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, August 02, 2003
Ageing Europe is unprepared

'...Across Italy the average number of children a woman can expect to bear in her lifetime is now down to 1.2.

Yes Catholic Italy, the fabled land of the "Mama," now has the lowest birth rate in Europe.

Demographers calculate that by 2050 the current population of 56 million could have dwindled to 40 million.

Towns and cities will be left with thousands of unwanted apartments, schools may well be half empty and whole swathes of the countryside could be depopulated.

And, naturally the proportion of old people within the population will continue to rise.

Europe-wde problem

By mid-century there may be one pensioner for every one productive worker in Italy, which begs a simple, devastating question: how on earth is Italy going to maintain its pensions system?

Either the next generation of workers will have to pay unthinkably high levels of tax, or the current, relatively generous benefits will have to be radically scaled back.

This is not just Italy's problem, it is Europe's problem. Spain, Germany, Austria and Greece all have disturbingly low birth rates...."

If only Pope Paul VI's prophetic voice were heeded! This apparant rejection of the gift of children is balanced by the Muslims of Europe (and elsewhere) who are generous in giving birth to new life (for all the problems). Thus Europe is being islamized, and not very slowly. I've been watching this for some years now; and it gets more dramatic each year. "Demographics is destiny."

Can this trend be reversed?

Pilgrimage in honor of Saint Seraphim of Sarov

One of my patron saints!
Celebrating 100 years since his glorification/canonization.

Priests carry a shrine with the relics of St. Seraphim during a religious procession in Sarov, Russia Thursday, July 31, 2003

"The goal of the Christian life is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit."

"Aquire the Peace of God, and thousands around you will be saved."

- Saint Seraphim of Sarov

Detail of icon of Saint Seraphim by monk Gregory Kroug

Today in Costa Rica: Pilgrimage of Devotion

Costa Rican Catholics pray inside the Basilica de Los Angeles in Cartago, August 1, 2003. More than a million Catholics are expected to take part in this pilgrimage, a 402 year-old tradition, celebrating the Blessed Virgin of the Angels on August 2.

Surfing's joy swells religious feelings in growing U.S. cadre

"....Around the world, a subculture perhaps better known for sculpted bodies and slacker mind-sets is finding spirituality. Some surfers say a flawless ride puts them in touch with a higher power. Some are taking those feelings and using the ocean as a pulpit from which to preach their faith.

And dude, they think it's awesome.

"Surfing is the most spiritual thing that you can do," said Rabbi Nachum Shifren, who lectures on the surf-soul connection. "You're out in the water; you're by yourself; you're out there in God's creation. It's like being in the womb."

Such messages of spirituality in the surf have given the search for the perfect wave new meaning...."

Today in Christian history

August 2, 1100: William the Conqueror's son and successor Rufus, a wicked king who delighted in torture, seizing church property, and blasphemy, is mysteriously killed while hunting by an arrow that flew out of nowhere. No one mourned, and England took his eternal damnation for granted.

Friday, August 01, 2003
I Call You Friends

A beautiful thought from "The Imitation of Christ"

A small piece I wrote about friendship a while back; I was just spurred to re-read it and it still expresses my thoughts and feelings - and GRATITUDE!

The Pope says....?

One of my pet peeves is how, in discussions, the claim is made that such and such is said "by the Pope." For instance, in the latest discussions of the recent Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons, the text of this document is quoted as being "said by the Pope."

It is a document issued by The Congregation of the Doctrine for the Faith, and was approved by Pope John Paul II. Thus it reflects authentic Catholic thinking. But it is not actually from the Pope, except indirectly. For example, we do not refer to the documents of Vatican II as being "from the Pope" though the Pope approved of each of these documents. I just think it is a bit shoddy to speak like this; rather it seems more accurate to say "the CDF says".

The last prejudice?

Philip Jenkins argues that anti-Catholic bigotry is on the rise-even among Catholics

Ratzinger criticises Germany’s lay Catholics

Thus the headline in today's edition of the Tablet online. Reading the blurb, however, would indicate, at least by what is written and quoted, that Cardinal Ratzinger is criticizing not all German lay Catholics but focusses on those involved in organizations prominent in the German Church.

"...In a statement published in Bonn, the president of the ZdK, Hans Joachim Meyer, accused Cardinal Ratzinger of “only seeing what he wanted to see” and what confirmed his own “well-known prejudices”. On the one hand Ratzinger lamented that the ZdK failed to proclaim their faith joyfully, but on the other hand he accused the Kirchentag of being too concerned with “enjoyment”...."

