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, July 03, 2004
Pope to the Grotto in August

This good news, this spark of hope, from John Allen in his weekly "Word from Rome" column:

"The Vatican has confirmed that John Paul II will visit Lourdes, the famous Marian sanctuary in France, August 14-15. The official occasion for the trip is the 150th anniversary of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, proclaimed by Pope Pius IX on Dec. 8, 1854, in the bull Ineffabilis Deus..."

Wish I could be there!

Today in Christian history

July 3, 529: The (Second) Council of Orange convenes in southern France. Led by Caesarius of Arles, the synod upheld Augustine's doctrines of grace and free will while condemning the Semi-Pelagian doctrine that the human race, though fallen and possessed of a sinful nature, is still "good" enough to able to lay hold of the grace of God through an act of unredeemed human will. The Catechism of the Catholic Church refers specifically to this Synod as providing the "data of Revelation" for her doctrine on original sin (cf. no. 406).

July 3, 1959: Pope John XXIII, in his encyclical Ad Petri Cathedram expressed the hope that non-Catholic Christians would see in the upcoming Vatican II Ecumenical Council "a warm invitation to seek and find unity."

July 3, 1988: Pope John Paul II canonized Sr. Rose Philippine Duchesne, who served in the mission fields of the American Northwest during the 19th century. She was the 4th American resident to be raised to be canonized.

Friday, July 02, 2004
The terror the West cannot face

William Dalrymple (in this week's Tablet)

"All eyes have been on Iraq and the handover. But it is time America and its allies turned their attention to Saudi Arabia and the militant Islam that thrives there – a creed which continues to fund and inspire al-Qaida..."

Today in Christian history

July 2, 1965: On her 18th birthday, Luci Baines Johnson, the daughter of the President, was baptized into the Catholic Church at St. Matthew's Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Her mother and her sister opposed the act. (I presume that the baptism was "conditional" unless she was never baptized).

Thursday, July 01, 2004
Archbishop Christodoulous speaks of Greek "screw-up"

The phrase "Greek bahalo"--meaning Greek screw-up in polite terms--had barely rolled off the lips of Greece's church leader before it landed on everyone's else.

Unorthodox as it sounds, the outspoken head of the Greek Orthodox Church, Archbishop Christodoulos, used the tag to describe the Greek tendency to carelessly pull things together.

Christodoulos was referring to Athens' last-minute preparations for the Aug. 13-29 Olympics. But the quip--with the English word ''Greek" - could become a household expression for all sorts of headaches from traffic jams to the cumbersome bureaucracy.

"We Greeks succeed even when things are haphazard," he said Monday. "This is - should I say it? - a Greek screw-up which is inherent in our character. But in some miraculous way, it produces good results."

It didn't sit well with Olympic organizers trying to convince the world that the game preparations are on target. (AP)

Swedish pastor sentenced to one month in jail for offending homosexuals

By Lars Grip

Stockholm, 30 June (ENI)--A Swedish court on Wednesday sentenced a pastor belonging to the Pentecostal movement in Sweden, Ake Green, to a month in prison, under a law against incitement, after he was found guilty of having offended homosexuals in a sermon.

Soren Andersson, the president of the Swedish federation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights (RFSL), said on hearing the sentence that religious freedom could never be used as a reason to offend people. "Therefore," he told journalists,
"I cannot regard the sentence as an act of interference with freedom of religion."

During a sermon in 2003, Green described homosexuality as "abnormal, a horrible cancerous tumour in the body of society". He also called homosexuals "perverts, whose sexual drive the Devil has used as his strongest weapon against God".

In the sermon, delivered in the small east coast town of Borgholm, Green had warned that Sweden faced total obliteration as a consequence of the lifestyle of homosexuals.

For the first time in Sweden, the law of incitement, which applies racial hatred and to sexual minorities, was tested in a trial dealing with aggravation against homosexuals.

During proceedings, the public prosecutor, Kjell Yngvesson, played a tape recording from the sermon and asked the pastor if he regarded homosexuality as an illness.

"Yes, of course," the pastor had replied. "The concept of a sane body and a sane soul is contaminated by homosexuals."

In his defence, the pastor said that the purpose of the sermon was to make clear the biblical view on homosexuality and not to express disrespect.

His lawyer pointed to the contradiction between religious freedom and freedom of speech on the one hand, and the rights of homosexuals to be protected against discrimination, on the other. A verdict of guilty would violate the pastor's right to preach about his beliefs, the lawyer had been quoted as saying in the Kyrkans Tidning, a daily newspaper covering church affairs

Prosecutor Yngvesson asked the court to impose a prison sentence on the pastor, but Green is expected to appeal against the ruling.

