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, May 29, 2004
The Cathedral of the Madaleine, Salt Lake City

Two weeks ago just about now I was being given a tour of the Catholic cathedral of Salt Lake City by Larry, a reader of this blog (and a Catholic of two years!). I took a few photos but, of course, they do not do justice to this truly magnificent and unique structure dedicated to the glory of God. But here are a few of my inadequate efforts, perhaps giving some glimpses into an unforgettable space. I offer here shots of three vital areas of the cathedral: the baptistery, the sanctuary, and the tabernacle. I thank God that I was able to visit and experience the Madaleine.

The baptistery at the entrace to the cathedral

The richly decorated sanctuary of the Madaleine

Right behind the altar and sanctuary, the lovely eucharistic chapel and magnificent tabernacle

Hopefully little by little I can get up more photos from the remarkable visit to Salt Lake City, the Grand Tetons, and Yellowstone.

We decided to cancel the upcoming trip to Lake Tahoe (it turns out to be about 6200 ft above sea level) and gratefully the penalty wasn't nearly as bad as I had thought. So, God willing, we can schedule another trip one of these days or weeks or months.... a good bit depends on my beloved ONION, who while aging and failing, holds his own and keeps surprising me. ONION delights me in his old age even as he did as a youth and in his prime. He is the best!

Next scheduled trip is a five day cruise to Canada out of NJ on The Voyager of the Seas. At least I know I won't be too far above sea level! :-)

'Father Joe': The Saint and the Satirist

Rev. Joseph Warrilow, Benedictine monk

Andrew Sullivan joins the chorus praising this new book, "Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul", by Tony Hendra, the satirist, and Hendra's remarkable relationship with a Benedictine monk of the Isle of Wright. Sullivan's own agenda may compromise his review somewhat; but he says enough that transcends ideology and opens up vistas into the worki]ngs of grace and God's Presence in our world today. (And right now this book is no. 4 seller at Amazon!).


Gilbert Keith Chesterton, 1874 - 1936, sketch from Vanity Fair near the turn of the century

On this day, 129 years ago, larger-than-life Gilbert Keith Chesterton was born (and, oh, how he celebrated the gift of life!). GKC is one of my own "mentors" who has had a lasting influence on my mind - and spirit - and vision of life. I encountered Chesterton as a young man, by reading some of his marvelous flashing essays. Later I would be enthralled by reading some of his classic books, such as "Orthodoxy" (and his theme of "the romance of orthdooxy" has been stamped forever in my own depths - Chesterton gave concept and word to what I already knew by experience), and his jewels on Saints Thomas Aquinas and Francis of Assisi.

In a different way, following a different path, Chesterton was like the saint we just celebrated, Philip Neri, an apostle of joy. Chesterton romps through the garden of the Church (and world) with gleeful abandon, and finds the glory in the big and little things. He is unique! And what an interesting figure he cuts for portraits and sketches! (Some of which he drew himself).

Here is a selection I love from Chesterton that it seems to me only GKC could have written:

"A bird is active, because a bird is soft. A stone is helpless, because a stone is hard. A stone must by its own nature go downwards, because hardness is weakness. The bird can of its nature go upwards, because fragility is force. In perfect force there is a kind of frivolity, an airiness that can maintain itself in the air.... Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.

This his always been the instinct of Christendom.... Pride is the downward drag of all things into an easy solemnity. One "settles down" into a sort of selfish seriousness; but one has to rise to a gay self-forgetfulness. A man "falls" into a brown study; he reaches up at a blue sky. Seriousness is not a virtue.... It is really a natural trend or lapse into taking one's self gravely, because it is the easiest thing to do. It is much easier to write a good Times leading article than a good joke in Punch, For solemnity flows out of men naturally; but laughter is a leap. It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light. Satan fell by the force of gravity."

"Looking down on things [from Zarathustra's mountains] may be a delightful experience, but there is nothing, from a mountain to a cabbage, that is really seen when it is seen from a balloon....at the moment when we attempt to appreciate things as they should be appreciated.... We do actually go through a process of mental asceticism, a castration of the entire being, when we wish to feel the abounding good in all things."


Today in Christian history

May 29, 1453: Constantinople, capital of Eastern Christianity since Constantine founded it in 324, falls to the Turks under Muhammad II, ending the Byzantine Empire. Muslims rename the city Istanbul and turn its lavish cathedral, Hagia Sophia, into a mosque. The last Liturgy in Hagia Sophia was celebrated by both Greek and Latin Catholics - since the Union of the Council of Florence was officially promulgated.

