Sunday, January 29, 2012

Boston Sports Humor


You have to be from Boston to think this is funny.

Peyton Manning, Tim Tebow, and Tom Brady all died and go to heaven at the same time.

Peyton approaches God and says,
Christ is risen.
God responds, Truly He is risen! Come Peyton and sit to my left.

Tim approaches God and says,
Have mercy on me, O God, for men trample upon me;
all the day they press their attack against me.
God responds, Well done, Tim. Come sit to my right.

Tom Brady approaches God, and before he says anything, God jumps out of his throne and says,
Here you go, Tom. I've been keeping your seat warm for you.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Time for St. Michael the Archangel

President Obama's requirement that abortion, sterilization, and contraception be included in all health plans has been called "unconscionable", by the USCCB. It is time for all believers to start praying to St. Michael the Archangel. Remember he's the one who threw Satan into hell. Obviously, Satan is prowling the earth. It's time to pray.

There are different stories about the origin of this prayer. But like all legends, there are some similarities and somewhere therein likes the truth. These are from Wikipedia.

An article in the Roman journal Ephemerides Liturgicae (V. LXIX, pages 54–60) in 1955 gave an account in Latin and Italian of how the St. Michael prayer developed. Footnote nine of this account quotes an article in another Italian journal called La Settimana del Clero in 1947 by Fr. Domenico Pechenino who worked at the Vatican during the time of Leo XIII, in which he stated:
"I do not remember the exact year. One morning the great Pope Leo XIII had celebrated a Mass and, as usual, was attending a Mass of thanksgiving. Suddenly, we saw him raise his head and stare at something above the celebrant's head. He was staring motionlessly, without batting an eye. His expression was one of horror and awe; the colour and look on his face changing rapidly. Something unusual and grave was happening in him.
"Finally, as though coming to his senses, he lightly but firmly tapped his hand and rose to his feet. He headed for his private office. His retinue followed anxiously and solicitously, whispering: 'Holy Father, are you not feeling well? Do you need anything?' He answered: 'Nothing, nothing.' About half an hour later, he called for the Secretary of the Congregation of Rites and, handing him a sheet of paper, requested that it be printed and sent to all the ordinaries around the world. What was that paper? It was the prayer that we recite with the people at the end of every Mass. It is the plea to Mary and the passionate request to the Prince of the heavenly host, (St. Michael: Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle) beseeching God to send Satan back to hell."
According to the same article in Ephemerides Liturgicae,[12] Cardinal Giovanni Nasalli Rocca di Corneliano wrote in his Litteris Pastoralibus pro Quadragesima (Pastoral Letters for Lent) that "the sentence 'The evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls' has a historical explanation that was many times repeated by his private secretary, Monsignor Rinaldo Angeli. Leo XIII truly saw, in a vision, demonic spirits who were congregating on the Eternal City (Rome). The prayer that he asked all the Church to recite was the fruit of that experience. He would recite that prayer with strong, powerful voice: we heard it many a time in the Vatican Basilica. Leo XIII also personally wrote an exorcism that is included in the Roman Ritual. He recommended that bishops and priests read these exorcisms often in their dioceses and parishes. He himself would recite them often throughout the day."[13]
In the late twentieth century, more vivid stories circulated among traditionalist Catholics, according to which in that century Satan would be particularly powerful. They recounted that Pope Leo XIII was climbing the steps to the altar when he suddenly stopped, stared fixedly at something in the air and with a terrible look on his face, collapsed to the floor (some accounts say he fell shrieking). The Pope was carried off by those around him to another room where he came around. As one rendition of the story tells it:
"When asked what had happened, he explained that, as he was about to leave the foot of the altar, he suddenly heard voices - two voices, one kind and gentle, the other guttural and harsh. They seemed to come from near the tabernacle. As he listened, he heard the following conversation:
The guttural voice, the voice of Satan in his pride, boasted to Our Lord: "I can destroy your Church."
The gentle voice of Our Lord: "You can? Then go ahead and do so."
Satan: "To do so, I need more time and more power."
Our Lord: "How much time? How much power?"
Satan: "75 to 100 years, and a greater power over those who will give themselves over to my service."
Our Lord: "You have the time, you will have the power. Do with them what you will."[14][15][16]
A variant of the story of the vision of Leo XIII was given by Father William Saunders in the Arlington Catholic Herald of 2 October 2003: "Pope Leo XIII (d. 1903) had a prophetic vision of the coming century of sorrow and war. After celebrating Mass, the Holy Father was conferring with his cardinals. Suddenly, he fell to the floor. The cardinals immediately called for a doctor. No pulse was detected, and the Holy Father was feared dead. Just as suddenly, Pope Leo awoke and said, 'What a horrible picture I was permitted to see!' In this vision, God gave Satan the choice of one century in which to do his worst work against the Church. The devil chose the 20th century. So moved was the Holy Father from this vision that he composed the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel

And here is the prayer:

O glorious Archangel St. Michael, Prince of the heavenly host, defend us in battle, and in the struggle which is ours against the principalities and Powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, against spirits of evil in high places. Come to the aid of men, whom God created immortal, made in his own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of the devil.

