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 09, 2003
Saint Edith Stein
Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Edith Stein in the habit of Carmel where she became a living sacrifice of praise. On August 9, 1942 she was sent to the gas chamber at Auschwitz


"At this time, Edith's friend, Frau Hedwig Conrad-Martius, suggested that she should write an essay "Plant-soul-animal-soul-human soul," which was to cause a sensation among her colleagues. The whole work was an ascent, an acknowledgment of God, which seemed to show that she was already converted.

Such was the opinion of her friends, but Edith was not convinced. Did she ever pray for the grace of faith? She herself said later, "My longing for truth was a prayer in itself."

Her work and study with Hedwig Conrad-Martius and her husband had developed a real friendship between them, which often led Edith to make longer or shorter visits to Bergzabern, where her friends were running a large fruit-farm. Edith, who never shrank from practical work, found the fruit-picking, packing and grading a valuable mental relaxation. She threw herself into whatever was going on. During the day they worked; in the evening they talked philosophy.

It happened, however, that during one of these holiday visits both husband and wife had to go away. Before their departure Frau Conrad-Martius took her friend over to the book-case and told her to take her pick. They were all at her disposal. Edith herself tells us, "I picked at random and took out a large volume. It bore the title The Life of St. Teresa of Avila , written by herself . I began to read, was at once captivated, and did not stop till I reached the end. As I closed the book I said, 'That is the truth'."

Day was breaking. Edith hardly noticed it. God's hand was upon her and she did not turn from Him. In the morning she went into the town to buy two things: a Catholic catechism and a missal. She studied them until she had mastered their contents. Then for the first time she went into a Catholic Church, the Parish Church at Bergzabem, to hear Mass.

"Nothing was strange to me," said Edith later. "Thanks to my previous study, I understood even the smallest ceremonies. The priest, a saintly-looking old man, went to the altar and offered the holy sacrifice reverently and devoutly. After Mass I waited till he had made his thanksgiving. I followed him to the presbytery and asked him without more ado for Baptism. He looked astonished and answered that one had to be prepared before being received into the Church. 'How long have you been receiving instruction and who has been giving it?' The only reply I could make was, 'Please, your Reverence, test my knowledge.' "

This was the start of a theological discussion ranging over the entire doctrine of the Catholic Church. Edith never failed in her answers. The priest, astonished by what he saw of the workings of divine grace in Edith's heart, could not refuse her Baptism.

The formalities were arranged between them. Who would be her sponsor? Edith asked her friend Hedwig Conrad-Martius to do her this service. They fixed her Baptism for New Year's Day, I922. The joyful catechumen kept vigil during the preceding night and in the early hours of the New Year the miracle of Baptism was performed in her.

As a thanksgiving she chose the name of Teresa. On the same day she received the Sacrament of the altar, which from now on was to be her daily food. Now she was a Christian, a child of Mother Church."

- From Edith Stein, by Sister Teresia de Spiritu Sancto, O.D.C., Sheed & Ward, 1952

The Cable Guy

I thoroughly enjoy the movie by that name with Jim Carrey and Matthew Broderick; but this is not about that cable guy. It's about the cable guy who came to our house Friday afternoon to install a high speed cable internet connection for a new resident of our household. That cable guy barely installed her new line (she got it fixed this morning over the phone), messed up her computer, and he just happened to completely mess up my own prior internet connection and all the cable TVs in the house as well!

This evening another cable guy came by. He wasn't exactly cheerful (and ONION terrorizing him didn't help!); and was decidedly already "off the job." Seems like the first cable guy just gave the new resident my dedicated cable line and so left me bereft of any "connectivity". But this evening's cable guy didn't want to correct this and so just left.... as I cried out (from my wheelchair, I might add!): "Don't go! I need the internet!" To no avail..... I must admit, I lost my serenity this evening!

Well, the new resident has a dial up account as well and so kindly installed it on my computer for the interim until the next cable guy comes out Monday morning. It is slow but at least it works! So I can at least read and send email and perhaps do a little blogging as well. But I am looking forward to getting back my high speed connection even though not happy about the service of the company (I have been a long standing customer).

By the way, neither cable guy offered me free movie channels.... But then I am no Matthew Broderick!

Friday, August 08, 2003
Stolen Treasure

Reading John Allen's latest The Word from Rome column (usually fascinating stuff), I came across a name of someone I know and even lived with for some years, Father Brian Johnstone, C.SS.R., who is quoted extensively by Allen.

Brian is a quiet, unassuming, gentle, kind man with a penetrating intellect. Once, walking home to the Redemptorist House in Washington, DC, he was mugged. The mugger took his carrying case and ran off. And the mugger was now the unrightful - and probably unhappily disappointed - owner of David Tracy's "Analogical Imagination."

Father Johnstone was OK (and bit ruffled and a bruise or two). I don't know if he ever purchased for himself another copy of David Tracy's book (and it is still in print!).


