministry, has spoken on the importance of laughter and play in faith.

Or the sour-faces in this recent photo of Catholic bishops:

Hong Kong Bishop Joseph Zen (top L) and the Vatican's Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe (top R) stand behind a picture of Cardinal John Baptist Wu held by Wu's relatives, during a requiem mass for the late cardinal in a Hong Kong church, September 28, 2002.

OK, this is a Funeral! But, let's face it, we've seen faces like this at Pontifical Masses on Easter!!!!

Which is better?

Which would La Madre prefer?

(PS Don't take this too seriously, OK!)


The Community of Sant'Egidio
Another sign of hope for the Church of the Second Vatican Council

In a prior post on the visit of the Romanian Orthodox patriarch to Rome, I mentioned - in a footnote - the new ecclesial community of Sant'Egidio. I point to it once again, since it can be so inspiring and hopeful. I highly recommend a visit to their website and catching a glimpse of this prayerful, serving community of thousands upon thousands. I just read their pages on prayer and the way they celebrate the week. Wow!

Like all of the dynamic ecclesial movements there is a personal love of Jesus Christ, a devotion to the Mother of God, a great loyalty to the Pope, Christ-Mary-Peter, and along with many other movements, a generous use of icons and gifts from "the east" as well as from "the west." Sant'Edigio serves the poor in a unique way (Chesterton once said that love of the poor is one sign of Catholic orthodoxy!), and serves the cause of peace on an international level.

For English speakers go directly to the webpage in English of the Community of Sant'Egidio and see yet another indication of the New Pentecost of Vatican II!

The Saint of Divine Mercy: Sister Faustina Kowalska
Aug. 25, 1905 - Oct. 5, 1938

For Chris K.

"Thank You, O God, for Holy Baptism which engrafted me into Your family; a gift beyond all expression which transforms my soul.

How easy it was to pray in that little church! I remembered all the graces I had received there, and which I did not understand at the time and had so often abused." (Sister Faustina Kowalska)

The photo is of the baptismal font in the parish church of Helen Kowalska, later Sister Faustina. Like most of us, her beginning was the same: the sacrament of baptism into the death and resurrection of Christ. But unlike so many of us, she lived this baptism to the full and was faithful ultimately (despite any failures and sins along the way) to the grace freely bestowed.

May this saint of Divine Mercy, pray for us and obtain for us, sinners, the grace of God's Infinite Mercy! "The mercies of the Lord are never exhausted, the mercies of the Lord are never spent, but they are new each morning!" (Lam 3: 22)

Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world!

Jesus, I trust in You!

Books for Times of Crisis and or Suffering

In my own life I have found a few books more helpful than others when facing personal difficulties and times of deep sorrow and pain. When I am finally ready to read a bit, I find my basic sustinence in the Holy Scriptures, especially the gospels themselves. Also the Psalms. I have found special comfort and strength from two other "classics" - The Imitation of Christ and Abandonment To Divine Providence.

How about you?

St Blog's expands south!

Hernan Gonzalez of Argentina has opened a blog, fotos del apocalipsis. It looks wonderful!

Welcome and many blessings!

Patriarch Teoctist's Will See Pope During Weeklong Stay in Rome

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 4, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Romanian Orthodox Patriarch Teoctist's upcoming visit to the Pope is expected to give a boost to Catholic-Orthodox dialogue.

The patriarch is reciprocating for the trip John Paul II made to Romania in May 1999, the first papal visit to an Orthodox

Patriarch Teoctist and his entourage will participate in the audience with the Pope for the pilgrims who have come for the canonization of Opus Dei founder Josemaría Escrivá.

On Oct. 11, the patriarch will be received by the vicar of Rome, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, where he will attend a short liturgy during which a relic of St. Sylvester will be returned to him to be restored to an Orthodox church in Bucharest.

On the morning of Saturday, Oct. 12, a meeting between the Pope and the patriarch is scheduled. There will be an exchange of speeches and gifts and a common declaration will be signed.

In the afternoon, at the church of St. Bartholomew on Tiberina Island, an ecumenical celebration will take place which will be presided by the patriarch, Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Ruini and Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago, titular of the same church.

The concluding solemn event of the visit will take place Sunday, Oct. 13, with a eucharistic liturgy, presided over by John Paul II in the presence of Patriarch Teoctist and his entourage in St. Peter's Basilica.

During his stay in Rome, Patriarch Teoctist will meet with Cardinal Kasper and other officials of the latter's council. The patriarch also will visit the basilicas of St. Mary Major and St. Paul Outside the Walls.