Fight this day the battle of the Lord, together with the holy angels, as already thou hast fought the leader of the proud angels, Lucifer, and his apostate host, who were powerless to resist thee, nor was there place for them any longer in Heaven. But that cruel, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil or Satan, who seduces the whole world, was cast into the abyss with all his angels.

Behold, this primeval enemy and slayer of man has taken courage, Transformed into an angel of light, he wanders about with all the multitude of wicked spirits, invading the earth in order to blot out the name of God and of his Christ, to seize upon, slay and cast into eternal perdition souls destined for the crown of eternal glory. This wicked dragon pours out, as a most impure flood, the venom of his malice on men of depraved mind and corrupt heart, the spirit of lying, of impiety, of blasphemy, and the pestilent breath of impurity, and of every vice and iniquity.

These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the Immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on her most sacred possessions.

In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety, with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck, the sheep may be scattered.

Arise then, O invincible prince, bring help against the attacks of the lost spirits to the people of God, and bring them the victory.

The Church venerates thee as protector and patron; in thee holy Church glories as her defense against the malicious powers of this world and of hell; to thee has God entrusted the souls of men to be established in heavenly beatitude.

Oh, pray to the God of peace that He may put Satan under our feet, so far conquered that he may no longer be able to hold men in captivity and harm the Church. Offer our prayers in the sight of the Most High, so that they may quickly conciliate the mercies of the Lord; and beating down the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, do thou again make him captive in the abyss, that he may no longer seduce the nations. Amen.

Friday, January 27, 2012

God will demand an Accounting

This is long. It is the entire Talk that Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. gave at the
Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life, Jan. 22, 2012 Washington, D.C. But it is Most Excellent!!!!! I just couldn't restate it because every sentence has meaning. Please read; it's well worth it.

