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, October 09, 2004
Greek Orthodox leader postpones Vatican trip after Holy Synod's objections

ATHENS, Greece (AP)

The leader of the Greek Orthodox Church postponed a planned visit to the Vatican after a majority of senior clerics in its governing body voted against the trip, the church said Saturday.

Archbishop Christodoulos was seeking formal approval from the Holy Synod before moving ahead with plans to meet Pope John Paul II in a visit meant to reciprocate the pontiff's groundbreaking pilgrimage to Greece in 2001.

The proposed trip had angered conservative factions in the Greek Orthodox Church, Greece's state religion.

"On the issue of the invitation for a visit to the Vatican by Archbishop Christodoulos there was a vote and the Holy Synod in its majority voted in favor of postponing the trip for a more suitable time," the church said in a statement.

Some 42 senior clerics of the 80-member Holy Synod voted against the trip, expressing the will of opposition from Greek religious conservatives who strongly oppose overtures to heal the nearly 1,000-year schism between the two ancient branches of Christianity.

John Paul - the first pope to visit Greece in nearly 13 centuries - helped overcome Greek Orthodox suspicions by noting "sins of action and omission" by Roman Catholics against Orthodox Christians, including such "painful memories" as the 1204 sacking by crusaders of Constantinople, the ancient center of Greek Byzantium.

A possible visit by Christodoulos to the Vatican could have strengthened the ties between the two churches.

Nearly 97 percent of native-born Greeks are baptized into the Orthodox Church, which also has considerable influence over political affairs. The Greek church - although not among the largest of the various Orthodox congregations - carries added clout because of its links to early Christianity.

Today in Christian History

October 9, 1000: Leif "the Lucky" Eriksson, who later evangelized Greenland, is reported to have been the first European to reach North America on this date. But while he was certainly a member of an early Viking voyage to "Vinland" (probably Nova Scotia), it's doubtful he led the initial expedition.

October 9, 1747: David Brainerd, pioneer missionary to Native Americans in New England, dies of tuberculosis at age 29. His journal, published by Jonathan Edwards, inspired hundreds to become missionaries, including the "father of modern Protestant missions," William Carey.

October 9, 1845: One of the founders of the Oxford Movement in England, churchman John Henry Newman made his celebrated conversion from Anglicanism to Catholicism. From 1845-1862, nearly 250 other English clergy followed Newman into the Catholic Church.

October 9, 1890: Pentecostal evangelist and national sensation Aimee Semple McPherson is born in Ontario, Canada. McPherson founded the pentecostal Church of the Foursquare Gospel.

October 9, 1958: Pope Pius XII dies.

Friday, October 08, 2004
The Ecstatic Heresy

Seeking a superficial unity, some denominational leaders opt for feelings over facts.

"The conflict in the mainline churches is ostensibly about sexuality—specifically, homosexuality. But more than sexuality is at stake. The faith itself, the Christian faith, is being invaded by false teaching. Theologically, this heresy is rarely articulated. Rather, it works by feeling, an ecstatic sense that transcends petty verbal differences.."

Christianity Today online's piece has relevance to Catholics as well as mainliners.

Today in Christian history

October 8, 451: The Council of Chalcedon opens to deal with the Eutychians, who believed Jesus could not have two natures. His divinity, they believed, swallowed up his humanity "like a drop of wine in the sea." The council condemned the teaching as heresy and created a confession of faith which has since been regarded as the highest word in Christology.

October 8, 1085: St Mark’s Cathedral in Venice was consecrated. (One of my "dreams" is to someday visit San Marco's in Venice).

Thursday, October 07, 2004
The Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary

My two favorite rosaries

The Rosary is a part of my life. I wish even more than it is. But, thank God, it is an unusal day that I don't at least pray a decade of this truly comforting prayer - and just touching the beads can seemingly evoke a whole world of prayer!

In the photo above are my two favorite rosaries. On the right, the rosary made from roses (a gift of Saint Therese) - thanks, Susan! On the left, the rosary made by fellow blogger, Karen Marie Knapp. Both are beautiful and have that "touch" as well. It is a nice "plus" to know that the rosaries I use for my prayer are gifts from readers of this blog. Connected like beads of a rosary.....


