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 24, 2004
Immigrants Keep Islam -- Italian Style

'Modern Muslims' Forge Hybrid Culture

Convention preacher offers US views

"...The featured preacher, the Rev. James A. Forbes Jr., once got an impressive nomination himself: Newsweek named him one of the dozen ''most effective preachers" in the English-speaking world. Forbes has been the senior minister at Manhattan's Riverside Church since 1989. He also will address the convention Tuesday night.

Excerpts from an interview follow..."

Saint Sharbel Makhluf

"...a hermit of the Lebanese mountain is inscribed in the number of the blessed, a new eminent member of monastic sanctity is enriching, by his example and his intercession, the entire Christian people. May he make us understand, in a world largely fascinated by wealth and comfort, the paramount value of poverty, penance and asceticism, to liberate the soul in its ascent to God..." (Pope Paul VI, October 9, 1977, at the canonization Mass).

Saint Sharbel is one of the shining lights of the Maronite Church. His feast is celebrated today in the Roman Rite.

The fascinating Maronite Church is in its entirety united to the Apostolic See of Rome, without any counterpart in the Orthodox world.

Here are some "quick facts":

LOCATION: Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus, Egypt, Brazil, USA, Canada, Australia
HEAD: Patriarch Nasrallah Cardinal Sfeir (born 1920, elected 1986, cardinal 1994)
TITLE: Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites
RESIDENCE: Bkerke, Lebanon
MEMBERSHIP: 3,222,000

Friday, July 23, 2004

John Eldredge thinks too many Christians are weak, and churches are often insipid-and he's not going to take it anymore

Never heard of John Eldredge until this piece in Christianity Today arrived in my inbox. Looks like an interesting read. Hope to do it later today. In the meantime, you may find it of interest. (I am getting ready for my "holy hour" - siesta!).


Latest cruise photos and review. ENJOY!

Today in Christian history

July 23, 1373: Saint Bridget (or Birgitta) of Sweden dies. The devout and charitable mystic and founder of the Bridgettine Order, greatly influenced the pope's decision to return to Rome.

July 23, 1742: Susannah Wesley, mother of John and Charles, dies. Born the twenty-fifth child in a clergyman's family, she became one of the most notable mothers in church history.

July 23, 1823: The Victorian poet Coventry Patmore was born on this day in 1823. A devout Catholic, Patmore wrote poems with deep mystical insight and celebrated the centrality of love in its divine and human manifestations. "His best work is found in the volume of odes called The Unknown Eros, which is full not only of passages but of entire poems in which exalted thought is expressed in poetry of the richest and most dignified melody. Spirituality informs his inspiration; the poetry is glowing and alive. The magnificent piece in praise of winter, the solemn and beautiful cadences of "Departure," and the homely but elevated pathos of "The Toys," are in their various manners unsurpassed in English poetry." (The Fact Book online)

Thursday, July 22, 2004

I don't think I am too easily shocked. But just now surfing TV channels I went past EWTN (daily Mass) and then came to one of my least favorite cable channels, often chinsy and superficial charismatic Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) - though it is always worth the money I pay for it to see Jan Crouch once again! Who is filling the screen? Archbishop Fulton Sheen. I kid you not!

Protestants will not be majority in US soon

The percentage of Catholics remains the same apparantly for some decades now: at about 25% of the population.

I found this sentence quite remarkable:

"Americans who said they belonged to religions other than Christianity or Judaism rose from 3 percent to 7 percent between 1993 and 2002. Other religions included Islam, Orthodox Christianity, Buddhism and other Eastern faiths, and those who describe themselves as inter-denominational."


Best Meal of Recent Cruise to Canada

The "restaurant" in Nova Scotia

Perhaps not as elegant as the Carmen Dining Room on the spectacular Voyager of the Seas, but it served its purpose well and even had outdoor dining!

But best of all, the ENTRE:

One and a half pounders for $10 and they were fresh and scrumptious!

Population earthquake hits Germany

Europe is oh so comfortable, oh so progressive, and oh so sterile.

It ages and wonders where the retirement benefits will come from. But no one seems to think it might be good to have more children. Except the immigrant and convert Muslims!

Today in Christian history

July 22, 1822: Johann Gregor Mendel, the Austrian monk and botanist who discovered the basic laws of genetic inheritance, is born.

July 22, 1844: The Rev. William Archibald Spooner, English clergyman and educator, was born. He lent his name to the verbal lapses called Spoonerisms, which involve the comic reversal of consonants. Instead of "our dear old queen," he is said to have called Queen Victoria "our queer old dean."