From the Catholic League

On the CBS Evening News of August 6, it was reported that the Vatican issued a document in 1962 that “lays out a church policy that calls for absolute secrecy when it comes to sexual abuse by priests—anyone who speaks out could be thrown out of the church.” Immediately, Larry Drivon, a lawyer who represents those allegedly victimized by priests, charged that the Catholic Church was engaged in “Mafia-style behavior—racketeering.” He added that the Vatican document is “an instruction manual on how to deceive and how to protect pedophiles.

Catholic League president William Donohue replied as follows:

“This is an issue fraught with deception all right—but it’s not the Vatican that’s guilty—it’s CBS. By ripping the document out of context, CBS led viewers to believe that the Vatican was engaged in a sexual abuse cover-up as early as 1962. Here’s what it didn’t say in its report.

“First, the document did not apply to sexual misconduct—it applied only to sexual solicitation. Second, the only venue the document addressed was the confessional. In other words, it was meant to deal only with cases of sexual solicitation by a priest of a penitent in the confessional. Third, because the policy was specifically aimed at protecting the secrecy of the confessional, it called for an ecclesiastical response: civil authorities were not to be notified because it involved a sacrament of the Catholic Church, not a crime of the state. Fourth, if a priest were found guilty, he could be thrown out of the priesthood. Fifth, if the penitent were to tell someone what happened (perhaps another priest), he or she had 30 days to report the incident to the bishop or face excommunication. If anything, this proves how utterly serious the Vatican was about such an offense—it threatened to punish the penitent for not turning in the guilty priest. Sixth, the 1962 document was superseded by the 1983 Code of Canon Law and the norms established in 2001 for dealing with serious crimes involving the sacraments.

“For CBS to leave all this out shows how hungry it is to malign the Catholic Church. If anyone is acting like the Mafia, it’s CBS.”

Essentially agreeing with Bill Donohue is The National Catholic Reporter's John Allen.

Blessed Mary MacKillop

This is a personal site with information on Australia's first possible saint.

Fascinating, as usual, is the "stuff" of the lives of the saints:

"...In December 1869 Mary and several other Sisters travelled to Brisbane to establish the Order in Queensland. Two years later she was in Port Augusta for the same purpose. In 1871 they also established a school in Burra. During this eventful year, Mary was wrongly excommunicated by Bishop Sheil, who was against most of the things she had fought for, on the grounds that 'she had incited the sisters to disobedience and defiance'. An Episcopal Commission exonerated her and she was reinstated in St Ignatius Church in 1872..."

Gay bishop to address homosexual Christians

"...The Rt. Rev. Mouneer Anis, a bishop in Egypt, said Mr. Robinson's election would seriously damage Anglican relations with the Muslim world.

"We cannot comprehend a decision to elect as bishop a man who has forsaken his wife and the vows he made to her to live in a sexual relationship with another man outside the bonds of his marriage," Anis said..."

Anglican Church Leader to Summon Bishops

LONDON (AP) -- The archbishop of Canterbury said Friday he would summon the world's Anglican leaders to try to restore unity following the confirmation of a U.S. Episcopal gay bishop, a move that outraged conservatives.

Archbishop Rowan Williams said the meeting was planned for London in October, and invitations would be sent this week.

``I am clear that the anxieties caused by recent developments have reached the point where we will need to sit down and discuss their consequences,'' Williams said...."

And from the BBC:

Summit to debate gay bishops

Episcopalians Approve Local Option on Same-Sex Unions

..."This is very significant," said Bishop Steven Charleston, who is president and dean of the Episcopal Divinity School. "It opens a two-way street. For those on one side of the street, it is not condoning or endorsing this. On the other side, it is not prohibiting them..."

Dominic de Guzman: 1170 - 1221

A saint whose spirit continues to bear rich fruit for the Church and the world

He spoke only with God or about God

To celebrate the memorial today, August 8th, of this "hound of the Lord" (Domini canis), we could join Dominic in at least one of his Nine Ways of Prayer.

And may the faith-filled, zealous, poor and joyous servant of the Word, Saint Dominic pray for us!

"A man who governs his passions is master of his world. We must either command them or be enslaved by them. It is better to be a hammer than an anvil. "

- Saint Dominic

A blessed day to all, especially all breeds of the Hounds of the Lord!

Today in Christian history

August 8, 1471: Thomas a Kempis, Dutch mystic and devotional author of "The Imitation of Christ", dies at age 91. The "Imitation" has been one of the most influential books ever written, well known and much loved by many saints.

The Wonderful Effects of Divine Love

Book Three, Chapter Five, "The Imitation of Christ"

"...Nothing is sweeter than love, nothing stronger or higher or wider; nothing is more pleasant, nothing fuller, and nothing better in heaven or on earth, for love is born of God and cannot rest except in God, Who is above all created things.

One who is in love flies, runs, and rejoices; he is free, not bound. He gives all for all and possesses all in all, because he rests in the one sovereign Good, Who is above all things, and from Whom every good flows and proceeds. He does not look to the gift but turns himself above all gifts to the Giver.