I am a bit surprised - if quoted accurately - that Meyer would think that having "enjoyment" at a gathering is the same as "proclaiming one's faith joyfully." I don't think Ratzinger is stupid.....

Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Founder of the Redemptorists, Doctor of the Universal Church

Alphonsus, reforming Bishop, prolific writer, man of suffering and prayer, and passionate in his love of Christ and the Blessed Mother

Alphonsus Liguori died today in 1787; gifted missionary, preacher, writer, pastor, poet, artist of the Gospel. Always seeking the salvation of souls and the enfleshment of the motto he chose for his congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, "Copiosa apud eum redemptio" "with Him there is plentiful redemption" - Psalm 130:7. May Saint Alphonsus pray for us and obtain for us, from the LORd and his blessed Mother, an increase of holiness and zeal in proclaiming Christ. Here is one of those prayers that reveals the heart of this great disciple of the LORD Jesus.


by Saint Alphonsus Liguori

Eternal Father, thy Son has promised that thou wilt grant us all the graces for which we ask thee in his name. In the name, therefore, and by the merits of Jesus Christ, I ask the following graces for myself and for all mankind.

First, I pray thee to give me a lively faith in all that the holy Roman Church teaches me. Enlighten me also that I may know the vanity of the goods of this world and the immensity of the infinite good that thou art. Make me also see the deformity of the sins I have committed, that I may humble myself and detest them as I should, and on the other hand show me how worthy thou art because of thy goodness, that I should love thee with all my heart. Make me know also the love thou hast borne me, that from this day forward I may try to be grateful for so much goodness.

Secondly, give me a firm confidence of receiving thy merciful pardon for my sins, holy perseverance, and finally, the glory of heaven, through the merits of Jesus Christ and the intercession of Mary.

Thirdly, give me a great love of thee, which shall detach from the love of this world and of myself, so that I may love none other but thee and may neither do nor desire anything else but what is for thy glory.

Fourthly, I beg of thee a perfect resignation to thy will, in accepting with tranquility sorrows, infirmities, contempt, persecutions, aridity of spirit, loss of property, of esteem, of relations, and every other cross which shall come to me from thy hands. I offer myself entirely to thee, that thou mayest do with me and all that belongs to me what thou pleasest. Do thou only give me light and strength to do thy will, and especially at the hour of death help me to sacrifice my life to thee with all the affection I am capable of, in union with the sacrifice which thy Son Jesus Christ made of his life on the cross on Calvary.

Fifthly, I beg of thee a great sorrow for my sins, which may make me grieve over them as long as I live and weep for the insults I have offered thee, the sovereign good who art worthy of infinite love and who hast loved me so much.

Sixthly, I pray thee to give me the spirit of true humility and meekness, that I may accept with peace and even with joy all the contempt, ingratitude and ill-treatment I may receive. At the same time I also pray thee to give me perfect charity, which shall make me wish well to those who have done evil to me, and to do what good I can, at least by praying, for those who have in any way injured me.

Seventhly, I beg thee to give me love for the virtue of holy mortification, by which I may chastise my rebellious senses and cross my self-love; at the same time I beg thee to give me holy purity of body and the grace to resist all bad temptations, by always having recourse to thee and thy most holy mother.

Give me grace faithfully to obey my spiritual father and all my superiors in all things. Give me an upright intention, that in all I desire and do I may seek only thy glory and to please thee alone. Give me a great confidence in the Passion of Jesus Christ and in the intercession of Mary immaculate. Give me a great love for the sacrament of the altar and a tender devotion and love to thy holy mother. Give me, I pray thee, above all, holy perseverance and the grace always to pray for it, especially in time of temptation and at the hour of death.

Lastly, I recommend to thee the holy souls of purgatory, my relations and benefactors, and in a special manner I recommend to thee all those who hate me or who have in any way offended me; I beg thee to render them good for the evil they have done or may wish to do me. I recommend to thee all infidels, heretics, and all poor sinners; give them light and strength to deliver themselves from sin.

O most loving God, make thyself known and loved by all, but especially by those who have been more ungrateful to thee than others, so that by thy goodness I may come one day to sing thy mercies in heaven, for my hope is in the merits of thy blood and in the patronage of Mary. Mary, mother of God, pray to Jesus for me. So I hope. So may it be.

"O my God, make me a saint"

"Pray and you will be saved; do not pray, and you will be lost."