Any good "spoonerisms"?????

Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Another sign of hope

Looks like a good conference sponsored this year by The Liturgical Institute of St Mary's and Munderlein, "The Place of Chant in the Liturgy Today."

Just 10 years or so ago such a conference would have seemed an "impossible dream." But, little by little, sanity and beauty return. Would that it would be more extensively embraced. But there are indeed many signs of hope.

I am blessed to belong to a parish where the use of some chant is a regular feature and where the gospel is chanted on major feastdays. There really is nothing quite as transcendent as good Gregorian chant (unless it's Mozart's "Ave Verum" and a few other magnifent treasures from our grand heritage of sacred music).

Voters in Hamtramck fail to quell Muslim prayer call

HAMTRAMCK -- Voters on Tuesday narrowly upheld a law allowing the city's Islamic mosques to have amplified calls to prayer, 1,462 to 1,200..."

One of those Arabic call to prayer translates:

Allah is great, Allah is great
Allah is great, Allah is great

I bear witness there is no deity but Allah
I bear witness there is no deity but Allah

I bear witness that Muhammad (pbuh) is the Messenger of Allah
I bear witness that Muhammad (pbuh) is the Messenger of Allah

Hurry to the prayer
Hurry to the prayer

Hurry to the success
Hurry to the success

Allah is great, Allah is great

There is no deity but Allah.

Today in Christian history

July 21, 1773: Pope Clement XIV dissolves the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), which was founded in 1534. Clement did not condemn the Society, but explained it was an administrative move for the peace of the Church. Pius VII restored the society in 1814. The Jesuits were not suppressed in Russia, since the Russian authorities did not recognize the authority of the Pope.

July 21, 1886: The cardinal's hat was conferred upon Elzear Alexandre Taschereau, 66, archbishop of Quebec. He was the first Canadian to be made a cardinal.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004
Good News from beautiful Victoria

The Mystery Worshipper finds the celebration of the Liturgy at the Catholic cathedral in Victoria, British Columbia, "perfect." I hope it is a sign of the turning of the tide in the liturgical renewal. I found the liturgy celebrated beautifully in the cathedral in Seattle, Washington, last year. Both Vancouver and Seattle had quite liberal bishops for many years. So it is good news to see the liturgy celebrated in their cathedrals today done with beauty and reverence (and a generous use of Latin as well!).

ONION and Baron von Hugel

I just made a call to the vets inquiring about procedure for "putting down" my beloved peke, ONION, who fails more and more, but right now remains brave and even content, it seems. But for how much longer? Ideally, I would love this buddy of mine simply not to wake up one day, having died of old age after a good, (very) long, and happy life. But that is, I suppose, unlikely. So I begin to make provision for the dreaded hour. But the LORD has been merciful; allowing me and ONION to say our goodbyes over a long period (he began to fail after his 17th birthday in February). How I love him!

One of my favorite shots of ONION with summer haircut. Not exactly the "lapdog" look! ONION definitely a small dog with a big dog attitude

Here's a reflection by the great von Hugel that means a lot to me. Perhaps some of you, too, will find it helpful and touching.

Baron von Hugel and his beloved dogs

One of the greatest Catholic figures of the early 20th century

In the life of any other person of von Hugel’s interests and influence it would doubtless be unnecessary to find space to record another of his sorrows at this time; but with von Hugel it is absolutely necessary. We refer to the ‘putting away’ of the old — and by now not too clean — dog, Teufel. Teufel, running away, pleased or not pleased to see him, scolded or beaten, is not only a personage of the Diary; he was an object of the baron’s deepest affection — an affection which could be concentrated not only on children, but very really given also to dogs, those creatures of God’s which, apart from their intrinsic appeal, seemed to the baron to stand in regard to their masters in a way analogous to that in which man stands to God; hence many a telling spiritual and moral lesson.

Teufel was really Hildegard’s (now thirty-three years old), and in a letter from the baron to his wife we seem to be moving back to the nursery

"Hillie is being very good about our poor dear old Teufy; you will find him gone — destroyed when you return. And I have arranged with the lodgekeeper at Victoria Gate, Hyde Park — who also looks after that pathetic little dogs’ cemetery there — to receive from H. the poor little, thin dead dog on Monday morning, and to send it to be buried in a dog’s cemetery which his brother has in the country. Please, Deane, say very little or only very gentle words to Hillie any more about the dog now. For she feels losing him, even tho’ I think she now really sees that this course will be kindest to the poor little fellow himself."

