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 31, 2004
Vladimir Sergeyevich Soloviev

born Jan. 16 [Jan. 28, New Style], 1853, Moscow, Russia
died July 31 [Aug. 13], 1900, Uzkoye, near Moscow

Perhaps the two greatest religious/spiritual geniuses of the 19th century were Vladimir Soloviev and John Henry Newman. Both of these great hearted and brilliant Christians came to the same conviction about the absolute necessity of the Petrine Office in the life of the Universal Church!

"...he (Soloviev) was a completely different person from Newman. Aware of already possessing the entire catholicity of the faith of the Creed and bringing with him the rich treasure of Eastern wisdom and speculative trinitarian sophiology, he had a triumphal way of showing his Orthodox brethren the plain necessity of a concrete Church center in Rome and of mercilessly unveiling the sins, delusions and cowardice of the Eastern Church. Yet he loved the Church of his origins no less than Newman did his own; both were noble hearts - but Newman spoke more softly..." (Hans Urs von Balthasar).


"As a member of the true and venerable Eastern or Greco-Russian Orthodox Church which does not speak through anti-canonical synod nor through the employees of the secular power, but through the utterance of her great Fathers and Doctors, I recognise as supreme judge in matters of religion him who has been recognized as such by St Irenaeus, St Dionysius the Great, St Athansius the Great, St John Chrysostom, St Cyril, St Flavian, the Blessed Theodoret, St Maximus the Confessor, St Theodore of Studium, St Ignatius, etc. etc. - namely, the Apostle Peter, who lives in his successors and who has not heard in vain our Lord's words: 'Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build My Church', 'Strengthen thy brethren', 'Feed My sheep, feed My lambs'..."

On my own website I have several important works of Soloviev. His unique-in-Christian-literature, The Tale of the AntiChrist

And the brilliant and long "apologia" for the Papal Office in Russia and the Universal Church.

I also have a selection of various Soloviev pieces.

Soloviev has a place in the thinking and spirit of Pope John Paul II. Someone worth remembering and hearing.

SAINT IGNATIUS LOYOLA: Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!

Saint Ignatius Loyola, 1491-1556

Some Prayers by Saint Ignatius Loyola

Grant, O Lord, that my heart may neither desire nor seek anything but what is necessary for the fulfillment of Thy holy Will.
May health or sickness,
riches or poverty,
honors or contempt,
leave my soul in that state of perfect detachment,
to which I desire to attain -
for Thy greater honor and Thy greater glory.

O my God, teach me to be generous:
to serve you as you deserve;
to give without counting the cost;
to fight heedless of the wounds;
to work without seeking rest;
and to spend myself without expecting any reward,
save the knowledge that I am doing your holy will.

Take, Lord, and receive
all my liberty,
my memory,
my understanding,
and my entire will,
all that I have and possess.
Thou hast given all to me.
To Thee, O Lord, I return it all.
All is Thine;
dispose of it wholly according to Thy Will.
Give me Thy love and Thy grace,
for this is sufficient for me.
For with these I am rich enough and desire nothing more.

St Ignatius, Knight of Our Lady, obedient defender of the Pope and the Catholic Church, pray for your Society: increase its holiness and fidelity; pray for all of us in the Church that we may love your Lord and Master and serve Him with generous hearts, not counting the cost,ad majorem Dei gloriam - to the greater glory of God.

Thank you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for the marvelous life of Ignatius of Loyola and his companions and faithful sons of the Society of Jesus. How greatly they have enriched your Church. Prosper the work of Ignatius' hands and heart and continue to bless and guide, prune where needed, and make fruitful ad majorem Dei gloriam.

A blessed feast to all!

Today in Christian history

July 31, 1556: Ignatius of Loyola, Spanish Roman Catholic reformer and founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), dies in Rome. During his life he saw 1,000 men join his order and 100 colleges and seminaries established. Apart from his order, Ignatius's greatest legacy he left in his Spiritual Exercises, a practical guide that has been in constant use for over 460 years.