- St Alphonsus Mary Liguori

Thursday, July 31, 2003
Sacramental Imagination

Catholicism anchored Tolkien's life and suffused his writings

A lovely piece by one of my favorite writers, convert Thomas Howard.

The real Saint Anselm

I suspect Frederica, based on her comments in the prior article, never really read him or understood Anselm's "radiant and perfectly balanced" writings (as Hans Urs von Balthasar refers to his works).

The Devil Made Me Do It!

Here is an article written by Frederica Mathewes-Green, which I find quite off base and filled with over-simplifications and some stereotypical thinking. I know Frederica personally and appreciate her talents and gifts, which are many, and like her a lot. But I have long found her theologizing quite deficient. This latest is no exception. What do you think of it?

From "Again" Magazine, published by Conciliar Press of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America


Often in conversations with Christians of other traditions I find myself explaining the Orthodox view of sin. For most Western Christians, sin is a matter of doing bad things, which create a debt to God, and which somebody has to pay off. They believe that Jesus paid the debt for our sins on the Cross-paid the Father, that is, so we would not longer bear the penalty. The central argument between Protestants and Catholics has to do with whether "Jesus paid it all" (as Protestants would say) or whether, even though the Cross is sufficient, humans are still obligated (as Catholics would say) to add their own sacrifices as well.

Orthodox, of course, have a completely different understanding of Christ's saving work. We hold to the view of the early church, that "God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself." Our sins made us captives of Death, and God in Christ went into Hades to set us free. The penalty of sin is not a debt we owe the Father; it is the soul-death that is the immediate and inevitable consequence of sin. We need healing and rescue, not someone to step in and square the bill. The early Christians always saw the Father pursuing and loving every sinner, doing everything to bring us back, not waiting with arms folded for a debt to be paid. When the Prodigal Son came home, the Father didn't say, "I'd love to take you back, but who's going to pay this Visa bill?"

This was the common view for the first thousand years of Christianity, until Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury at the time of the Great Schism, offered an alternative view. Anselm believed that God could not merely forgive us, because our sins constituted an objective wrong in the universe. It could not be made right without payment. No human could pay such a huge debt, but Jesus' blood was more than sufficient to pay it, which gave Jesus a "claim" on God the Father. "If the Son chose to make over the claim He had on God to man, could the Father justly forbid Him doing so, or refuse to man what the Son willed to give him?"

We would say that Western Christians, Protestant and Catholic, have mixed up two Scriptural concepts: "sacrifice/offering" and "ransom/payment." Jesus couldn't have paid the "ransom" for our sins to the Father; you pay a ransom to a kidnapper, and the Father wasn't holding us hostage. No, it was the Evil One who had captured us, due to our voluntary involvement in sin. It cost Jesus his blood to enter Hades and set us free. That's the payment, or ransom, but it obviously isn't paid *to* the Father. Yet it is a sacrifice or offering to the Father, as a brave soldier might offer a dangerous act of courage to his beloved General.

If I haven't lost you yet, I'd like to take this one step further. As I said, I often have this conversation with other Christians, and make the point that sin is not infraction, but infection; sin makes us sick. The Christian life is one of healing and restoration; its not merely about paying a debt.

It recently occurred to me that this difference between Western and Eastern Christianity explains something else I hadn't noticed till now: that Orthodoxy doesn't spend a lot of time worrying about the problem of evil. The question of why bad things happen is a major one in the West; it seems to refute the assertion that God is good and loves us. If he's all powerful and loves us completely, why does he let bad things happen? I expect that this lingering image of a God who is reluctant to forgive, waiting to be paid, feeds a suspicion that maybe he *doesn't* really love us.

I think the Orthodox view of sin as illness, rather than rule-breaking, answers this. There is evil in the world because of the pollution of our sins. Our selfishness and cruelty don't merely hurt those around us, but contribute to setting the world off-balance, out of tune. It has a corporate nature. Anyone can observe that life isn't fair; bad things happen to "good" people. But even good people contribute some sin to the mix, and we all suffer the consequences of the world's mutual sin.

The radio humorist Garrison Keillor used an image for this that has always remained in my mind. He told a story about a man considering adultery, who contemplated how one act of betrayal can unbalance an entire community: "I saw that we all depend on each other. I saw that although I thought my sins could be secret, that they would be no more secret than an earthquake. All these houses and all these families, my infidelity will somehow shake them. It will pollute the drinking water. It will make noxious gases come out of the ventilators in the elementary school. When we scream in senseless anger, blocks away a little girl we do not know spills a bowl of gravy all over a white tablecloth."