The great French Jesuit Henri de Lubac once wrote, “Suffering is the thread from which the stuff of joy is woven. Never will the optimist know joy.”i Those seem like strange words, especially for Americans. We Americans take progress as an article of faith. And faith in progress demands a spirit of optimism.
But Father De Lubac knew that optimism and hope are very different creatures. In real life, bad things happen. Progress is not assured, and things that claim to be “progress” can sometimes be wicked and murderous instead. We can slip backward as a nation just as easily as we can advance. This is why optimism – and all the political slogans that go with it – are so often a cheat. Real hope and real joy are precious. They have a price. They emerge from the experience of suffering, which is made noble and given meaning only by faith in a loving God.
As a young bishop I had the privilege of knowing Cardinal John O’Connor as a mentor and friend. Later I had the great fortune to work closely with His Eminence and Bishop James McHugh as they developed the text of the 1998 U.S. bishops’ pastoral letter, Living the Gospel of Life – which is still, in my view, the best statement of prolife convictions ever released by the Church in the United States.ii
Throughout our friendship, Cardinal O’Connor was a man of uncommon hope, integrity and kindness. And these virtues were never more evident than during his final illness. In the face of all of his suffering, he never lost his sense of joy in the goodness and sanctity of life. So I’m very grateful to be part of this conference that bears his name. And I’m very grateful to all of you today for honoring him with your presence and your witness.
I want to talk this morning about the kind of people we’re becoming, and what we can do about it. Especially what you can do about it. But it’s always good to start with a few facts. So that’s what I’ll do.
A number of my friends have children with disabilities. Their problems range from cerebral palsy to Turner’s syndrome to Trisomy 18, which is extremely serious. But I want to focus on one fairly common genetic disability to make my point. I’m referring to Trisomy 21, or Down syndrome.
Down syndrome is not a disease. It’s a genetic disorder with a variety of symptoms. Therapy can ease the burden of those symptoms, but Down syndrome is permanent. There’s no cure. People with Down syndrome have mild to moderate developmental delays. They have low to middling cognitive function. They also tend to have a uniquely Down syndrome “look” – a flat facial profile, almond-shaped eyes, a small nose, short neck, thick stature and a small mouth which often causes the tongue to protrude and interferes with clear speech. People with Down syndrome also tend to have low muscle tone. This can affect their posture, breathing and speech.
Currently about 5,000 children with Down syndrome are born in the United States each year. They join a national Down syndrome population of about 400,000 persons. But that population may soon dwindle. And the reason why it may decline illustrates, in a vivid way, a struggle within the American soul. That struggle will shape the character of our society in the decades to come.
Prenatal testing can now detect up to 95 percent of pregnancies with a strong risk of Down syndrome. The tests aren’t conclusive. They can’t give a firm yes or no. But they’re pretty good. And the results of those tests are brutally practical. Studies show that more than 80 percent of unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome now get terminated in the womb. They’re killed because of a flaw in one of their chromosomes – a flaw that’s neither fatal nor contagious, but merely undesirable.
The older a woman gets, the higher her risk of bearing a child with Down syndrome. And so, in medical offices around the country, pregnant women now hear from doctors or genetic counselors that their baby has “an increased likelihood” of Down syndrome based on one or more prenatal tests. Some doctors deliver this information with sensitivity and great support for the woman. But, as my friends know from experience, too many others seem more concerned about avoiding lawsuits, or managing costs, or even, in a few ugly cases, cleaning up the gene pool.
In practice, medical professionals can now steer an expectant mother toward abortion simply by hinting at a list of the child’s possible defects. And the most debased thing about that kind of pressure is that doctors know better than anyone else how vulnerable a woman can be in hearing potentially tragic news about her unborn baby.
I’m not suggesting that doctors should hold back vital knowledge from parents. Nor should they paint an implausibly upbeat picture of life with a child who has a disability. Facts and resources are crucial in helping adult persons prepare themselves for difficult challenges. But doctors, genetic counselors, and medical school professors should have on staff – or at least on speed dial – experts of a different sort.
Parents of children with special needs, special education teachers and therapists, and pediatricians who have treated children with disabilities often have a hugely life-affirming perspective. Unlike prenatal caregivers, these professionals have direct knowledge of persons with special needs. They know their potential. They’ve seen their accomplishments. They can testify to the benefits – often miraculous – of parental love and faith. Expectant parents deserve to know that a child with Down syndrome can love, laugh, learn, work, feel hope and excitement, make friends, and create joy for others. These things are beautiful precisely because they transcend what we expect. They witness to the truth that every child with special needs has a value that matters eternally.
Raising a child with Down syndrome can be demanding. It always involves some degree of suffering. Parents grow up very fast. None of my friends who has a daughter or son with a serious disability is melodramatic, or self-conscious, or even especially pious about it. They speak about their special child with an unsentimental realism. It’s a realism flowing out of love – real love, the kind that forces its way through fear and suffering to a decision, finally, to surround the child with their heart and trust in the goodness of God. And that decision to trust, of course, demands not just real love, but also real courage.
The real choice in accepting or rejecting a child with special needs is never between some imaginary perfection or imperfection. None of us is perfect. No child is perfect. The real choice in accepting or rejecting a child with special needs is between love and unlove; between courage and cowardice; between trust and fear. That’s the choice we face when it happens in our personal experience. And that’s the choice we face as a society in deciding which human lives we will treat as valuable, and which we will not.
Nearly 50 percent of babies with Down syndrome are born with some sort of heart defect. Most have a lifelong set of health challenges. Some of them are serious. Government help is a mixed bag. Public policy is uneven. Some cities and states provide generous aid to the disabled and their families. In many other jurisdictions, though, a bad economy has forced very damaging budget cuts. Services for the disabled – who often lack the resources, voting power and lobbyists to defend their interests – have shrunk. In still other places, the law mandates good support and care, but lawmakers neglect their funding obligations, and no one holds them accountable. The vulgar economic fact about the disabled is that, in purely utilitarian terms, they rarely seem worth the investment.
That’s the bad news. But there’s also good news. Ironically, for those persons with Down syndrome who do make it out of the womb, life is better than at any time in our nation’s history. A baby with Down syndrome born in 1944, the year of my own birth, could expect to live about 25 years. Many spent their entire lives mothballed in public institutions. Today, people with Down syndrome routinely survive into their 50s and 60s. Most can enjoy happy, productive lives. Most live with their families or share group homes with modified supervision and some measure of personal autonomy. Many hold steady jobs in the workplace. Some marry. A few have even attended college. Federal law mandates a free and appropriate education for children with special needs through the age of 21. Social Security provides modest monthly support for persons with Down syndrome and other severe disabilities from age 18 throughout their lives. These are huge blessings.
And, just as some people resent the imperfection, the inconvenience and the expense of persons with disabilities, others see in them an invitation to learn how to love deeply and without counting the cost.