July 31, 1566: Bartolome de las Casas, a Dominican friar, and the first Spaniard ordained in the New World and "Father to the Indians," dies in Spain. He wrote several books detailing the horrors committed upon Native Americans by the Spanish settlers, and argued for the humanity of the Indians against many of his countrymen who had described them as children or subhuman.

July 31, 1900: Vladimir Soloviev, profound and enigmatic Russian philospher and theologian, dies. Soloviev came to believe in the necessity of unity between the Orthodox and Catholic Church. His spirit has influenced a small but influential group of souls over the years, including Pope John Paul II.

Friday, July 30, 2004
Mea culpa

Received this in a comment for a piece I wrote about John Kerry's speech and reports on it in The Arab News. It really wasn't something necessary or pertinent to the purupose of my blog as Richard kindly pointed out. So it is deleted.

Thanks, Richard!

"Please, Gerard, this is about the only blog I can generally count on to be positive and uplifting and joyful. The number of Catholic blogs that deliver smug political commentary are legion. Please, please, please don't sink to that level. It is such a joy for me to read this blog.

Today in Christian history

July 30, 1775: The U.S. Army founds its Chaplaincy, making it the Army's oldest division after the infantry.

July 30, 1956: "In God We Trust" becomes the official motto of the United States by an act of Congress signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower today.

Thursday, July 29, 2004
Athens to build first new mosque in two centuries

ATHENS, Greece (AP) - The government has given approval for plans to build Athens' first new mosque in two centuries despite objections from the powerful Greek Orthodox Church over its location and funding.

..Although plans for its construction date back more than decade, they have been delayed mostly because of complaints from the church and local residents.

The project's backers - including Saudi Arabia's King Fahd, who is putting forward an undisclosed amount to cover the cost of construction - had hoped it would be completed in time for the Aug. 13-29 Olympics.

There have been no Muslim places of worship in Athens since Greece gained independence in 1832 after four centuries of Ottoman rule.

Tens of thousands of Muslim immigrants here have held prayers in private homes and have had to travel hundreds of kilometers (miles) to northern Greece for weddings, burials and other ceremonies.

The Greek Orthodox Church, the nation's state religion, had demanded that an alternative site be found.

Greek Orthodox leader Archbishop Christodoulos argued the mosque's minaret, visible from the airport, would give visitors the impression they were arriving in a Muslim country.

The project also drew fire because of the financial involvement of Saudi Arabia. Church leaders said the Arab kingdom was not known for religious tolerance.

..About 97 percent of the 10.2 million native-born residents of Greece are baptized into the state religion.

Northern Greece is home to the country's 120,000-strong Muslim minority. - AP

It strikes me as odd to hear some Greek Orthodox and others complain about religious discrimination in Istanbul. But, for whatever discrimination there might be, there are active Christian churches present in Istanbul. And the Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople still centers in that immense city, in the Phanar. So I am glad that the Greek authorities have allowed for the mosque.

Now to reopen Hagia Sophia as a church!

Still gorgeous!

ONION asleep this morning on one of his pillows and near his buddy, Teddy

My beloved peke, ONION, continues to amaze me. Despite his old age (the peke's average age limit is 13 years and if healthy, 15, yet ONION is 17 & 1/2), ONION hangs on in there with dignity and grace. He is still a happy dog! I do not know how much longer I will have him but I am delighted I have him today. And that his life is still good. He really is gorgeous, no? My little button nose beauty!

The Servant of God Metropolitan Andrew

Born today in 1865

Andrew Sheptytsky, Metropolitan Archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, 1865-1944

"The Metropolitan lay calmly with eyes shut and breathed with difficulty, as he had previously. Then he began to pray again. He opened his eyes and began to talk to us:

'Our Church will be ruined, destroyed by the Bolsheviks, but you will hold on, do not renounce the faith, the Catholic Church. A difficult trial will fall on our Church, but it is passing. I see the rebirth of our Church, it will be more beautiful, more glorious than of old, and it will embrace all our people. Ukraine,' the metropolitan continued, "will rise again from her destruction and will become a mighty state, united, great, comparable to other highly-developed countries. Peace, wellbeing, happiness, high culture, mutual love and harmony will rule here. It will all be as I say. It is only necessary to pray that the Lord God and the Mother of God will care for our poor tired people, who have suffered so much, and that God's care will last forever.'"

