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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, October 19, 2002


The Year of the Rosary: October 2002 - October 2003

Having just edited the Pope's latest Apostolic Letter on the Rosary for my website, I am filled with a new enthusiasm for this most special prayer. For many years, the Rosary was a vital part of my daily life. Now I pray it seldom in full (a decade here and there). I hold the beads in my hands at some moments too. (These evoke a world of prayer for me). Now I really want to get back to a daily recitation of five decades!

One aid might be: someone who reads my blog told me about the Carmelites at Port Tobacco in southern Maryland and how they make rosaries out of roses. As some of you may recall I was surprised and overwhelmed this year on Saint Therese's feastday to have received a dozen magnificent red roses "From Therese." I have them saved and hope to have them turned into a living "memorial" and a means of prayer and contact with the Lord and Our Lady and those who are a part of my life (I guess that's all of us!).

I need this at this point in my life! I get, perhaps, a glimpse or two of how some good can be brought out of what seems like unmitigated disaster.....

After finishing the Pope's Letter, there were tears in my eyes. I don't know who that says more about: the Pope or me! Hopefully it says a bit about both of us..... and about one of our common friends, the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Ave Maria!

More Welcomes to Saint Blog's:

The Fabric of Society is Here
In Light of the Law: A Canon Lawyer's Blog - Dr. Edward N. Peters
Magisterial Fidelity - Carol McKinley
Tenebrae: A Broken Music - dylan (a successor to the wonderful error 503 blog)
Quenta Nârwenion - Donna Marie Lewis

Memorial of Saints Isaac Jogues SJ and Jean de Brebeuf SJ, and companion martyrs

The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church. Thanks to the generous self-sacrifice of these early evangelizers of North America, the Catholic Church took root and has grown immensly since the brutal martyrdom of these Jesuits and their companions.

May they pray for the Church in North America that she will grow in depth and holiness and that the spirit of self-sacrifice will increase.

Thanks be to God for these witnesses on our own shores! How blessed we in North America are!

Four Wonderful Days: Day One

As I already mentioned, the little vacation in Front Royal, Virginia, was like magic: everything seemed to be just "perfect" (of course, we are perhaps easy to please as well!). My traveling companion was Father Michael Roshak, an Orthodox priest who lives not far from me here in Baltimore. We have been friends for about five years, since he came to this area. We share many things in common: and one of them is that we both love to eat and "get our money's worth" as well. (Call it "the ecumenism of the buffet table!").

We started out on Monday, Oct. 14th, and it was cool and crisp and the sun was shining. We decided to take advantage of the weather and see some of the sights while the weather was good for such activity. We loved our detour through Harper's Ferry, WV (a first for both of us). What a happy surprise, about lunch time, to discover a Kentucky Fried Chicken BUFFET!!!

From there we drove to "Tanglewood" (our B & B), met Joe, the husband of Susan (our host family), and we quickly unpacked at our rented Guesthouse. (It turned out we didn't stay at the renovated - and gorgeous - barn, since the bedrooms were upstairs and I was more comfortable with one floor since it was my first overnight away since I got gravely ill a year and a half ago).

Here's a photo of the outside of the guesthouse, followed by a photo of a small part of the living room:

The guesthouse: two huge bedrooms with adjoining bath (and jecusi), kitchen, dining room, living room, three decks - and only $125 per night for two of us, $150 for one night when we had breakfast at the "main house" the following morning

A section of the living room; the house was beautifully appointed and immaculate with beds made each day as well! We were spoiled!

"Carpe diem" - cease the day! And thus we took advantage of the shining sun to take about a 30 mile drive down the Skyline Drive with its numerous overlooks and breathtaking vistas. I am sure the Skyline Drive through the Shenandoah National Park is one of the most beautiful drives in all the world.

Here's one of the views from one of the overlooks:

The Shendandoah Valley from the Blue Ridge Mountains; notice the leaves haven't changed much yet and how green is our valley! Below, too, is a farm we will be visiting later for a steak dinner!

We had been invited, most graciously and generously, by a fellow blogger to stop by his farm and visit and enjoy a steak dinner. We took John Bell up on his offer and are so glad we did. John gave us directions that were "a scenic route." Indeed! One of the loveliest drives I ever took.