Hundreds of families in this country – like my young friends in Denver, Kate and JD Flynn – are now seeking to adopt children with Down syndrome. Many of these families already have, or know, a child with special needs. They believe in the spirit of these beautiful children, because they’ve seen it firsthand. A Maryland-based organization, Reece’s Rainbow, helps arrange international adoptions of children with Down syndrome. The late Eunice Shriver spent much of her life working to advance the dignity of children with Down syndrome and other disabilities. The Anna and John J. Sie Foundation committed $34 million to the University of Colorado to focus on improving the medical conditions faced by those with Down syndrome. And many businesses, all over the country, now welcome workers with Down syndrome. Parents of these special employees say that having a job, however tedious, and earning a pay check, however small, gives their children pride and purpose. These things are more precious than gold.
I said at the start of my remarks tonight that I wanted to talk about the kind of people we’re becoming, and what we can do about it. And especially what you can do about it as Catholics who take their faith seriously.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner Albert Schweitzer once wrote that, “A man is truly ethical only when he obeys the compulsion to help all life which he is able to assist, and shrinks from injuring anything that lives.”iii Every child with Down syndrome, every adult with special needs; in fact, every unwanted unborn child, every person who is poor, weak, abandoned or homeless – each one of these persons is an icon of God’s face and a vessel of his love. How we treat these persons – whether we revere them and welcome them, or throw them away in distaste – shows what we really believe about human dignity, both as individuals and as a nation.
The American Jesuit scholar Father John Courtney Murray once said that “Anyone who really believes in God must set God, and the truth of God, above all other considerations.”
Here’s what that means.
Catholic public officials who take God seriously cannot support laws that attack human dignity without lying to themselves, misleading others and abusing the faith of their fellow Catholics. God will demand an accounting.
Catholic doctors who take God seriously cannot do procedures, prescribe drugs or support health policies that attack the sanctity of unborn children or the elderly; or that undermine the dignity of human sexuality and the family. God will demand an accounting.
And Catholic citizens who take God seriously cannot claim to love their Church, and then ignore her counsel on vital public issues that shape our nation’s life. God will demand an accounting.
As individuals, we can claim to believe whatever we want. We can posture, and rationalize our choices, and make alibis with each other all day long – but no excuse for our lack of honesty and zeal will work with the God who made us. God knows our hearts better than we do. If we don’t conform our hearts and actions to the faith we claim to believe, we’re only fooling ourselves.
We live in a culture where our marketers and entertainment media compulsively mislead us about the sustainability of youth; the indignity of old age; the avoidance of suffering; the denial of death; the nature of real beauty; the impermanence of every human love; the oppressiveness of children and family; the silliness of virtue; and the cynicism of religious faith.
It’s a culture of fantasy, selfishness, sexual confusion and illness that we’ve brought upon ourselves. And we’ve done it by misusing the freedom that other – and greater – generations than our own worked for, bled for and bequeathed to our safe-keeping.
What have we done with that freedom?
In whose service do we use it now?
John Courtney Murray is most often remembered for his work at Vatican II on the issue of religious liberty, and for his great defense of American democracy in his book, We Hold These Truths. Murray believed deeply in the ideas and moral principles of the American experiment. He saw in the roots of the American Revolution the unique conditions for a mature people to exercise their freedom through intelligent public discourse, mutual cooperation and laws inspired by right moral character. He argued that – at its best – American democracy is not only compatible with the Catholic faith, but congenial to it.
But he had a caveat.
It’s the caveat that George Washington implied in his Farewell Address, and that Charles Carroll – the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence – mentions in his own writings. In order to work, America depends as a nation on a moral people shaped by their religious faith, and in a particular way, by the Christian faith. Without that living faith, animating its people and informing its public life, America becomes something alien and hostile to the very ideals it was founded on.
This is why the same Father Murray who revered the best ideals of the American experiment could also write that “Our American culture, as it exists, is actually the quintessence of all that is decadent in the culture of the Western Christian world. It would seem to be erected on the triple denial that has corrupted Western culture at its roots: the denial of metaphysical reality, of the primacy of the spiritual over the material, [and] of the social over the individual . . . Its most striking characteristic is its profound materialism . . . It has given citizens everything to live for and nothing to die for. And its achievement may be summed up thus: It has gained a continent and lost its own soul.”v
Catholics need to wake up from the illusion that the America we now live in – not the America of our nostalgia or imagination or best ideals, but the real America we live in here and now – is somehow friendly to our faith. What we’re watching emerge in this country is a new kind of paganism, an atheism with air-conditioning and digital TV. And it is neither tolerant nor morally neutral.
As the historian Gertrude Himmelfarb observed more than a decade ago, “What was once stigmatized as deviant behavior is now tolerated and even sanctioned; what was once regarded as abnormal has been normalized.” But even more importantly, she added, “As deviancy is normalized, so what was once normal becomes deviant. The kind of family that has been regarded for centuries as natural and moral – the ‘bourgeois’ family as it is invidiously called – is now seen as pathological” and exclusionary, concealing the worst forms of psychic and physical
My point is this: Evil talks about tolerance only when it’s weak. When it gains the upper hand, its vanity always requires the destruction of the good and the innocent, because the example of good and innocent lives is an ongoing witness against it. So it always has been. So it always will be. And America has no special immunity to becoming an enemy of its own founding beliefs about human freedom, human dignity, the limited power of the state, and the sovereignty of God.
A friend of mine has a son with Down syndrome, and she calls him a “sniffer of souls.” I know him, and it’s true. He is. He may have an IQ of 47, and he’ll never read The Brothers Karamazov, but he has a piercingly quick sense of the people he meets. He knows when he’s loved – and he knows when he’s not. Ultimately, I think we’re all like her son. We hunger for people to confirm that we have meaning by showing us love. We need that love. And we suffer when that love is withheld.
These children with disabilities are not a burden; they’re a priceless gift to all of us. They’re a doorway to the real meaning of our humanity. Whatever suffering we endure to welcome, protect and ennoble these special children is worth it because they’re a pathway to real hope and real joy.
Abortion kills a child; it wounds a precious part of a woman’s own dignity and identity; and it steals hope. That’s why it’s wrong. That’s why it needs to end. That’s why we march.
The task you need to take home with you today is this. Never give up the struggle that the March for Life embodies. No matter how long it takes; no matter how many times you march – it matters, eternally. Because of you, some young woman will choose life, and that new life will have the love of God forever.
The great Green Bay Packer theologian, Vince Lombardi, liked to say that real glory consists in getting knocked flat on the ground, again and again and again, and getting back up – just one more time than the other guy. That’s real glory. And there’s no better metaphor for the Christian life.
Don’t give up.
Your prolife witness gives glory to God.
Be the best Catholics you can be.
Pour your love for Jesus Christ into building and struggling for a culture of life. By your words and by your actions, be an apostle to your friends and colleagues.
Speak up for what you believe.
Love the Church.
Defend her teaching.
Trust in God.
Believe in the Gospel.
And don’t be afraid. Fear is beneath your dignity as sons and daughters of the God of life.
Changing the course of American culture seems like such a huge task; so far beyond the reach of this gathering today. But St. Paul felt exactly the same way. Redeeming and converting a civilization has already been done once. It can be done again. But we need to understand that God is calling you and me to do it.
He chose us.
He calls us.
He’s waiting,
… and now we need to answer him.