May 29, 1546: In retaliation for the execution of Reformation preacher George Wishart, Scottish Protestants murder Cardinal David Beaton in St. Andrews. John Knox, who was not part of the assassination plot, went on to lead the Scottish Reformation.

May 29, 1874: English essayist, poet, and writer Gilbert Keith Chesterton is born in London. GKC was large and occasionally absent-minded, but brilliant. He loved paradoxes, which he called "supreme assertions of truth," and used them often in his writing. Poet T.S. Eliot credited him with doing "more than any man in his time…to maintain the existence of the [Christian] minority in the modern world." Chesterton converted from Anglicanism to Catholicism in 1922. (Hopefully a bit more to come on this birthday of one of my favorites).

May 29, 1967: Pope Paul VI names 27 new cardinals, including then-archbishop of Krakow, Poland, Karol Wojtyla, later to be Pope John Paul II.

Friday, May 28, 2004
John Allen on Cardinal Law's new post

The National Catholic Reporter's Rome correspondent seems to take this development in stride and with some healing perspective

On May 27, Cardinal Bernard Law, the former archbishop of Boston who resigned over his handling of sex abuse allegations, was named Archpriest of the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome. The nomination means that Law, 72, will now reside and work in Rome.

I reported that such a move was under consideration in "The Word from Rome" on Feb. 13.

Each of the four major partriarchal basilicas in Rome has a cardinal-archpriest who is the administrator of the facility. Typically it is a quasi-honorary post given at the end of someone's career.

In Law's case, the dynamics were different. In effect, this amounts to a recognition that Law cannot play a public role in the church in the United States, nor could he head a major Vatican agency given both his age and his baggage. This appointment allows him to be part of the Roman scene, continuing to serve as a member of the seven congregations and two councils to which he already belongs, and performing whatever other informal functions might be asked of him.

As I wrote on Feb. 13: "I suspect that Rome is in some ways a more comfortable environment for Law than the States; he is not stalked by TV cameras here, and, rightly or wrongly, many Roman observers regard him with sympathy, believing Law was unfairly made the scapegoat of the American sex abuse crisis."

Cardinal Keeler calls for keeping politics out of Communion

Issue is between Catholic and conscience, he says

Addressing a national controversy for the first time, Baltimore's Cardinal William H. Keeler said he opposes an attempt by some bishops to politicize Communion and deny the sacrament to Catholic politicians who support abortion rights.

Keeler said in an interview this week that it was not the business of bishops to choose who receives Communion. Instead, he said he supports church policy that individual Catholics should determine whether they are in a state of grace with the church before partaking in the Eucharist, the heart of Catholic worship..."

Today in Christian history

May 28, 1533: English reformer Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, declares King Henry VIII's marriage to Anne Boleyn valid, having earlier approved the king's divorce of Catherine of Aragon.

May 28, 1954: U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs a bill adding the words "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance.

May 28, 1916: Walker Percy, the physician turned writer and semiotics expert, was born on this day in Greenville, Mississippi. Percy was a Catholic convert and daily communicant.

Thursday, May 27, 2004
Ex-Archbishop of Boston to Head Basilica in Rome

"BOSTON (AP) -- Cardinal Bernard Law was appointed by the pope Wednesday to a ceremonial but highly visible post in Rome, outraging many in the archdiocese Law left in disgrace as the height of the clergy sex scandal.

Law, 72, will have the title of archpriest of St. Mary Major Basilica, a post often given to retired prelates..."

Thank God for Rome. Roma is amor backwards! The puritans will howl, of course. But Rome still "presides in love" as Saint Ignatius of Antioch so beautifully put it in the second century.

Cardinal Law is a mixed bag, as are most of us (all of us?). He is a mixture of good and evil, grace and failure, but a man of faith and prayer and suffering, as well of any faults revealed in the "scandal". He resigned his see. He has been mocked and condemned. But he is still a fellow Catholic, a priest, a bishop, a cardinal. May the LORD bless him in his new role. Saint Mary Major is one of my favorite churches in all the world. I am glad Cardinal Law is its archpriest!

Fascinated with The Passion

Gibson film draws big Muslim crowds.