John is a state's prosecuting attorney during the day, and a farmer, who raises sheep, and has a number of llamas as "guards" against predators (like bear and coyote). Visit his fine blog and often you will see superb photos of their farm and views, and his blog is appropriately named "Notes from a Hillside Farm."

It was a sheer delight to meet John, his wife Susan, and his two boys, James and John. And the steaks were among the best we ever had - incredible. It was a wonderful way to end our first day.

Here's a photo of John and Susan and son James (younger son, John, was in the house):

Susan, John, John Bell on a farm with a hillside view. Great location! Great people! Great food! We hope to return....

More to come (just wish I took more photos along the way!)

Friday, October 18, 2002
Our rich Catholic heritage: The Lord of the Miracles

Thousands of believers dressed in purple congregate to pay homage to Peru's most revered Catholic religious icon 'the Lord of the Miracles', in a major procession through central Lima, October 18, 2002. Thousands of Roman Catholic faithful make the annual procession through the streets on the feast day of the image of the Crucified, also known as the 'Purple Christ.'

Looks like I'm not the only one letting my subscription to The New Oxford Review expire (and the same for Touchstone)

For me, the NOR's attacks on Hans Urs von Balthasar, Adrienne von Speyr, and Richard John Neuhaus were the last (but not the only) straw. I am saddened to see the degeneration of a once feisty, fun, enjoyable and solid journal. Now it is carping and critical, gloomy and too often wrong.

PS I find too much of the same negative spirit in Touchstone of late and have decided not to renew my subscription.

Documents on the Sexual Abuse Scandal

Inside the Vatican News October 18 2002

On October 18, two key letters on the US sexual abuse scandal were made public in Rome. Here are the texts

Response of the Holy See to the "Norms" Drawn Up by the Conference of the Catholic Bishops of the United States of America, October 18, 2002



The text of the Letter sent by the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Card. Giovanni Battista Re, to the President of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States, Mons. Wilton Daniel Gregory, in response to the "Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests, Deacons or Other Church Personnel" ("Norms") drawn up by the American bishops.

Also, the Letter in response from the President of the US bishops' conference, Mons. Gregory:


The Most Reverend Wilton D. GREGORY
President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Your Excellency,

With your letter of June 26, 2002, you forwarded to the Holy See the document entitled "Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests, Deacons or Other Church Personnel" ("Norms"), approved at the Plenary Assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops which took place in Dallas (Texas) from June 13-15, and for which you requested the recognitio.

The Holy See, above all, would like to convey full solidarity with the Bishops of the United States in their firm condemnation of sexual misdeeds against minors and is deeply concerned about the distressing situation that has arisen in recent months in the Church in the United States. Likewise, the Holy See wishes to encourage the efforts of the Episcopal Conference in assisting the Bishops to address these difficult problems.

The sexual abuse of minors is particularly abhorrent. Deeply moved by the sufferings of the victims and their families, the Holy See supports the American Bishops in their endeavor to respond firmly to the sexual misdeeds of the very small number of those who minister or labor in the service of the Church. But such a very small number cannot overshadow "the immense spiritual, human and social good that the vast majority of priests and religious in the United States have done and are still doing" (Pope John Paul II, Address to the Cardinals and to the Presidency of the Episcopal Conference of the United States, April 23, 2002).

The Apostolic See likewise acknowledges the efforts which the Bishops of the United States have made through the "Norms" and the guidelines contained in the "BishopsÒ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People" ("Charter") to protect minors and to avoid future recurrences of these abuses. Such efforts should also help to preserve or restore the trust of the faithful in their pastors.

Despite these efforts, the application of the policies adopted at the Plenary Assembly in Dallas can be the source of confusion and ambiguity, because the "Norms" and "Charter" contain provisions which in some aspects are difficult to reconcile with the universal law of the Church. Moreover, the experience of the last few months has shown that the terminology of these documents is at times vague or imprecise and therefore difficult to interpret. Questions also remain concerning the concrete manner in which the procedures outlined in the "Norms" and "Charter" are to be applied in conjunction with the requirements of the Code of Canon Law and the Motu proprio Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela (AAS 93, 2001, p. 787).