What we Orthodox keep in mind, and Western Christians often forget, is the presence of the Evil One. In Anselm's theory of the Atonement, there's no Devil. The whole transaction is between us, the Father, and Jesus (and when the Devil is ignored, he has a field day). But Orthodox know who our true enemy is, and we cling to the Lord Jesus as our deliverer. When we see evil in the world, we know immediately that "an enemy has done this" (Matthew 13:28). We're not surprised that life is unfair and that "good" people suffer; when we see innocent suffering, we know that our own sins helped cause it, by helping to unbalance the world and make a climate of injustice possible.

The Evil One loves to see the innocent suffer, and the fact that such events grieve and trouble us delights him all the more. This is in fact one of the ways we bear the burden of our sins: that we must feel the wrenching pain of seeing innocence suffer, and know that we helped make it happen. Western Christians, on the other hand, who see sin as a private debt between an individual and God, and who forget the presence of the Evil One, can't figure out how God could let an innocent person suffer, and are left with the chilly thought of questioning the goodness of God.

"Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:24-25). We do not trust in our own strength to get out of this mess, but rely entirely on the power of Jesus Christ, who has "trampled down death by death." Day by day growing in grace, we can contribute to the world's healing, by forgiving our enemies, loving those who hate us, and overcoming evil with good. The first place it needs to be overcome, we know, is in our hearts.

Again, what do you think of this article by Frederica?

More on the new Archbishop of Boston

The Globe features numerous articles on Archbishop Sean on its front page.

P.S. I find it a bit strange to write his name as "Archbishop Sean" yet, according to the reports yesterday that is his own wish. However, I notice the Boston Archdiocesan website still speaks of "Archbishop O'Malley" - hopefully not done is a spirit of "dissent" :-)

Saint Ignatius Loyola

Expanded from last year's entry

The image of Our Lady with Christ in St Paul's Outside the Walls in Rome, before which St Ignatius and his first companions took their vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience


Grant, O Lord, that my heart may neither desire nor seek anything but what is necessary for the fulfillment of Thy holy Will.
May health or sickness,
riches or poverty,
honors or contempt,
leave my soul in that state of perfect detachment,
to which I desire to attain -
for Thy greater honor and Thy greater glory.

O my God, teach me to be generous:
to serve you as you deserve;
to give without counting the cost;
to fight heedless of the wounds;
to work without seeking rest;
and to spend myself without expecting any reward,
save the knowledge that I am doing your holy will.

Take, Lord, and receive
all my liberty,
my memory,
my understanding,
and my entire will,
all that I have and possess.
Thou hast given all to me.
To Thee, O Lord, I return it all.
All is Thine;
dispose of it wholly according to Thy Will.
Give me Thy love and Thy grace,
for this is sufficient for me.
For with these I am rich enough and desire nothing more.

St Ignatius, Knight of Our Lady, obedient defender of the Pope and the Catholic Church, pray for your Society: increase its holiness and fidelity; pray for all of us in the Church that we may love your Lord and Master and serve Him with generous hearts, not counting the cost.

Thank you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for the marvelous life of Ignatius of Loyola and his companions and faithful sons of the Society of Jesus. How greatly they have enriched your Church. Prosper the work of Ignatius' hands and heart and continue to bless and guide, prune where needed, and make fruitful ad majorem Dei gloriam.

A blessed feast to all!

Today in Christian history

July 31, 1556: Ignatius of Loyola, Spanish Roman Catholic reformer and founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), dies in Rome. During his life he saw 1,000 men join his order and 100 colleges and seminaries established. Apart from his order, Ignatius's greatest legacy he left in his Spiritual Exercises, a practical guide that has been in constant use for over 460 years.

July 31, 1566: Bartolome de las Casas, a Dominican friar, and the first Spaniard ordained in the New World and "Father to the Indians," dies in Spain. He wrote several books detailing the horrors committed upon Native Americans by the Spanish settlers, and argued for the humanity of the Indians against many of his countrymen who had described them as children or subhuman.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003
Another quick quiz

Who is sometimes called "The Fifth Evangelist?"

Vocations Flourish Among Greek-Catholics of Rumania

Diocese of Lugoj Has Ordained More Than Half of Its Priests in 9 Years

KONIGSTEIN, JULY 29, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Eastern rite Catholic Church in Rumania is undergoing a rebirth following the persecution of the Communist regime.

That information was given by Bishop Alesandru Mesian of Lugoj, who over the last 9 years has ordained most of the priests his diocese has today, when he visited the headquarters of the international Catholic association "Aid to the Church in Need."