Love often knows no limits but overflows all bounds. Love feels no burden, thinks nothing of troubles, attempts more than it is able, and does not plead impossibility, because it believes that it may and can do all things. For this reason, it is able to do all, performing and effecting much where he who does not love fails and falls.

Love is watchful. Sleeping, it does not slumber. Wearied, it is not tired. Pressed, it is not straitened. Alarmed, it is not confused, but like a living flame, a burning torch, it forces its way upward and passes unharmed through every obstacle. .."

Thursday, August 07, 2003
'Difficult Days Ahead' For Anglican Commmunion

"Christianity Today's" weblog by Ted Olson

Conservatives rebuff gay Episcopal bishop

"....Thousands of Episcopalians who do not fit that niche have left for what are known as "continuing churches" — groups that are "continuing" with the Anglican Communion but not aligned with the U.S. church. Today, the continuing churches report a U.S. membership of 30,000 with 150,000 adherents overseas, says the Christian Challenge, a magazine for Episcopal traditionalists.

The Rev. Thomas Zain, spokesman for the 200,000-member Antiochan (sic) Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America in Englewood, N.J., said about 30 percent of its 450 priests and deacons are converts from the Episcopal Church and roughly 10,000 Antiochan (sic) laity are former Episcopalians.

"Every time something happens, we get more and more calls," he said. "With something like this, we are anticipating a large group...."

In the nearest Antiochian Orthodox parish the pastor is a former Episcopal priest. And at least three other former Episcopal priests have been members of this parish: one, a parish priest of an Anglo-Catholic parish in D.C., went on to seminary and is now an ordained Antiochian Orthodox priest, another, a former Catholic priest as well, died as an older (lay)man, and another, retired pastor of the Baltimore Anglo-Catholic parish of Mt Calvary, is now a member of another local Orthodox parish.

Episcopal Leaders Reject Proposal for Same-Sex Union Liturgy

"..MINNEAPOLIS, Aug. 6 — Only a day after approving the election of the Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop, prelates of the church tonight rejected a proposal to begin writing an official liturgy for the blessing of same-sex unions..."

Today in Christian history

August 7, 317: Constantius II, Son of Constantine the Great and Roman emperor from 337 to 361, is born. During his lifetime, he outlawed pagan sacrifice (see "The Emperor Strikes Back" in issue 57: The Conversion of Rome). But Constantius was also a devout Arian (a heresy his father had condemned at the Council of Nicea) and strongly opposed Athanasius.

August 7, 1409: The Council of Pisa, convened by the cardinals to end the Great Schism that had divided Western Christendom since 1378, closes. The council deposed both warring popes as schismatics and heretics, and elected Alexander V. It didn't end the schism (as there were now three warring popes), but it paved the way toward a solution at the Council of Constance in 1417.

August 7, 1771: Francis Asbury answers John Wesley's call for volunteers to go to America as missionaries; he would become the father of American Methodism.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003
Anglican Leader Tries to Avert Split Over Gay Bishop Election

"LONDON -- Anglicans in many parts of the world reacted angrily Wednesday to U.S. Episcopalians' confirmation of their first openly gay bishop, with some threatening to cut ties with the American church. The archbishop of Canterbury tried to avert a split...."

Amy Welborn, in her new attractively designed blog, Open Book, critiques those Catholics who seem to take glee in the problems of the Episcopal Church and hope for a windfall of "refugees" who swim the Tiber. I agree with her sentiments completely. This is a time for prayer, reflection, fidelity, and charity, not for triumphalism, or "sheep stealing" tactics. God knows how wonderful it is when sincere seekers find the fulness of truth as those like Newman, and Chesterton and so many others. But God knows the goodness and holiness of those who were faithful Anglicans to the end as C.S. Lewis and Evelyn Underhill and so many others.

The Catholic Church should not take glee but should be a welcome home to those who seek the fulness of truth. It's a delicate balance, perhaps. But in any case the essential for us Catholics is fidelity to the gospel and holiness of life, and an all embracing love of brothers and sisters in Christ, united by the bond of holy baptism.

On all: Come, Holy Spirit!

Hope springs eternal

Even as my next cruise comes closer - a cruise to the Bahamas (again!) out of NYC on the new and gorgeous Norwegian Sun, Sept. 21-28. We got a big free upgrade (about 13 categories of different cabins) and will have a very large handicapped accessible cabin with a private balcony. Four of us are going and staying in the room: my usual travel buddy, Father Michael, and two of his twentysomething children (he is Orthodox!). Should be a fun trip. I love being at sea, and have found that a cruise is as relaxing a time as any I have known.

Hope springs eternal and so these last weeks and days I have been booking cruises for 2004. (Two years ago today I was still in a nursing home, eager to go home after almost five months away, but not knowing when I would be released. It turned out I came home on August 14, 2001, the Vigil of the Assumption). Now I am hoping to be around for a while yet and so have booked a few cruises for the next year. Three of them are short "cruises to nowhere" out of Baltimore, where I live, on the yet to be launched Carnival Miracle. (Hey! Maybe some locals would like to join us on one or more of these cruises?).

