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, November 02, 2002

"Of course I pray for the dead. The action is so spontaneous, so all but inevitable, that only the most compulsive theological case against it would deter me. And I hardly know how the rest of my prayers would survive if those for the dead were forbidden. At our age, the majority of those we love best are dead. What sort of intercourse with God could I have if what I love best were unmentionable to him?

I believe in Purgatory. Mind you, the Reformers had good reasons for throwing doubt on the 'Romish doctrine concerning Purgatory' as that Romish doctrine had then become.....The right view returns magnificently in Newman's DREAM. There, if I remember it rightly, the saved soul, at the very foot of the throne, begs to be taken away and cleansed. It cannot bear for a moment longer 'With its darkness to affront that light'. Religion has claimed Purgatory.

Our souls demand Purgatory, don't they? Would in not break the heart if God said to us, 'It is true, my son, that your breath smells and your rags drip with mud and slime, but we are charitable here and no one will upbraid you with these things, nor draw away from you. Enter into the joy'? Should we not reply, 'With submission, sir, and if there is no objection, I'd rather be cleaned first.' 'It may hurt, you know' - 'Even so, sir.'

I assume that the process of purification will normally involve suffering. Partly from tradition; partly because most real good that has been done me in this life has involved it. But I don't think the suffering is the purpose of the purgation. I can well believe that people neither much worse nor much better than I will suffer less than I or more. . . .The treatment given will be the one required, whether it hurts little or much.

My favorite image on this matter comes from the dentist's chair. I hope that when the tooth of life is drawn and I am 'coming round',' a voice will say, 'Rinse your mouth out with this.' This will be Purgatory. The rinsing may take longer than I can now imagine. The taste of this may be more fiery and astringent than my present sensibility could endure. But... it will [not] be disgusting and unhallowed." 

- C.S. Lewis, Letters To Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer, chapter 20, paragraphs 7-10, pages 108-109

Cardinal Avery Dulles on Vatican II

Thanks to Fr Jim Tucker for pointing me to this fine report in The Washington Times.

A beautiful article on a beautiful Catholic

John Allen on Jean Vanier

Wow! This in The National Catholic Reporter! Alleluia!

"I once asked Vanier if John Paul, now that he is physically weak and broken, is a more powerful role model for his communities. “The pope has never been more beautiful,” Vanier responded.

Part of what John Paul must admire is that, like Dorothy Day and other social reformers anchored in a muscular traditional Catholicism, Vanier does not play fast and loose with doctrine or church discipline..."

Autumnal Beauty

Yesterday - in part, to celebrate the Feast, my friend Father Michael and I took an afternoon trip to the mountains, since it was a peak foliage day. It was breathtaking! (And the buffet at the Cozy Inn in Thurmont alone made the drive worthwhile!). Entire trip took just over five hours but it packed in a lot of magnificent scenery and blazing colors (better than I have ever seen before in Maryland). Since my latest painful "crisis" I have determined, as far as possible, to enjoy life as much as I am able and to take advantage of the beauty around me. Here's two photos I took along the way:

On way to the mountains on a peak foliage day - first nice color was at the Liberty Reservoir - the colors got more brilliant as we travelled but this scene struck a chord with me.

On the way home a gift appeared in the heavens - a beautiful rainbow - another sign of hope!

Prayer for the Faithful Departed

(Venerable) John Henry Newman

O GOD of the Spirits of all flesh, O Jesu, Lover of souls, we recommend unto Thee the souls of all those Thy servants, who have departed with the sign of faith and sleep the sleep of peace. We beseech Thee, O Lord and Saviour, that, as in Thy mercy to them Thou becamest man, so now Thou wouldest hasten the time, and admit them to Thy presence above. Remember, O Lord, that they are Thy creatures, not made by strange gods, but by Thee, the only Living and True God; for there is no other God but Thou, and none that can equal Thy works. Let their souls rejoice in Thy light, and impute not to them their former iniquities, which they committed through the violence of passion, or the corrupt habits of their fallen nature. For, although they have sinned, yet they always firmly believed in the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and before they died, they reconciled themselves to Thee by true contrition and the Sacraments of Thy Church.