It's a matter of honesty: to receive Communion, we need to be in communion

If we claim to be Catholic, we need to act like it — all the way, all the time, without excuses

Wise words from the Archbishop of Denver. One of the more refreshing voices in today's Church, in my opinion.

Don't snuff out our parish

THE ARCHDIOCESE of Boston has decided to close St. Catherine of Siena parish in Charlestown. This would be a big mistake. St. Catherine is located in the midst of the Bunker Hill project and serves as a lighthouse in a storm of drugs and drug-related crime. We offer hope in a neighborhood that desperately needs hope..."

Parish properties seen worth $400m

The dozens of parishes closing in the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston could sell for more than $400 million on the open market, developers said yesterday, an amount that could help bolster the archdiocese's strained finances...

.."There's an incredible amount of sadness surrounding each of these parcels and no one is going to want to go into it without being sensitive to that sadness," said Paul Palandjian, president of Intercontinental Real Estate Corp. of Boston. However, he said, developers would show great interest in the range of parcels, and he expected brisk competition for many of them, placing their overall value far above their assessed value.

The primary use of buildings in inner-city neighborhoods would be housing, particularly condominiums, said Thomas J. Hynes of the real estate firm Meredith & Grew. In outlying communities, churches often are located in or near the center of town, making them attractive for commercial space, Palandjian and Hynes said.

"The goal is to work within the existing structure," Palandjian said. "Only as a very last resort would anyone want to put forward a plan to demolish the structure. These churches contain many of the collective memories of the community. There's no interest in removing them."

I hope the sentiments of Mr Palandjian are shared by those in the archdiocesan offices involved in the closing of these churches. What will be done to the sacred objects and iconography and the piety and memories of generations?

Veni, Sancte Spiritus!

Today in Christian history

May 27, 1564: John Calvin, French Protestant Reformer, dies. He kept writing and ministering nearly up to his death, telling his worried friends, "What! Would you have the Lord find me idle when he comes?" Calvin remains a vital influence in orthodox Reformed theology.

May 27, 1871: The French painter Georges Rouault was born on this day. He was associated with Matisse and the fauves. He often depicted the suffering of Christ in his works and one strong desire of Rouault was to paint such an image of Christ that those who beheld it might be converted.

May 27, 1917: Benedict XV promulgated the "Codex iuris canonici." Divided into five books and just over 24-hundred regulations, the CIC was the first revision of canon law in the Catholic church in modern times.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Prayers for Boston

I can hardly imagine the pain and disappointment of so many as the Archdiocese of Boston closes about 20% of its parishes (and the news comes right before Pentecost!). I trust Archbishop Sean O'Malley and his pastoral sense, and realize that this is not an easy decision, a decision without serious consequences. I pray for him. I pray for all those affected by the various closings, especially those who love their parish church and its institutions. I pray that through this suffering blessings will come. I pray that the Church of Boston will know a special pentecostal touch of the Holy Spirit. I pray that we will all hang together in the one Body of Christ, sharing the joys as well as the pains.

Veni, Sancte Spiritus!

Emotions high at local parishes in Boston regarding closings

The Voice of the Faithful, a lay reform group, held a press conference at St. Susanna yesterday afternoon, where parishioners made a plea to the archbishop to make public financial statements justifying the need to close the 65 parishes, including records of proceeds from the sale of closed parishes.

"Are there really financial health problems within our parishes and our diocese? Without answers and information, how can we accept the mass closings of our churches?" said Ed Wade, a member of the Voice of the Faithful's archdiocesan steering committee. "The archbishop says he is seeking trust. We are seeking meaningful reassurance..."

Today's Saint:
Philip Neri: Apostle to Rome, Saint of the Joyful Heart

by John Henry Newman

Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven,
Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Mary,
Pray for us.
Holy Mother of God,*
repeat pray for us after invocations
Holy Virgin of Virgins,
St Philip,
Vessel of the Holy Ghost,
Child of Mary,
Apostle of Rome,
Counsellor of Popes,
Voice of Prophecy,
Man of primitive times,
Winning Saint,
Hidden hero,
Sweetest of Fathers,
Flower of purity,
Martyr of charity,
Heart of fire
Discerner of spirits,
Choicest of priests,
Mirror of the divine life,
Pattern of humility,
Example of simplicity,
Light of holy joy,
Image of childhood,
Picture of old age,
Director of souls,
Gentle guide of youth,
Patron of thy own,
Who didst observe chastity in thy youth,
Who didst seek Rome by divine guidance,
Who didst hide so long in the Catacombs,
Who didst receive the Holy Ghost into thy heart,
Who didst experience such wonderful ecstasies,
Who didst so lovingly serve the little ones,
Who didst wash the feet of pilgrims,
Who didst ardently thirst after martyrdom,
Who didst distribute the daily word of God,
Who didst turn so many hearts to God,
Who didst converse so sweetly with Mary,
Who didst raise the dead,
Who didst set up thy houses in all lands,
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Spare us, 0 Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, 0 Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

V. Remember thy Congregation.
R. Which thou hast possessed from the beginning.

Let us pray.