And being a Norwegian Cruise Line loyalist (and loving their innovative "freestyle" cruising), I booked yet another cruise on the beautiful Norwegian Sun (this will be my third time on this ship): Jan 25 - Feb 1 out of Miami, to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and spots in Mexico. There are other itineraries I would prefer but can't find the ship or price or timing that is just right. But, for me anyway, the ship itself is the "resort" and I have no great need to go ashore in most places. As long as I can view the port and environs from the vantage of an upper deck!

The finances?

Deus providabit!

Hope springs eternal!

Pews fill in the Church of Ireland

by Bill Bowder

SUPPORT for the Church of Ireland has taken off over the past ten years according to official statistics. The Church (Anglican), which experienced almost continuous decline throughout much of the past century, is now growing faster than at any time since it was disestablished in the 19th century.

This information is taken from the 2002 Irish national census, published this year. It shows that membership of the Anglican Church has grown by 30 per cent since the 1991 census, up by 26,400 to 115,611. Support for the Presbyterian Church has increased by 56 per cent, going up by 7400 to 20,582. The Methodists also increased by 5000, to 10,000.

However, the number of Muslims in Ireland is growing even faster, and now stands at just over 19,000 — four times more than at the last census. Orthodox Christians have also increased in number, from 400 in 1991 to more than 10,000 last year.

Immigration is considered to be part of the reason for these increases: 27,000 immigrants have claimed allegiance to the Anglican, the Presbyterian or the Methodist Church. But, since immigration from the UK is down on ten years ago, other considerations are needed to explain the reverse in the Churches’ fortunes.

Brian Parker, a spokesman for the Church of Ireland, said that some of the growth was thought to have come from Roman Catholics’ becoming Anglicans. But Roman Catholicism is still by far the strongest religious tradition among the Republic’s 3,917,200 residents: as many as 3,426,600 claim allegiance to it. This is up 234,300 on the last census, but down in percentage terms, from 91.6 per cent to 88.4 per cent.

According to the 1926 census, after the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922, the Church of Ireland had 164,215 members in the south. By the end of the Second World War, it had 124,829.

From "Anglicans Online"

The Solemnity of the Transfiguration of the LORD

Russian icon of the Transfiguration, Novgorod school

"LORD, it is good that we are here!" Good indeed to see your radiant glory! May the Light of Tabor shine on us in our darkness and give us new courage and hope for the journey towards our final transfiguration with you to the praise of God's glory.

Today's feast is celebrated with special fervor and beautiful traditions in the eastern Christian world. Today we can all join together in honoring CHRIST TRANSFIGURED, who calls us as well "to reflect as in a mirror the glory of the LORD, being transformed into his very image, going from glory to glory" (2 Cor 4:18).

Father, you have revealed your Son radiant in glory, in whom you are well pleased. May we show the obedience of faith and always LISTEN TO CHRIST, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Anglicans warned over gay bishop

"The spiritual leader of the world's Anglican Christians has warned of "difficult days" ahead following the controversial appointment of the first openly gay bishop in the United States."

Two Prayers of Archbishop Francois Fenelon on the anniversary of death in 1651

Both of these beautiful prayers are sometimes attributed to Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow and the first is sometimes called "The Prayer of the Optina Elders" in Russian Orthodox circles (this shows perhaps the "ecumenism of prayer and holiness"):

Prayer at the Beginning of the Day

0 LORD, grant me to greet the coming day in peace. Help me in all things to rely upon thy holy will. In every hour of the day reveal thy will to me. Bless my dealings with all who surround me. Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul, and with firm conviction that thy will governs all. In all my deeds and words guide my thoughts and feelings. In unforseen events let me not forget that all are sent by thee. Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others. Give me strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day with all that it shall bring. Direct my will, teach me to pray, pray thou thyself in me. Amen.

Prayer for Acceptance of God's Will

O Lord, I do not know what to ask of You.
You alone know what are my true needs.
You love me more than I myself know how to love.
Help me to see my real needs which are concealed from me.
I dare not ask either for a cross or consolation.
I can only wait on You.
My heart is open to You.
Visit and help me, for the sake of Your great mercy.
Strike me and heal me, cast me down and raise me up.
I worship in silence Your holy will and Your unsearchable ways.
I offer myself as a sacrifice to You.
I have no other desire than to fulfill Your will.
Teach me to pray.
Pray You Yourself in me.

Today in Christian history

August 6, 1221: Dominic, founder of the Order of Preachers (or Dominicans), dies, having just confessed his darkest sin—that, though he had always been chaste, he enjoyed talking with younger women more than older ones. He left this "inheritance" to his followers: "Have charity among you, hold to humility, possess voluntary poverty." A mere five years earlier, he had six followers. At his death, he had thousands.

August 6, 1651: Francois Fenelon, Roman Catholic priest and mystical theologian, is born in Perigord, France. His 1697 "Explication des Maximes des Saintes" is still in print under the title "Christian Perfection."