For these reasons, it has been judged appropriate that before the recognitio can be granted, a further reflection on and revision of the "Norms" and the "Charter" are necessary. In order to facilitate this work, the Holy See proposes that a Mixed Commission be established, composed of four bishops chosen from the Episcopal Conference of the United States, and four representatives from those Dicasteries of the Holy See which have direct competence in the matter: the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation for Bishops, the Congregation for Clergy , and the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

On behalf also of the other Dicasteries involved, I look forward to your response. With the promise of prayers for your important work in serving the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, I remain

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Giovanni Battista Card. Re
Prefect Congregation for Bishops

October 14, 2002


His Eminence
Giovanni Battista Re
Prefect Congregation for Bishops

Your Eminence,

Thank you very much for your letter of October 14, 2002, in which you communicate to me the response of the Apostolic See to the request for recognitio by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for the Norms approved at our Plenary Assembly in Dallas, Texas, on June 14, 2002. The Bishops of the United States are profoundly grateful to the Holy See, both for the fraternal solicitude that has been shown to the Church in the United States at this difficult time and for the gracious consideration that has been given to our request.

In view of the issues that Your Eminence raises in your letter to me regarding the best way for us to pursue effectively the recognitio of our proposed Norms, I am happy to accept, on behalf of our Episcopal Conference, the suggestion of the Apostolic See that a Mixed Commission be established in order to reflect further on and consider revision of certain aspects of the Charter accepted by the Bishops in Dallas and the Norms proposed to the Holy See for recognitio. I look forward to communicating to you in the very near future the names of the four Members of our Conference who will join four representatives from those Dicasteries of the Holy See that have direct competence in the matter before us.

Grateful to you, personally, Your Eminence, for your many kindnesses to our Conference, and with renewed sentiments of esteem and prayerful best wishes, I am

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory
Bishop of Belleville

October 15, 2002

Only in Russia: two reports of bizarre events

Vatican blasts Russia over claims of nun in brothel

Anna Fleet
in Moscow

BITTER tensions between the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches flared up again yesterday. The Vatican accused Orthodox authorities of a "despicable operation" to discredit Catholics by planting false and scurrilous stories in the media.

Reports carried by Moscow newspapers and television claimed that a flat rented out for charitable purposes by Franciscans had been used as a brothel. A 7 October report in the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper featured a photograph of a woman in an armchair in a nun's habit and a skimpy bra and panties, a man in a hooded monk's robe praying and the headline, "A Moscow monastery turned out to be a bordello."

"This is part of a campaign that has been going on for several months," said the Rev Nikolai Dubinin, the deputy head of the Franciscan Order in Moscow. "We didn't think they would stoop this low."

The newspaper's managing editor, Vladimir Mamontov, said: "In no way did the newspaper intend to compromise the Franciscan Order. The people who rented the flat clearly used it for improper activities."

A furious Vatican hit back that the reports were "deceitfully constructed" and aimed at "damaging the reputation of the Catholic community".

Vatican Sees Red Over Brothel in Moscow

The St. Petersburg Times 2002
Friday, October 18, 2002 N

By Kevin O'Flynn

MOSCOW - It started with a simple rental agreement. But the leasing of two innocuous apartments in downtown Moscow drew the Vatican, Channel One, the nation's biggest tabloid newspaper and the Franciscan brothers into a drama filled with allegations of prostitution and anti-Catholicism.

The dispute started last week, when Komsomolskaya Pravda reported that apartments owned by the Franciscan brothers had been turned into a brothel. The story, which hinted that the order itself was behind the house of ill repute, had the headline "Moscow Monastery is a Bordello" and was accompanied by photographs of a scantily clad nun.

Channel One aired a report on "Chelovek i Zakon" ("The Individual and the Law") on Friday that directly linked the Franciscans with operating a brothel in apartments 1 and 2 at 10 Sredny Tishinsky Pereulok, said the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, which arrived in Russia in 1995, in a statement.

The media reports are "a blow not only to the Franciscan community but to the whole Franciscan movement, which counts more than a million people as its members in the world" and "a continuation of the discriminative action against Catholics in Russia," the statement said.

Pope John Paul II's spokesperson, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, on Monday called the incident a "despicable operation designed to discredit the ... brothers ... and, through them, the Catholic Church."