Thanks, and God bless you.
i. Henri de Lubac, S.J., Paradoxes of Faith, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1987; p. 39
ii. Available at
iii. Albert Schweitzer, The Philosophy of Civilization, Prometheus, Buffalo, NY, 1987; pp. 307-29
iv John Courtney Murray, S.J., “The American Proposition,” an interview with “The Catholic Hour,” 1961;
v. Murray, “The Construction of a Christian Culture,” 1940;
vi. Gertrude Himmelfarb, One Nation, Two Cultures, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1999; p. 28

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pray for Your Bishop

Satan hates Bishops. If we're tempted by the Evil One, just imagine how much more Satan works on Bishops. It would be quite a feather in his cap to get a Bishop. They certainly need all our prayers to support them.

There's an online initiative to pray a Rosary, a day for Bishops. My prayer group always prays for our Bishop, Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley. He came into an impossible job and has admitted in interviews that he had asked God to "take the cup away." He does need all our prayers.

Definitely!!! I put in Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Emilio S. Allué, who is the Bishop of my vicariate, and he has nobody praying for him. God forbid!!!!! I'll correct that right this second.

Cardinal Sean Patrick, only has 19 people prayer. Well! Now he has 20. And wait till I spread the word.

C'mon! Join the Rosary for your Bishop campaign.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Define Social Justice

There are different definitions of social justice. Take criminal justice, for instance. The criminal justice system executes the laws and punishes those who violate them. This is one kind of justice, but is not complete, for it does not evaluate whether or not those laws are in fact ethical, and does not interest itself with whether structures outside of the law are ethical. Of course I'm looking at this through Catholic lenses. I know that the only true justice will be in the after life, but I propose that any definition of social justice include:

1. Life from birth to death must be preserved because humans are made in the image of God.
2. We must take care of each other--all humans.
3. Resources are given for everyone to use.

The implementation of these three principles is what we have to figure out.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Since I didn't have the opportunity to make the Pro-Life March in Washington DC, this year, I've been praying. As my "cloistered brother," would say, It's 'unbelievable' that over 200,000 people are walking en masse, down Pennsylvania Avenue, and the major news outlets don't pay it any attention.


Pope Speaks on Christian Unity

Wednesday, January 18th marked the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, a worldwide fellowship of over 300 Churches that try to find a common witness. This year's theme is "We will all be changed by the victory of Our Lord Jesus Christ." A prayer for unity:

Eternal Father,
we praise you for sending your Son
to be one of us and to save us.
Look upon your people with mercy,
for we are divided in so many ways,
and give us the Spirit of Jesus to make us one in love.

We ask this gift, loving Father,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Time for Everything

Finally, I'm putting away the last of my Christmas stuff. Ecclesiastes 3:1-15 tells us that there's a time for everything. I'm not sad that I have to put away the Christmas decorations, especially when I vacuumed and could smell the pine from the Christmas tree.