He will also meet with the Romanian Orthodox community of Rome in the Cistercian Abbey of the Three Fountains and in the Church of the Scala Coeli. The patriarch, invited by the Community of Sant'Egidio, will meet one afternoon with young people and will participate in a prayer ceremony in the Basilica of St. Mary in Trastevere and in a dinner in his honor.

P.S. For English speakers, visit the webpage in English of the Community of Sant'Egidio and see yet another indication of the New Pentecost of Vatican II!

Friday, October 04, 2002
The Renewal of the Church

There can be no authentic renewal without prayer!

"Francis, rebuild My Church!"

The Second Vatican Council, held 40 years ago, was a call to renew/rebuild the Church. Many efforts have been expended - many on externals and peripheries. Some efforts seem to have gone to the root ("radix"). One such effort, pointed to on this feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, is the newly established Franciscan Friars and Sisters of THE RENEWAL.

This new community, austere and joyful, zealous and prayerful, traditional and innovative, joins with so many other efforts, in the new ecclesial movements and new religious orders and congregations and communities, in implementing the authentic vision of Vatican II.

As Our Lord says: "By their fruits you shall know them."

Recent group photo of the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Renewal

The Culmination - and the Ulitmate Meaning of Francis of Assisi

The crowning of Francis life: the stigmata of the Lord Jesus given to his own flesh

Joy fall to thee, father Francis,
Drawn to the Life that died;
With the gnarls of the nails in thee,
niche of the lance,
his Lovescape crucified
And seal of his seraph-arrival!

Somehow these few verses from Gerard Manley Hopkins' "The Wreck of the Deutschland" seems to sum up so much in so few words.

A blessed Feast to all, including your special pets!


The Little Flowers of Saint Francis (The Fioretti)

This wonderful collection of stories about Saint Francis of Assisi and his early companions breathes the fragrance of the gospels themselves. These "fioretti" or "little flowers" indicate the poetic beauty of a life given to Christ unforgettably, and have done so for so many centuries now. Their freshness is inexhaustible! Saint Francis, the Poor Man of Assisi, who bore even the marks of Christ in his own body, leads countless souls to the very heart of all beauty and joy.

Order it now at Amazon - The Little Flowers of Saint Francis (The Fioretti)

Saint Francis of Assisi by Gilbert Keith Cheserton

Catholicism is incredibly rich and her saints show forth, in their fascinating variety, some aspects of the Infinite Love and Life of the Triune God and the Image of Jesus Christ. Along with St Thomas Aquinas, the great intellectual - yet humble and faith-filled - theologian, the Church honors the Poor Man of Assisi as one of the most stunning "icons" of Christ - whose life, so "romantic" and "radical," still inspires countless believers today. Chesterton has captured something of the drama, the beauty, the daring, and the JOY of Francis and his remarkable following of Christ. This book is a jewel among many gems from the mind and heart of Gilbert Keith Chesterton.

Order it now at Amazon - Saint Francis of Assisi by Gilbert Keith Cheserton

Thursday, October 03, 2002
Another New Ecclesial Movement

The new ecclesial movements are, to me, one of the greatest stories of Vatican II (and seemingly completely overlooked by the National Catholic Reporter articles referenced below). Along with movements, such as Focolare and Communion and Liberation, communities like Emmanuel and Beatitudes in France and spreading through the world, and the Way of the neocatechumenate - just to name a few - now there is this new community started in French speaking Switzerland, metioned in today's Zenit news, of "Eucharistein." If you check out the pictures on its (French) website, it might remind you, as it does me, of some communities like the Hutterites and the Bruderhof (though I am certain Eucharistein is very Catholic!)

Renew, O Lord, your wonders in our day as in a New Pentecost! (Prayer of Pope John XXIII in preparation of Vatican II).

A Eucharistic Monstrance used by the Eucharistein community

Fortieth Anniversary of Vatican II coming

The National Catholic Reporter has a bunch of articles about the Second Vatican Council as its fortieth anniversary nears on October 11th.

Quickly scanning over some of these articles, it seems a quite typical NCR "take" on the reality of things. I suspect my own "take" would be quite different in many ways.

But, credit where credit is due - at least NCR did it!

Saint Francis and The Wolf of Gubbio
ONION'S (my beloved peke) favorite tale about Saint Francis!

Detail of art work by John August Swanson

The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi
Chapter XXI

At the time when St Francis was living in the city of Gubbio, a large wolf appeared in the neighbourhood, so terrible and so fierce, that he not only devoured other animals, but made a prey of men also; and since he often approached the town, all the people were in great alarm, and used to go about armed, as if going to battle. Notwithstanding these precautions, if any of the inhabitants ever met him alone, he was sure to be devoured, as all defence was useless: and, through fear of the wolf, they dared not go beyond the city walls.