August 6, 1774: Ann Lee and a small band of her followers arrive in New York from Liverpool, England. Though known as the "Shaking Quakers" and later the "Shakers," the millenarian communal society preferred to call itself the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Coming. They initially did not receive a warm welcome, as they were British and advocated pacifism and celibacy.

August 6, 1801: Revival hits a Presbyterian camp meeting in Cane Ridge, Kentucky. Within a week, 25,000 were attending the revival services. It was the largest and most famous camp meeting of the Second Great Awakening.

August 6, 1978: Pope Paul VI dies. I was blessed to attend the last public Mass celebrated by Paul VI - for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul in Saint Peter's in the Vatican. He spoke these poignant words then: "We look in a comprehensive way on what has been the period during which the Lord has entrusted us with His Church. ... Even if we consider ourselves as the least and most unworthy Successor of Peter, we feel on this threshold comforted and supported by the awareness of having tirelessly repeated, before the Church and the world: 'You are Christ, the Son of the Living God!' We too, like Paul, feel able to say: 'I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith...'."

Tuesday, August 05, 2003
Gay Bishop Wins in Episcopal Vote, Threatening Split

MINNEAPOLIS, Aug. 5 - The Episcopal Church approved the election of its first openly gay bishop tonight, reaching the historic decision after rejecting accusations of sexual misconduct against him that had suddenly halted the vote on Monday.

After being called back to the floor of the House of Bishops this afternoon, 62 of 107 diocesan bishops voted to approve the bishop-elect, V. Gene Robinson. Moments later, more than a dozen conservative bishops, their faces grim, marched slowly to the front of the House to denounce the decision as an affront to church teaching that would split the worldwide church in two.

``The bishops who stand before you are filled with sorrow,'' Bishop Robert Duncan, of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, told the room. "This body has divided itself for millions of Anglican Christians around the world, brothers and sisters who have pleaded with us to maintain the church's traditional teaching on marriage and sexuality. With grief too deep for words, the bishops who stand before you must reject this action.''

Bishop Duncan, one of a group of church leaders who had fought Bishop-elect Robinson's approval for weeks, said he and his colleagues would now call on the top leaders of the Anglican Communion - the 38 primates around the world - to intervene on the ``pastoral emergency that has overtaken'' the Episcopal Church. ``May God have mercy on this Church,'' he said.

But others rejoiced in the decision..."

AG: Dead priests accused of abuse entitled to privacy

Portland, Maine - Aug 5 - The state Attorney General's Office is worried that if it discloses the names of deceased priests who have been accused of sexually abusing minors, it might create a precedent.

"Government collects a substantial amount of personal information about private individuals, including unsubstantiated allegations of misconduct," Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin wrote in a brief filed in Superior Court last week. "To disclose such information - especially against individuals who are deceased and therefore cannot defend their legacy - would do a disservice to our private citizens and public figures, as well as their survivors."

Such a precedent has already been set in the Church by Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore. In his famous listing publicized with much media cooperation and preplanning, there were names of any number of dead priests. Thankfully it seems no other Bishop has followed the example set by Keeler; and his own listing was taken down from the internet within weeks of being published. But I know this from the comments of a good number of Baltimore priests: Cardinal Keeler "lost" his priests by this decision, taken without consultation of the presbyterate, but with consultation of the media and the "business community."

St. Mary Major Celebrates the Miracle of the Snowflake

The beloved and much venerated image of Our Lady, "Salus Populi Romani", enshrined in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, Rome

On August 5, as it has done for centuries, St. Mary Major Basilica will celebrate the miraculous snowfall that occurred during the night of August 4-5, 358 on the site where the basilica was built, according to a communique from the basilica administration.

Three days of preparation, in which Cardinals Francesco Mario Pompedda, prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, Sergio Sebastiani, prefect of the Prefecture of Economic Affairs of the Holy See, and Virgilio Noe, archpriest emeritus of St, Peter's Basilica will participate, will mark this annual event. The highlight on August 5 will be a Pontifical Mass celebrated by Cardinal Carlo Furno, archpriest of the basilica. During both Mass and Second Vespers the most noteworthy moment of this feast day occurs when there is a shower of flower petals from the ceiling of the basilica, to
commemorate the 358 August snowfall.

According to tradition, the Virgin Mary appeared in a dream to two faithful Roman Christians, the patrician John and his wife as well as to Pope Liberius (352-366), asking that a church in her honor be built on the site where snow would fall the night of August 4-5. Pope Liberius traced the outlines of the church in the snow and the first basilica was built on that site. It was completed about a century later by Pope Sixtus III, following the Council of Ephesus in 431 during which Mary was declared to be the Mother of God.

The basilica is called St. Mary Major as well as St. Mary of the Snows and the Liberian Basilica, for the Pope who ordered it built. It is famous for housing the relic of the crib of the Baby Jesus as well as the image of "Salus Populi Romani" which is revered by Romans, and which tradition says was painted by St. Luke.

