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, June 12, 2004
America's Greatness

Yesterday's observances for Ronald Reagan brought to mind the famous words of the Frenchman, Alexis de Tocqueville, written after a visit to the United States in the 1830s. His words would need to be modified quite a bit today, but hopefully thing have not changed so much that there isn't still some measure of truth and reality to these words even today (at least in some sectors of American society):

"Upon my arrival in the United States the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention; and the longer I stayed there, the more I perceived the great political consequences resulting from this new state of things.

In France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom marching in opposite directions. But in America I found they were intimately united and that they reigned in common over the same country.

Religion in America...must be regarded as the foremost of the political institutions of that country; for if it does not impart a taste for freedom, it facilitates the use of it. Indeed, it is in this same point of view that the inhabitants of the United States themselves look upon religious belief.

I do not know whether all Americans have a sincere faith in their religion - for who can search the human heart? But I am certain that they hold it to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions. This opinion is not peculiar to a class of citizens or a party, but it belongs to the whole nation and to every rank of society.

In the United States, the sovereign authority is religious...there is no country in the world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America, and there can be no greater proof of its utility and of its conformity to human nature than that its influence is powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth.

In the United States, the influence of religion is not confined to the manners, but it extends to the intelligence of the people...

Christianity, therefore, reigns without obstacle, by universal consent...

I sought for the key to the greatness and genius of America in her harbors...; in her fertile fields and boundless forests; in her rich mines and vast world commerce; in her public school system and institutions of learning. I sought for it in her democratic Congress and in her matchless Constitution.

Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power.

America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.

The safeguard of morality is religion, and morality is the best security of law as well as the surest pledge of freedom.

The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other

Christianity is the companion of liberty in all its conflicts - the cradle of its infancy, and the divine source of its claims."

Amazing Grace!

"Amazing Grace" is not one of my favorite hymns. But today it played a central part in the funeral observances for Ronald Wilson Reagan. Not only the music but the words and the underlying meanings. I was totally impressed by the unashamed Christian faith displayed throughout the rites of the day. Christ our Lord was indeed exalted in word, symbol, beauty, music.

Today, too, demonstrated some of the finer aspects of Protestantism. Oh those hymns! (Yet I loved hearing the "Ave Maria" in the National Cathedral!).

It made me proud to be an American - I do think the United States may be the most religious nation in the developed western countries. There are elements in America that oppose faith and authentic religion. There is an anti-Christian bias in some elements of our contemporary society. But it has not won the day! Today is a good example of the abiding power of faith and spirituality. God bless America!

Friday, June 11, 2004
Pied Beauty

Painting by Marc Chagall

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spáre, strange;
Whatever is fickle, frecklèd (who knows how?)
With swíft, slów; sweet, sóur; adázzle, dím;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is pást change:
Práise hím.

Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ


They Changed the Church's Relationship with the Modern World

(I mistakenly gave yesterday as the anniversary of the baptism of Jacques and Raissa Maritain. Actually it is today, the feast of Saint Barnabas. But it is a Felix Culpa since it gives me an excuse for another posting on this great couple)

(From ZENIT) - Dominican Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange was the catalyst who, in the early part of this century, knew how to guide a group of Catholic intellectuals and thinkers who continue to be beacons of light for Europe today. The Dominican theologian was also influential in the conversion of Jacques Maritain and his wife, Raissa.

That cenacle was "an extraordinary attempt of 'Catholic hegemony' at the summit of European humanist culture, threatened by the ideologies of fascism and communist," Cardinal Pietro Parente recently said.

Between 1922 and 1938 an incredible group of "close friendships" met around the figures of Jacques and Raissa Maritain at their home in Meudon: intellectuals, artists and musicians, writers and poets, philosophers and scientists, believers and non-believers. Among the guests of the French couple, who met to reflect on the philosophy of being, were Journet, Berdiaev and Gilson; Jean Cocteau and Igor Stravinsky; Rouault and Severini; Louis Massignon and Mournier; Lourie, Satje, Marc Chagall, Paul Claudel and Mauriac.

