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A celebration of beauty, truth, and goodness, and, of course, love...and perhaps a little nastiness

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Saturday, June 05, 2004

Ronald Reagan: Requiescat in pace

When diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 1994, Reagan disclosed it in a very touching "My fellow Americans" letter. He wrote:

"When the Lord calls me home ... I will leave with the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal optimism for its future," he wrote on Nov. 5, 1994. "I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead."

May it always be so.

Hope springs eternal!

Still.... still.... still... able to evoke the deepest enthusiasm of young hearts. Today in Switzerland. What a GIFT this Pope has been and is - and will be.

My hero.

JP2, we love you!

Viva il Papa!

Pope's Address to U.S. President Bush

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 4, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of the address John Paul II gave today when he welcomed U.S. President George Bush in audience:

Mr. President,

1. I offer a warm welcome to you and to Mrs. Bush, and to the distinguished delegation accompanying you. I also extend a cordial and affectionate greeting to all the people of the United States whom you represent. I thank you for wishing to meet with me again, in spite of the difficulties presented by your own many commitments during this present visit to Europe and Italy, and by my own departure tomorrow morning for a meeting with young people in Switzerland.

2. You are visiting Italy to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Rome and to honor the memory of the many American soldiers who gave their lives for their country and for the freedom of the peoples of Europe. I join you in recalling the sacrifice of those valiant dead and in asking the Lord that the mistakes of the past, which gave rise to appalling tragedies, may never again be repeated. Today I too think back with great emotion on the many Polish soldiers who died for the freedom of Europe.

Our thoughts also turn today to the 20 years in which the Holy See and the United States have enjoyed formal diplomatic relations, established in 1984 under President Reagan. These relations have promoted mutual understanding on great issues of common interest and practical cooperation in different areas. I send my regards to President Reagan and to Mrs. Reagan, who is so attentive to him in his illness. I would also like to express my esteem for all the representatives of the United States to the Holy See, together with my appreciation for the competence, sensitivity and great commitment with which they have favored the development of our relations.

3. Mr. President, your visit to Rome takes place at a moment of great concern for the continuing situation of grave unrest in the Middle East, both in Iraq and in the Holy Land. You are very familiar with the unequivocal position of the Holy See in this regard, expressed in numerous documents, through direct and indirect contacts, and in the many diplomatic efforts which have been made since you visited me, first at Castel Gandolfo on 23 July 2001, and again in this Apostolic Palace on 28 May 2002.

4. It is the evident desire of everyone that this situation now be normalized as quickly as possible with the active participation of the international community and, in particular, the United Nations Organization, in order to ensure a speedy return of Iraq's sovereignty, in conditions of security for all its people. The recent appointment of a head of state in Iraq and the formation of an interim Iraqi government are an encouraging step towards the attainment of this goal. May a similar hope for peace also be rekindled in the Holy Land and lead to new negotiations, dictated by a sincere and determined commitment to dialogue, between the government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

5. The threat of international terrorism remains a source of constant concern. It has seriously affected normal and peaceful relations between states and peoples since the tragic date of 11 September 2001, which I have not hesitated to call "a dark day in the history of humanity." In the past few weeks other deplorable events have come to light which have troubled the civic and religious conscience of all, and made more difficult a serene and resolute commitment to shared human values: in the absence of such a commitment neither war nor terrorism will ever be overcome. May God grant strength and success to all those who do not cease to hope and work for understanding between peoples, in respect for the security and rights of all nations and of every man and woman.

6. At the same time, Mr. President, I take this opportunity to acknowledge the great commitment of your government and of your nation's numerous humanitarian agencies, particularly those of Catholic inspiration, to overcoming the increasingly intolerable conditions in various African countries, where the suffering caused by fratricidal conflicts, pandemic illnesses and a degrading poverty can no longer be overlooked.

I also continue to follow with great appreciation your commitment to the promotion of moral values in American society, particularly with regard to respect for life and the family.

7. A fuller and deeper understanding between the United States of America and Europe will surely play a decisive role in resolving the great problems which I have mentioned, as well as so many others confronted by humanity today. May your visit, Mr. President, give new and powerful impetus to such cooperation.

Mr. President, as you carry out your lofty mission of service to your nation and to world peace, I assure you of my prayers and cordially invoke upon you God's blessings of wisdom, strength and peace.

May God bestow peace and freedom upon all mankind!

[Original text: English. When receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Holy Father said]

I am grateful, Mr. President, for this thoughtful gesture. May the desire for freedom, peace and a more humane world symbolized by this medal inspire men and women of good will in every time and place.