The Greek-Catholic Church's refusal to become part of the Rumanian Orthodox Church, as the Marxist government insisted, resulted in the imprisonment of 12 bishops and the martyrdom of seven of them.

"In the last 9 years, I have ordained 60 new priests and, at present, my diocese only has 105 priests, but in the seminary we have 30 young men preparing themselves for the priesthood," he said.

The bishop says that relations with the Latin rite Catholic Church are very good, reflected in the fact that in 19 churches of the Latin Catholic diocese of Timisoara and five churches of the Archdiocese of Alba Iulia both rites are alternated in celebrating the liturgy and the sacraments.

Ecumenical relations with the Rumanian Orthodox Church are also positive. "United, every year we celebrate the week of ecumenical international prayer from January 18-25."

A clear problem, however, is the restitution of confiscated ecclesial properties. "Of the approximately 2,500 Greek-Catholic churches that existed in 1948 in Rumania only 150 have been returned between 1990 and today, and in my diocese, the relation is 235 to 47. Despite the existing legal normative, the authorities often do not show interest in the restitution of expropriated ecclesial properties.

A few observations on Installation Mass on TV today

I thought Archbishop Sean's homily excellent. Warm, strong, humorous, serious, Christ-centered. Full of hope, springing from repentance.

I thought the music OK but not great. The audio I had was not good and that may have made a big difference. I loved "Holy God, we praise Thy Name" but wished the entire hymn might be sung since it is a translation of the traditional hymn of praise, the "Te Deum." I was not impressed with the choices the choir made for the Gloria or for hymns during Communion. I do not like Sebastian Temple's "Make me a channel of your peace" but understand it was appropriate since it is a prayer attributed (inaccurately) to Saint Francis. I found the cantor's voice too strident for me and the verses of the psalm too arty. Not enough traditional music for my tastes. (Though the Latin Agnus Dei was a nice touch of tradition). The Sanctus left me cold. Alleluia OK.

When readings are given in various languages it seems that it would be wonderful if the lector could intone: Verbum Domini so the entire congregation could reply Deo gratias (as is done on EWTN). As it was only those who knew the language of the reading could respond. I also think praying the LORD'S Prayer in Latin beats each one praying it in one's own language.

I sensed some discomfort knowing Cardinal Law was not present, while Senator Ted Kennedy was there.

And, oh no, Eucharistic Prayer II used! No comment....

O'Malley Is Installed as Archbishop of Boston

"....Some Boston-area Roman Catholics see O'Malley's arrival as a new beginning for the church since he has established a reputation for healing dioceses wounded by sexual abuse.

But others question whether a traditionalist who supports the conservative teachings of the church will be able to make the changes needed to repair the damage here...."

Hmmmm.... are there those who think only a dissenter from Catholic teachings can make the necessary changes to repair the damage???????

Sean Patrick O'Malley's Homily at Installation Mass

Some of the spontaneous humor absent in this official text

Sean O'Malley's Installation Mass on TV

Coverage on now and Installation Mass begins at 11 AM EST.

The LORD still works wonders through human weakness, and still commissions some to "rebuild His Church." The Church rejuvenates before our very eyes!

May the LORD bless Sean Patrick O'Malley and the Church of Boston. May the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ warm what is cold, soften what is hard, and change mourning into dancing.

"Weeping comes in the night; but with the dawn, rejoicing." (Psalm 30:5)

Rites, challenges await O'Malley

"...But today, when an estimated 2,500 people are expected to assemble at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston's South End to witness O'Malley's installation, many are choosing to put aside their anger and anxiety and focus on possibility...

"...Although much of the public attention of the day will probably be focused on O'Malley's homily and how he addresses the abuse crisis, theologically the heart of the day will be O'Malley's first Mass as archbishop.

''People keep asking me, what is the most important part of the day, and what I will be looking for is the moment of profound significance when he celebrates the Holy Eucharist with the faithful of the Archdiocese of Boston,'' said Raymond L. Flynn, the former mayor of Boston who served as US ambassador to the Vatican during the Clinton administration. ''That's when he is presenting the people of Boston with hope and spiritual well-being. That's when the healing begins.''

Hepburn remembers Md. church

"Bequest: The recently deceased Hollywood star with roots on the Shore leaves $10,000 to the Kent County chapel where her grandfather long served as parish priest. "

Today in (American) Christian history

July 30, 1775: The U.S. Army founds its chaplaincy, making it the Army's oldest division after the infantry.