- Vatican Information Service

First Martyrs of North America?

In posting the piece in today's Christian history, I learned - I think for the first time - about Jesuits who were murdered in Virginia in 1571. I did a brief internet search and found the following quickly:

Eight Spanish Jesuits who sailed up Virginia's James River in 1570 to convert American Indians and were killed by Indians are being promoted for sainthood by the Diocese of Richmond.

Bp Walter Sullivan announced the formation of a tribunal that will campaign the Vatican to recognize the Jesuits as martyrs and saints. Fr Gerald P Fogarty SJ, who teaches Catholic history at the University of Virginia, said Fr Baptista de Segura SJ headed an expedition from Florida in August 1570.

Accompanying Segura were Fr Luis de Quiros SJ; three Jesuit brothers, Gabriel Gomez, Sancho Zeballos, and Pedro Linares; and three novices, Gabriel de Solis, Juan Bautista Mendez, and Cristobal Redondo.

The group was guided by Don Luis de Velasco, a Virginia Indian who had been captured by Europeans 10 years earlier and was taught Spanish so he could serve as an interpreter.

The Jesuits arrived at Chesapeake Bay in September 1570, then continued about 40 miles up the James River to what is now College Creek. They then traveled by land to a settlement off the York River. De Velasco soon left the Jesuits' mission to live with the Indians, and in February 1571 led the killing of the missionaries, according to the accounts. The only person spared from the group was Alonso de Olmos, a boy whose father was a Spanish settler in Florida. The fact that the Indians didn't kill the only non-Jesuit in the group indicates the Jesuits were slain because of their religion, according to Catholic scholars. [Source: AP]

Today in Christian history

August 5, 642: Oswald, the king of Northumbria who first began the official establishment of Christianity in England, is "martyred" in battle against the pagan Penda of Mercia. Converted at Iona, Scotland, Oswald erected a wooden cross before one of his earliest battles and commanded his soldiers to pray. When he defeated the English king in that battle, Oswald commissioned the Irish monk Aidan to begain establishing Christianity.

August 5, 1570: Spanish Jesuits, intent on converting the Native Americans, arrive in Chesapeake Bay, Virginia. Six months later, Native Americans massacred the group, and the Jesuits ended their work in the region.

August 5, 1656: Eight Quakers from England arrive in Boston, where Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony immediately imprisoned them without trial. They were held until the ships that brought them were ready to take them back to England.

Monday, August 04, 2003
Episcopal Leaders Delay Vote on Gay Bishop

"...MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Plans by Episcopalian leaders to vote on confirming the church's first openly gay elected bishop were thrown into turmoil Monday when allegations emerged that he inappropriately touched a man and was affiliated with a youth Web site that had a link to pornography...."

"...Robyn Cotton, an Episcopalian in Concord, N.H., and a supporter of Robinson, called the allegations "preposterous.''

"This is horrible. It's character assassination,'' Cotton said..."

A Prayer for Andrew Sullivan

In today's Daily Dish, Andrew Sullivan writes: "It's hard to describe the agony gay Catholics are now in; and I'm facing a pretty major life-decision. In this, you need quiet to listen to God and pray sincerely for his help in the struggle to maintain a good conscience and lead a moral life. From your emails, I know I am not in this alone, and I'll be praying hard for all of us in this storm, pro and con, to find God's will for us, whatever it is."

O my God, hear the prayers of those who struggle to maintain a good conscience and who wish to lead a moral life. Let CHRIST enlighten and sustain by His Spirit! Let CHRIST be the truth that sets us free! Let those who struggle find grace to conform to your Will. Let all of us carry one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. Let us rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Let us all be aware of our own struggles and weaknesses and entrust all to your Mercies, never exhausted, never spent, but new each morning. Bless Andrew and all who seem to contemplate leaving your Church - O LORD, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life! May he and all of us put aside all bitterness and pettiness and a negating spirit and find joy in believing.

LORD, I believe; help my unbelief! LORD, that we may see!

Vote on Gay Bishop Today

"Deputies confirm Robinson's election; senior Episcopal bishops set to vote."

A reply to Frederica Mathewes-Green:

In the article of Frederica Mathewes-Green that I posted and that sparked a lively discussion, Frederica states, among other things:

"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."

To this I reply with Saint Thomas Aquinas' article in the "Summa" (and other articles are as enlightening as this and would indicate how seriously Frederica misrepresents Catholic teachings):

Whether Christ's Passion brought about our salvation by way of redemption?

Objection 1. It would seem that Christ's Passion did not effect our salvation by way of redemption. For no one purchases or redeems what never ceased to belong to him. But men never ceased to belong to God according to Ps. 23:1: "The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof: the world and all they that dwell therein." Therefore it seems that Christ did not redeem us by His Passion.