I am blessed in so many ways. Not the least: a priest-friend drops by on and off, unannounced, and hears my confession and sometimes even has the Eucharist for me as well. I consider this a real gift and good fortune. I would have a hard time getting to confession. He never lets it go for too long so I am now able to say I go to confession regularly; sadly, something I couldn't say for too long periods of my life. I am still very dry; I still pray: LORD, I believe; help my unbelief. But I sense that deep down the grace of the sacraments sustain and nourish me and keeps me, at least on the deepest level, abiding in Christ and His Love.

Yesterday Father Walter appeared for Confession and Communion. It was a good day!

Fall Foliage

Are the leaves changing to autumnal colors in your area yet? Any photos? (If they are OK I would be happy to post them on this blog). I love this time of year. And, God willing, I will fulfill another "dream come true" - planning on a trip to New England next week (11th-15th) to experience once more the heavenly beauty of autumn. We will be staying in Bellerica, Massachusetts and doing day trips to Provincetown, perhaps the Mohawk Trail, perhaps the rounds of Cambridge and Lexington (with a stop at Author's Ridge in one of the cemeteries - I think I can find it from memory), and perhaps a trip to New Hamsphire to visit a place I thought was fictional but have recently discovered is real: Lake Winnipesaukee - made famous in that hilarious comedy with Bob Wiley (Bill Murray) and Dr Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfus), "What About Bob?".

Suggestions, as always, welcomed. Any monasteries, shrines, etc. we should try to visit during our five days in God's country? I do hope and pray I can spend some time in the glorious Mission Church in Roxbury, especially before the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

So far it looks like we will be there during near peak foliage change according to the reports of The Foliage Network. Can hardly wait to see it again (autumn in Maryland can be beautiful but it seems to me to be almost qualitatively different than autumn in New England or upstate New York).

Today in Christian history

The naval Battle of Lepanto was fought in the Mediterranean on this day in 1571 between Austrian Imperial and Turkish fleets. The Spanish novelist Cervantes was a young sailor in the battle and lost the use of his left hand. He was called “el manco de Lepanto,” the one-handed man from Lepanto. Today's feast of the Holy Rosary indicates the role attributed to the rosary in this victory.

Church and State Clash, Noisily, in Spain

EL PUERTO DE SANTA MARÍA, Spain, Oct. 3 - Missionaries used to leave this southern Spanish port for the Americas to preach Christianity, and now, centuries later, the Sunday morning Roman Catholic Mass can still draw a crowd here.

On Sunday, men and women, dodging the Andalusian sun, came in their finery. Some of the fine baroque churches here were filled with exuberant music and white lace as young people gathered for weddings.

From one pulpit, though, a priest urged obedience, telling his flock again and again to submit to church teachings and accept the will of God. "We must resign ourselves and think of the hereafter," he said.

The message delivered here on the Bay of Cádiz and the Sunday scene were classic, but obedience and submission seem to have little appeal for many modern Spaniards..."

Wednesday, October 06, 2004
Saint Bruno's Family


Grande Chartreuse, the motherhouse of the Carthusian Order


The Chapel of the Monastics of Bethlehem in Bet Gemal, Israel

"AS THE BRETHREN OF MONT-DIEU introduce to our Western darkness and French cold the light of the East and that ancient fervor of Egypt for religious observance - the pattern of solitary life and the model of heavenly conduct - run to meet them, 0 my soul, and run with them in the joy of the Holy Spirit and with a smiling heart, welcome them devoutly and with every attention a dedicated will can show.

2. Surely it is right to feast in the Lord and rejoice because the fairest part of the Christian religion, which seemed to come into close contact with heaven, has returned to life after having died, has been found after being lost.

3. Our ears had heard tell of it, but we did not believe, we read in books of it and marveled at the ancient glory of the solitary life and at the great grace of God manifested in it; when suddenly we found it in the clearings of a wood, on God's mountain, on the fertile mountain, where the fair places of the desert now wax fat on its richness and the hills are girt with exultation."

- from William of St Thierry's "Golden Epistle" to the Carthusians of Mont-Dieu, c.1145

Today in Christian history

October 6, 1552: Matteo Ricci, the first Roman Catholic missionary to China, is born in Macareta, Italy. Other missionaries criticized his complete adoption of Chinese customs and alliance with Confucianism (which he believed merely a civil cult, unlike Buddhism and Taoism). Ricci is still studied as a model of "inculturated evangelism."