July 30, 1956: "In God We Trust" becomes the official motto of the United States by an act of Congress signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Tuesday, July 29, 2003
Our Lady of Hope Chapel

The Chapel of Our Lady of Hope in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the the Immaculate Conception, dedicated May 29, 1994, is a gift of Bob Hope and his wife, Delores, in memory of Mr. Hope’s mother, Avis Towes Hope.

Thanks, Susan, for this wonderful piece of information!

Entertainer Bob Hope died a Catholic

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Entertainer Bob Hope died a Catholic, according to Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles.

"One of my greatest joys is knowing that Bob Hope died as a Catholic," Cardinal Mahony said in a July 28 statement.

"Over the years I would invite him to join the church, but he would respond in his typical humor, 'My wife, Dolores, does enough praying to take care of both of us.' But eventually her prayers prevailed and he was baptized into the Catholic Church and was strengthened these past years through the regular reception of holy Communion."

Hope was 100 when he died July 27 at his home in Toluca Lake outside Los Angeles....

The Servant of God Metropolitan Andrew

Born today in 1865

Andrew Sheptytsky, Metropolitan Archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, 1865-1944

"The Metropolitan lay calmly with eyes shut and breathed with difficulty, as he had previously. Then he began to pray again. He opened his eyes and began to talk to us:

'Our Church will be ruined, destroyed by the Bolsheviks, but you will hold on, do not renounce the faith, the Catholic Church. A difficult trial will fall on our Church, but it is passing. I see the rebirth of our Church, it will be more beautiful, more glorious than of old, and it will embrace all our people. Ukraine,' the metropolitan continued, "will rise again from her destruction and will become a mighty state, united, great, comparable to other highly-developed countries. Peace, wellbeing, happiness, high culture, mutual love and harmony will rule here. It will all be as I say. It is only necessary to pray that the Lord God and the Mother of God will care for our poor tired people, who have suffered so much, and that God's care will last forever.'"

From an interview with Fr. Yosyf Kladochnyi about Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky's last moments of earthly life."

Bishop charged with sex assault

I do not usually post items like this unless there is what I hope a good reason. Here I post it to indicate that if this incident had involved a Catholic bishop it would have been plastered over all the news media and found its way into countless blogs. But, as far as I know, this sad story was hardly noticed. I wonder what that's all about....

Metropolitan Philip Saliba has issued a statement regarding Bishop Dmitri. I hope we keep him and all involved in our prayers. The ecumenism of sin and suffering and bearing one another's burdens!

P.S. I ask the understanding of any Orthodox who might think I am simply spreading gossip and detraction here. I read several Orthodox message boards and have seen more than one reference to the failures and sins of Catholic bishops. I have not noticed anything about this bishop, however. I am well aware of my own weaknesses and failures and sins (I really am "the chief of sinners") but I just wish to show how the media seems to focus much more on the scandals of the Catholic Church than of any other Church or religion.


III - Parishes replenish from other shores

HUMANAE VITAE: 35th anniversary

"Now, what we continue to call Western civilization is in very much the same plight as was the Roman Empire in St Augustine's time, due, not as the media and the politicians would have us believe, to economic and political factors, but to an overall moral crisis. The Catholic response to this crisis has always appealed to me. For instance, Humanae Vitae.

Forbidding the use of contraceptive devices seemed absolutely correct: the separation brought about by the use of these devices between sexuality and its purpose, which is procreation, and its condition, which is lasting love, can only be morally disastrous."

- Malcolm Muggeridge, "Why I Am Becoming A Catholic"

Today in Christian history

July 29, 1030: Viking king Olaf Haraldsson, patron saint of Norway, dies in the battle of Stiklestad. Though limited in his ability to force his countrymen to convert during his reign, his death was later hailed as a miracle-filled martyrdom and, as his legend grew, it spurred on christiansd converting the country. In time, Olaf became one of the most well-known saints of medieval Christendom, and his relics in Norway became one of Europe's most popular pilgrimage destinations.

July 29, 1865: Roman Aleksander Maria Sheptytski is born in western Ukraine. A man of profound spirituality and vision, he was elected as Metropolitan Andrew of the Ukrainian Catholic Church and left a deep imprint on the Ukrainian Church and society.

July 29, 1968: 35 years ago, Pope Paul VI issues his encyclical "Humanae Vitae," which upheld the Church's traditional rejection of artificial contraception. Paul VI did not accept the majority report of the Commission set up to deal with this issue, but rather followed his own conscience and inspiration, and gave forth what some believe a prophetic word to the twentieth century (and into our own). "Humanae Vitae" is considered by some a watershed regarding dissent from Church teachings. The Encyclical itself seems to be unknown to many Catholics (and some dissented from it before even reading it!).