St Francis, feeling great compassion for the people of Gubbio, resolved to go and meet the wolf, though all advised him not to do so. Making the sign of the holy cross, and putting all his confidence in God, he went forth from the city, taking his brethren with him; but these fearing to go any further, St Francis bent his steps alone toward the spot where the wolf was known to be, while many people followed at a distance, and witnessed the miracle.

The wolf, seeing all this multitude, ran towards St Francis with his jaws wide open. As he approached, the saint, making the sign of the cross, cried out: “Come hither, brother wolf; I command thee, in the name of Christ, neither to harm me nor anybody else.” Marvellous to tell, no sooner had St Francis made the sign of the cross, than the terrible wolf, closing his jaws, stopped running, and coming up to St Francis, lay down at his feet as meekly as a lamb.

And the saint thus addressed him: “Brother wolf, thou hast done much evil in this land, destroying and killing the creatures of God without his permission; yea, not animals only hast thou destroyed, but thou hast even dared to devour men, made after the image of God; for which thing thou art worthy of being hanged like a robber and a murderer. All men cry out against thee, the dogs pursue thee, and all the inhabitants of this city are thy enemies; but I will make peace between them and thee, O brother wolf, is so be thou no more offend them, and they shall forgive thee all thy past offences, and neither men nor dogs shall pursue thee any more.”

Having listened to these words, the wolf bowed his head, and, by the movements of his body, his tail, and his eyes, made signs that he agreed to what St Francis said. On this St Francis added: “As thou art willing to make this peace, I promise thee that thou shalt be fed every day by the inhabitants of this land so long as thou shalt live among them; thou shalt no longer suffer hunger, as it is hunger which has made thee do so much evil; but if I obtain all this for thee, thou must promise, on thy side, never again to attack any animal or any human being; dost thou make this promise?”

Then the wolf, bowing his head, made a sign that he consented. Said St Francis again: “Brother wolf, wilt thou pledge thy faith that I may trust to this thy promise?” and putting out his hand he received the pledge of the wolf; for the latter lifted up his paw and placed it familiarly in the hand of St Francis, giving him thereby the only pledge which was in his power. Then said St Francis, addressing him again: “Brother wolf, I command thee, in the name of Christ, to follow me immediately, without hesitation or doubting, that we may go together to ratify this peace which we have concluded in the name of God”; and the wolf, obeying him, walked by his side as meekly as a lamb, to the great astonishment of all the people.

Now, the news of this most wonderful miracle spreading quickly through the town, all the inhabitants, both men and women, small and great, young and old, flocked to the market-place to see St Francis and the wolf. All the people being assembled, the saint got up to preach, saying, amongst other things, how for our sins God permits such calamities, and how much greater and more dangerous are the flames of hell, which last for ever, than the rage of a wolf, which can kill the body only; and how much we ought to dread the jaws of hell, if the jaws of so small an animal as a wolf can make a whole city tremble through fear.

The sermon being ended, St Francis added these words: “Listen my brethren: the wolf who is here before you has promised and pledged his faith that he consents to make peace with you all, and no more to offend you in aught, and you must promise to give him each day his necessary food; to which, if you consent, I promise in his name that he will most faithfully observe the compact.”

Then all the people promised with one voice to feed the wolf to the end of his days; and St Francis, addressing the latter, said again: “And thou, brother wolf, dost thou promise to keep the compact, and never again to offend either man or beast, or any other creature?” And the wolf knelt down, bowing his head, and, by the motions of his tail and of his ears, endeavoured to show that he was willing, so far as was in his power, to hold to the compact. Then St Francis continued: “Brother wolf, as thou gavest me a pledge of this thy promise when we were outside the town, so now I will that thou renew it in the sight of all this people, and assure me that I have done well to promise in thy name”; and the wolf lifting up his paw placed it in the hand of St Francis.

Now this event caused great joy in all the people, and a great devotion towards St Francis, both because of the novelty of the miracle, and because of the peace which had been concluded with the wolf; and they lifted up their voices to heaven, praising and blessing God, who had sent them St Francis, through whose merits they had been delivered from such a savage beast.

The wolf lived two years at Gubbio; he went familiarly from door to door without harming anyone, and all the people received him courteously, feeding him with great pleasure, and no dog barked at him as he went about. At last, after two years, he died of old age, and the people of Gubbio mourned his loss greatly; for when they saw him going about so gently amongst them all, he reminded them of the virtue and sanctity of St Francis.