The return of beauty

More and more newly built Catholic churches are rejecting the modernistic reductionism of so many (often rather ugly) structures built the past few decades and exude something of the great Catholic tradition of the beauty of holiness and the holiness of beauty. Here's a good example I recently visited during my trip to Jekyll Island and St Augustine, Florida. (And we saw a few other glorious examples, though this one is the most spectacular). Photos do NOT do it justice, of course.

Exterior of St. Anastasia church, dedicated in 1999, in Anastasia, Florida, outside St. Augustine.

Interior of St. Anastasia church, looking from the front of the church to the entrance doors. It seats over 1500!

Another sad story unfolds.....

Mark Shea's blog reported an article in the Dallas Morning News about a problem involving the well known Angican-Use Parish in Arlington Texas. Read the DMN piece Mark links to and read the comments in Mark's blog.

Then be updated in Mark's report and the new comments (involving at this point one of the reporters of the DMN).

A very sad situation. I have very mixed emotions at this point and haven't been able to sort it all out. God willing, it will become clearer.

I have known of Father Allan Hawkins and his Anglican use Parish of St Mary the Virgin since he and his congregation were received into full communion with the Catholic Church. As Father Wilson, a personal friend of both Father Hawkins and Rod Dreher writes of Father Allan Hawkins:

"Knowing Father Hawkins as I do, as a man of perfect integrity and great pastoral gifts, I can say that it is absurd to think that he would ever have someone on his staff who might pose a danger to anyone."

Yet now he is being accused of serious violations of both his integrity and pastoral gifts.....

One thing seems clear to me at this point: there were other options open beyond splashing headlines in a secular newspaper! The human carnage could have been much less if Catholic sensibilities were followed rather than secular norms of "transparency." Granted our Church has failed but things really are different now (and have been for some years before the breaking news of the "scandals" a few years ago).

May God have mercy on us all! These are not easy days to remain hopeful and joyful in the faith. But God is God and Christ is risen from the dead. Regardless...

Today in Christian history

July 1, 1535: Sir Thomas More, went on trial in England charged with treason for his refusal to agree to the separation of the Church of England from the Catholic Church.

July 1, 1824: The Presbyterian church ordains Charles Grandison Finney, the father of modern revivalism.

July 1, 1899: Three traveling businessmen meet in a YMCA building and decide to form an organization to distribute Bibles. The Christian Commercial Men's Association of America, later renamed the Gideons, placed their first Bibles in a hotel nine years later. (How many such Bibles I have seen over the years!).

Wednesday, June 30, 2004
More good news!

May this contact bear rich fruit.

I have visited several Bruderhof communities and am very impressed.

(Thanks to a comment on Mark Shea's blog for this link).


God, through whom we sleep or wake
Here’s my soul for Thee to take.
Lift me in divine release
Out of time and back to peace.
Fold me in Perhaps and Seem,
Make me once again the dream
Dreamed before I came to be
The thing I am, this loved—by—Thee.
Keep unchanged my moonlit world
Of fields and snow-roofs bluely pearled,
And starry stillness vast and deep
Round the silence of my sleep.
Bring, in icy air afar,
Tomorrow’s drop of morning star.
Wake me, gentle, with a kiss
Out of night’s unplumbed abyss,
Through the day to feel and be
Lost in Thee as Thou in me.
Here’s the password, still the same,
The drifting whisper of Thy name:
“Jesus!’’ And I make the sign,
Passing Thee-ward half divine.
Inward to the world of Seem.
Twelve o’clock and all is dream.

-John Duffy, C.SS.R., teacher, mentor, model

Pope sorrow over Constantinople

"The Pope has expressed his sorrow over the sacking of Constantinople by Catholic crusaders in 1204.

His comments came during a visit by the spiritual leader of some 300 million Orthodox Christians, Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople..."

God bless the Pope! He knows the path of the gospel! May his sorrow be accepted and reciprocated! Ut unum sint!

Ut unum sint!

Patriarch Bartholomew I and Pope John Paul II exchange the kiss of peace on June 29, 2004

40 years ago, the kiss of peace between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras

The brother apostles Peter and Andrew embrace. Peter, the patron of the Church of Rome; Andrew, the patron of the Church of Constantinople. This beautiful icon was presented by Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras to Pope Paul VI when, after so many centuries of estrangement, they met in Jerusalem in 1964 and exchanged the Kiss of Peace.

Ut unum sint. That all may be one. Veni, Sancte Spiritus!