Monday, July 28, 2003
Only in New Joisey!

I hope and pray!

Lovely photographic tribute to Archbishop Anastasios of Albania

This Orthodox bishop has been a leader in the renewal of Christianity in ravaged Albania. He has excellent relations with the Catholic Church.

True and False Reform

An article by Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ, in "First Things" (August 2003)

"...Since Vatican II reform movements have proliferated, but some of them have been ambiguous or misconceived. On the left we find initiatives that seek to make the Church more tolerant, more liberal, and more democratic. Some progressivist reformers aim to dissolve the Church’s hierarchical structure and transform her into an egalitarian democracy. Bishops have now and again criticized or condemned liberalizing groups such as the “We Are Church” movement, which originated in Austria, and the “Call to Action” here in the United States.

Moderately to the right are orthodox but intransigent theologians who aspire to “reform the reforms” introduced in the wake of Vatican II. At the extreme right the Church is confronted by movements that seek to undo the work of the Council itself, restoring what they venerate as Tridentine Catholicism. The Holy See has condemned the reactionary traditionalism of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. His breakaway church and a variety of so-called Sedevacantist movements are certainly schismatic if not openly heretical.

In order to make a sound evaluation of reform movements, it will be helpful to unpack the concept of reform itself. To reform is to give new and better form to a preexistent reality, while preserving the essentials. Unlike innovation, reform implies organic continuity; it does not add something foreign or extrinsic. Unlike revolution or transformation, reform respects and retains the substance that was previously there. Unlike development, it implies that something has gone wrong and needs to be corrected. The point of departure for reform is always an idea or institution that is affirmed but considered to have been imperfectly or defectively realized. The goal is to make persons or institutions more faithful to an ideal already accepted...."

And lot more good stuff on an important topic!

Today in Christian history

July 28, 1148: Too weak to retake Edessa from the Muslims, the armies of the Second Crusade beseige Damascus. They blundered and were forced to retreat within five days. Believers throughout Christendom were shocked and devastated that a crusade preached by a moral exemplar (Bernard of Clairvaux) and led by royalty (King Louis VII of France and Emperor Conrad III of Germany) would fail.

July 28, 1727: Moody, stiff young preacher Jonathan Edwards marries Sarah Pierrepont, a lively 17-year-old. The union proved happy and produced 11 children, six of who were born on Sundays. This caused a bit of a scandal, because people then believed children were born the same weekday they were conceived. Nonetheless, people admired the marriage, including George Whitefield, who declared, "A sweeter couple I have not seen".

July 28, 1750: Johann Sebastian Bach dies. One of the greatest musical geniuses of all times, Bach was a devout Christian (Lutheran) who inscribed all his musical scores with the words: Soli Deo gloria (To God alone the glory). His music enriches the worship of all Christian traditions and is much loved by Catholics. Bach is a good example, perhaps, of the ecumenism of beauty!

July 28, 1844: Gerard Manley Hopkins is born. Hopkins excelled in academics and the classics and wrote poetry. As a young man, Hopkins converted to the Catholic Faith, and a few years later entered the Jesuits (and burned all his poems). Under obedience, he wrote another poem and then continued writing poetry, even as he worked as a priest, teaching, and in parish ministry. His poetic works, relatively few, reflect his faith, his joys and sorrows, his vision of creation, and his theory of "inscape." Hans Urs von Balthasar speaks of Hopkin's poetry as another sacramental enfleshment of the Word of God! Hopkins is my favorite poet.

Sunday, July 27, 2003
New Bishops for Sidney, Australia

"Bishops fear purge of liberals as Pell gives nod to conservatives"

Thanks to Amy Welborn for pointing to this report which strikes me as quite pathetic.

"...One senior church source said local priests feared it was part of a campaign to convert Sydney to "neo-orthodoxy"....

I wonder: does that mean that Sydney is now "paleo-orthodox" or does it mean Sydney is now "heterodox?"

"More Good Stuff" from RJN

Finally, Father Richard John Neuhaus' "Public Square" for June-July '03 is online!