Teufel was soon replaced by the pekinese, Puck, to whom the ageing baron became even more devoted, so that when in his turn Puck came to die the Diary account almost brings tears to the eyes of the most heartless reader. But it all fitted into the pattern of a world in which God’s love, manifesting itself in every creature, drew the baron ever more fully into the sense of the totum simul of God Himself about which he discoursed so eloquently.

...From the sublime to what some might think the ridiculous! As it happened, the death of Troeltsch, his unlikely teacher and close friend in his life’s deepest labors, was followed soon after by another death which the baron’s all-embracing soul must have felt, in its own way, just as keenly, and fitted just as simply and easily into the pattern of a Providence which jealously cares for the lilies of the fields and the birds of the air.

In one of his addresses he had written:

"With regard to animals — even with respect to our dogs that we know best and love best, we are often in the dark as to what is their momentary disposition and requirement. But how instructive it is to watch precisely such animals thus dear to us — I mean their knowledge of us, and their need of us and of our love! Our dogs know human individuals, from amongst millions of fairly similar other individuals. Our dogs know and love us thus most really, yet they doubtless know us only vividly, not clearly; we evidently strain their minds after a while - they then like to get away amongst servants and children; and, indeed, they love altogether to escape from human company, the rich and the dim, or (at best) the vivid experiences — the company that is above them, to the company of their fellow creatures, the company that affords so much poorer but so much clearer impressions — the level company of their brother-dogs. And yet, how wonderful! dogs thus require dogs, the shallow and clear, but they also require us, the deep and the dim; they require indeed what they can grasp; but they as really they can but reach out to, more or less—what exceeds, protects directs them. And, after a short relaxation in the dog-world to the bracing of the man-world."

Then drawing the moral he goes on:

"The source and object of religion, if religion be true and its object be true, cannot, indeed, by any possibility, be as clear to me even as I am to my dog. The obscurity of my life to my dog, must thus be exceeded by the obscurity of the life of God to me. . . of His reality and life, so different and superior, so unspeakably more rich and alive, than is, or ever can be, my own life and reality."

This little lesson is a fitting prelude to the death of his beloved pekinese, Puck, as fully and movingly recorded in his Diary as any other of the events of his life.

"October 16. 1922. Puck’s vet came in a fine Motor car He, Puck, has cardial Asthma. The heart, incurable, but the asthma may go. Will not hear of his destruction; and is against taking him away even for a little — he would fret too much...

October 17. Waked up by Puck 3 times in night, the darling little thing in great distress.

October 18. M. also had attended to Puck in night. We have decided to put him out of his pain. He staid in my study with a fire till lunch. Afterwards he fell on his side repeatedly. Mr. Brown, the vet, came at 3.15 and with me alone in my study gave him an injection of morphia; and, after he had been sick, he was put into my armchair, with me having my hand on his right side, and yet putting the cloth with a liquid to inhale close to his face. At 3.45 he breathed his last. He had lain looking at me with deep love and perfect confidence till his eyes broke.

October 21. Puck buried in the morning, in the same grave (no. 278) with Teufel in the ‘Pet’s Cemetery,’ Molesworth, Huntingdon."

Is it fanciful to see in the saintly old scholar’s feeling for his little dog the same pattern of devotion given and repaid, though at an infinitely lower level, as he confidently expected to be enacted when he, a few months later, looking up with deep love and perfect confidence, would yield his soul to his Creator?

From "The Life of Frederick von Hugel" by Michael de la Bedoyere, 1951, pp. 270-71; 347-49.

Today in Christian history

July 20, 1054: Patriarch of Constantinople Michael Cerularius, having been excommunicated from the Roman church four days earlier, excommunicates Pope Leo IX and his followers. This excommunication of the Pope was lifted by Patriarch Athenagoras. Pope Paul VI lifted the excommunication of Cerularius.

July 20, 1910: The Christian Endeavor Society of Missouri begins a campaign to ban all motion pictures that depicted kissing between nonrelatives.

July 20, 1962: Pope John XXIII sent invitations to all “separated Christian churches and communities” asking each to send delegate-observers to the upcoming Vatican II Ecumenical Council in Rome.

Monday, July 19, 2004
Can this be true?

Thanks to Father Bryce Silby, I was made aware of a possible activity held at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Fatima itself. (I am trusting that the photos are real and not doctored!). I know nothing about this website and its owners and tend to be somewhat wary myself of cries of heresy and apostasy and desecration, etc. But the photos seem to show something that oversteps.