As though this were not enough, in 1932 at an international Thomist congress, Maritain had a heated debate with a distinguished Thomist philosopher: Edith Stein, who later became a cloistered Carmelite nun and today is a saint. Like Edith Stein, Raissa Maritain was a convert from Judaism. The Maritains converted to Catholicism thanks to the influence of another Catholic intellectual, Leon Bloy.

Piero Viotto, who wrote the prologue to one of Raissa Maritain's books, pointed out that "the hinge on which European culture of the 20th century turns is not the couple of Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir but that of Raissa and Jacques Maritain." Around them a genuine spiritual movement of Catholic renewal originated and developed in philosophical, biblical, esthetic, pastoral and ecumenical research. That movement, born thanks to the initiative of the Maritains, created the premises for the 1960s renewal of Vatican II which changed the relationship of the Church with the contemporary world.

Germany occupied France in 1939. The Maritains had no illusions either about German racism or France's grave compromise in accepting the German occupation. In those years, before emigrating to the United States, the coupled spoke out strongly against anti-Semitism.

Both husband and wife stirred serious "questions of conscience:" the position of Catholics in face of nazism and communism, the war in Ethiopia; the war in Spain; the persecution of Jews and gypsies throughout Europe. For Jacques Maritain, all these were manifestations of the empire of the double headed evil, denounced in writings and public meetings. Jacques Maritain reflected deeply on the mystery and role of the Hebrew people and he often defined himself as "Jewish by emotional choice," identifying with his wife.

Many years later, together with Raissa, who was an authentic 20th century mystic, he lived a profound spirituality forged in prayer. He affirmed that contemplation is the foundation of spiritual life and Christian action.

Herein lies Maritain's contemporaneity. It is precisely the search for that which is most radical in the Gospel which our post-Christian society so desperately needs.

Thursday, June 10, 2004
Argentine priest reveals sex life

Not written by Jack Chick!

Bishops' retreat is hot ticket

An array of groups planning on joining the bishops as they meet in Denver next week.

I do think it good for us to pray for God's blessing on this meeting - and to ask the LORD to pour out the Spirit of repentance, holiness, and unity on the gathered bishops. I hope at least sometimes there is a breakthrough from "business as usual."

Veni, Sancte Spiritus!

George says lay ministers must agree with church

"Catholic lay ministers who disagree with the church's teachings should not be allowed to continue in their ministries or assist in distributing communion, according to a letter sent by Cardinal Francis George to pastors in the Chicago Archdiocese earlier this month.

"If a minister should manifest his/her disagreement with Church teaching," George wrote, "he/she should not continue in active ministry until such time that the minister is reconciled to the Church's teaching."

Though this has been the policy of the archdiocese all along, George said he was writing in response to questions posed to the church and in the media "about the appropriateness of Catholics serving as lay ministers who do not profess or believe authentic Church teaching...."

Another Feast from Father Richard John Neuhaus

In my opinion, one of the most balanced voices of the American Catholic Church.

Disarmed and dispossessed

“I have waged this war against myself for many years.
It was terrible, but now I am disarmed.
I am no longer frightened of anything.
because love banishes fear.
I am disarmed of the need to be right
And to justify myself by disqualifying others.
I am no longer on the defensive, holding onto my riches.
I just want to welcome and to share.
I don’t hold onto my ideas and projects.
When we are disarmed and dispossessed of self,
When we open our hearts to the God-Man
who makes all things new
then he takes away past hurts
and reveals a new time where everything is possible.”

- Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras, quoted in an April Letter by Jean Vanier

Sept. 1 closure for 12 parishes

Six Boston churches part of first wave

The Archdiocese of Boston has told 12 parishes, half of them in Boston, that they must close by Sept. 1.

The parishes, which are generally small and some of which are in poor physical condition, are the first wave of what the archdiocese says will be 65 closings by the end of the year.