God bless America!

George Bush's Address to John Paul II

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 4, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Following John Paul II's welcome address today during an audience, U.S. President George Bush addressed these words to the Pope:

Your Holiness,

Thank you very much for receiving Laura and me and our delegation.

I bring greetings from our country, where you are respected, admired and greatly loved. I also bring a message from my government that says to you, Sir, that we will work for human liberty and human dignity in order to spread peace and compassion; that we appreciate the strong symbol of freedom that you have stood for, and we recognize the power of freedom to change societies and to change the world.

And so, Sir, we are honored to be here; perhaps the best way I can express my country's gratitude to you and our respect to you is to present to you the Medal of Freedom from America and, if you might, allow, I'd like to read the citation attached to that honor.

"A devoted servant of God, His Holiness Pope John Paul II has championed the cause of the poor, the weak, the hungry, and the outcast.

"He has defended the unique dignity of every life, and the goodness of all life.

"Through his faith and moral conviction, he has given courage to others to 'be not afraid' in overcoming injustice and oppression.

"His principled stand for peace and freedom has inspired millions and helped to topple Communism and tyranny.

"The United States honors this son of Poland who became the Bishop of Rome, and a hero of our time."

Pope's Swiss visit 'mixed blessing'

"..While in Switzerland, the Pope will stay at a Catholic old people's home, because it has the necessary wheelchair access.

The nun in charge is naturally honoured to welcome him. But she, too, reflects Swiss Catholicism.

If she gets a private word with the Pope, she says, she plans to make the case for the ordination of women."

I suppose she'll be about as successful in her endeavor as Sister Theresa Kane was in DC...

God bless the Pope!

God bless Switzerland! (Home of Hans Urs von Balthasar!).

Today in Christian history

June 5, 754: Boniface, monk and bishop, Apostle of Germany, martyred along with 52 members of his flock.

June 5, 988 (traditional date): Rus's Grand Prince Vladimir orders his people to be baptized into the Orthodox Christian faith. He personally oversaw the baptism of the majority of the population of Kiev, the capital of his realm.

June 5, 1305: Bertrand de Got, who as Pope Clement V (1305-1314) moved the seat of papal power to Avignon, France, is born in Villandraut, France.

June 5, 1855: The anti-foreign anti-Roman Catholic Know-Nothing Party (USA) held its first convention.

Friday, June 04, 2004

The patched-up life and unshabby message of Brennan Manning

I remember Brennan Manning as a Franciscan priest and learned he had "left the priesthood" and married as well. I heard bits and pieces about his continuing ministry. Here's a rather extensive report. Fascinating. Apparantly still a believing Catholic, Manning seems a bit wobbly on some issues (I don't like it that he doesn't pray to Mary but glad he "loves her."). May God richly bless him, keep him faithful to the Catholic faith, and where perhaps "wobbly", strengthen him. I entrust him to the maternal care of Our Lady. And thank God for the inspiration he gives me and others.

Today in Christian history

June 4, 1943: Margaret, twin sister of a certain blogger, is born in Brooklyn NY. Known as "Peggy" she is indeed the better half. Happy Birthday, Peg!

Margaret, born today in 1943 with her (anonymous) brother born the same day, on their First Communion Day in OLPH church in Brooklyn NY

Pope Greets Bush, Urges Iraq Sovereignty

ROME (AP) -- Pope John Paul II reminded President Bush on Friday of the Vatican's opposition to the war in Iraq and said the world has been troubled by recent ``deplorable events,'' an apparent reference to the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. troops.

Sitting alongside the president, the pope called for a speedy return of the country's sovereignty and said the recent appointment of an interim Iraqi government was an ``encouraging step.''

Bush presented the pope with America's highest civilian award..."

Thursday, June 03, 2004
Bush to Give Pope Presidential Medal of Freedom

ROME (Reuters) - President Bush will award Pope John Paul the Presidential Medal of Freedom Friday, the highest U.S. civilian award, a U.S. official said Thursday.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the pontiff was being honored for "years of fighting for freedom and for his important moral voice."

Bush is to meet the Polish pope at the Vatican Friday..."


Patriarchate Plan Being Studied in Light of Orthodox Sensibilities

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 3, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II shares the hopes of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church to be established as a patriarchate, but he asks for patience while the proposal is studied.

The Pope is also taking into account the "evaluations" of the Orthodox Churches.

He expressed this today when receiving in audience Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, archbishop major of Lviv of the Ukrainians, with the members of the Permanent Synod of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church.