YOU ARE PETER: An Orthodox Reflection on the Exercise of Papal Primacy by Olivier Clement
This is a remarkable book! Olivier Clement brings to bear on this theme of the Petrine Office the fullness of the Eastern Orthodox tradition and a largehearted openness to the fullness of the Catholic tradition. No wonder the Pope asked Clement to write the meditations on the Stations of the Cross the Pope used for a Good Friday in Rome. Clement attempts to bridge the gap, so to speak, between east and west. It is interesting that it was after this book was first published in the original French edition that the Pope made his request to Clement!

Clement writes this warm book as a response to the request made by the Pope in his encyclical "Ut Unum Sint" for a dialog about the exercise of the Papal Office in the Church. I highly recommend this book to those interested in the reestablishment of full communion between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. While one many not agree completely with all the comments and opinions of Clement, I think most will find much that resonates deeply within, and flowing from the wellspring of joy and hope.

A nice touch: the English edition is published by the Focolare movement's publishing house "New City Press."

You can order it here: YOU ARE PETER: An Orthodox Reflection on the Exercise of Papal Primacy by Olivier Clement


Here is von Balthasar at his exquisite best: he approaches the place of the Petrine Office - the place of the pope - from variegated avenues: manifesting his incomparable grasp of the Scriptures, the history of the Church, the unifying streams of Tradition, the shadows as well as the light.  This is, along with Vladimir Soloviev's "Russia and The Universal Church" (sadly out of print), the best book I know on the papal office - compelling.


Today in Christian history

June 30, 1315 (traditional date): Lay missionary, mystic, and philosopher Ramon Lull, who was persuaded by a vision to seek the conversion of the Muslims, is reportedly stoned to death in Bougie, North Africa. He learned Arabic, founded a school for Arabic study in 1276 on Majorca, and encouraged the study of Arab language and culture. Had a small but devoted band of followers known as Lullists who continued their work after his death, though some of them drifted away from the Church in search of alchemical knowledge. His work in this area has been the source of controversy for centuries, and non-Christian occult groups have seen him as a "master". Beatified in 1847 by Pope Pius IX.

June 30, 1963: Giovanni Battista Montini was elected Pope Paul VI, 262nd bishop of Rome.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004
Changing of guard at Catholic Information Center in D.C.

Father C. John McCloskey will no longer be directing the CIC in D.C. He is now living and working in England. The new director is Father Bill Stetson (also of the Prelature of Opus Dei). Father Stetson is a graduate of Harvard College and Havard Law School, and earned a doctorate in Canon Law in Rome.

Father McCloskey had a rather amazing career at the Center and was instrumental in a number of "high-profile" conversions.

God bless Father Stetson and his new ministry. And God bless Father McCloskey in his new assignment.

Orthodox Patriarch to Join in at Mass on Solemnity

Televised live today on EWTN at noon EST

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 23, 2004 (Zenit.org).- On the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, the Pope will continue a tradition with the Orthodox which this year will include a visit by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I himself.

John Paul II will preside at a 6p.m. Mass next Tuesday in St. Peter's Square. Beforehand he will welcome Bartholomew I of Constantinople in the interior of St. Peter's Basilica. Together they will deliver the homily and recite the profession of faith, according to a note issued by the Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff.

For years, on the solemnity of the patrons of Rome, a delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople has attended the Mass. A Vatican delegation makes a reciprocal exchange on the feast of St. Andrew in Constantinople - modern-day Istanbul, Turkey.

Next week's celebration will take place 40 years after the historic embrace between Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I in Jerusalem in January 1964.

"The event constitutes a new moment of grace in the journey following Vatican Council II 'for the rapprochement between the Church of the East and the Church of the West, and the re-establishment of the unity that existed between them in the first millennium,'" the Office for the Liturgical Celebrations noted.

Next Tuesday, new Catholic metropolitan archbishops will also receive the pallium, a band of lamb's wool symbolizing their authority and their communion with Rome, from the Pope.

Today in Christian history

June 29, 1236: Ferdinand III of Castile and Leon took Córdoba in Spain from the Moors. The retaking of Moorish lands was called the Reconquista.

Monday, June 28, 2004
The Dallas Morning News warns clueless Pope of impending disaster

In its June 27, 2004 editorial the Dallas Morning News prophetically announces:

"It is suicidal folly for the hierarchy to think ordinary Catholics will trust the church indefinitely when its leaders are revealed time and time again to coddle clerical child molesters. Catholic leaders are courting a disaster of historical proportions. They have got to understand that, even if Pope John Paul II does not.."

And then the Dallas Morning News editorializes:

"Where do we go from here? One feels like Sisyphus eternally pushing the boulder up the mountain, but it cannot be said often enough: The Roman Catholic Church worldwide must get dead serious about reform..."

Who is this who feels like Sisyphus anyway? The editorial team of the DMN?

Curious editorial in a secular newspaper.