Bishop Richard G. Lennon said the archdiocese may close another parish or two before Sept. 1, but that the bulk of the closings will take place in two phases, the first between Sept. 1 and Oct. 31, and the second between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31. Lennon said some of the parishes that are closing over the summer had requested early closing dates..."

What do you ask of God's Church? Faith.

The baptism of Jacques and Raissa Maritain

Today is the anniversary of the baptism of Jacques and Raissa Maritain in 1905. This remarkable couple - whom some think canonizable - deeply influenced the Catholic revival in France, and both contributed to the intellectual, spiritual, and mystical dimensions of the Christian life. We are fortunate, too, to have Raissa's first hand account of this day of their baptism. This selection comes from the book "We Have Been Friends Together":

"Although the speculative debate was ended for us, we still had many feelings of repugnance to overcome. The Church in her mystical and saintly life we found infinitely lovable. We were ready to accept her. She promised us Faith by Baptism: we were going to put her word to the test.

But in the apparent mediocrity of the Catholic world, and in the mirage which to our ill-seeing eyes seemed to bind her to the forces of reaction and oppression, she appeared to us strangely hateful. She seemed to us to be the society of the fortunate of this world, the supporter and ally of the powerful, to be bourgeois, pharisaical, remote from the people.

To ask for Baptism was also to accept separation from the world that we knew in order to enter into a world unknown: it was, we thought, to give up our simple and common liberty in order to undertake the conquest of spiritual liberty, so beautiful and so real among the saints, but placed too high, we thought, ever to be attained.

It meant the acceptance of separation - for how long a time? - from our parents and the comrades of our youth whose lack of understanding we thought would be total (and indeed it was in many cases) - but then too the goodness of God was to hold many surprises for us.

Finally we already felt like the "filth of the world" when we thought of the disapproval of those we loved. Jacques remained, despite everything, so persuaded by the errors of the "philosophers," that he though that in becoming Catholic he would have utterly to forswear the intellectual life.

While the spectacle alone of the sanctity, and that of the beauty of Catholic doctrine had occupied our thoughts, we had been happy in heart and mind, and our admiration had grown by leaps and bounds. Now that we were preparing ourselves to enter among those whom the world hates as it hates Christ, we suffered, Jacques and 1, a kind of agony. This lasted for about two months.

Once, during those months, I heard in my sleep these words, said to me with a certain impatience: "You are forever seeking what you must do. You have only to love God and serve Him with all your heart." Later I found these words in the "Imitation", which I had not then read.

Leon Bloy had sent us to a priest of the Sacre-Coeur Basilica, "the very image of a child and martyr, whom you will love," he had written to Pierre Termier. Father Durantel awaited our decision.

Our suffering and dryness grew greater every day. Finally we understood that God also was waiting, and that there would be no further light so long as we should not have obeyed the imperious voice of our consciences saying to us: you have no valid objection to the Church; she alone promises you the light of truth - prove her promises, put Baptism to the test.

We still thought that to become Christian meant to abandon philosophy forever. Well, we were ready - but it was not easy - to abandon philosophy for the truth. Jacques accepted this sacrifice. The truth we had so greatly desired had caught us in a trap. "If it has pleased God to hide His truth in a dunghill," Jacques said, "that is where we shall go to find it." I quote these cruel words to give some idea of our state of mind.

I see in a letter from Bloy to Termier that on May 2Ist we had given him "complete assurance" that we would soon enter the Church. My sister was also ready; and I believe even that she had been so for a long time. Yet on June 1st, Bloy wrote Tennier that "nothing has yet happened with the Maritains."

Suddenly our decision was made. Purely for reasons of convenience - I had a journey to take - we chose the l1th of June for the Baptism of all three of us. And on June 8th Bloy was writing to Termier:

"The object of this further letter is above all to inform you that Jacques Maritain, his charming wife Raissa and the latter's sister, Vera, will be baptized at Montmartre on Monday, the 1lth, the feast of Saint Barnabas. My wife, Veronique, and I will be the godparents. You are among those who can understand the deeply hidden greatness and splendour of such an event.