The head of the Catholic Church in Russia, Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, said last month that the rights of Catholics were being violated in Russia. Five priests have been expelled from Russia in the past seven months.

The Catholic Church and Komsomlskaya Pravda do agree on one thing - that the apartments are being used as a brothel.

Located at the end of Sredny Tishinsky Pereulok, building No. 10 resembles a typical inner-city project. However, apartments 1 and 2 have a separate entrance of their own at the back of the building, an entrance that Komsomolskaya Pravda said made it easier for clients. The building also has video cameras hidden in a light and an air conditioner, which look down over the front and back entrances to the apartments.

A woman who identified herself as Alexandra answered at the back entrance Tuesday. She denied that the apartments were being used for sex and said she lived there with her family. She said journalists will be allowed to visit the apartments soon.

The Order of Friars Minor Conventual said it leased the apartments to Maria Tikhonova in February after moving to a different building. The order said Tikhonova promised that the residence would be used for a charitable project. But within a few months, the rent payments stopped and neighbors started complaining that the apartments were being used as a brothel.

In April, Father Grigory Tserokh, the head of the order in Moscow and the registered owner of apartment No. 1, tried to get the tenants removed by complaining to the police.

"The tenants said that they were not going to pay the owner any money and would live there as long as they wanted," the Catholic order said in the statement.

The tenants also changed the locks for the apartments, the order said.

The police declined to comment Tuesday.

In early October, Tserokh received a phone call from people claiming to represent the prosecutor's office, asking him to meet them at the apartments, the order said, adding it was a ploy to film him near the house and thus associate him with the brothel.

Tserokh has now gone into hiding.

The Reform of the Church

Steve Matson was - thankfully - roused out of (blogging) slumber by reading some words criticizing the Pope for spending time speaking about prayer and the rosary while we have so many other important things to attend to in the "reform" of the Church.

It seems to me that every reform of the Church that bore abiding fruit was rooted in prayer and holiness of life. It baffles me how any could miss this and think that reform can come about by "fiats" and "structural change." Our saints and heroes and heroines knew better! Our Pope, too, knows better.

This new teaching on the Rosary of Our Lady can be a rich resource for those seeking deeper contact with Christ and His Mysteries: and THAT is where renewal begins and ends. Or so it seems to me.

Ex cordis abundantia os loquitur
Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Mt 12:34)

Before I left for my little vacation I had written:

By the way, if there are some rude, crude, crass, even at times obscene comments entered - don't worry. Ignore. I will delete them as soon as I return home. I have been deleting these for a long time, mostly, I believe, from the same person - though this person uses different "names" including my own!. You will know. Again, just ignore - and enjoy your visit and say a prayer. Thanks.

Alas! I was a prophet! In my absence there were a good number of comments that were rude, crude, crass, and, yes, even obscene. I hope you ignored them as far as possible. I deleted them at first opportunity. The sad part is that these comments are written by some who consider themselves bearers of "Orthodoxy" and of "apostolic" Christianity - yet Our Lord's own words: "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" might indicate that these posters are far, far from the spirit of Christ and do not yet know the Lord Jesus as Savior and Restorer. I pray that these come to know the joy and wonders and the cost of authentic orthodoxy and of faithful orthopraxis (as I pray for these for myself as well).

Procedamus in pace. In nomine Christi. Amen.

Thursday, October 17, 2002
My Vacation....

Back from a four day holiday and it was simply wonderful in every way. I once again thank the generous anonymous donors who made it possible. I hope to give a little run down and post some photos as well. It was just great and seemed, step by step, "perfect." Sort of like magic....

Sunday, October 13, 2002
Going away and will miss blogging on the feast of Teresa of Avila, so....

"From sour faced saints, O Lord, deliver us!" (La Madre)

I will be leaving tomorrow morning for a few days R & R in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. (Thanks again to the kind, thoughtful and generous anonymous donors who made this possible)

During my absence the (Roman Rite) Catholic Church will be celebrating, October 15th, the feast of one of my favorite among the saints: Teresa of Avila, La Madre. I leave behind two pieces on Saint Teresa, hopefully you can read through them during the week. If all goes well, I hope to blog again on Friday of this week. A blessed week to all.