0 God, who hast exalted blessed Philip, Thy Confessor, in the glory of Thy saints, grant that, as we rejoice in his commemoration, so we may profit by the example of his virtues, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Today in Christian history

May 26, 1521: The Edict of Worms formally condemns Martin Luther's teachings , and he is put under the ban of the Holy Roman Emperor. Those who fear for his life then kidnap Luther and hide him in Fredericks Wartbury castle.

May 26, 1647: Massachusetts enacts a law forbidding any Jesuit or Roman Catholic priest from entering Puritan jurisdictions. Second-time offenders could face execution.

May 26, 1700: Count Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf, founder of the Moravian church and a pioneer of ecumenism and mission work, is born in Dresden, Germany.

May 26, 1926: Church of the Foursquare Gospel founder Sister Aimee Semple McPherson disappears from a California beach. Her mother announced that Aimee must have drowned, telling the Angelus Temple congregation, "Sister is gone." However, three days after an elaborate memorial service on June 20, Sister reappeared in Arizona, saying she had been kidnapped. (Rumors circulated that she had eloped for a romantic tryst.) Her support base remained strong, but media coverage turned negative, and her image never fully recovered.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004
Parish Closings in Boston

BOSTON -- The Boston Archdiocese will lose 65 of its 357 parishes in a massive restructuring brought on partly by the sex abuse scandal that aggravated already shrinking Mass attendance and weekly collections.

Archbishop Sean O'Malley announced the parish closings Tuesday, completing a process that began in December when he said the archdiocese would be forced to undergo a major downsizing....

Complete listing of parishes to be closed.

Welcome to St Blog's

Out of the Furnace - Spak
Fides et Ratio - Mike Lorelli
Moteworthy.com (The Mote in the Middle Distance) - Latrell
Bill Powell
Moving Godward - Anita Van Ingen
The Universal Pedagogue - Steve Read
Gubbiosubiaco.web-log.nl (in Dutch and English) - JanG.
Catholic Homeschoolers - Bill White

Not yet...

Still not ready for any significant blogging; still pretty tired and worn out. But happy! It's a good day when ONION and myself both wake up again! :-)

Thanks for your patience and understanding. (I am working on some important things too that take up most of my energy level at this point).

Today in Christian history

May 25, 735: Bede ("The Venerable"), Benedictine monk, father of English history, dies. In addition to his "Ecclesiastical History of the English People" (731), biographies of abbots, and Scripture commentaries, he wrote our primary source for the story of how Celtic and Roman Christianity clashed at the Synod of Whitby in 664. Selections from his sermons are still read in the Office of the Catholic Church (Roman Rite).

May 25, 1535: After holding Munster under siege for over a year, the army of the city's Roman Catholic bishop breaks in, capturing and killing the radical Anabaptists who had taken control. The Anabaptists had acted on the prophecy of Melchoir Hoffman (later modified by Jan Matthys) that Christ would soon return, and only Christians in Munster would survive. During the siege, Matthys and his followers became increasingly despotic and maniacal, enjoying excesses while the people starved and introducing wild innovations such as polygamy.

May 25, 1824: The Sunday and Adult Sunday School Union in Philadelphia establishes the American Sunday School Union. It purposed to use Sunday schools as a means to instill Christian and democratic values "wherever there is a population." In 1970 it changed its name to the American Missionary Society.

May 25, 1865: Evangelist and ecumenist John R. Mott is born in New York. He served 40 years with the Y.M.C.A. (while that organization was still aggressively evangelistic), chaired the 1910 Edinburgh Missionary Conference, and was named honorary president of the World Council of Churches at its inaugural session. The WCC is a confederation of various Churches of the Orthodox and Protestant traditions. The Catholic Church, while engaged on some levels, is not an official member.