It is something to think that when I die I shall leave, kneeling beside me and weeping from love, people who knew nothing of such an attitude before they met me. I am writing to the same effect to Brother Dacien.

I would like on this occasion to tell you something about Saint Barnabas, the apostle thus canonized by the Holy Spirit: Erat vir bonus, et plenus Spiritu Sancto et fide. When for the first time I read in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter xiv, the surprising fact that the Lycaonians, hearing with amazement the preaching of Saint Paul and his companion Saint Bamabas and taking them for gods in human form, called Barnabas Jupiter and Paul Mercury, I was very much impressed.

It seemed very evident to me that this Barnabas, hebraice filius consolationis, who was mistaken by the pagans for the king of the Gods, must have been an infinitely mysterious and venerable personage. I decided then to venerate him and pray to him in a very special way, and in this I was not deceived. Saint Bamabas has done great things for me, and each year I await his feast with loving impatience. On the 11th of last June, the day ended without any sign of his great protection, and I was saddened.

But something more wonderful happened. As the 11th of June fell, in 1905, on the feast of Pentecost, Saint Barnabas' day had to be postponed to June 20th, and this was the very day when I received the first letter from the Maritains, who were then unknown to me. This year you see what happens! Perhaps other things will happen too. I know what I asked. I beg of you, my dear friend, to pay attention to these wonderful concordances. Each of us is at the centre of infinite and marvelous combinations. If God gave it to us to see them, we would enter Paradise in a swoon of pain and delight.

Yours, Leon Bloy."

On June 11th, unconscious of the significance of this date for our godfather, all three of us betook ourselves to the Church of Saint John the Evangelist in Montmartre. I was in a state of absolute dryness, and could no longer remember any of the reasons for my being there. One single thing remained clear in my mind: either Baptism would give me Faith, and I would believe and I would belong to the Church altogether; or I would go away unchanged, an unbeliever forever. Jacques bad almost the same thoughts.

"What do you ask of the Church of God?"


We were baptized at eleven o'clock in the morning, Leon Bloy being our godfather; his wife was godmother for Jacques and Vera, his daughter Veronique for me.

An immense peace descended upon us, bringing with it the treasures of Faith. There were no more questions, no more anguish, no more trials - here was only the infinite answer of God. The Church kept her promises. And it is she whom we first loved. It is through her that we have known Christ.

I think now that faith - a weak faith, impossible to formulate consciously - already existed in the most hidden depths of our souls. But we did not know this. It was the Sacrament which revealed it to us, and it was sanctifying grace which strengthened it in us.

We passed a heavenly day with the Bloys, our godfather's heart bursting with joy."

Today in Christian history

June 10, 1854: James Augustine Healy is ordained the first African-American priest in Paris's Notre Dame Cathedral. In 1875 he became the first African-American bishop in the Catholic Church in America.

June 10, 1955: Pope Pius XII excommunicated Argentinian dictator Juan Perón on this day in 1955 for his mistreatment of clergy. Perón was the last head of state to be excommunicated. The ban was lifted in 1963.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004
Litany of the Sacred Heart

YOUR voice - the Church's - speaks:

Now I will pray the ardor of the soul as a great litany is prayed.
Now I will raise the song of praise that is not sung but loved.
Blood-red secret of all that is:
Holy Heart, divine Heart, almighty Heart.

Be loved, Love, eternal Love, be thou eternally loved.
Hearth in the dark of the frozen world,
Be loved, Love!

Flame-shadow over all the false brightness of the world,
Be loved, Love!

Burning sign in all the false rest of the world;
Lonely Heart, flaming Heart, unquenchable Heart:
Be loved, everlasting Love.

Heart deep as the nights that have no face:
Be loved!

Heart strong as the waves that have no shores:
Be loved!