I tend to get angry over such crazinesses and apparant violation of Catholic faith, but I also try to contact those possibly involved. I wrote a few emails to the episcopal conference of Portugal through their website; but then found a listing of emails for the Fatima Shrine.

Just in case you are led to send a letter of protest, below are these addresses. My email was simple:

"Can this be true????



Sent to:


Again, I am not at all certain that the violations protrayed were reported accurately. That's why I wrote and asked if it were true. I will let you know if I receive any reply.

New Blog

Forgot to add this one to the lastest listing of new Catholic blogs. Sorry, K!

Cradle Catholic Hanging On


Reform of the Church - one possible small step?

Reading Carol Zaleski's "Time Out for Allah" below triggered a thought or two about the renewal of Christian faith in our own days. So many voices clamor for reform. But more and more I sense that the only "answer" is in a more prayerful approach to life itself, and a deepening of our relationship with Christ, and through Him, with the Blessed Trinity indwelling in our souls.

To me, it would be a wonderful "baby step" if our Bishops were to invite all Catholics to revitalize the tradition of the morning, noon, and evening Angelus. To actually heed the Angelus bells that still chime from at least some of our churches. The Angelus is a most beautiful, meaningful prayer. And it doesn't take a long stretch of time to pray. But it is a lovely way to give God some conscious attention and worship throughout the day. (Traditional times are 6AM, 12PM, and 6PM).

But I doubt if this will ever be done by our bishops. They seem to march to a different drummer than I do most of the time. Perhaps it is unrealistic; but I don't know why - I have begun, little by little, to build the Angelus into my own life and when I am faithful it makes a difference.

How good to get some real good use again of our beautiful church bells. Why give over the "airwaves" to the Muslim call to prayer exclusively?

What do you think?

Europe Fears Islamic Converts May Give Cover for Extremism

"...A report by France's domestic intelligence agency, published by Le Figaro, estimated last year that there were 30,000 to 50,000 converts in France."

If that is accurate, what does that mean? If that rate continues, in 10 years there are between 300,000 to 500,000 converts to Islam in France alone. Amazing statistic. (Yes, there were over a hundred with Muslim background received into the Church this Easter in France, but that is not even one thousand!). Anyone know what's going on in France these days?

Today in Christian history

July 19, 1692: Puritan magistrates convict and hang five women for witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts. By September, 20 people had been executed on charges brought by 15 young girls.

July 19, 1848: More than 300 men and women assemble in the Wesleyan Chapel at Seneca Falls, New York, for the first formal convention to discuss "the social, civil and religious condition and the rights of women." The event has been called the birthplace of the women's rights movement.

Sunday, July 18, 2004
Welcome to St Blog's

Fidele Ecclesia - Nick France
Chateau du Meau
Ipsissima Verba - Brian Knotts
esperando nacer - hernán - ex fotos del apocalipsis
Katolik Shinja - Joshua
The View Through the Windshield - Joe Sherlock - primarily about cars but some Catholic stuff too.
Meet Joe Convert - Sean Herriott - reports of this blog's untimely death greatly exaggerated!
A Seminarian's Journey - Benjamin Brown

Time out for Allah

By Carol Zaleski (one of my favorite contemporary writers)

Allahu akbar--"God is great!" Thus begins the sonorous Arabic chant that is worrying the citizens of Hamtramck, a mostly immigrant urban community of 23,000 near Detroit. In April the Hamtramck City Council voted unanimously to amend a noise ordinance so that the al-Islah Islamic Center, one of seven mosques that serve a growing Muslim population in what was once a Polish Catholic enclave, can broadcast the call to prayer five times a day by loudspeaker. As of this writing, however, opposition from some longtime residents may silence the loudspeaker until the matter is brought to a citywide vote. Meanwhile, white supremacist groups on the outside are making Hamtramck a cause celebre, and unfortunately there is no noise ordinance to silence their fear-mongering.

Defenders of the city council's decision speak of the values of religious freedom and diversity. In this city where church bells ring freely, where a 12-foot bronze statue of John Paul II (tottering on a crumbling foundation) raises hands in benediction over the picnic tables of Pope Park, in this "Ellis Island of Michigan" where ethnic and religious plurality is an inescapable and resplendent fact, what grounds could there be for restricting the religious expression of the swelling ranks of Bangladeshi, Bosnian, Pakistani and Yemeni Muslims?