Objection 2. Further, as Augustine says (De Trin. xiii): "The devil had to be overthrown by Christ's justice." But justice requires that the man who has treacherously seized another's property shall be deprived of it, because deceit and cunning should not benefit anyone, as even human laws declare. Consequently, since the devil by treachery deceived and subjugated to himself man, who is God's creature, it seems that man ought not to be rescued from his power by way of redemption.

Objection 3. Further, whoever buys or redeems an object pays the price to the holder. But it was not to the devil, who held us in bondage, that Christ paid His blood as the price of our redemption. Therefore Christ did not redeem us by His Passion.

On the contrary, It is written (1 Pt. 1:18): "You were not redeemed with corruptible things as gold or silver from your vain conversation of the tradition of your fathers: but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb unspotted and undefiled." And (Gal. 3:13): "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." Now He is said to be a curse for us inasmuch as He suffered upon the tree, as stated above (46, 4). Therefore He did redeem us by His Passion.

I answer that, Man was held captive on account of sin in two ways: first of all, by the bondage of sin, because (John 8:34): "Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin"; and (2 Pt. 2:19): "By whom a man is overcome, of the same also he is the slave." Since, then, the devil had overcome man by inducing him to sin, man was subject to the devil's bondage. Secondly, as to the debt of punishment, to the payment of which man was held fast by God's justice: and this, too, is a kind of bondage, since it savors of bondage for a man to suffer what he does not wish, just as it is the free man's condition to apply himself to what he wills.

Since, then, Christ's Passion was a sufficient and a superabundant atonement for the sin and the debt of the human race, it was as a price at the cost of which we were freed from both obligations. For the atonement by which one satisfies for self or another is called the price, by which he ransoms himself or someone else from sin and its penalty, according to Dan. 4:24: "Redeem thou thy sins with alms." Now Christ made satisfaction, not by giving money or anything of the sort, but by bestowing what was of greatest price--Himself--for us. And therefore Christ's Passion is called our redemption.

Reply to Objection 1. Man is said to belong to God in two ways. First of all, in so far as he comes under God's power: in which way he never ceased to belong to God; according to Dan. 4:22: "The Most High ruleth over the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will." Secondly, by being united to Him in charity, according to Rm. 8:9: "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His." In the first way, then, man never ceased to belong to God, but in the second way he did cease because of sin. And therefore in so far as he was delivered from sin by the satisfaction of Christ's Passion, he is said to be redeemed by the Passion of Christ.

Reply to Objection 2. Man by sinning became the bondsman both of God and of the devil. Through guilt he had offended God, and put himself under the devil by consenting to him; consequently he did not become God's servant on account of his guilt, but rather, by withdrawing from God's service, he, by God's just permission, fell under the devil's servitude on account of the offense perpetrated. But as to the penalty, man was chiefly bound to God as his sovereign judge, and to the devil as his torturer, according to Mt. 5:25: "Lest perhaps the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer"- that is, "to the relentless avenging angel," as Chrysostom says (Hom. xi). Consequently, although, after deceiving man, the devil, so far as in him lay, held him unjustly in bondage as to both sin and penalty, still it was just that man should suffer it. God so permitting it as to the sin and ordaining it as to the penalty. And therefore justice required man's redemption with regard to God, but not with regard to the devil.

Reply to Objection 3. Because, with regard to God, redemption was necessary for man's deliverance, but not with regard to the devil, the price had to be paid not to the devil, but to God. And therefore Christ is said to have paid the price of our redemption - His own precious blood - not to the devil, but to God.

There is something exhilarating about the crystalline purity of Aquinas' writings; they brilliantly reflect the Truth mediated by Love, and seem to flow from a sanctified intellect and a pure heart. What a gift he is!

Sunday, August 03, 2003
1925-1964 (date of death: August 3)

Reposted from August 3, 2002, expanded

Saint Flannery of the South?

"When I read Flannery O'Connor, I do not think of Hemingway, or Katharine Anne Porter, or Sartre, but rather of someone like Sophocles. What more can you say for a writer? I write her name with honor, for all the truth and all the craft with which she shows man's fall and his dishonor." - Thomas Merton

Flannery O'Connor, on whose bed stand were always three books: the Bible, the Missal, and the Breviary, wrote short stories that are among the finest ever crafted, and explores, unforgettably and almost fiercely, the great themes of sin and redemption and the triumph of Grace. Her vision is centered in Christ and His Incarnation and Redemption, and how she sees through the pretensions of "modernism" in its rejection of the supernatural and of any absolute truth.

But what humor shines through all her work! And her letters (what letters!) shine with the joy of faith and of living, despite her suffering and early death from lupus. Her peacocks were a source of never-ending delight as well. Thankfully a wonderful new edition of many of her works has been published by the Library of America (well worth the price!). If you haven't met this great southern Catholic (who delighted to write about the fundamentalists in the "Christ-haunted south"), a feast awaits......