(By the way, if there are some rude, crude, crass, even at times obscene comments entered - don't worry. Ignore. I will delete them as soon as I return home. I have been deleting these for a long time, mostly, I believe, from the same person - though this person uses different "names" including my own!. You will know. Again, just ignore - and enjoy your visit and say a prayer. Thanks.)

La Madre

Her presence is still felt and experienced today

Her words still touch hearts and souls! Not terribly long ago, Teresa of Jesus' Autobiography so captivated a mind and soul that she, the well known Jewish philospher, Edith Stein, eventually became Carmelite Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross - and a witness of Christ unto death and canonized a saint in recent years.

When she read La Madre's autobiography - which she read in one sitting, going through the entire night, she felt she was in the presence of truth, of reality. "This is truth!" La Madre's words just seem to have that "ring of truth" about them - no pretense, and rooted so deeply in personal experience.

Wisdom and witticisms

I love la Madre. I love her as much for her witticisms as for her magnificent mystical writings. How can one not love someone who can say to her Beloved Lord and Master, after a carriage overturned and put her squat in the mud: "If this is the way You treat Your friends, no wonder You have so few of them!"

Or who taught her nuns of sing and dance in honor of the Lord and who prayed: "From sour-faced saints, O Lord, deliver us"! Who said when her nuns were depressed: "let them eat steak!" (or so I remember hearing this in oral tradition).

Or who, when overnight in an inn, and the innkeeper brought her a delicious dinner of roast partridge, and her own sisters were scandalized at the relish with which she devoured it, and said: "Mortification is one thing; roast partridge is another!" Yet, ruthless with herself, detached from all that what was not God, yet able to enjoy as the good Lord provided.

And who can't help but love someone who said that she was of such a sensitive nature that she could "be bribed by a sardine"?

She is a Doctor of the Church! Along with her friend, confessor, companion in the Lord: John of the Cross - who was short and called by her as her "half-friar!" They carried out a vigorous reform of an ancient order, grown lax and cold. Not without many obstacles and resistance. John was imprisoned in his own monastery and whipped publically daily for months (and yet without any paper or pens, wrote, in his head, mind, and heart, composed his greatest of all works, The Spiritual Canticle, during these days and nights). Teresa faced opposition, too, but seemed to step with a sureness and serenity even through sometimes chaotic situations! She seemed particularly blessed with a high dosage of "common sense."

Heights of mysticism rooted in this world

And yet she reaches the very heights of mysticism. She has some disagreements even with John of the Cross - Teresa being concerned that the mystical life not become too abstract and too far from the simple image of Our Lord in His Humanity, as portrayed in the gospels (and while, I think, Teresa was not able to have her own copy of the Bible - this may have been forbidden at the time, hard as it is to comprehend today)...she knows the Scriptures wonderfully, and the Person of Our Lord is so real, so alive, so "enfleshed" in her own writings. She even speaks of the Trinity and the Trinitarian life of the soul in vivid and understandable images - no mean feat, it seems to me.

St Teresa, la Madre, pray for us.

"Nada te turbe/nada te espante/todo se pasa/Dios no se muda/ la pacientia/todo lo alcanza/quien a Dios tiene/nada le falta:/solo Dios basta." Santa Teresa de Jesus

To celebrate the feast of St Teresa of Avila, La Madre, here's some sections from the wonderful (sadly now out-of-print) book by Phyllis McGinley "Saint Watching:"

From Saint Watching
by Phyllis McGinley

from A Cell of One's Own

For from the beginning of the Christian era women, no matter what their
position in society, knew another outlet for their talents beside the
purely domestic. They had only to step from the hearth to the cloister
and find there a bracing freedom. If we wish to catch a glimpse of the
New Woman as typified in different age, we need look no farther than the
female saints.

From old abbesses of desert monasteries to the nineteenth century's Mother
Javouhey - whom Louis-Philippe of France called "that great man" - there
they stand, articulate, vigorous, and unsubduable. Some of them were
queens; some of them were peasants. They lived in times of storm or of
calm. They were as well educated as Hilda or as illiterate as Catherine
of Siena. But not one of them seems to have found her sex a barrier to
greatness. I could count them by hundreds if I had need, valiant women
all and powers in their generations. But five does as well as fifty.
The five I mean to mention come from different ages and from varying

They have in common only their genius and the fact that they star the
saintly Calendar.