"I share your aspiration, well-founded in the canonical and conciliar discipline, to have full juridical and ecclesiastical configuration," the Holy Father told his guests.

"I share this aspiration in prayer and also in suffering, waiting for the day established by God in which I will be able to confirm the mature fruit of your ecclesial development as successor of the apostle Peter," he said.

"Meanwhile, as you well know, your request is being seriously studied, also in the light of the evaluations of other Christian Churches," the Pope added.

The Holy Father urged that this hope not be an obstacle "to your apostolic courage or a reason to turn off or dampen the joy of the Holy Spirit which drives and spurs on Cardinal Husar, together with his brother bishops and priests, religious and the lay faithful to greater abandonment to proclaiming the Gospel and in the consolidation of your ecclesial tradition."

John Paul II expressed his "deepest admiration for the vitality of this Church and for the faithfulness which has characterized it throughout the centuries."

"Rich with heroic witnesses, even in the recent past, your Church is involved in pastoral programs that enjoy generous collaboration and approval by the clergy and lay people for the effective work of evangelization, promoted by a climate of freedom that today is felt also in your country," he concluded.

In a letter dated last Nov. 29, Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople asked John Paul II not to institute a Greek-Catholic patriarchate in Kiev, saying that there was a risk of breaking ecumenical relations.

Such a measure "would cause strong reactions on the part of all the Orthodox sister Churches and harm the attempts to continue the theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches," the letter said.

In the July 2002 plenary assembly held in Kiev, the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Synod requested the Pope to sanction this process by conferring on it a patriarchal title.

According to the conciliar decree "Orientalium Ecclesiarum" on the Catholic Eastern Churches, the Pope has the faculty to recognize on his own initiative the patriarchal rank of a Church without having to submit this recognition to the consensus of other ecclesial bodies.

The Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church is the largest of the Eastern Catholic Churches "sui juris" (of its own right) with more than 5.5 million faithful. It maintains the Byzantine rite and is in full communion with the Bishop of Rome.


A photo essay of an unforgettable adventure... ENJOY!

Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?

An interesting piece in The Christian Century online.

Today in Christian history

June 3, 1098: After a seven-month siege, the armies of the First Crusade recapture Antioch (now in Turkey) from the Muslims.

June 3, 1162: Thomas a Becket is consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury. Nominated by his friend, King Henry II (Becket had previously served as his chancellor), Becket underwent a radical change as archbishop. He became pious and devoted to the church, which Henry found annoying. When knights heard the king grumbling, they killed Becket as he prayed.

June 3, 1647: The Puritan British Parliament bans Christmas and other holidays.

June 3,1886: Charles Lwanga and companions, Catholics and Anglicans, were martyred in Uganda.

June 3, 1905: Hudson Taylor, English missionary to China and founder of the China Inland Mission, dies. "China is not to be won for Christ by quiet, ease-loving men and women," he once said. "The stamp of men and women we need is such as will put Jesus, China, [and] souls first and foremost in everything and at every timeā€”even life itself must be secondary".

June 3, 1963: Pope John XXIII, convener of the Second Vatican Council, dies. Expected to be merely a "caretaker pope," "good Pope John" convened the Second Vatican Council which has had enormous impact and ushered in an age of change and adaptation.

June 3, 1980: Catholic and Eastern Orthodox representatives meet officially for the first time since the Great Schism between these two Churches.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004
The world is charged with the grandeur of God (Hopkins)

My heart leapt up when I saw the soaring Tetons and, for the first time, pronghorn "antelopes" in a natural state

Working on a sort of photo essay about my trip to Salt Lake City, the Grand Tetons, and Yellowstone, and pass this on now as a "foretaste".... a great (if difficult) trip!

While cancelling the trip to Lake Tahoe and Carmel that would have begun today, we did give ourselves a "consolation" trip - on June 22, God willing, we will leave for a 4 day, 3 night adventure to Jekyll Island, Georgia. Hopefully relaxing!

Today in Christian history

June 2, 553: The Second Council of Constantinople closes, having condemned Nestorian teachings. Nestorius, patriarch of Constantinople conflicted with Cyril, patriarch of Antioch, over Christological doctrine regarding the person and nature of the Incarnate Word.

June 2, 597: Augustine, missionary to England and first archbishop of Canterbury, baptizes Saxon king Ethelbert, the first Christian English king. The missionary's tomb in Canterbury bears this epitaph: "Here rests Augustine, first archbishop of Canterbury, who being sent hither by Gregory, bishop of Rome, reduced King Ethelbert and his nation from the worship of idols to the faith of Christ."