Last week we threw the tree out and I vacuumed. Mmmmmmm, the smell of those pine needles is still in the vacuum. I enjoyed the memories with that smell.

There is a time for everything. Time goes on. I am reminded of Old Testament leading to New Testament. makes the cleaning pass more quickly, if you meditate. At least, it feels like you're not wasting prayer time.

I had to laugh at our creche. My granddaughter was obviously visiting the baby Jesus--along with a snowman, Raggedy Ann, a teddy bear, etc..

Geesh! I guess the overflow from the inn, moved to the stable.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

I'll Fly Away

Rhythm and Blues Legend, Etta James died Friday at age 73. Here she sings one of my "cloistered brothers'" favorite songs. She's good. But they sing I'll Fly Away, better.

Singing Blues comes from the heart.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Government Mandating Contraception Coverage

Archbishop Timothy Dolan on HHS Conscience Regulation from Rocco Palmo on Vimeo.

This is important. If you don't believe in abortion, then you don't want to pay for someone to have one, right? Make sense. Even if you do believe abortion is "OK", why would you want to pay for someone else"s.

This is exactly what is being proposed. Today the president proposed that sterilization, abortifacients and contraception be included in virtually all health plans. There will be no conscience protection. Everyone is forced to pay.

Is this the United States of America? What happened to the First Amendment, where freedom of religion is protected? No government should come between an individual person and God — that's what America is supposed to be about.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

In Memoriam

A very dear "cloistered brother," Brother Louis de Montfort, O.P., died last night. One of his often used expressions was "unbelievable!" He said it with the first syllable pronounced and long. UUUUNNNNNbelievable!!!

For sure, he's saying UUUUNNNNNbelievable!!! right now.

I wrote this Sestina to explain who he was. A sestina (Occitan: [sesˈtinɔ]; Catalan: sextina, IPA: [sə(k)sˈtinə] or [se(k)sˈtina]; also known as sestine, sextine or sextain) is a structured 39 line poem consisting of six six-line stanzas followed by an envoi of three lines. The words that end each line of the first stanzas are used as line endings in each of the following stanzas, rotated in a set pattern. It is a 12th century Provençal form still popular today. from Wikipedia

Running Sestina

Working for the mob, he once was a scoundrel,
a runner, traveling from here to there,
Providence to Boston. Scrapes with the law
were frerquent and numerous. He'd escape
somehow to run again. When his luck ran
our he knew he was facing some hard time.

One night a battle of bullets stopped time.
The dead weren't talking, still one scroundrel
had to take the fall, and out of luck ran
into the law. Charges and bargains and there-
in lies the sentence. Star wishing to escape
did no good; no choice 'cept to face the law.

The judge called for the heavy hand of the law
to be laid on and he was in for a long, long time.
The Charles Street jail was not an easy escape,
but from scoundrel guard to original scoundrel
passed a saw. That's all it took to get out of there.
Once free and with new I.D. he took off and ran

to California. As Louis Montfort he ran
three thousand miles away from the law,
or so he thought. He thought he was safe there
and managed to lead a double life, but time
ran out again, as it does for every scoundrel
and this time he had no help or means to escape.

False ID, new wife, new name, but no new escape,
he was caught but good. Nowhere to turn he ran
into God. Sounds funny I know, but a scoundrel
can turn around, for there's a higher law
that commanded his attention and this time
he was still enough to listen. In prison, there

was Cursillo and Father Lataste, Rosary, and there
was preaching, praying, and learning, and no escape.
He had met a Dominican Sister and this one time
he heard her story and didn't want to escape. He ran
out of excuses and schemes and chose to obey the law
because Father Lataste said that once a scoundrel

didn't always have to be a scoundrel. There
was the law of love and he didn't need to escape.
He ran into St. Dominic and time stood still.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New Book

Wait till I tell the Argonauts (my book club) about The Father's Tale. I ordered this book by Michael O'Brien on a whim. I knew nothing about him, or his books. I happened to see a full page add of the book in Catholic Digest and ordered it. It's 1075 pages!

He's written quite a few novels, and I have read Father Elijah. I remember liking that novel and thinking that it was thought provoking. I can't wait to read The Father's Tale. I'll tell you about it, as I progress.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Atta a Priest

Think of encouraging a priest as a gift of the Holy Spirit. I learned this on the Encourage Priest Site. This is a good idea. I often feel sorry for our overworked, lonely, and unappreciated priests. I'll look at a Rectory at night, and see one little lone light in a window. One priest, all alone in the rectory, looks so sad. Sometimes, I wonder how the priest feels at family celebrations of the sacraments. Is he afraid to enjoy himself, damned if he does; damned if he doesn't?