The Beguiling Umbria of Francis and Clare

A view of Assisi from below

Perhaps seeing Assisi in person is one of the best ways to understand something of the beauty and romance of the life and story of Francis Bernardone and Clare Scifi - its undulating hills and valleys, it gorgeous greens and blossoms, its medieval pink houses and stone churches, its stone-inlaid and winding streets - a "city" of peace and radiant with the presence of God. If you haven't already, if you ever can, go to Assisi! You will never forget it. And the church rebuilt stone by stone by Francis, San Damiano, is still there for all for viewing and praying and just "taking it in". And so much, much more! Truly Assisi has to be one of the most beautiful, holiest, places in all the world.

A view of the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi from above

Saint Francis of Assisi: a "universal saint"

Icon of Saint Francis of Assisi written at New Skete

Prayers to St. Francis of Assisi from the monastic typikon of New Skete Monastery (Orthodox Church in America, OCA)

Troparion Tone 3.

When riches had impoverished the world, you enriched it with the poverty of Christ, and by your love for all creation, you revealed to us the radiance of Tabor's light, so that all nations see in you the deep desire of all mankind. Beg Christ our Lord to save our souls.

Kontakion Tone 6.

Hearing the words of the Holy Gospels, you left your earthly father to serve your Father in heaven, showing us the riches of poverty and the perfect joy of the Cross. And in opposing the pride of the mighty with the humility of the simple, and breaking down the walls of hatred with the power of your love, you became yourself an image of the crucified Christ, who is everywhere present and fills all things.

"Francis, Rebuild My Church!"

Starting early for the feast of the Poverello of Assisi

The dream of Pope Innocent III, who saw Francis holding up the falling Basilica of St John Lateran...and who approved the Rule of Francis...a fresco by Giotto.

Francis' vocation - to rebuild the Church - was extraordinarily fruitful. The need for "rebuilding the Church" is resounding today. What can we learn from the real Saint Francis about the authentic rebuilding of the Church of Jesus Christ?

Autumnal Colors

For those able and interested in catching some of the glories of autumn's changing colors, there is a neat website that gives daily reports: The Foliage Network. Yes, as Hopkins enfleshes the vision of God in his incomparable - sacramental - words: "The world is charged with the grandeur of God. It will flame out..."

Happy Seven Hundreth Birthday, Brigit of Sweden!

Today is the 700th anniversary of the birth of Saint Brigit of Sweden. I rejoice not only because of the Scandavian blood passed on from my Norwegian father's side, but because some incredilby happy and blessed moments were spent at the wonderful hospice run by "the Swedish Sisters", the Brigittines, in Assisi, Italy. (And I will remember this again tomorrow for the feast of Francis!). The hospitality was amazing and the prayerful and beautiful atmosphere just perfect for the jewelled setting of Assisi in Umbria.

Made public today was a message from the Pope to Mother Tekla Famiglietti, abbess general of the Order of the Most Holy Savior of St. Brigid on the occasion of the seven-hundredth anniversary of the birth of the Swedish saint.

John Paul II recalls that St. Brigid "was a master in accepting the Cross as a central experience of the faith; she was an exemplary disciple of the Church, professing complete Catholicism; she was a model of the contemplative and active life and a tireless apostle in the search for unity among Christians. She also had the gift of prophetic intuition when reading the history of the Gospel and the Gospel in history."

After highlighting the "marian dimension of her consecration to Christ," he says: "Striving always to imitate Mary, she was a wife, mother, and faithful religious. Following the footsteps of the Virgin, she tried to do the will of God in all circumstances."

From the Swedish Embassy to the Holy See's webpage:

Beatification of refounder of the Brigittines

On April 9 2000 the Brigittine nun Elisabeth Hesselblad was beatified by His Holiness Pope John Paul II. Hesselblad, who was born in Sweden in 1870, is the first Swedish born person to be shown this particular honour since the middle ages.

Elisabeth Hesselblad immigrated at an early age to the USA, converted to Catholicism there in 1902 and later moved to Rome. Here she founded a new (third) branch of the Brigittine order. This order acquired the House of Brigitta in Rome from where the order's activities are coordinated through more than 20 convents all over the world.

The Brigittine order has actively promoted the ecumenical work. An acknowledgment of this was the presentation to Mother Tekla of the Medal of Saint Erik by the Swedish Archbishop.

Our Pope

Pope John Paul II at yesterday's General Audience (Oct.2)

Wednesday 2 October 2002
Summary given in English
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Canticle found in the twenty-sixth chapter of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah celebrates God’s victory over his enemies and his saving presence among his people. The Canticle evokes the image of a fortified city which God has built as a peaceful dwelling-place for all who put their faith in him. The Church reads this Canticle as a prophecy of the peace of Jesus Christ. His dwelling among us through the gift of his Holy Spirit is a summons to place all our hope in God and to seek salvation through obedience to his commands.