O Gracious Lord, we beseech Thee, remember not against them the sins of their youth and their ignorances; but according to Thy great mercy, be mindful of them in Thy heavenly glory. May the heavens be opened to them, and the Angels rejoice with them. May the Archangel St Michael conduct them to Thee. May Thy holy Angels come forth to meet them, and carry them to the city of the heavenly Jerusalem. May St Peter, to whom Thou gavest the keys of the kingdom of heaven, receive them. May St Paul, the vessel of election, stand by them. May St John, the beloved disciple, who had the revelation of the secrets of heaven, intercede for them. May all the Holy Apostles, who received from Thee the power of binding and loosing, pray for them. May all the Saints and elect of God, who in this world suffered torments for Thy Name, befriend them; that, being freed from the prison beneath, they may be admitted into the glories of that kingdom, where with the Father and the Holy Ghost Thou livest and reignest one God, world without end.

Come to their assistance, all ye Saints of God; gain for them deliverance from their place of punishment; meet them, all ye Angels; receive these holy souls, and present them before the Lord. Eternal rest give to them, O Lord. And may perpetual light shine on them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

May He support us all the day long,
till the shadows lengthen
and the evening comes
and the busy world is hushed
and the fever of life is over
and our work is done-
then in His mercy-
may He give us safe lodging
and a holy rest
and peace at the last.

- John Henry Newman

Friday, November 01, 2002

Jean Baptiste Henri Lacordaire, O.P.

A saint is not simply the point of confluence, the meeting of all the Christian virtues in one and the same soul. This is but ordinary sanctity, that which is necessary to the salvation of every Christian.

There is no Christian in the state of union with God in whom humility, chastity, and charity do not meet together in a degree more or less perfect. We call such people pious men; we might even, to speak widely, call them saints; but this is not what we understand by that great expression - the saints! What then are the saints? What then is sanctity thus understood?

Sanctity is the love of God and of men carried to a sublime extravagance. If communion between the Infinite and the finite really exists; if the heart of God creates a dwelling and lives in the heart of man, it is impossible, at least in certain souls more ardent than the rest, that the presence of an element so prodigious should not become visible, should not produce extraordinary effects which the weakness of our nature and of our language would constrain us to call extravagant. For what is the meaning of this word? It means that which goes beyond.

There is in sanctity a phenomenon of extravagance, a love of God and men which frequently defies ordinary human understanding. But this is not the unique characteristic of sanctity; extravagance alone would be only singularity, and singularity proves nothing in favor of the man who makes it a part of his actions, if it is not perhaps a great deal of vanity and a little of bad education.

Extravagance in sanctity should be corrected by another element, and it is in fact by the sublime - that is to say, by moral beauty in its highest degree; by that beauty which causes the rapture of human sense. Thus, there is in sanctity something which wounds human sense and something which enraptures it; something which produces stupor and something which produces admiration.

And these two things are not separated there, like two streams which flow side by side. But the extravagant and the sublime, that which wounds human sense and that which enraptures it, mingled and dissolved the one with the other, make of sanctity but one tissue, in which it is impossible for the most active spirit of analysis, at the moment when it sees the saint in action, to distinguish that which is extravagant from that which is sublime - that which binds man to earth from that which lifts him up even to God.

Defining sanctity in these terms, we would naturally expect the history of the saints to be a rare phenomenon, reserved to one time or to one country. But the truth is the exact opposite.

It is a general and a constant phenomenon. Wherever Catholic doctrine takes root, even where (so to speak) it is placed as a grain of seed between rocks, sanctity appears and becomes manifest in some souls by fruits which defy the esteem and the scorn of reason.

That sublime extravagance dates from a yet higher and more unutterable folly - the folly described by Saint Paul of a God dying upon a Cross, His head crowned with thorns, His feet and His hands pierced, His body bruised and mutilated. Since that time the contagion of holiness has never ceased to choose victims in the world - victims to whom belong the heritage of the cross, the living tradition of voluntary martyrdom, the dignity of extravagance and the glory of the sublime.


Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
we do well always and everywhere to give You thanks.
For You are glorified in the assembly of Your saints,
for in crowning their merits, You crown the gifts You have given them.
In their lives on earth, You give us an example;
In our communion with them, You give us their friendship;
In their prayer for the Church, You give us strength and protection.
This great company of witnesses spurs us on to victory,
to share their prize of everlasting glory,
through Jesus Christ our Lord....

- Preface I of Holy Men and Women

Today in history

November 1, 1776: Spanish Franciscan missionaries found San Juan Capistrano Mission in California, one of 21 missions founded in the region between 1769 and 1823.

November 1, 1950: Pope Pius XII releases his "Munificentissimus Deus," proclaiming the "Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary." The doctrine teaches that Mary was taken in body and soul into heaven at the end of her life.

Irish Saying

To live with the saints in heaven,
Ah! that's celestial glory.
To live with the saints on earth,
Now that's another story!

Spanish Saying

Every family has its saint - the rest are martyrs!

For the Feast of All Saints

For all the saints
Whom no one thought to name
No litany of bliss
For their praise proclaims

For the homely saints
No halo aglow
Favored by the Lord
But to us so so

For the ruined saints
Who craved no boardroom glee
But offered their arms
And gave without fee

For the tattered saints
Who found no rest at home
But served in patient woe
And shrank in hearts alone

For the silent saints
Captured by their pain
Offering it to Him
For salvation’s gain

For the saint unseen
By power or by peer
The crownless heir of love
Raised on Christ’s bier

The lumpen hump of flesh
Draped across bench
Whose spit is his smile
And bouquet his stench

For the blithering saint
Whose strings of words bemuse
His blank stare runs counter
To the civil use

For the stunted saints
No worldly stature given
Graced by a shrug
And through neglect shriven

For the hidden saints
Caught in His eye
Reflections of God’s love
In ordinary guise

The humble face of saints
Lies in the dust
By Him only prized

For these great saints
We have yet to know
Celebrate today!
Feast on crow.

- LB

Thursday, October 31, 2002
A growing monastic community in Oklahoma

The monastery of Our Lady of the Annunciation in Clear Creek OK , founded in 1999, uses the old Latin Rite in all its services and Offices. Check out the plans for the monastic church!

Bakery in Paris celebrates All Saints Day

French baker's wife Sylvie Julien shows a All Saints Day cake that comes with cards detailing the lives of differents saints to promote All Saints Day to youngsters in place of Halloween, at her bakery in Paris, France Thursday Oct. 31, 2002. All Saints Day which falls on Nov. 1, is a Catholic holiday to reflect on the saints, deceased relatives and the afterlife. From left to right, images of Saint Thomas More, Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Therese of Jesus child decorate the bakery. (AP)


On Jesuit calendar: Feast of Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez, laybrother

Today is "Hallowe'en" - the Eve of All Hallows

On October 31, 1517: Martin Luther posts his 95 Theses in Wittenberg

St. Alphonsus Rodriguez
d. 1617 - Feastday: October 30

"Confessor and lay brother, also called Alonso. He was born in Segovia, Spain, on July 25, 1532, the son of a wealthy merchant, and was prepared for First Communion by Blessed Peter Favre, a friend of Alphonsus' father. While studying with the Jesuits at Alcala, Alphonsus had to return home when his father died.

In Segovia he took over the family business, was married, and had a son. That son died, as did two other children and then his wife. Alphonsus sold his business and applied to the Jesuits. His lack of education and his poor health, undermined by his austerities, made him less than desirable as a candidate for the religious life, but he was accepted as a lay brother by the Jesuits on January 31, 1571.

He underwent novitiate training and was sent to Montesion College on the island of Majorca. There he labored as a hall porter for twenty-four years. Overlooked by some of the Jesuits in the house, Alphonsus exerted a wondrous influence on many. Not only the young students, such as St. Peter Claver, but local civic and social leaders came to his porter's lodge for advice and direction.