Heart tender as little children that have no bitterness:
Be everlastingly loved!

Rose from the flower-beds of the invisible,
Rose from the chalice of the humble maiden,
Blossoming rose-bush, in which heaven and earth are entwined:
Be loved, everlasting Love!

Royal Heart in the flowing mantle of Thy blood:
Be loved!

Brother-Heart in the wild mockery of the thorny crown:
Be loved!

Breaking Heart in the stark ornament of Thy death wounds:
Heart dethroned, Heart betrayed, Heart cruelly martyred:
Be loved, everlasting Love, be everlastingly loved.

Heart before whom the mighty find their knees,
We ask Thee for Thy love.

Heart before whom the careless find their tears:
We ask Thee for Thy love.

Heart in whom thieves and murderers yet find forgiveness,
Great Heart, Heart of mercy, Heart of glory,
We ask Thee for Thy love!

Red-thorn of our gladness,
Sorrow-thorn of our repentance,
Fair evening glow of our own setting,
We ask Thee for Thy love.

Crimson cloth that turns sin pale as death:
We ask Thee for Thy love.
Ruby stream after which the sick souls thirst:
We ask Thee for Thy love.

Whispering nearness in which parted friends may meet:
We ask Thee for Thy love.

Comforting lamp of the distressed,
Lighthouse of the persecuted and the disgraced,
Hidden chamber in which the gentle dead may yet breathe;
All-knowing Heart, all-guiding Heart, ultimate Heart:
We ask Thee for Thy love!

Heart that takes us all to itself,
Heart that strikes the center of all our hearts,
Heart that breaks the proud hearts of us all:
We ask Thee for Thy love.

Heart that makes solitude into a great people:
We ask Thee for Thy Love.

Heart that makes discord into a united people:
We ask Thee for Thy love.

Heart in which the whole world becomes Thy people:
We consecrate ourselves to Thy love.

Overflowing Heart, overflaming Heart, overstorming Heart:
Be loved, Love, everlasting Love, be everlastingly loved.

That Thy Dawn may break with kindling light,
We consecrate ourselves to Thy love.

That Thy day may bring fire to our hearts,
We consecrate ourselves to Thy love.

That Thy day may burn all our hearts into Thine,
We consecrate ourselves to Thy love,

Mighty Heart, ineluctable Heart, all-consuming Heart.

Fire! Fire! The angels' wings are burning, the swords of the seraphim are aflame!

The lights of heaven are burning, the depths of earth are burning rocks
and yesterdays are all aflame! The expectation of all creatures burns -
the spirit burns in the darkness of high thought.

All has been taken from love, all must become love; sing "Holy, Holy, Holy!" rustling flames of the Seraphim!

Heart from which the heavens draw their glory,
Heart from which suns and constellations draw their beginning and their end,
Heart from which the souls of the blessed draw their blessedness.
World-ordering Heart, world-conquering Heart, Thou only Heart of hearts:

Amen. Amen.

May the day of Thine infinite love come quickly.

- Gertrude von le Fort, Hymns to the Church

Today in Christian history

June 9, 68: Nero Claudius Caesar, the ruler to whom the Apostle Paul appealed for justice (Acts 25:10) and who ordered the first imperial persecution of Christians, commits suicide.

June 9, 597: Columba, Irish missionary to Scotland and founder of a monastery on the island of Iona, dies at age 76. Though more monk than missionary, he established churches that went on, in time, to evangelize the Picts and the English.

June 9, 1549: England's Act of Uniformity, passed by Parliament in January, takes effect. The act ordered that religious services be consistent throughout the country, using Thomas Cranmer's Book of Common Prayer.

June 9, 1784: Pope Pius VI names John Carroll, the first Roman Catholic bishop in the United States, as superior of the American mission.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Swiss Marvel at John Paul II's "Magic" With Youth

Press, Critics and Episcopal Conference Praise the Trip

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 7, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II returned to Rome elated by his meeting with young people in Bern and pleased with his third trip to Switzerland, said Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro Valls.