From an interview with Fr. Yosyf Kladochnyi about Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky's last moments of earthly life."

Today in Christian history

July 29, 1030: Viking king Olaf Haraldsson, patron saint of Norway, dies in the battle of Stiklestad. Though limited in his ability to force his countrymen to convert during his reign, his death was later hailed as a miracle-filled martyrdom and, as his legend grew, it spurred on christiansd converting the country. In time, Olaf became one of the most well-known saints of medieval Christendom, and his relics in Norway became one of Europe's most popular pilgrimage destinations.

July 29, 1865: Roman Aleksander Maria Sheptytski is born in western Ukraine. A man of profound spirituality and vision, he was elected as Metropolitan Andrew of the Ukrainian Catholic Church and left a deep imprint on the Ukrainian Church and society.

July 29, 1968: 36 years ago, Pope Paul VI issues his encyclical "Humanae Vitae," which upheld the Church's traditional rejection of artificial contraception. Paul VI did not accept the majority report of the Commission set up to deal with this issue, but rather followed his own conscience and inspiration, and gave forth what some believe a prophetic word to the twentieth century (and into our own). "Humanae Vitae" is considered by some a watershed regarding dissent from Church teachings. The Encyclical itself seems to be largely unknown and unread by many Catholics (and some dissented from it before even reading it!).

Wednesday, July 28, 2004
Belated Jekyll Island photos

Finally got around to editing a few photos from my June visit to beautiful and peaceful Jekyll Island, Georgia. ENJOY!

P.S. On August 9, we leave for 4 nights in Banff National Park, Alberta. I will bring my camera!

Father Pat Reardon on Liturgical Renewal in Orthodoxy

Father Pat Reardon has experience in liturgy since he has been Catholic, then Episcopal, and now Orthodox. He is not fond of "western" liturgists nor of "eastern" ones who say much the same.

I tend to agree with him in his comments in this entry in Touchstone's blog, Mere Comments. However, I do see a need for authentic renewal of liturgy in the Orthodox Church. I think the monastics of New Skete have struck the right balance. (If you visit the New Skete site beware of some scratchy music!) I am not Orthodox and thus hestitate to say too much or to go into much detail.

The Orthodox Liturgy is quite magnificent, even as it is now. But I do think it could become even more beautiful in authenticity and a degree of simplification according to the norms of the gospel. Sadly, the Catholic liturgical renewal was so flawed that it can't offer much by way of example (though now things are better, for the most part, and perhaps there can be a better exchange).

But we "westerners" surely have much to learn from the Orthodox Liturgy. I have a webpage dedicated to this theme, Light from the East.

After the Council: Living Vatican II

"..Traditionalist Catholics who blame all the Church’s recent problems on Vatican II should ponder a few questions: If the Church was in such good shape before the council, why did things fall apart so rapidly in the 1960s? How do you account for the fact that the rebellion was the work of bishops, theologians, and priests who came out of the Tridentine system? Had all those priests and nuns who suddenly wanted to be laicized received adequate formation under the old system? Why was there so much dissatisfaction? It won’t do simply to rattle off statistics about the decline of the Church since the council. There’s no question that there were good and holy Catholics in the old days—even some saints—and that since the council we have lost much that is good. But there were also problems waiting to erupt. Might not the Magisterium have been correct in addressing them in the council’s documents?.."

More good comments and insight in the full article by George Sim Johnston

Update: While I posted this link without knowing Amy Welborn would do the same, I now point to an article that was cited in her comments. This article is a response to Johnston's piece and is written by Alice von Hilderbrand. Worth reading.