Obedience and penance were the hallmarks of his life, as well as his devotion to the Immaculate Conception. He experienced many spiritual consolations, and he wrote religious treatises, very simple in style but sound in doctrine. Alphonsus died after a long illness on October 31, 1617, and his funeral was attended by Church and government leaders. He was declared Venerable in 1626, and was named a patron of Majorca in 1633. Alphonsus was beatified in 1825 and canonized in September 1888 with St. Peter Claver."

From Catholic Online Saints

St. Alphonsus Rodriguez

Laybrother of the Society of Jesus

HONOUR is flashed off exploit, so we say;
And those strokes once that gashed flesh or galled shield
Should tongue that time now, trumpet now that field,
And, on the fighter, forge his glorious day.
On Christ they do and on the martyr may;
But be the war within, the brand we wield
Unseen, the heroic breast not outward-steeled,
Earth hears no hurtle then from fiercest fray.

Yet God (that hews mountain and continent,
Earth, all, out; who, with trickling increment,
Veins violets and tall trees makes more and more)
Could crowd career with conquest while there went
Those years and years by of world without event
That in Majorca Alfonso watched the door.

- Gerard Manley Hopkins SJ

Wednesday, October 30, 2002
Why Mark Shea is a national treasure (along with Fr R J Neuhaus)

Unable to link right now to specific post; scroll down and read Picking the brain of Fr. Neuhaus (Warning: Long!).

I love Fr Neuhaus' response to those who think the Pope is failing us and should be firing unworthy bishops, etc.

"One has frequent occasion to observe, only half tongue in cheek, that Christ has more to answer for than we do, considering that he constituted the Church as he did. One day, I have no doubt, he will explain it all, and we will feel very foolish for not having caught on earlier."


Are any of you getting error messages accessing my blog?

Someone has been kind enough to let me know that when he accesses my site he often gets numerous error messages before he can read anything.

Another blogger, Shawn McElhinney, says he can't read my blog at all.

Anyone else having troubles?

Thanks for any help.

God's Mirth

Joy, which was the small publicity of the pagan, is the gigantic secret of the Christian. And as I close this chaotic volume I open again the strange small book from which all Christianity came; and I am again haunted by a kind of confirmation.

The tremendous figure which fills the Gospels towers in this respect, as in every other, above all the thinkers who ever thought themselves tall.

His pathos was natural, almost casual. The Stoics, ancient and modern, were proud of concealing their tears. He never concealed His tears; He showed them plainly on His open face at any daily sight, such as the far sight of His native city. Yet He concealed something. Solemn supermen and imperial diplomatists are proud of restraining their anger.

He never restrained His anger. He flung furniture down the front steps of the Temple, and asked men how they expected to escape the damnation of Hell.

Yet He restrained something. I say it with reverence; there was in that shattering personality a thread that must be called shyness.

There was something that He hid from all men when He went up a mountain to pray. There was something that He covered constantly by abrupt silence or impetuous isolation. There was some thing that was too great for God to show us when He walked upon our earth; and I have sometimes fancied that it was His mirth.

- Gilbert Keith Chesterton, from Orthodoxy

Words to live by

"Alleluia! all my gashes cry."

- C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, October 29, 2002
Feodor Dostoevsky 1821-1881

"The world will be saved by beauty"

One of the world's greatest novelists, Dostoevsky was born on October 30, 1821. His novels are still among the most read and influential. Many have been deeply touched by his writings, including Catholics like Dorothy Day, who used to quote him often - especially "love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing." Catholics, such as Msgr Romano Guardini, have written much about Dostoevsky, even if Dostoevsky shares some anti-Catholic prejudices of most Russians of his age (yet he was a close friend of Vladimir Soloviev, who had profound Catholic sympathies). There are those who believe Soloviev gave Dostoevsky one of his most famous images: that of The Grand Inquisitor.

There are those, too, who think Soloviev was the model of Alyosha in his greatest work, The Brothers Karamozov, for the radiant personality of Father Zossima. More recently the martyr priest, Alexander Men, sees the whole of Russian Orthodox spirituality in two different expressions in the figures of Dostoevsky's Father Zossima and Father Ferapont.