I suppose, of the list, Teresa of Avila seems nearest to us. Although she
lived in fanatic Spain more than four hundred years ago, her unconquerable
charm works on us today just as it did on the kings, townspeople, and
recalcitrant nuns of her own time. She was that near contradiction, a
reformer with a sense of humor.

"O God, deliver us from sullen saints!" she used to cry, and there was
never one less long-faced than she. Only a genius could have spoken with
such familiarity to God - "No wonder You have so few friends when You treat
the ones You have so badly" - and sounded not like a scold but a lover.

Teresa's story runs counter to that of many men and women who worked great
changes on society. Her vocation seems unapparent in her youth. As a
girl in the province of old Castile, she was pretty, clever, romantic, and
lively, but no more than that. It is true that at seven she and her
brother, Rodrigo, decided to run away to find martyrdom among the Moors in
Africa. Carrying a stock of dried raisins (Teresa was always practical),
they got as far as the open country outside Avila's walls before they were
met by their Uncle Francisco and brought back home. But such an escapade
was rather like a modern child's running away to join a circus, a common
romantic dream.

Otherwise Teresa lived the ordinary life of a Spanish young lady of good
family. She read novels, attended balls, and took pains with her dress.
We know that she was attractive and aware of the fact. At a party a few
days before she entered the Carmelite Convent, a young man was admiring
her pretty feet in their dancing slippers. "Take a good look, sit,"
Teresa told him. "You won't be getting another chance."

It was only at past twenty when she decided after much heartsearching to
become a nun that she caught fire - became, indeed, a conflagration which
burned up the corruption of her day. For that religion was corrupt that
does not stand in doubt. The Inquisition had terrorized but not cleansed
Spain. The convent where Teresa went as a novice and eventually presided
as its prioress had once been strict, poor, and holy. Now it was like
half the other establishments of its kind, a twittering bird cage of
femininity with its rules relaxed and its practices tarnished. Girls came
there not for love of God but to "find a home," and they continued to be
as worldly as if they still lived in society. They gave concerts and
parties, wore jewelry, dined on delicacies sent by their families, and
entertained friends in the parlors. It was Teresa's lifelong task to
recover the ancient Rule of the Carmelites and to bring not only her
foundation but the whole of Spain back to pure practices of religion.

That she did not do it without outcry, controversy, and discouragement
goes without saying. She was as beleaguered and reviled as any
suffragette of the nineteenth century agitating for the vote. Nuns and
priests who did not wish to change their soft ways of living demonstrated
violently against her. Avila for a while ostracized her. She was
examined by the Inquisition. An irate Papal Nuncio called her a "restless
gadabout" and cried, "She is ambitious and teaches theology as though she
were a Doctor of the Church." (The joke after some centuries is on him,
for Teresa is now regarded a Doctor of the Church.) She seems, however, to
have been as little afraid of nuncios as she was of princes, prioresses,
or the surly muleteers who carried her on her interminable journeys.

Merry and undaunted, she "traipsed" as she says, about Spain,
re-establishing the Unmitigated Rule in convent after convent, reforming,
exhorting, and captivating the countryside. With her eloquence and charm
she won over the Archbishop of Seville, who instead of permitting her to
kneel to him fell on his own knees in front of her. She successfully
lectured the Pope.

Even the formidable King Philip found his letters from her studded with
good advice. She traveled continuallly, eduring floods, cold, heat, lack
of provisions, and uspeakable country inns with the hardihoood of an old
soldier. "God gives us much to suffer for Him," she wrote, "if only from
fleas, ghosts, and bad roads."

Yet, for all her traveling, she found time to write the great books, The
Way of Perfection and The Interior Castle, on which rest her literary
fame, as well as to take a lively interest in her horde of friends, to
look out for the welfare of her beloved family, and to bring up various
little nieces sent her from time to time in the casual Spanish fashion.