[Here is the canticle referenced by the Holy Father:

Isaiah: Chapter 26

1 On that day they will sing this song in the land of Judah: "A strong city have we; he sets up walls and ramparts to protect us.
2 Open up the gates to let in a nation that is just, one that keeps faith.
3 A nation of firm purpose you keep in peace; in peace, for its trust in you."
4 Trust in the LORD forever! For the LORD is an eternal Rock.
5 He humbles those in high places, and the lofty city he brings down; He tumbles it to the ground, levels it with the dust.
6 It is trampled underfoot by the needy, by the footsteps of the poor.
7 The way of the just is smooth; the path of the just you make level.
8 Yes, for your way and your judgments, O LORD, we look to you; Your name and your title are the desire of our souls.
9 My soul yearns for you in the night, yes, my spirit within me keeps vigil for you; When your judgment dawns upon the earth, the world's inhabitants learn justice.
10 The wicked man, spared, does not learn justice; in an upright land he acts perversely, and sees not the majesty of the LORD.
11 O LORD, your hand is uplifted, but they behold it not; Let them be shamed when they see your zeal for your people: let the fire prepared for your enemies consume them.
O LORD, you mete out peace to us, for it is you who have accomplished all we have done.
13 O LORD, our God, other lords than you have ruled us; it is from you only that we can call upon your name.
14 Dead they are, they have no life, shades that cannot rise; For you have punished and destroyed them, and wiped out all memory of them.
15 You have increased the nation, O LORD, increased the nation to your own glory, and extended far all the borders of the land.
16 O LORD, oppressed by your punishment, we cried out in anguish under your chastising.
17 As a woman about to give birth writhes and cries out in her pains, so were we in your presence, O LORD.
18 We conceived and writhed in pain, giving birth to wind; Salvation we have not achieved for the earth, the inhabitants of the world cannot bring it forth.
19 But your dead shall live, their corpses shall rise; awake and sing, you who lie in the dust. For your dew is a dew of light, and the land of shades gives birth.
20 Go, my people, enter your chambers, and close your doors behind you; Hide yourselves for a brief moment, until the wrath is past.
21 See, the LORD goes forth from his place, to punish the wickedness of the earth's inhabitants; The earth will reveal the blood upon her, and no longer conceal her slain.]

I cordially welcome the new seminarians of the Pontifical Beda College. May your studies for the priesthood in Rome deepen your love of Christ and your commitment to be faithful and holy ministers of the Gospel. I also greet the Anglican Pastors taking part in a course offered by the Anglican Centre. Upon all the English-speaking visitors, especially those from England, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, Taiwan and the United States I invoke joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, October 02, 2002
Act of Confidence in God

MY GOD, I am so convinced that You keep watch over those who hope in You, and that we can want for nothing when we look for all from You, that I am resolved in the future to live free from every care, and to turn all my anxieties over to You. "In peace, in the selfsame, I will sleep and I will rest - for You, 0 Lord, singularly have settled me in hope" (Ps. 4: 9-10).

Men may deprive me of possessions and of honor, sickness may strip me of strength and the means of serving You - I may even lose Your grace by sin; but I shall never lose my hope. I shall keep it till the last moment of my life; and at that moment all the demons in hell shall strive to tear it from me in vain."In peace, in the selfsame, I will sleep and I will rest."

Others may look for happiness from their wealth or their talents; others may rest on the innocence of their life, or the severity of their penance, or the amount of their alms, or the fervor of their prayers. "You, 0 Lord, singularly have settled me in hope." As for me, Lord, all my confidence is my confidence itself. This confidence has never deceived anyone. No one, no one has hoped in the Lord and has been confounded.

I am sure, therefore, that I shall be eternally happy, since I firmly hope to be, and because it is from You, 0 God, that I hope for it. "In You, 0 Lord, have I hoped; let me never be confounded" (Ps. 30:1). I know, alas! I know only too well, that I am weak and unstable. I know what temptation can do against the strongest virtue. I have seen the stars of heaven fall, and the pillars of the firmament; but that cannot frighten me. So long as I continue to hope, I shall be sheltered from all misfortune; and I am sure of hoping always, since I hope also for this unwavering hopefulness.

Finally, I am sure that I cannot hope too much in You, and that I cannot receive less than I have hoped for from You. So I hope that You will hold me safe on the steepest slopes, that You will sustain me against the most furious assaults, and that You will make my weakness triumph over my most fearful enemies. I hope that You will love Me always, and that I too shall love You without ceasing. To carry my hope once for all as far as it can go, I hope from You to possess You, 0 my Creator, in time and in eternity. Amen.