I do appreciate their service. I'm humbled by their humility, at services, out in public. I see the image of Christ in them. They need our prayers, and a pat on the back, "Atta boy, Father."

Monday, January 16, 2012

Penultimate Values

I tell you, brothers and sisters, the time is running out.

From now on, let those having wives act as not having them,
those weeping as not weeping,
those rejoicing as not rejoicing,
those buying as not owning,
those using the world as not using it fully.
For the world in its present form is passing away.

The above is the Second Reading this Sunday, for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time. 1 Corinthians 7: 29-31. It's short, but for a drama queen, like myself, it's a bonanza. I can't wait to proclaim this. It's such a short reading that I'll probably have it memorized, so I can deliver it with piercing eye to eye contact.

I'll have them squirming in their seats. Next, they'll stop and think what it means.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Another Married Saint

I am awed and humbled by martyrs. I whiffle between praying "O God, don't ever let that happen to me;" to "You'd better give me a lot of grace to do THAT;" to "I trust in You;" to "Whatever is Your will, My Love."

Good Lord! What a weak, miserable creature I am!

I'm nothing like Blessed Paul Nishihori and his wife Magdalene Shikibu. They were Christians in Japan in the seventeenth century: Paul and Magdalene. Paul was a Samurai warrior. During Advent of 1628, The Japanese government commanded that all Catholics be put to death. Samurai officers were noble, courageous, and honorable men. Paul could not deny Christ. Being an honorable man, Paul went to the governor and turned in his sword and other accouterments of his position. Magdalene's family was able to obtain a pardon for her, but not Paul. Everyone was impressed by the manner in which Paul had handled his fate. The governor, to whom, he turned in his Samurai sword, was so deeply moved by Paul's noble gesture, that the night of Paul's execution he sent him wine and saki, and a declaration that he wish he had the power to cassate the decree.

On the morning of January 12, 1629, Paul put on his finest clothes and went to the place of his execution in a small procession led by a youth carrying a picture of Mary. Magdalene wanted to suffer martyrdom along with her husband, but was held back. Just prior to his execution, Paul venerated the bodies of the martyrs who had died immediately before him.

Lux perpetua luceat ei, Domine. Requiescat in pace.

Thy Will be done.

h/t Magnificat, Jan 2012, Vo. 13, No. 11, p. 179.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Eating Mindfully

My group, T.O.P.S. is working on eating Mindfully. Last week, we tried dropping a hundred calories, daily. I had planned on doing this by making 3 small changes to my life style. I didn't do so well.

My three changes were (1) drink more water (2) make half my plate vegetables and fruit (3) more exercise.

I sometimes did # 1. I did do # 2 faithfully. I never did # 3.

My weight remained the same.

At least I didn't gain!

This week, I'm going to eat with my left hand. I'm right handed. Eating with your opposite hand will make you eat slower and give you time to think about what you're eating. Using the opposite hand will also give that part of brain muscle some exercise.

And there # 3--MORE EXERCISE! (See I am smarter than the average bear.)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Br. Tonto and Food

Prior: Brother Tonto, I noticed that you didn't pray before dinner.
Br. Tonto: Didn't have to. Brother Jehoshaphat did the cooking.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Psalm 46:10 and 1 Sam. 3:3b-10

Be Still from Grand Rapids Dominican Sisters on Vimeo.

The discussion with my "cloistered brothers" tonight focused on Psalm 46:10. Be still and know that I am God.

All I could think of was this coming Sunday's, Reading: 1Sam. 3:3b-10--the very Reading I've been practicing. The very Reading I've been thinking about. It's just too coincidental, not to be

As soon as we read that Psalm verse, I was bursting to tell MY connection. But I held off to defer to my brothers. Most of their quiet times involved resting. It was either in bed, at night, or early morning before everyone else was up. Some found it easy to do, anytime--just tune out.

Near the end, I told them about Sunday's Reading. Now they're all ready for it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Go Talk to God

In preparing to read the Readings for the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, 1Samuel 3:3b-10, I wished I were as clever as Eli. I know the meaning of the story is listening to God. God speaks to us and we need to get use to His voice.

But I was remembering when my young children would wake me up early in the morning. They'd come in and manually lift an eyelid, and ask "Are you asleep?"

Like Eli I said, "It's too early; go back to bed."

And like Samuel, the kids would keep coming back.

Eventually, I'd end up getting out of bed and the day began.

Why didn't I think of telling them to go back to bed and pray? Go talk to God. Listen.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Four Epiphanies

I had an epiphany on epiphany. Epiphany meaning a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience. From the online dictionary.

During Chapter, we prayed Evening Prayer II for Epiphany. The Antiphon for the Canticle of Mary says Three mysteries mark this holy day: today the star leads the Magi to the infant Christ; today water is changed into wine for the wedding feast; today Christ will to be baptized by John in the river Jordan to bring us salvation.