The positive atmosphere of the apostolic pilgrimage was evident in the change of tone in the Swiss press during and after the trip.

On Saturday, the day of the Pope's arrival, the headline of Le Temps lead article was "John Paul II in Switzerland, an Air of Indifference."

Two days later, the same newspaper began its lead article with the headline: "Magic Has Worked Once Again. Between the Pope and Young People There Is a Lasting Love, Undoubtedly Encouraged by the Elixir of Faith."

The Swiss press also gave ample coverage to the conclusions drawn from this event by Marc Aellen, spokesman of the country's Catholic episcopal conference, who described it as an "enormous success, qualitative and quantitative."

"At the beginning, for the meeting in the BernArena, we did not expect more than 3,000 to 4,000 young people; there were 14,000," Aellen said. "On Sunday, we didn't dare to hope for the figure of 40,000 -- and 70,000 people attended the Mass."

"The 41 Catholic personalities who recently called for John Paul II's resignation in a public letter can ask themselves some questions in the face of the success of this meeting," he observed.

In fact, Xavier Pfister, promoter of the letter and responsible for the Information Office of the Catholic Church in Basel, acknowledged his surprise to the newspaper NZZ am Sonntag and commented positively on the Pope's addresses.

Similarly, Le Temps asked today: "Did this visit reconcile Swiss Catholics, often distrustful and reticent in the face of Roman centralism, with their Pope?"

"Seeing the warm atmosphere, full of emotion, that reigned in the Allmend field, one might think so," the newspaper said. "The attendance was exceptional. On June 17, 1984, in the Pope's first pastoral visit, 'only' 45,000 people attended the closing Mass in Sion."

Marc Aellen told Vatican Radio of a bishop of French-speaking Switzerland who came to tell him: "Look, do you realize how many young people there are, and all in a spirit of peace!"

"He did not seem the same," the spokesman said. "I think that it has been an enormous encouragement for the bishops."

The Pope's address to the youths was full of slogans in which he marked the future of the Church in the country.

One of these phrases could summarize his message for the future of Swiss Catholics: "Don't be content to discuss; don't wait for occasions to do good that perhaps will never come. The hour of action has arrived!"

The Pope in Switzerland

John Allen reflects on another remarkable visit of the Pope

"European Catholicism may be in some ways a shell of its former self, but to judge from John Paul II's June 5-6 trip to Bern, Switzerland, it's a shell with spunk.

Indicators of ecclesiastical winter on the Old Continent are not hard to find: a dearth of vocations to the priesthood and religious life, historically low levels of Mass attendance, and a near-total lack of public influence. In one telling sign of this impotence, just 48 hours before the apostle of the "culture of life" arrived in the Swiss capital, the federal parliament approved a bill for civil registration of same-sex unions.

The epochal transition now underway, in fact, may well be the dawning recognition that Catholicism is no longer the chief shaper of culture in Europe, no longer the animating conviction of the majority. Today Catholicism is more akin to an embattled cultural minority, and like other minority groups, it is struggling against extinction by assimilation. The antidote is the politics of identity -- preserving the language and the customs of the tribe.

In that sense, the deep logic of John Paul's weekend outing may have been to give his struggling Swiss minority a shot in the arm. The festive air surrounding the trip, John Paul's 103rd outside Italy, was palpable, if at times perhaps a bit forced.

The 84-year-old pope rocked and rolled with some 13,000 youth in the city's Ice Palace, which is normally used as a hockey rink, on the evening of Saturday, June 5. When the pope appeared on stage at 6:12 p.m., the crowd exploded as if the Swiss team had just scored the game-winning goal in the Olympic hockey finals, and sustained a deafening roar for a full 10 minutes.

A few moments later, the pope began his speech and appeared to be incapable of carrying on, breathing heavily. When an aide tried to take his papers, however, John Paul slapped him away, triggering another full-throated roar that shook the rafters.