FLANNERY O'CONNOR: THE COLLECTED WORKS (Library of America) by Flannery O'Connor, Sally Fitzgerald (Editor)

OK! My favorite poet is Hopkins - but my favorite short story writer is Flannery O'Connor! I "met" her, as I did Hopkins, in High School, and she has been a companion of heart and soul since then. I have read her Short Stories many times over the years - and they always seem fresh and new - real "works of art." Her characters are unforgettable! And while she is piercing and utterly honest about the evils lurking in the human heart - she is, above all, the storyteller of the triumph of Grace.
Hers is a vision rooted in the Mysteries of Creation, the Fall, the Incarnation, the Redemption. But she speaks of these in stories that can both stun and shine! This edition of her works is the best I know and the most beautiful to behold and touch. A treasure-house - and it has most of her letters too! These letters have had me both crying and laughing - what a noble soul radiates in these stories and letters! She once called herself a "hillbilly Thomist" and you will find in Flannery O'Connor - A GREAT ARTIST AND GREAT CATHOLIC!


Here's just one example of her thousands of letters:

"A nasty dose of orthodoxy"

To Sally and Robert Fitzgerald

15 March 63

I have just got back from the Symposium on Religion & Art at Sweet Briar and boy do I have a stomach full of liberal religion! The Devil had his day there. It began with Boas talking about "Art & Magic." I don't know what he meant to say but he left the impression that religion was good because it was art and magic. Nothing behind it but it's good for you.

Then they had the Dean of Theological School at Drew. He was a Methodist-Universalist. I gather this means you don't drink but about theology you are as vague as possible and talk a lot about how the symbology has played out in Christianity and how it's up to artists to make up a new symbology. At these things you are considered great in direct proportion to how often you can repeat the word symbology.

They wedged me and James Johnson Sweeney in there somewhere. He was above the fray as he confined himself to Art, but I waded in and gave them a nasty dose of orthodoxy, which I am sure they thought was pretty quaint. It ended with John Ciardi who told them why religion was no good - or so I hear, I didn't go to his lecture.

James Johnson Sweeney asked most especially for you when he found out I knew you. I didn't get a chance to say much to him as everywhere they sat me I was next to the Methodist-Universalist. He left in the middle of my talk. I don't think it was a protest gesture, I just think he thought he could live a useful life without it. I told them that when Emerson decided in 1832 that he could no longer celebrate the Lord's supper unless the bread and wine were removed that an important step in the vaporization of religion in America had taken place. It was somewhere after that I think that he left ...

I haven't seen it in print but somebody told me he thought [Robert] got the Bollingen Prize. I congratulate you. You should have got it if you didn't. I guess you saw that Powers got the National Book Award. I was much cheered at that. I got the 0. Henry this year. Walker Percy got the N'tl Book Award last year. Katherine Anne will probably get the Pulitzer Prize. I think you ought to judge the prize by the book but even so these hold up and all these people are Catlicks so this should be some kind of answer to the people who are saying we don't contribute to the arts.

[P.S.] Have you read about the lady in Texas who is having a chapel built in the shape of John Glenn's capsule?

No wonder I am in love with Flannery O'Connor and hope someday to invoke her as "Saint Flannery of the South" - and once again, if you don't yet have it, do yourself and big favor and get this beautiful richly laden book:



This is the kind of book I like. I am a "people-person" and find I learn more from personal experiences and stories than from abstract theory. This is made all the easier since this daring venture ties together four of my favorite writers whose vision has influenced me, each in their own way: Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, Walker Percy, and Flannery O'Connor - "the school of the Holy Ghost" - as some referred to this outstanding foursome of Catholic writers. All but O'Connor were adult converts. Elie's narrative is full of information, details of lives and encounters, of the Christian vision and Catholic culture of these writers, all of whom shared a commitment to orthodoxy and orthopraxy, despite any foibles and weaknesses. Each are finally and still witnesses to the Reality of God and of Christ and of the importance of the Church and of a full and authentic humanity. Read and enjoy!


O'Malley shows deft fund-raising touch

"...O'Malley's ascetic lifestyle, while remote from the world of The Breakers set, has a way of attracting philanthropists and making them feel comfortable giving..."

Today in Christian history

August 3, 1492: Christopher Columbus sets sail from Spain for the "Indies." Though the explorer was in part driven by a quest for gold and glory, he also saw himself as a missionary. He thought, if there were a shortcut to the East by sea, missionaries could be sent there faster, thus enabling Christians to meet the provision for world evangelization before the Lord could return.

August 3, 1667: Jeremy Taylor, English scholar, theologian, and author of "Holy Living and Holy Dying", dies at 54.

August 3, 1964: The Catholic writer, Mary Flannery O'Connor, died in Milledgeville, Georgia. O'Connor wrote short stories mostly about characters in "the Christ-haunted south" and her writings are informed by a strong faith in Christ and the mystery of redemption. She described herself, with typical lightness of spirit, as a "hillbilly thomist." One of her most famous comments was made to a liberal theologian who spoke of the eucharist as "symbolic". Flannery's response was simple and memorable: "If it is only a symbol, I say: the hell with it!" She suffered from lupus and spent her last years raising her beloved peacocks. Truly one of the great Catholics of our own times.

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