The main voices of opposition are not bigots but decent folks whose parents and grandparents labored and suffered to build a small community as vibrant with faith as the one they left behind. They are understandably worried to see their neighborhoods transformed, their numbers dwindling, their economy teetering like the statue in Pope Park. What would it be like, under such circumstances, to hear the Islamic call to prayer five times a day every day, without ceasing, without respite?

Disturbing, no doubt. Unless - and here is a venture full of hazards - one could find a way to hear the call to prayer not as an alien voice but as a summons, a periodic reminder, for Christians as well as Muslims, for Catholics and Protestants too, of the "one thing needful." It may not be a bad thing to wake each dawn to the admonition, "Prayer is better than sleep!" mixed in with the jackhammers, garbage trucks and school buses that make up the morning din. So many other influences conspire to tell us that sleep is better than prayer. So often we go about our day in a haze, forgetting that we are creatures, that our existence is on loan, that life is in earnest, that love is our business. It may not be a bad thing to be roused five times a day by the praise of God, even in an unfamiliar tongue.

Better still if another faith's call to prayer prompts us to recover Christian practices that have suffered neglect. When church bells ring, do we hear a call to prayer? Not according to some of the protesters in Hamtramck; church bells, they maintain, "have no religious significance." Never send to ask for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. Not so long ago, throughout Europe and possibly even in Hamtramck, church bells rang morning, noon and evening to summon householders, peasants in the field, workers in the factory and students at their books to set aside their labor and recite the Angelus, a perfect miniature of Christian gospel and creed. Like the liturgy of the hours, the Angelus was a Christian salat: an obligation but also a joy, a daily reminder of all that Christians believe, cherish and hope, a proving ground for Christian identity, a nursery for the seedlings of Christian culture. The Angelus was not outlawed so much as discarded. It seemed better to sleep.

Abraham Joshua Heschel speaks movingly of how he rediscovered the Jewish call to prayer during his student days in Berlin:

In those months in Berlin I went through moments of profound bitterness. I walked alone in the evenings through the magnificent streets of Berlin. I admired the solidity of its architecture, the overwhelming drive and power of a dynamic civilization. There were concerts, theaters, and lectures by famous scholars about the latest theories and inventions and I was pondering whether to go to the new Max Reinhardt play or to a lecture about the theory of relativity.

Suddenly I noticed the sun had gone down, evening had arrived. . . .

I had forgotten God--I had forgotten Sinai--I had forgotten that sunset is my business--that my task is "to restore the world to the kingship of the Lord."
So I began to utter the words of the evening prayer.

Blessed art thou, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who by His word brings on the evening twilight . . .

"Sunset is my business." The statutory times of Jewish prayer, from which the cycles of Christian and Islamic daily prayer derive, mark critical thresholds, moments when we can be roused from sleep into a state resembling human consciousness. We need such reminders. We need a tug of a string on our finger for those times when we fail to heed the tug of the string on our heart.

The Hamtramck controversy will be resolved by the faithful Christians and Muslims who live there, and who, because of their faith, prize hospitality. Though Christians and Muslims cannot pray in a common voice, the Hamtramck call to prayer can be heard as a reminder to all of us: Sunrise is our business. Prayer is better than sleep.

Carol Zaleski is professor of religion at Smith College in Massachusetts.

Reprinted with permission of The Christian Century.


Eye-witness account of the closing session of Vatican I - a storm to remember!

Today in Christian history

July 18, 1870: The Vatican I Council, during a dramatic thunderstorm, votes 533 to 2 in favor of "papal infallibility" as defined that "the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when in discharge of the office of pastor and teacher of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church…is possessed of that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed that his Church should be endowed."

July 18, 1880: Elizabeth Catez was born in the diocese of Bourges. In 1901 she entered the Discalced Carmelite monastery of Dijon. There she made her profession of vows in 1903 as Elizabeth of the Trinity, and from there she was called "to light, to love and to life" by the Divine Spouse in 1906. A faithful adorer in spirit and in truth, her life was a "praise of glory" of the Most Blessed Trinity present in her soul and loved amidst interior darkness and excruciating illness. In the mystery of divine inhabitation she found her "heaven on earth," her special charism and her mission for the Church.

July 18, 1970: Pope Paul VI names mystics Teresa of Avila and Catherine of Siena the first female Doctors of the Church. Since then, La Madre and Saint Catherine have been joined by Therese of Lisieux. (Thanks for the correction).

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