Welcome to St Blog's

Trust the Truth - Matthew G. Collins

Vacation Plans

This is the 2 bedroom Guesthouse at the B & B we will have for our use and enjoyment

I just booked three overnights at a Bed & Breakfast in Front Royal, Virginia, in the Shenandoah Valley, by the Blue Ridge Mountains, not terribly far from Harper's Ferry WV. I know Christendom College is nearby and Human Life International. I have read that Front Royal has become something of a Catholic center of late. I have heard of a Byzantine Catholic priest in the area, Fr. Constantine Paul Belisarius and will see if there is an Eastern Rite Church or Mission (I will be traveling with a friend who is an Orthodox priest). Any other groups I should look into? (I am quite sure we'll take a side trip to the Trappists at Berryville).

We will be there from Oct 14-17 which may be "peak" season for the autumnal leaf change. I hope so!

Any suggestions on sites to see, groups to explore, people to meet, places to eat.. would be greatly appreciated.

Already I look forward to this "breather!"

Today: The Guardian Angels

Learned as a child:

Angel of God,
my guardian dear,
through whom God's love commits me here,
ever this day,
be at my side
to light and guard,
to rule and guide.

We Dare Not Trust Each Other

"Perhaps the reason why the standard of holiness among us is so low, why our attainments are so poor, our view of truth so dim, our belief so unreal, our general notions so artificial and external is this, that we dare not trust each other with the secret of our hearts.

We have each the same secret, and we keep it to ourselves, and we fear that, as a cause of estrangement, which really would be a bond of union. We do not probe the wounds of our nature thoroughly; we do not lay the foundation of our religious profession in the inner man; we make clean the outside of things; we are amiable and friendly to each other in words and deeds, but our love is not enlarged, our bowels of affection are straitened, and we fear to let the intercourse begin at the root; and, in consequence, our religion, viewed as a social system is hollow.

The presence of Christ is not in it."

(John Henry Newman, Sermon On Christian Symphathy)

Tuesday, October 01, 2002
People Are Good Department - III

More mail; another envelope with the same handwriting; another three hundred dollars cash with a note telling me "to seriously consider taking a vacation." (The note also asked that I let them know through my blog that the cash was at least received - it was and how can I thank you enough?????).

I am going to consider a little vacation soon - though options are limited due to my disability and physical condition.

Hmmmm..... where should I go?

Yet More Blogs to Welcome!

Catholic Commentary - Lisa Graas
And Then? - Michelle
One Pilgrim's Walk

The Little Flower

"My mission - to make God loved - will begin after my death, I will spend my heaven doing good on earth...I will send a shower of roses" - Therese of Lisieux

Yet more tears. I just received, a little while ago, a magnificent bouquet of a dozen ROSES: and the card just says "from Therese".....

(I had prayed quietly for a rose from Saint Therese this morning - hoping against hope).

O my God! O my God!


The great Little Therese of Lisieux had to deal with this teaching of Our Lord. She saw on the one hand how Jesus calls sinners and not the righteous, she sees - and envies - the audacity of love of the great penitents. And yet she has been like the Elder brother of the parable, always faithful, always at the Father's side, and knows that He says to her, too: "Everything I have is yours".

But that is not enough! Only those who know Jesus as Savior have a claim on His heart! The royal banquet is reserved for those who "were lost and are now found, who were blind and now see". But then she ingeniously learns the secret! A father walking with a child down a rock-strewn path could pick the child up after she stumbles and falls on any of these rocks. But he could also, in an act of anticipating love, go down the path and remove the rocks beforehand!!! It is the same deliverance, the same mercy - the some weakness but in one sense even greater in its fulness of "redemption".

Thus the holiness of Mary, the Mother of God: "The Almighty has done great things for me and Holy is His Name" (Lk 1: 49). Mary, redeemed more perfectly and not a trace of self-righteousness or boasting in herself! All glory to Him whose "mercies are from age to age" (Lk 1:50) And Therese, too, as she matures becomes more and more aware of own weakness and inability to live in perfect charity. "O God, I am happy to feel myself small and weak in your sight, and my heart is at peace in joy".

And in the very last sentence of her beautiful classic The Story of A Soul she magnificently affirms the heart of the Gospel:

"Since Jesus has reascended into heaven, I can follow Him only in the traces He has left; but how luminous these traces are! how perfumed! I have only to cast a glance in the Gospels and immediately I breathe in the perfumes of Jesus' life, and I know on which side I run. I do not hasten to the first place but to the last; rather than advance like the Pharisee, I repeat, filled with confidence, the publican's humble prayer. Most of all I imitate the conduct of Magdalene; her astonishing or rather her loving audacity which charms the heart of Jesus also attracts my own. Yes, I feel it; even though I had on my conscience all the sins that can be committed, I would go, my heart broken with sorrow, and throw myself into Jesus' arms, for I know how much He loves the prodigal child who returns to Him. It is not because God, in His anticipating Mercy, has preserved my soul from mortal sin, that I go to Him with confidence and love.........."