June 2, 1162: Thomas Becket, former chancellor to King Henry II of England, having been ordained a priest the previous day, was elevated to the status of bishop. Later in the afternoon, he was consecrated as Archbishop of Canterbury.

June 2, 1491: Henry VIII, the English king who went from being called "Defender of the Faith" by the pope (for attacking Martin Luther) to galvanizing the English Reformation, is born in Greenwich.

June 2, 1875: James Augustine Healy becomes the first African-American Catholic bishop in the U.S.

June 2, 1979: Pope John Paul II makes a return trip to his home country of Poland, the first visit by a pope to a Communist country. Many ramifications were felt from this dramatic visit, including giving impetus to the overthrow of communism in the Soviet Union and its puppet states.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004
Law Limiting Abortion Is Ruled Unconstitutional by Judge

A federal judge in San Francisco struck down today a federal law that banned a form of abortion. The law, the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, enacted in November, makes it a crime to perform any "overt act" to "kill the partially delivered living fetus."

In a 117-page decision, the judge, Phyllis J. Hamilton, ruled the law unconstitutional on three grounds, saying that it placed an undue burden on women seeking abortions, that its language was unconstitutionally vague and that it lacked a required exception for procedures needed to preserve the woman's health..."

Today in Christian history

June 1, 165 (traditional date): Justin, an early Christian apologist, is beheaded with his disciples for their faith. "If we are punished for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, we hope to be saved," he said just before his death. Christians soon named him Justin Martyr. Justin left one of the earliest descriptions of a eucharistic service of the early Church.

June 1, 1637: Jesuit Father Jacques Marquette, a French explorer, was born. With another French explorer Joliet, Father Marquette traced the course of "the American Nile," the Mississippi.

June 1, 1668: Quaker Mary Dyer hanged for heresy in Boston.

Monday, May 31, 2004

Traditionally May is "Mary's month" and May comes to its fulfilment in today's beautiful Feast of the Visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth. That scene, so unforgettably portrayed by the evangelist Luke, in which the chosen mothers and the fruit of their wombs leap for joy in the Holy Spirit, praising and magnifying the Lord who has done great things and who has mercy especially on the lowly and hungry.

The charity of Our Lady by rushing to her cousin's side, the faith of Elizabeth, praising the trusting faith of Mary and blessing the Child of her womb, the first recognition by the infant John of the One Who comes after Him - all these elements and more make this a rich and deep feast. So many artists, too, have captured a glimpse into this joyful mystery (such as the lovely minature above from the Book of Hours of the Duc de Berry).

The Visitation, too, is a feast of the Holy Spirit, who inspires and fills both Our Lady and Elizabeth, and who gives such joy to the Baptist while still in the womb.

So today we can pray with Mary, "my soul magnifies the LORD", and to Mary, that she bring Christ to us, and that like her, we may be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, filled with the Holy Spirit of Pentecost, with hearts renewed for a deeper and wider love.

Veni, Sancte Spiritus!

And Happy Memorial Day to all as we remember those who so bravely defended our country and our own heritage of freedom and opportunity.

Requiescant in pace!

Gay rights advocates are denied Communion

"CHICAGO -- A small group of gay Catholics were refused Communion yesterday at Chicago's Holy Name Cathedral, in keeping with the archbishop's directive that priests deny the Eucharist to gay men and women who try to receive the sacrament while wearing rainbow-colored sashes in a campaign to get the church to accept homosexuals..."

Closings cloud area services

Sermons note despair over church edict by archbishop

"Anger, uncertainty, and sorrow mingled with the prayers offered yesterday at Catholic parishes scheduled to be closed under the consolidation plan announced last week by Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley..."

For Lithuanians, identity threatened

"For more than a century, St. Peter Lithuanian Church, a red-brick building tucked between a patchwork of housing projects and an array of alphabetic South Boston streets, has been the core of the city's Lithuanian community. This is where Lithuanian newcomers, fleeing economic hardship, the turmoil of two world wars, and the communist rule that seemed to swallow their country whole, first dropped anchor..."

A Divisive Issue for Catholics: Bishops, Politicians and Communion

Yet another NYT piece on this issue. As I have said many times, when all is said and done, there just isn't any religious institution as interesting as the (beloved and hated) Catholic Church!

Sunday, May 30, 2004
I love my parish!

St Benedict sanctuary prepared for Pentecost

Our icon of Pentecost, painted by a Coptic Christian in Egypt

Good to sing the great pentecostal hymns: the "Golden Sequence" of Pentecost,
Veni, Sancte Spiritus, and the Veni Creator Spiritus. Good to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness and in the holiness of beauty. I love my parish!