Throughout the trip, John Paul appeared sluggish and tired, but he finished all his speeches and maintained all his public engagements.

"I too, like you, was once 20 years old," the pope told the youth gathering, which included not just Swiss but Poles, Croats, Austrians, Spaniards, and a number of other nationalities.

"I liked to play sports, to ski, to act. I studied and I worked. I had desires and worries. In those years that are now far away, in times in which my homeland was wounded first by war and then by a totalitarian regime, I was searching for the sense to give to my life."

"I found it," he said, "in following the Lord Jesus."

The crowd hung on the pope's every phrase. They sang, they danced, they did the wave, and for a few moments the ennui of centuries of history seemed to lift. European Catholicism felt young..."

Two Anniversaries

Today, June 8th, is the anniversary of the death of Gerard Manley Hopkins in 1889. Hopkins, a convert to the Catholic Church, entered the Society of Jesus, and burned all the poems he had written previously. Under obedience, he took up the pen and once again and wrote poetry. His corpus, rather slim, is remarkable in its flashing use of the English language and in the depth of its sacramental vision of reality. Hopkins is, by far, my favorite poet.

Today, in 2000, Monsignor Tom Wells, one of the finest priests I have ever known, was brutally murdered in his rectory in Germantown, Maryland. "Father Wells" had so many gifts which he used so well in his utter dedication to Christ and the Church and the priesthood. He always had time and a smile! And yet knew how to speak the truth! How many tears were shed by those who loved him so; and I can still weep as I think of his goodness and untimely death.

Tom, I am sure, is praying for us and already at least one fine young man I know is in the seminary with a vocation awakened at the Funeral of Father Tom Wells. Requiescat in pace!

June 8, 793 (traditional date): Vikings attack the monastery at Lindisfarne, Scotland. The date is often considered the first event of the "Viking Age".

June 8, 1536: Following Henry VIII's Declaration of Supremacy, English clergy draw up the Ten Articles of Religion, the first articles of the Anglican Church since its break from Roman Catholicism.

June 8, 1794: French revolutionaries replace Christianity with a deistic religion honoring a trinity of "Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity." They renamed churches "Temples of Reason," and a new calendar announced a 10-day week and holidays commemorating events of the revolution. The "reign of terror" followed, with some 1,400 people losing their heads. Napolean recognized the church again in 1804, then proceeded to imprison Pope Pius VII.

Monday, June 07, 2004
Welcome to St Blog's

Benedictus qui venit - Benoit (Montreal seminarian, bilingual blog)
Once upon a midnight dreary - Jeff Burden
Converted Journey - Woody Hughes
Catholifarian - Cosmo Dank
Ad Limina Apostolorum - Benjamin Blosser
Storm Watch - Mia Storm
Happy Catholic - Julie Davis
Barefoot and Pregnant - The Pregnant Lady
The Idyllist - Debra Murphy

Spreading the Pope's Message of Sexuality and a Willing Spirit

"What's the origin of the family?" the speaker asked his audience.

"The Trinity?" one man ventured.

Yes, the speaker said, but what about on earth?

"Men and women," another voice answered.

O.K., the speaker said, but what do men and women do to create a family?

"Marry," a few voices said in unison.

What do men and women DO? the speaker, Christopher West, insisted.

"Sex!" a chorus finally answered amid laughter.

A frank talk about sex is not usual, or easy, fare at Roman Catholic parish halls, but about 140 people gathered one night in May at the Church of the Holy Family in Sewell, N.J., to hear Mr. West, a theology lecturer from Pennsylvania, delve into topics like lust and sexual pleasure.

He lectures around the country on "theology of the body," Pope John Paul II's views on sexuality, which Mr. West and other Catholics are increasingly using to present the church's prohibitions on sex in a more positive light..."

Happy Birthday, Bill!