Here are the topics covered:

Christian Unity: Beginning Again, Again
Why Aren’t Muslims Like Us?
The Conservatism of Andrew Sullivan
What Sacred Architecture Is For
Renewal Deferred
While We’re At It


Back to the Long Lent

From Father Richard John Neuhaus' "Public Square" June-July 2003

"At this point I segue into a further reflection on our Long Lent that began in January of last year. Yes, there are, sad to say, some cases of priestly sex abuse that have been proved to be true in a court of law or have been admitted by perpetrators. But, thanks to the scandalous policy adopted by the bishops at Dallas last June, there are today hundreds of priests who have been suspended from ministry and have had their names publicly smeared without proof or even credible evidence. They protest their innocence, but to be accused is, for all practical purposes, to be deemed guilty. So eager are the bishops to protect the children, their diocesan purse, and their own public image. Protecting all three, and especially the children, is imperative. But what about the grave injustice to innocent priests? I know it is unpopular to even raise the question. Many bishops and enraged lay people respond that the injustice is regrettable, but it is the price to be paid.

That is a response unworthy of Christians. It is evasive, it is scapegoating, it is an abdication of moral responsibility. I am not sure why I bother writing about this. Unlike the efforts of Dorothy Rabinowitz, it is not likely to change anything. The Dallas policy, with a few modifications by Rome, is set in concrete. There will be more embarrassing headlines, notably from Los Angeles, but the fevered pitch of national scandal has subsided and is not likely to be reignited. The bishops, for the most part, got themselves off the hook. The Boston Globe got its Pulitzer Prize. It’s back to business as usual. Renewal can wait for another day. Along the way, the Church has, in crucial respects, sacrificed to the state the right to govern itself. On a massive scale, trust has been violated, confidences broken, and reputations destroyed. Throughout it all, the gospel of sin and grace, repentance and restoration, went unspoken and undone.

Perhaps, in time, some good priests falsely accused will be returned to the ministry to which they were called by Christ and his Church. Maybe the National Review Board, the bishops’ institutionalized admission that they cannot be trusted, will come up with something pointing toward genuine reform. The promised Vatican statement on the inadmissibility of homosexuals to the priesthood is, according to some reports, still on track. Certainly the sexual abuse of teenage boys—which is what the scandal is mainly about—will not be treated cavalierly as it often was in the past, and that is a great gain.

But faithful Catholics beyond numbering view their bishops very differently now. The strange thing is that it doesn’t seem to make much difference. Boston excepted, at the parish level life goes on, and there are even many reports of increased participation and giving. It is finally the Mass that holds the Catholic Church together, which is to say it is Christ in his promised presence. Reports of catastrophe and calls for renewal notwithstanding, the Church remains a community of sinners. Forgiven sinners called to be saints, to be sure, but sinners nonetheless. So it has always been and so it will be to the end of time, and for that we must be immeasurably grateful. And yet, I trust it is not ingratitude to remember that, out of the Long Lent, some of us had hoped for something more from the leaders that, for reasons He only knows, God has given us. Perhaps the unsatisfactory outcome of this unhappy time is a salutary reminder that genuine reform and renewal has to begin with each one of us. I apologize for a conclusion that limps out on a truism, but the good thing about truisms is that they are true. "

O'Malley's path of quiet conviction

By Globe Staff, 7/27/2003

He was born in Ohio, raised in Pennsylvania, and began his life as a bishop in a tiny Caribbean diocese where his predecessor, Cardinal Bernard F. Law, went to high school.

On Wednesday, Bishop Sean P. O'Malley, 59, becomes the sixth archbishop of Boston, where he will confront the wreckage of a clergy sexual abuse scandal that victimized hundreds, eroded church attendance, and has led the church in Boston to the brink of bankruptcy.

Today, the Globe examines defining moments along O'Malley's path to the nation's fourth largest Catholic diocese.

The Capuchin Franciscan friar fought for social justice among poor immigrants when he ran the Washington Archdiocese's Spanish center from 1973 to 1978. When the poor tenants in the building where he worked faced eviction, O'Malley moved in with them, stood up to the landlord, and eventually helped raise money to buy the building outright.

His first work as bishop was in the Virgin Islands, where he built homeless shelters, opened an AIDS hospice, and shared a neighborhood with prostitutes and drug-dealers. His life of self-denial inspired one of his parishioners, who had abandoned her faith for 20 years, to return to the church and work among the sick and the poor.

As bishop of Fall River in the 1990s, O'Malley struggled to help the diocese recover from the sexual abuse scandal wrought by the Rev. James Porter. But he also displayed his orthodox credentials, backing a local pastor who had revoked a political candidate's privilege to distribute Communion because of the candidate's pro-choice stance on abortion.

These are three key chapters in Sean O'Malley's career.

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