Today in Christian history

July 28, 1148: Too weak to retake Edessa from the Muslims, the armies of the Second Crusade beseige Damascus. They blundered and were forced to retreat within five days. Believers throughout Christendom were shocked and devastated that a crusade preached by a moral exemplar (Bernard of Clairvaux) and led by royalty (King Louis VII of France and Emperor Conrad III of Germany) would fail.

July 28, 1727: Moody, stiff young preacher Jonathan Edwards marries Sarah Pierrepont, a lively 17-year-old. The union proved happy and produced 11 children, six of who were born on Sundays. This caused a bit of a scandal, because people then believed children were born the same weekday they were conceived. Nonetheless, people admired the marriage, including George Whitefield, who declared, "A sweeter couple I have not seen".

July 28, 1750: Johann Sebastian Bach dies. One of the greatest musical geniuses of all times, Bach was a devout Christian (Lutheran) who inscribed all his musical scores with the words: Soli Deo gloria (To God alone the glory). His music enriches the worship of all Christian traditions and is much loved by Catholics. Bach is a good example, perhaps, of the ecumenism of beauty! He is sometimes referred to as the "fifth evangelist."

July 28, 1844: Gerard Manley Hopkins is born. Hopkins excelled in academics and the classics and wrote poetry. As a young man, Hopkins converted to the Catholic Faith, and a few years later entered the Jesuits (and burned all his poems). Under obedience, he wrote another poem and then continued writing poetry, even as he worked as a priest, teaching, and in parish ministry. His poetic works, relatively few, reflect his faith, his joys and sorrows, his vision of creation, and his theory of "inscape." Hans Urs von Balthasar speaks of Hopkin's poetry as another sacramental enfleshment of the Word of God! Hopkins is my favorite poet.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004
Which of these would you trust?

Mel or Mike?

Today in Christian history

The Anglo-French critic and cultural commentator Hilaire Belloc was born near Paris on this day in 1870. He became a British subject in 1902 and served in Parliament. He wrote all his work from his Catholic viewpoint. His Christmas card verse is famous: “May all my enemies go to hell/ Noël, Noël, Noël, Noël!”

I particularly like his verse:

Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine,
There's dance and song and good red wine.
At least I've always found it so:
Benedicamus Domino!

Monday, July 26, 2004

Orthodox Unity

Autonomous Orthodoxy isn't an oxymoron. It's the fulfillment of a different kind of American dream.

Frederica gives a handy history (even I think it is written with rose colored glasses!).

For a look at some contention in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, see:

… And Orthodox Division

Greek Orthodox prepare for contentious assembly in New York.

The enemy is "Islamic terrorism"

From the Report of the 9/11 Commission

"9/11 has taught us that terrorism against American interests 'over there' should be regarded just as we regard terrorism against America 'over here.' In this same sense, the American homeland is the planet. But the enemy is not just 'terrorism,' some generic evil. This vagueness blurs the strategy. The catastrophic threat at this moment in history is more specific. It is the threat posed by Islamist terrorism — especially the al Qaeda network, its affiliates, and its ideology.

As we mentioned in chapter 2, Usama Bin Ladin and other Islamist terrorist leaders draw on a long tradition of extreme intolerance within one stream of Islam (a minority tradition), from at least Ibn Taimiyyah, through the founders of Wahhabism, through the Muslim Brotherhood, to Sayyid Qutb. That stream is motivated by religion and does not distinguish politics from religion, thus distorting both. It is further fed by grievances stressed by Bin Ladin and widely felt throughout the Muslim world—against the U.S. military presence in the Middle East, policies perceived as anti-Arab and anti-Muslim, and support of Israel. Bin Ladin and Islamist terrorists mean exactly what they say: to them America is the font of all evil, the 'head of the snake,' and it must be converted or destroyed.

It is not a position with which Americans can bargain or negotiate. With it there is no common ground — not even respect for life — on which to begin a dialogue. It can only be destroyed or utterly isolated."