This is the autobiography of the great little Therese: written under holy obedience. Thank God she was commanded to write down the story of her soul! She obeyed, and God blessed. And this beautiful work still blesses countless souls as Therese invites us to glimpse Jesus in His relationship with His "little flower."

Here we see a miracle unfold before our very eyes: this young, sensitive, fully human heart (she died at age 24), full of the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Therese cuts through all the pieties and formalities of her times (and at first these may put you off since she still writes from this ethos - but if you perservere you will see just how authentic and radical - even shocking! - she is!), and she opens up incredibly new insights into His Love: taught by Jesus Himself. And with what familiarity and even humor! She makes the way of holiness accessible as no other.

Now a Doctor of the Universal Church, Therese is perhaps the most popular saint of modern times, and she fulfills her own promise of spending eternity doing good on earth: even in this fragrant book, which has touched countless souls up to TODAY.

You can order it now through Amazon: The Story of A Soul

People are Good Department - II

As I try to "move on" and, God willing, keep doing what I have been doing, I wish to thank all those who spoke such kind, gracious, healing words these past few days. There's no way I can personally respond to all (but I did try to answer every email I received, and there were quite a few!): so let me just say this now: I am most grateful and touched. Though you, I re-learned again the meaning of the GOSPEL, the GLAD TIDINGS.

I pray God will richly bless you and do ask, of course, your continued prayers.

People Are Good Department

Yesterday I went through my mail and there were several personal items - two of which had the same handwriting on them, the same spelling of my name, and no return address. Uneasy, I opened them: the first had this note typed: "I am sorry you are going through all this. At least you won't have any purgatory. I got this together from some friends. Why don't you take a vacation and get some rest." And there was an envelope with three hundred dollars in cash!

I opened the second and inside was an envelope with these words printed: "We raised some more. Please get away for a rest." Inside was another three hundred dollars in cash. I have no idea who did this.

I wept....

Spiritual warfare in Africa

The Catholic Church in Uganda is experiencing a revival: there are stories everywhere of healings and miraculous conversions. The editor of Good News, the British magazine of the Charismatic Renewal, went to see for herself.

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

Monday, September 30, 2002
Oct 1: Feast of Saint Therese of Lisieux: Doctor of the Universal Church

Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face

"I do not understand souls who fear a Friend so tender. At times, when I am reading certain spiritual treatises in which perfection is shown through a thousand obstacles, surrounded by a crowd of illusions, my poor little mind quickly tires; I close the learned book that is breaking my head and drying up my heart, and I take up Holy Scripture. Then all seems luminous to me; a single word uncovers for my soul infinite horizons, perfection seems simple to me, I see it is sufficient to recognize one's nothingness and to abandon oneself as a child into God's arms." (Therese of Lisieux)

I am particularly moved by Hans Urs von Balthasar's recounting of a play written by St Therese of Lisieux for her community to celebrate Christmas.

"...she has various angels assemble around the crib: the 'Angel of the Child Jesus' and the 'Angel of the Holy Countenance' (the Passion) sing of the infinite love of the Son of Man in anticipation of his coming suffering but also of his Resurrection and triumph.

Then there appears the 'Angel of the Last Judgment,' armed with a sword and a pair of scales.

The following excerpt from his lines may be cited here:

'The day of reckoning is coming soon; this impure world will be forced to go through fire. We will see the radiance of his glory, no longer concealed beneath the features of a child; we will extol his triumph and acknowledge him as the Almighty. You will tremble; the inhabitants of the earth will not bear the wrath of this Child, who today is the God of love. He chooses suffering and demands in return only your frail heart. At the time of judgment, you will recognize his power and quake before the avenging God.'

The 'Angel of the Holy Countenance' speaks, requesting of the Child the promised mercy for those sinners whose conversion gives God greater joy than do the ninety-nine righteous who have no need of repentance.

After this comes the voice of the Child:

'I will listen to your request: every soul will find forgiveness.'

The Angel of Vengeance once again objects:

'Do you forget, Jesus, that the sinner must be punished; do you forget, in your exceeding love, that the number of the godless is endless? At the time of judgment, I want to punish the crimes, to destroy all the ungrateful; my sword is ready, well will I know how to avenge you!'