Jesuit missionary, Matteo Ricci, "Li-ma-teu"

October 6, 1979: Pope John Paul II visited the White House, the first Pope to do so.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004
"N. numquam reformata, quia numquam deformata."
"The N. never reformed, because never deformed."

- Pope Innocent XI 1688

What religious order was so highly praised by the Pope in this famous saying? Of course, it will be written correctly in the comments early on; but you can see if you knew it or not before you checked it out.

Hint: the founder's feast is tomorrow.

Today in Christian history

October 5, 869: The Fourth Constantinople Council opens. During its six sessions, the council condemned iconoclasm and anathematized Constantinople Patriarch Photius. It was the last of the usual listing of ecumenical council held in the East, but Eastern Orthodox Christians don't consider it a true ecumenical council. It is a complicated story, some of which can be read here in an article by the highly respected church historian, Msgr Francis Dvornik (an expert on this period and the various councils and personalities).

October 5, 1703: American evangelical preacher and Congregational theologian Jonathan Edwards is born in East Windsor, Connecticut. The leading theologian of his day, he is known most commonly for his Great Awakening sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," which he delivered in a quiet monotone. In fact, the content of the sermon is rather atypical for Edwards. (I had the good fortune to read this famous sermon of Edward's sitting on the same outdoor site from which he preached it in Enfield, CT).

Monday, October 04, 2004
Saint Francis of Assisi: a "universal saint"

Icon of Saint Francis of Assisi written at New Skete

Prayers to St. Francis of Assisi from the monastic typikon of New Skete Monastery (Orthodox Church in America, OCA)

Troparion Tone 3.

When riches had impoverished the world, you enriched it with the poverty of Christ, and by your love for all creation, you revealed to us the radiance of Tabor's light, so that all nations see in you the deep desire of all mankind. Beg Christ our Lord to save our souls.

Kontakion Tone 6.

Hearing the words of the Holy Gospels, you left your earthly father to serve your Father in heaven, showing us the riches of poverty and the perfect joy of the Cross. And in opposing the pride of the mighty with the humility of the simple, and breaking down the walls of hatred with the power of your love, you became yourself an image of the crucified Christ, who is everywhere present and fills all things.

Blogger working again

For most of today I was unable to publish to my blog. But now it looks like Blogger is back up and running. Glad to be in time to celebrate on my blog the feast of the Poverello!

Saint Francis of Assisi

Would I might wake St Francis in you all,
Brother of birds and trees,
God's Troubador,
Blinded with weeping for the sad and the poor:
Our wealth undone, all strict Franciscan men,
Come, let us chant the canticle again
Of mother earth and the enduring sun.
God make each soul
The lowly leper's slave:
God make us saints, and brave.

-Vachel Lindsay


The Little Flowers of Saint Francis (The Fioretti)

This wonderful collection of stories about Saint Francis of Assisi and his early companions breathes the fragrance of the gospels themselves. These "fioretti" or "little flowers" indicate the poetic beauty of a life given to Christ unforgettably, and have done so for so many centuries now. Their freshness is inexhaustible! Saint Francis, the Poor Man of Assisi, who bore even the marks of Christ in his own body, leads countless souls to the very heart of all beauty and joy.

Order it from Amazon - The Little Flowers of Saint Francis (The Fioretti)

Saint Francis of Assisi by Gilbert Keith Cheserton

Catholicism is incredibly rich and her saints show forth, in their fascinating variety, some aspects of the Infinite Love and Life of the Triune God and the Image of Jesus Christ. Along with St Thomas Aquinas, the great intellectual - yet humble and faith-filled - theologian, the Church honors the Poor Man of Assisi as one of the most stunning "icons" of Christ - whose life, so "romantic" and "radical," still inspires countless believers today. Chesterton has captured something of the drama, the beauty, the daring, and the JOY of Francis and his remarkable following of Christ. This book is a jewel among many gems from the mind and heart of Gilbert Keith Chesterton.

Order it from Amazon - Saint Francis of Assisi by Gilbert Keith Cheserton

This week in Christian history

October 4, 1616: Galileo’s daughter Virginia took the veil in the Poor Clares, taking the name Maria Celeste.

October 4, 1965: Paul VI becomes the first pope to visit the United States and to address the United Nations. "War, never again!" became a famous phrase from this address.

October 4, 1978: Funeral services were held for Pope John Paul I on this day, after a 33 day long pontificate.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

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