Monday, May 24, 2004
Got the ball rolling

Bill Miller, originally from Philadelphia and now from Salt Lake City (He loves it there!)

Here's a photo of my friend, Bill, who got the whole travel ball rolling for me. Bill invited me to visit him in Salt Lake City and from there we began planning a trek to Yellowstone National Park. As it turned out, Bill's schedule changed and he wasn't able to join us in the Park segment of our trip. But Bill met us when we arrived, and met us again when we returned to SLC. Most gracious, generous, hospitable host! Thanks, Bill!

P.S. I have already spoken in these pages of Bill's twin brother, Louis Miller, who teaches at Saint John's College in Annapolis, Maryland.

The Wesleys

John Welsley - "a brand plucked from the fire"

Today is the anniversary of the momentous experience of John Welsely in Aldersgate Chapel when he felt "his heart strangely warmed." Out of that mysterious happening flowed a torrent of holiness and revival, known as "Methodism" though John and his brother Charles were Anglican priests to the end. I believe many trace the Holiness and Pentecostal Revivals to the Wesleys and their understandings, many of which were quite Catholic. John with his preaching and orgazining and Charles with his incomparable hymns started a fire that, in some ways, still burns (though not terribly obviously in much of Methodism!).

John Welsley had a great love for (and envy of?) the great Catholic saints. He saw holiness in action so profound it couldn't be denied. He yearned to see some of that same holiness among his own followers and it seems some shone indeed with a radiant holiness (like John Flecther of Madeley). In his funeral oration Wesley even compares him favorably with some current Catholic "saints!"

John Welsley had so many gifts and talents and such determination and fervor that some say, if he were Catholic, he'd have been another Ignatius Loyola. He had his share of troubles, not the least his unhappy marriage and relationships with the opposite sex. He battled many a differing voice - but usually with great charity.

At any rate, today is a signficant day in Christian history. In some small strange way, it makes my own heart warm.


Still "returning" from that great venture. Yesterday I slept through most of the Mass (and it is rare indeed for me to sleep anywhere other than in my bed). No real "energy" yet so blogging may take some time to get going again. Thanks for your patience and understanding. It is good to be home! (And right now think we'll be cancelling-rescheduling the June 2-8 trip to Lake Tahoe and California sites).

Today in Christian history

May 24, 1089 (traditional date): Archbishop of Canterbury, scholar, and church reformer Lanfranc dies. Known primarily for his exposition of the doctrine of transubstantiation, in which the eucharistic bread and wine become Christ's body and blood, he also educated brilliant scholar Anselm and future pope Alexander II.

May 24, 1543: Polish astronomer and cleric Nicolas Copernicus dies in Poland. His heliocentric (sun-centered) concept of the solar system was radical, though not unheard of before his time. Still, some theologians strongly criticized the theory. While not ordained to the priesthood, he participated in a religious community at the cathedral of Frauenburg.

May 24, 1689: Parliament passes England's Toleration Act, granting freedom of worship to Dissenters (non-Anglican Protestants), but not to Catholics and atheists.

May 24, 1738: Father of Methodism John Wesley feels his "heart strangely warmed" when he hears a reading of the preface to Luther's commentary on Romans at London's Aldersgate Chapel.

May 24, 1844: Samuel Morse sends the first long-distance telegraph message: "What hath God wrought."

May 24, 1854: Presbyterians found the first black college in the United States: Pennsylvania's Lincoln University.

May 24, 1859: Charles Gounod's Ave Maria (which I much prefer to Schubert's) was sung by Madame Caroline Miolan-Carvalho for the first time in public. The piece is often sung with Bach's C major prelude as an accompaniment.

May 24, 1878: Harry Emerson Fosdick, popular champion of liberal Christianity and often called "the most influential interpreter of religion to his generation," is born.

Sunday, May 23, 2004
Today in Christian history

May 23, 1498: Italian reformer Dominican Girolamo Savonarola, who preached aggressively against the corruption of northern Italy's church and society, is hanged for heresy and his body burned. After gaining fame for successful prophecies, he sought to establish an ascetic Christian community. Scholars still debate whether he was a saintly prophet or a fanatic.

May 23, 1533: Thomas Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury, declares King Henry VIII's marriage to Catherine of Aragon null and void: a key moment in the English Reformation.

May 23, 1551: In Rome, a native of Florence named Filippo Romolo Neri was ordained to the priesthood in the church of San Tomasso in Parione.

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