-thanks to Andrew Sullivan for this selection of the Report

Feast of the Grandmother of the Lord

Hans Baldung Grien, Holy Family, 1511

For the contemplative look, much in this sketching of Our Lord, Our Lady, Saint Ann, and Saint Joseph. A celebration of the true and complete enfleshment of God.

Of course, it's the grandfather's feast, too, Saint Joachim.

Happy feastday to all grandparents. You bring an irreplaceable warmth and joy!

Sunday, July 25, 2004
Papal Hopes for Youth Pilgrimage

VATICAN CITY, JULY 25, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II hopes that the forthcoming European Youth Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, will be an opportunity to renew "the Christian proposal."

In a letter to Cardinal Antonio Rouco, archbishop of Madrid and "papal envoy" to the closing celebrations, John Paul II said he hoped that the Aug. 5-8 meeting would also serve as preparation for the World Youth Day 2005 in Germany.

Thousands of young people will retrace the steps of past pilgrims to the city of the Apostle James, in the region of Galicia. Some 50,000 are expected to attend the closing celebrations.

There will be a Vigil of Prayer in Monte do Gozo on the night of Aug. 7, the place where Christian youths will publish a document on their commitment to the construction of a "Europe of Hope."

The Camino Santiago Compostela Pilgrimage

Updated with figures for 2003 and new stats on make up of pilgrims

The simpler "Compostela" - given to those who do the pilgrimage according to certain norms

Today's feast of Saint James, son of Zebedee, brother of the beloved disciple, is celebrated with special joy at the Shrine of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. This was one of the largest pilgrimages for some period in the Catholic world (when pilgrimages held an important place). This pilgrimage, like so much, declined significantly. But, like so much, in these last years has shown signs of revival. Here are the statistics of those who completed the pilgrimage and were officially given the certificate as official pilgrims.

1986 2,491
1987 2,905
1988 3,501
1989 (Pope's visit) 5,760
1990 4,918
1991 7,274
1992 9,764
1993 (Holy Year) 99,439
1994 15,863
1995 19,821
1996 23,218
1997 25,179
1998 30,126
1999 (Holy Year) 154,613
2000 (Jubilee Year) 55,004
2001 61,418
2002 68,952
2003 74,614

Roughly 70% of pilgrims each year are men, 30% women (though the proportion has been closer to 60:40 in recent years); 70% make the journey on foot, 30% by bike (though in 2000 and 2001 the proportion was closer to 80:20) . The statistics for 2000 (possibly still untypical, though not a Holy Year) show that 44% of pilgrims were under 30; 36% were between 31 and 50. The percentage of those over 50 has grown from 16% in 1997 to 20% in 2000. And 6.7% were over 70. Most pilgrims are Spanish (ca 70%), with Germans and French predominant among the remainder.

The world's largest thurible is swung through the entire length of the great church of Saintiago de Compostela

Today in Christian history

July 25, 325: The Council of Nicea closes. The first ecumenical council, convened by Constantine, it rejected the Arians (who denied the full divinity of Christ) as heretics. The Nicene Creed used by Christians today is based on the Creed of this Council, expanded by the First Council of Constantinople (an eastern council) and in the west by the addition of the "filioque" starting in Spain in the sixth century.

July 25, 1593: King Henry IV of France, raised a Protestant, converts to Catholicism. Long considered a political move, the conversion is now thought to have been sincere, partially because of the king's statement that "religion is not changed as easily as a shirt." His conversion did not end his sympathy for Protestants, however, and in 1598 he promulgated the Edict of Nantes, giving Protestants freedom of worship and permitting them to garrison certain towns for security.

July 25, 1918: Walter Rauschenbusch, Bapstist pastor and theologian of the Social Gospel, dies. His books, including "Christianity and the Social Crisis and The Social Principles of Jesus", influenced many—among them Martin Luther King, Jr., who observed that "Rauschenbusch gave to American Protestantism a sense of social responsibility that it should never lose."

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