I read The Brothers K some years ago and was transfixed. Perhaps the only other novel that had such a great impact on me was Tolstoy's Anna Karenina.

If you haven't read either of these great works, a feast awaits you. Now just to find the time..... (or as Michael K suggests in comment no. 1, "make" the time!).


Pope to Resume Visits with Rome Parishes - with a Twist

VATICAN, Oct 29, 02 (CWNews.com) -- Pope John Paul II would like to continue his practice of visiting the faithful in the parishes of Rome. But since the Pope now has trouble traveling, parishioners will be invited to come to the Vatican to meet with him.

During his pontificate, John Paul II has made a regular practice of visiting parishes in his diocese. By early 2002, he had traveled to 301 of Rome's 328 active parishes. But in March, the Vatican announced that the Pontiff was setting aside his plans for further parish visits because of his declining health.

But now the Pope is planning to resume his visits, by scheduling times when parishioners can meet with him....

What a pope!

(And he's looking good these days, too, thank God).

New section of Vatican's website on Vatican Library

The whole site looking good these days.... A great treasure indeed!

Hallowing Halloween

Why Christians should embrace the "devilish" holiday with gusto - and laughter.

Words to live by

"We crucify ourselves between two thieves: the regret of yesterday and the fear of tomorrow."

- quoted by Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Caritas-Siberia Director Tells of Challenges

MADRID, Spain, OCT. 28, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Catholics in eastern Siberia are feeling the loss of their bishop, Jerzy Mazur, who was expelled by the Russian authorities, says a Caritas official.

During a visit to Spain, Andrey Bayanov, director of Caritas-Siberia Health Projects, said an atmosphere of fear hangs over the region, given the campaign against Catholics by the authorities and some members of the Orthodox Church.

"The political situation has changed since February, when the patriarch of the Russian Church began saying that the spiritual and charitable activity of the Catholic Church, and of Caritas in particular, is proselytism in Russian territory," Bayanov said. "The strong anti-Catholic campaign in Russia began at that moment."

Since February, Bishop Mazur and five priests have been expelled from Russia.

"We have been very worried lately, because the majority of Catholic priests in Russia and Caritas directors are foreigners," Bayanov said. "We fear for our evangelizing and charitable activity. Every day we are afraid that some priest might be expelled from Russia."

"Unfortunately, there are few Russian priests in my country and because of this, if we do not have the companionship and presence of our foreign Catholics, we would be left without moral and spiritual assistance," he added.

"It seems very strange, but at the most ordinary level, relations are very close among Catholics, Orthodox and Muslims. We have no problems for friendship and cordiality," he said. "It is at the level of politicians that there are serious contradictions. There are also strong contradictions within the Orthodox Church.

"In Novosibirsk, there are Orthodox parishes that are very friendly toward Catholics, and there are other Russian Orthodox parishes that combat Catholics for reasons of proselytism, due to the statement of the Orthodox patriarch that all Catholic evangelization and charitable activity is proselytism."

Caritas works especially in the medical-social field in Russia. "Now we are centered on four projects," Bayanov said. "The first is to create an educational center for social workers, both of the government as well as of NGOs [nongovernmental organizations]. Russian social workers do not have our international experience to be able to create a good system of social services."

"Another is to create a center for children with autism," he said. "Unfortunately, there is no financial aid or assistance for autistic children in Russia. As the programs are very complex, from the point of view of treatment, a special center is necessary, in a special environment, for the more than 500 children with autism in the Novosibirsk region. These children cannot go to just any school.

"The third project addresses the epidemiological situation in Russia. The mortality rate in our region is very high, as well as illnesses caused by alcoholism, drugs, oncological sicknesses, such as AIDS or tuberculosis, and mental disorders. It is twice as high as in the whole of Russia, and five times higher than in Europe. In Siberia, 80% of prisoners are infected with tuberculosis, 20% with AIDS, and 40% are drug addicts."

"The last project is the creation of a multidisciplinary center for adolescents," he concluded.

Monday, October 28, 2002
Patriarch Alexy taken to hospital

MOSCOW - The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Alexy II, was hospitalized Monday during a visit to a southern Russian city, Russian news agencies reported.