PENTECOST: A Prayer to the Holy Spirit

by St Alphonsus Liguori

El Greco's Descent of the Holy Spirit

Most Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, Father of the poor, Comforter of the afflicted, Light of hearts, Sanctifier of souls; behold me prostrate in Thy presence.

I adore Thee with profoundest homage: I bless Thee a thousand times, and with the Seraphim who stand before Thy throne, I also say: "Holy, holy, holy."

I firmly believe that Thou art eternal, consubstantial with the Father and the Divine Son.

I hope in Thy goodness that Thou wilt deign to save and sanctify my soul.

I love Thee, 0 Divine Love, with all my affections above all the things of this world, because Thou art Infinite Goodness, alone worthy of all love.

And since in my ingratitude and blindness to Thy holy inspirations, I have so often offended Thee by my sins, with tears in my eyes I beg Thy pardon a thousand times, and am more sorry for having offended Thee, the Sovereign Good, than for any other evil.

I offer Thee this most cold heart of mine, and I pray Thee to pierce it with a ray of Thy light, and with a spark of Thy fire, which shall melt the hard ice of my iniquities.

Thou who didst fill the soul of the most holy Mary with immense graces, and didst inflame the hearts of the Apostles with holy zeal, inflame, I beseech Thee, my heart also with Thy love.

Thou art the Divine Spirit:
give me courage against all evil spirits.

Thou art Fire:
enkindle in me Thy love.

Thou art Light:
enlighten my mind with the knowledge of eternal things.

Thou art the Dove:
give me innocence of life.

Thou art the gentle Breeze:
disperse the storms of my passions.

Thou art the Tongue:
teach me how to bless Thee always.

Thou art the Cloud:
shelter me under the shadow of Thy protection.

And lastly, Thou art the Giver of all heavenly gifts:
animate me, I beseech Thee, with Thy grace;
sanctify me with Thy charity;
enlighten me with Thy wisdom;
adopt me by Thy goodness as Thy son,
and save me in Thy infinite mercy;
so that I may ever bless Thee, praise Thee, and love Thee;
first during this life on earth,
and then in heaven for all eternity.

A most blessed joyous Pentecost to all!

In New Jersey, an Archbishop Conservative and Controversial

NEWARK, N.J., May 27 - As a young priest who studied in Rome while the Second Vatican Council was redefining Catholicism, John J. Myers began his clerical career in the late 1960's as part of a progressive wave of clergymen determined to modernize the church's rigid doctrines.

Yet today, Archbishop Myers is one of a handful of outspoken bishops whose conservatism has become controversial, even in a church which has for a generation been moving toward a stricter adherence to doctrine under the prodding and direction of Pope John Paul II...

..To many New Jersey Catholics, his kind of vocal advocacy is long overdue.

"It is so uplifting to hear him, because he is teaching the truth," said Christine Flaherty, executive director of Lifenet, an anti-abortion group based in Montclair. "And the truth is like a magnet. It attracts people to it."

Some church scholars, like the Rev. Raymond Schroth, a Jesuit professor at St. Peter's College in Jersey City, said that bishops as conservative as Archbishop Myers run the risk of sounding irrelevant to many members of their congregations. "At times they can sound as though the only life they are concerned about is life in the womb.''

The Rev. Richard P. McBrien of Notre Dame said that hard-line bishops are out of step with their congregations and that many believers either ignore them or leave the church entirely.

But Archbishop Myers said he was confident that, in time, his robust leadership would revitalize the church by giving believers something to rally around. And even if his detractors are right, and the emphasis on traditional doctrine leaves the church smaller but more theologically pure, Archbishop Myers said he would have no regrets.

"Then so be it," he said."

Today in Christian history

May 30, 339: Eusebius dies at age 74. Author of the 10-volume Ecclesiastical History, he is called the father of church history. In his day, though, he was as much a maker of history as a recorder. At the Council of Nicea, he argued for peace between the heretical Arians and Orthodox leaders like Athanasius. When Arianism became hugely popular after the Council, Eusebius was one of the people to depose Athanasius. Though he wasn't an Arian himself, he strongly opposed anti-Arianism.

May 30, 1431: French mystic and revolutionary Joan of Arc burns at the stake for heresy. Her last words were, "Jesus, Jesus".

May 30, 1934: The first synod of the Confessing Church at Barmen ends. Influenced by Karl Barth, the synod resisted the teachings of the Nazi German Christians.

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