In Churches, a Mosaic of Cultures

"I USED to entertain the antic notion that I could walk from one end of Rome to the other by ducking in and out of the city's hundreds of churches. I imagined myself strolling beneath an almost continuous canopy of frescoed ceilings swarming with angels and saints. All around me, I assumed, there would be the familiar figures - black-shawled widows, rambunctious children and devout nuns and priests, everyone Italian except for a few tourists admiring the Caravaggios.

But I've had to revise that picture, because as the demographics of Italy have changed, so has the complexion of its churchgoers. With immigrants streaming in from Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia, various parishes have put their facilities at the disposal of foreign worshipers.."

Today in Christian history

June 28, 1245: Innocent IV convenes the Council of Lyons to deal with the "five wounds of the Church:" corruption of the clergy and faithful, the danger of the Saracens, the Greek Schism, the invasion of Hungary by the Tatars, and the rupture between the Church and Emperor Frederick II.

June 28, 1491: Henry VIII, the "Defender of the faith" who broke with Rome when the pope would not grant him a divorce, is born in Greenwich, England.

June 28, 1577: Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens, who sympathized with the Jesuit movement and the Counter Reformation, is born. Among his most famous works are Raising of the Cross (1610) and Descent from the Cross (1611).

Sunday, June 27, 2004
The world is charged with the grandeur of God

Typical vegetation of Jekyll Island, Georgia

Glooms of the live-oaks, beautiful-braided and woven
With intricate shades of the vines that myriad-cloven...

-Sidney Lanier, "The Marshes of Glynn"


I imagine there are a bunch of disappointed folk out there. Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany (not one of my favorite bishops, by the way) was cleared of charges of sexual misconduct by a special outside investigation.

What? After all that was said and implied, all the innuendos and verdicts passed by so many bloggers and commenters. And it looks like the Father Minkler plot, juicy as it was, was a big hoax as well.

Of course, don't wait for any apologies or setting the record straight. But I suspect the disappointed can keep hoping for the next big scoop, true or not.

Our Mother of Perpetual Help

Today is the feast of Our Lady of perpetual help, celebrated by Redemptorists throughout the world

Madonna, in thy eastern shrine reposing,
We crown thee Empress of the adopted West,
And hail thee Mother, for redemption's closing
Left thee to us in Jesus' last bequest.
Perpetual Help! Upon the breast of mother,
Omnipotence here lisps His childhood's fears,
And thou dost soothe His terrors as no other
But thou couldst do, and kiss away His tears.

But even while thy Infant's fingers tremble
Their fright within thy palms, while cherubim,
Golgotha's grim precursors, here assemble
With spectral cross and lance, 'tis not on Him
But on us Cains, whose sins have slain our brother,
Thy eyes gaze sadly from thy frame above;
The wayward child is dearest to his mother,
The prodigal e'er nearest to her love.

Behold us, like the loosened sandal cleaving
To Jesus' feet by but a single strap -
Should that thong fail, be thou our hope receiving
Thy fallen children in a mother's lap.

-Rev. John T. Feeney

O Lord Jesus Christ, who gave us your Mother Mary, whose renowned image we venerate, to be a Mother ever ready to help us; grant we beseech You, that we who constantly implore her motherly aid, may merit to enjoy perpetually the fruits of Your redemption, Who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

- Opening Prayer, Mass of Our Mother of perpetual help

Baptized into Christ

61 years ago I was baptized into Christ at my parish church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Brooklyn, NY. I thank God for this gift of grace, for the life bestowed on me in that sacrament, for choosing me to belong to Christ and His Church, and I ask forgiveness for the many times I sinned and soiled the baptismal garment and extinguished the baptismal candle. Thank God for the sacrament of penance! And for the restoration of baptismal splendor. May I be faithful to the promises of my baptism until the end. Mary, mother of perpetual help, pray for me.

Archbishop Sean O'Malley to receive pallium from Pope

".."There will be no receptions and no parties," Coyne said. "With all that's going on in the archdiocese, and given the financial constraints so many parishes and agencies are under, the archbishop thought it would be inappropriate to be spending money on something like that..."

Today in Christian history

June 27, 444: Cyril, patriarch of Alexandria and author of several writings on the dual natures of Christ, dies. He opposed Nestorius, who supposedly taught there were two separate persons in the Incarnate Christ, one divine and the other human. Historians doubt, however, whether or not Nestorius actually taught this. In any case, Cyril deposed Nestorius in 430. Cyril's famous phrase: ‘the one incarnate nature of God the Word’ was misused by some who denied the two natures in Christ. Eventually the Church came to a more complete understanding, in good part, due to the tome of Saint Leo the Great and the Council of Chalcedon.

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