The 73-year-old patriarch was diagnosed with hypertension caused by a sharp change in atmospheric pressure, Interfax news agency reported citing Alexander Kabachek, chief doctor at the Alexandro-Mariinskaya Hospital No. 1 in the city of Astrakhan. Kabachek said Alexy's situation later stabilized and that he would likely be released Tuesday.

The patriarch was originally taken to the hospital's intensive care unit, Interfax reported.

A spokesman for the church in Moscow said earlier he had no information on the reports.



i. It happened that temptation fell upon a brother in the monastery of abbot Elias, and they cast him out: and he came to the mountain, to abbot Antony. After he had been with him for some time, Antony sent him back to the community whence he had come out. But when they saw him, they again drove him away: and again he made his way to the abbot Antony, saying, "They would not receive me, Father." Then the old man sent to them, saying, "A ship was wrecked at sea, and lost all the cargo that it carried, and with hard toil was the empty ship brought at last to land. Is it your wish to sink on land the ship that hath come safe from sea?" And they recognised that it was the abbot Antony who had sent him back and straightway they took him in.

ii. A certain brother had sinned, and the priest commanded him to go out from the church. But Bessarion rose up and went out with him, saying, "I too am a sinful man."

iv. Once a brother in Scete was found guilty, and the older brethren came in assembly and sent to the abbot Moses, asking him to come: but he would not. Then the priest sent to him, saying: "Come: for the assembly of brethren awaits thee." And he rose up and came. But taking with him a very old basket, he filled it with sand and carried it behind him. And they went out to meet him, asking, "Father, what is this?" And the old man said to them, "My sins are running behind me and 1 do not see them, and I am come to-day to judge the sins of another man." And they heard him, and said naught to the brother, but forgave him.

vi. A brother asked the abbot Pastor, saying, "If I should see my brother's fault, is it good to hide it?" The old man said to him, "In what hour we do cover up our brother's sins, God shall cover ours: and in what hour we do betray our brother's shames, in like manner God
shall betray our own."

x. An old man said, "Judge not him who is guilty of fornication, if thou art chaste: or thou thyself wilt offend a similar law. For He who said, Thou shall not fornicate' said also 'Thou shalt not judge.'"

xii. There were two brethren of good life in the community, and they had so attained that either saw the grace of God in the other. But it came to pass that one of them went out of the monastery on a Friday and saw one eating in the morning. And he said to him, "Dost thou eat at this hour on a Friday?" On the following day there was the wonted celebration of mass; and his brother, looking upon him, saw that the grace given him had departed from him; and he was saddened. When he had come into the cell, he said to him, "What hast thou done, brother, that I do not see, as before, the grace of God in thee?" He answered and said, "Neither in act nor in thought am I conscious of any evil." His brother said to him, "Hast thou spoken a harsh word to any one?" And he, remembering, said, "Yea. Yesterday I saw someone eating in the morning and I said to him: 'Dost thou eat at this hour on a Friday?' This is my sin: but travail with me for two weeks, and let us ask God to forgive me." They did so: and after two weeks the brother saw the grace of God again coming upon his brother, and they were comforted, giving thanks to God, who alone is good.

Feast today: Saints Simon and Jude

To celebrate here is the entire short Epistle of Saint Jude: challenging, strong, and hopeful: the Word of the Lord!