For Teresa, besides being an inspired executive and a holy woman, was also an enchanting companion. She believed that joy was quite as essential to sanctity as faith or good works. She used to leave her prayers in order to visit with her community when they begged for her company. She set the nuns dancing to castanets on feast days and encouraged laughter and music as heartily as she discouraged sullen faces and sin. That what she did was done for love of God rather than for human satisfaction does not blur her charm even for the agnostic. In fact, anyone who writes about Teresa finds himself falling in love with his subject. Here is Woman as Reformer at her merry best - talented, original, unself-conscious, and powerful, filled like other geniuses with the "large drafts of intellectual day" which Crashaw ascribes to her.

From the Chapter "Holy Wit"

And now and then one comes across a character so ebullient that it cannot be stifled by the dreariest historian. Teresa of Avila, irrepressible as a volcano, unsinkable as balsa wood, never fitted for a moment into a pious straitjacket. "From silly devotions and sour-faced saints, good Lord, deliver us!" she protested. And the salt of wit flavors her every action. Besides, she wrote letters endlessly, so her true voice comes
through - praising, admonishing, or encouraging, but always with humor.

We have her own description of the saint who was her right hand in
reforming the Carmelite Order grown so lax and luxurious in Spain - the
great John of the Cross. John was a tiny man, not five feet tall. Teresa
valued him from the beginning when he became second of the two friars who
rushed to her side when she was starting her difficult work. But she
couldn't resist making fun of his size. "Isn't it splendid?" she wrote to
a friend. "With John here, we now have a monk and a half."

Teresa could not live with pomposity. Self-importance was a balloon she
pricked whenever she saw it bobbing along. I relish her advice to a young
nun who came to her with tales of exaggerated temptation and who boasted
of being a great sinner. "Now, Sister," Teresa said deflatingly,
"remember, none of us are perfect. just make sure those sins of yours
don't turn into bad habits."

Literary pomposity annoyed her as much as any other kind. After reading
some fatuous religious essay by a certain Sefior Salcedo, she commented,
"The man never stops repeating 'As Saint Paul says, "As the Holy Spirit
says,' and then he ends by regretting that he has written nothing but
nonsense. I am going to denounce him to the Inquistion!"

A blessed feast of La Madre to all!

Ut Unum Sint!

The ecumenical journey continues! In October, 2002, Romanian Orthodox Patriarch Teoctist visits the Pope in Rome in gratitude for the Pope's visit to Romania in 1999. Here both Pope and Patriarch bless the assembly in St Peter's Basilica with the book of the gospels earlier today, October 13

VATICAN CITY (AP) - Embracing each other on the central altar of St. Peter's Basilica, Pope John Paul II and the patriarch who leads Romania's Orthodox faithful joined in calls Sunday for greater courage in efforts to end the 1,000-year-old schism between Catholics and Orthodox.

Rancor between Catholics loyal to the pope and Orthodox followers in Russia has kept the pontiff from realizing one of his dreams of his papacy -- journeying to Moscow.

But Sunday's service in the basilica, with Romanian Patriarch Teoctist and John Paul each reading homilies, was remarkable testimony to the progress John Paul has seen during his 24-year-old papacy toward achieving another goal close to his heart - closing the schism.

Romania, in 1999, was the first predominantly Orthodox country John Paul visited in his papal travels.

Teoctist, who has had a series of meetings at the Vatican in recent days, made reference to some of the difficulties hampering further improved relations between Catholics and Orthodox, such as disputes over property seized from churches during the Soviet-era.

"Now that the churches of central and eastern Europe have more freedom to preach the love of Christ for men, our work of reconciliation betwen the Churches must be intensified," said the patriarch.

John Paul seconded the appeal in his homily which followed Teoctist's.

"To reach full communion, we must overcome with courage our laziness and narrowness of heart," John Paul.

Both men said that the need to combat what they lamented was a growing spiritual crisis in the world could be common ground for Orthodox-Catholic united efforts....

"We trust that our example finds a deep echo in every place where Catholics and Orthodox live side by side," John Paul said, adding he hoped that the two men's togetherness in the ceremony would held fuel "the desire to recognize the brother in the other and to reconcile with him."

On Saturday, in a private meeting with Teoctist, John Paul proposed that the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church create a joint institution to try to improve relations..."

On Saturday they issued a Joint Declaration (and as soon as I can track it down I will post it here).

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