Then the Child Jesus:

'Beautiful angel, lower your sword. It is not for you to judge the nature that I desired to set in being and to redeem. I myself am the Judge of the world, and my name is Jesus.'

The Angel of Judgment kneels down and, 'quite beside himself (eperdu), wonders at your unutterable love.'

At the end, all the angels together say:

'How great is the bliss of the lowly creature. Despite their rapture, the seraphs would like to forsake their angelic nature and be changed to children with you.'"

If you have a few extra minutes (!), read the greatest theologian of our time's "take" on The Little Way of Saint Therese.

Icon of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face written by the Byzantine Carmelites of Saint Elias, Saint-Remy, France

Looking Refreshed, Pope Is Ready to Return to Vatican
Has Key Events on October Agenda

Pope John Paul II during Sunday Angelus at Castel Gandolfo, Sept. 29th

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 29, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Appearing healthier, John Paul II is set to return to the Vatican on Monday, after his usual summer at the papal residence of Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome.

The Pope, who will celebrate the 24th anniversary of his pontificate on Oct. 16, seemed in good humor when he prayed the Angelus with pilgrims gathered here today. He spoke clearly in seven languages, overcoming problems of pronunciation he has had in recent months.

This summer, John Paul II turned his traditional Sunday meetings with pilgrims into veritable audiences. After praying the Angelus, the Pope has lingered, personally greeting many of those present.

His health has undoubtedly improved. On May 26, at the end of his visit to Azerbaijan and Bulgaria, some journalists who traveled with him wrote that that might well be his last international trip. Some reported that he might cancel his trip to Mexico and Guatemala.

Yet, John Paul II went to Canada, Mexico and Guatemala from July 23 to Aug. 1, and then he made an enormously successful pastoral visit to his native Poland, from Aug. 16-19.

The Pope's physical improvement has caused surprise in some countries. In France, for instance, the sale of regenerating pills based on tropical fruits - which pioneer AIDS researcher Luc Montagnier gave to John Paul II - has skyrocketed, despite the fact that the Holy Father is not taking the pills.

John Paul II's pontificate is now the fifth longest in history, and he still keeps up a busy schedule.

The Holy Father has called an ecumenical summit with Lutheran leaders, who will meet in St. Peter's Basilica on Friday, to celebrate the birth of St. Bridget of Sweden. Next Sunday the Pope will canonize Opus Dei founder Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer.

On Oct. 13, the Holy Father will attend yet another decisive ecumenical event in the Vatican, when he meets with Patriarch Teoctist of the Romanian Orthodox Church. The patriarch is coming to Rome to thank the Pope for his 1999 visit to Romania.

On Oct. 18, John Paul II will preside over a Mass in the Vatican, which will be attended by students of the ecclesiastical universities in Rome.

On Oct. 20, he will beatify five people, including two young Ugandan martyred catechists.

On Oct. 31 he will be declared an "honorary citizen" of Rome. This will be the first time a Pontiff receives such recognition since Italy's unification. Then, on Nov. 14, he will visit the Italian Parliament - something that has not happened since the republic's independence.

John Paul II also continues with his magisterial work. Today he announced the imminent publication of a document in which he proposes the rediscovery of the beauty of praying the rosary.

Vatican sources told ZENIT that the Holy Father might publish a pastoral letter on the Eucharist this year.

Mystery Worshipper visits nearby Catholic parish in Ellicott City, MD

Mystery Worshipper visits Brompton Oratory in London

Nice to see the Mystery Worshippers have some nice things to say about these Catholic parishes.

Today: Saint Jerome
translator of the Bible (the "Vulgate"), feisty ascetic, Doctor of the Universal Church

Saint Jerome and the wilderness: oil painting

"I interpret as I should, following the command of Christ: "Search the Scriptures," and "Seek and you shall find." For if, as Paul says, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, and if the man who does not know Scripture does not know the power and wisdom of God, then ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." (Saint Jerome)

The Catechism helps explain why I keep doing what I'm doing and hope to continue to do as long as I am able and God allows

1583 - It is true that someone validly ordained can, for grave reasons, be discharged from the obligations and functions linked to ordination (to the priesthood), or can be forbidden to exercise them; but he cannot become a layman again in the strict sense, because the character imprinted by ordination is for ever. The vocation and mission received on the day of his ordination mark him permanently.

Sunday, September 29, 2002
Hope for me, hope for you!

Because she loved much, much is forgiven

Luke, 7: 36-50

Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table.

When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is - that she is a sinner."

Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you."

"Tell me, teacher," he said.

"Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?"

Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled."

"You have judged correctly," Jesus said.

Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet.

Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven - for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."

Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?"

Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."


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