1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, who are beloved in God the Father and kept safe for Jesus Christ:
2 May mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance.
3 Beloved, while eagerly preparing to write to you about the salvation we share, I find it necessary to write and appeal to you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.
4 For certain intruders have stolen in among you, people who long ago were designated for this condemnation as ungodly, who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
5 Now I desire to remind you, though you are fully informed, that the Lord, who once for all saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.
6 And the angels who did not keep their own position, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains in deepest darkness for the judgment of the great Day.
7 Likewise, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which, in the same manner as they, indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.
8 Yet in the same way these dreamers also defile the flesh, reject authority, and slander the glorious ones.
9 But when the archangel Michael contended with the devil and disputed about the body of Moses, he did not dare to bring a condemnation of slander against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!"
10 But these people slander whatever they do not understand, and they are destroyed by those things that, like irrational animals, they know by instinct.
11 Woe to them! For they go the way of Cain, and abandon themselves to Balaam's error for the sake of gain, and perish in Korah's rebellion.
12 These are blemishes on your love-feasts, while they feast with you without fear, feeding themselves. They are waterless clouds carried along by the winds; autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, uprooted;
13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the deepest darkness has been reserved forever.
14 It was also about these that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, "See, the Lord is coming with ten thousands of his holy ones,
15 to execute judgment on all, and to convict everyone of all the deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him."
16 These are grumblers and malcontents; they indulge their own lusts; they are bombastic in speech, flattering people to their own advantage.
17 But you, beloved, must remember the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;
18 for they said to you, "In the last time there will be scoffers, indulging their own ungodly lusts."
19 It is these worldly people, devoid of the Spirit, who are causing divisions.
20 But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit;
21 keep yourselves in the love of God; look forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.
22 And have mercy on some who are wavering;
23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; and have mercy on still others with fear, hating even the tunic defiled by their bodies.
24 Now to him who is able to keep you from falling, and to make you stand without blemish in the presence of his glory with rejoicing,
25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Muslims urge peers in U.S. to work on reform

"Several Muslim social scientists from U.S. universities urged their fellow believers at a weekend conference in Washington to reform Islam's record on human rights, violence and treatment of women before Muslims demand full acceptance by Americans..."

Sunday, October 27, 2002

Anyone who is acquainted with me knows that I am impatient in little things. I am incapable of waiting for a bus! I believe, however, that in big things I am patient in an active way about which I would like to say a word here.

This is something quite different from merely marking time. It is a quality of mind, or better of the heart, which is rooted in the profound, existential conviction, firstly that God is in charge and accomplishes his gracious design through us, and secondly, that, in all great things, delay is necessary for their maturation.

One can only escape the servitude of time in a time which is not void but in which something is happening, something the seeds of which have been confided to the earth and are ripening there.

It is the profound patience of the sower who knows that "something will spring up" (cf. Zech 3:8; 6:12).

I have often thought of the words of Saint Paul: "Patience breeds hope" (Romans 5:4). One would have thought that it was just the reverse, that a man could wait patiently because he had hope in his heart.

In a certain sense this is true, but the order in which Saint Paul puts it reveals a more profound truth. Those who do not know how to suffer, do not know how to hope either. People who are in too much of a hurry, who wish to grasp the object of their desires immediately, are also incapable of it.

The patient sower, who entrusts his seed to the earth and the sun, is also the man of hope. Coventry Patmore has said that to the man who waits all things reveal themselves, provided that he has the courage not to deny in the darkness what he has seen in the light.

This active patience of which I speak is particularly suited to the work of ecumenism, if it be right to regard the latter as a long process of convergence, bound up with an inner renewal of each communion in accordance with the sources, the calls, and the demands which are fundamentally similar to all, if not common to all.

If this patience is that of the sower, it is necessarily accompanied by a cross. "Those who sow in sorrow, reap in shouts of joy" (Psalm 126:5), but sometimes they do not reap at all, for "one sows and another reaps" (John 4:37).

The cross is a condition of every holy work. God himself is at work in what to us seems a cross. Only by its means do our lives acquire a certain genuineness and depth. Nothing is meant wholly seriously unless we are prepared to pay the price it demands. "It belongs to the place in our poor hearts which is not even there until suffering has entered in" (Leon Bloy).

Only when a man has suffered for his convictions does he attain in them a certain force, a certain quality of the undeniable, and, at the same time, the right to be heard and to be respected.

O crux benedicta!

Yves Congar OP, Dialogue between Christians, trans. Philip Loretz, S.A. (Newman, 1966). Father Yves Congar was made a cardinal by Pope John Paul II.


"A friend is dearer to us than the light of heaven, for it would be better for us that the sun were extinguished than that we should be without friends."

- St John Chrysostom

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