Bill and myself on the Carnival Pride in July 2003

One simple joy of my life is knowing that both my twin sister Peg and older brother Bill read my blog regularly. I am honored! So this gives me another chance to wish Bill a happy birthday. Lots of birthdays in June for us: all 3 of us (and my dad's birthday is June 17, may he rest in peace). HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BILL!

Today is also a dear friend's birthday, Ed Berman. Ed wrote a lovely piece on his conversion to Catholicism that I have available on my website, To Reconcile to Himself All Things . Ed was Protestant, became Orthodox for about 7 years, and then joined the Catholic Church. His first Catholic Communion was taken at Pope John Paul II's Mass in Baltimore in 1995. (Ed's wife Heidi has since joined him in becoming Catholic along with their growing family).

Sunday, June 06, 2004
What a beautiful Love Letter

From Ronald Reagan to Nancy

Aboard Air Force One

March 4 1983

Dear First Lady,

I know tradition has it that on this morning I place cards Happy Anniversary cards on your breakfast tray. But things are somewhat mixed up. I substituted a gift & delivered it a few weeks ago.

Still this is the day, the day that marks 31 years of such happiness as comes to few men. I told you once that it was like an adolescent's dream of what marriage should be like. That hasn't changed.

You know I love the ranch but these last two days made it plain I only love it when you are there. Come to think of it that's true of every place & every time. When you aren't there I'm no place, just lost in time & space.

I more than love you, I'm not whole without you. You are life itself to me. When you are gone I'm waiting for you to return so I can start living again.

Happy Anniversary & thank you for 31 wonderful years.

I love you,

Your Grateful Husband

Crowds flock to Pope's Bern mass

"..Cheers and crowds

But the overwhelming sentiment from the crowds who had come from around Switzerland and beyond to hear the Pope was one of noisy enthusiasm.

The turn-out exceeded the expectations of organisers, who had reportedly feared that hopes for an audience of 50,000 would not be fulfilled.

Local Protestants declined an invitation to attend the mass because they would not be allowed to share communion with the Catholics.

A large cheer came up from the crowd as the Pope was wheeled onto the semi-circular stage after touring the crowds in the field at the outskirts of Bern.

The Pope read prayers in Switzerland's three national languages - French, German and Italian - occasionally pausing to wipe his mouth with a handkerchief..."

For Trinity Sunday

Rublev's "The hosptality of Abraham", an icon of the Most Blessed Trinity

De Sancta Trinitate
Song of the Soul that is glad to know God by Faith

I know the fountain ever springs and flows
Even now in the night's hush.

Eternal, it will ne'er its tale disclose,
Yet well its hidden depths my spirit knows
Even now in the night's hush.

Dim is our life and sad, one truly sayeth,
And yet joy's water-spring I know by faith
Even now in the night's hush.

It origins I know not - who can know?
For from these origins all rivers flow
Even now in the night's hush.

I know that nothing can have purer grace.
Both heaven and earth drink deep and haste their pace
Even now in the night's hush.

Well know I that its deep no man can plumb -
To that profound abyss no spirits come
Even now in the night's hush.

Naught can obscure its sparkle diamond bright,
Its gleaming brilliance from whence comes all light
Even now in the night's hush.

I know its streams life and refreshment tell
To skies, to peoples, to foul depths of hell
Even now in the night's hush.

I know besides that still a new stream flows,
Brimming with almightiness, whence those waters rose,
Even now in the night's hush.

And from these mingling floods, I know another flow
Proceeds. Did these precede it, then? Ah, no!
Even now in the night's hush.

These three streams flow their eternal course,
Unrivalling and mutual in their force
Even now in the night's hush.

The eternal tide flows hid in living bread
That with its heavenly life we too be fed
Even now in the night's hush.

And here it calls to all, and here we will
Our craving voids mysteriously fill,
Even now in the night's hush.

This living stream for which I thirst and long,
Provides my sup, my surety and my song
Even now in the night's hush.

- St John of the Cross

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto;
sicut erat in principio,
et nunc, et semper,
et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

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