There was the answer to my question, at the end of yesterday's post. But what has it to do with Epiphany?

Depending on...what calendar you use, Orthodox or not,diocese...the feast of Epiphany may celebrate the Magi giving gifts to Jesus, The Wedding Feast of Cana, or Jesus' baptism. The diving for the cross identifies with Jesus being baptized. Actually, they all have to do with Jesus starting a new life. Think about it...birth, death, public ministry.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Epiphany Blessings for a Year

The Feast of Epiphany is celebrated around the world. Look at this site for different celebrations. I like the look of rapt devotion on slide # 2.

There were so many celebrations that involved water, that I googled Epiphany celebrations in water. And that's where I found this You Tube Video. Looks like fun. But what has it to do with Epiphany?

Friday, January 6, 2012

It's Not About What You've Done

I've been thinking about my morning's post, Another Pere Lataste Sermon. You can tell it's been translated from the French--too many "the". But the theme is pure Lataste. This sermon exemplifies his spirituality. It's about living in the moment. You can't fix the past. It's done. Yes, it has formed you and made you what you are. Understand that, and move on. Accept it and use it, but don't let it define you.

If you have a bad jacket, hang it up. It's there in your closet, but you've outgrown it. Don't worry about it. Didn't Jesus say, "..there will be joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, more than over ninety-nine just who have no need of repentance." Luke 15: 7?

You can't undo the past. And there's nothing you can do about the future. So why worry about something that may never happen? My very first spiritual director assigned me Flannery O'Connor's The Art of Being," to read. I still pick it up, now and then. I'm still learning to live in the moment. It's too easy to forget. It's easier if you put it all in God's hands.

Another important theme in my morning meditation, was the idea of using the very vices that were used to sin, into tools to serve God. Pere Lataste said "And as you employed all your body for the service of impurity and iniquity, employ it now to serve justice, for you to become saints."

What is there for you to do now, as you decided to convert yourselves? -- Will you try to get rid of all things because they were used to sin, will you damn your youth, your health, your blazing soul, will you try to kill your heart and imprison your brains... No, no, a thousand times no; without mentioning that you could some way eschew that goal, this is not what God asks of you -- All what you were given, you were given by God and He wants you to use them for doing good.

This quote also reminds me of something else a spiritual director once told me. He pointed out that my sins were abuses of my God given gifts.

This what Pere meant Will you try to get rid all things because they were used to sin... Well I sinned and have been absolved. It is time now to use my talents for good.

Merci, Mon Pere, for a beneficial meditation.

Another Lataste Sermon

Thanks to Sister Pia Elizabeth, O.P., here is another of Pere Lataste's sermons translated.


Preaching by Fr. Lataste to prisoners of Cadillac, during the retreat he preached in 1864 is radically different of what the clerics used to do then in jails. Instead of insisting on the guilt and the crimes of those women, the preacher calls them to love God in their actual situation, just like sisters living in silence, work and enclosure.

Mary Magdalen (5) uses to express her repentance and her love to Christ, the very ways she used to sin and offer to poor creatures her criminal passions: her perfumes, her kisses, her hair (6)…She uses them to serve the Saviour; and she purifies her sultry ways in this sacred relation. That is the way to act. Nothing good comes from other than God and He gave us all that allows us to love Him. Men often make evil with these graces coming from God; yourselves were blessed maybe with those graces: youth, health, maybe some social advantages, maybe a blazing soul open to noble and admirable feelings, a penetrating cleverness, able to understand and enjoy the strong and great joys of piety and faith…and all the gifts of God you abused against God himself.

What is there for you to do now, as you decided to convert yourselves?- Will you try to get rid of all things because they were used to sin, will you damn your youth, your health, your blazing soul, will you try to kill your heart and imprison your brains…No, no, a thousand times no; without mentioning that you could some way eschew that goal, this is not what God asks of you- All what you were given, you were given by God and He wants you to use them for doing good.

Divert all to Him, spend your resources now to serve and love Him, spend them to expiate your sins and make Him forget the past, spend the strength of your age, the activity of your soul, its light, the full tenderness of your heart- Obey the words of the apostle: don’t transform your limbs into limbs of unfairness; but give yourselves to God and, now become alive, as before you were dead, devote your limbs to Him as to make them weapons of justice and sanctity, to serve Him.

And as you employed all your body for the service of impurity and iniquity, employ it now to serve justice, for you to become saints. Follow the example of Magdalen, and dedicate to God what you were given of life, what is good in you; all that you employed for the sole benefit of passion and sin!

And what will happen if you act that way. Here what will happen:

You, disdained and despised by men, either because of your ancient and exposed crimes, or because of an infamous and heavy judgement, you disdained and despised by men, you will be the beloved of God, the preferred children, the blessed souls of the Saviour. Men would not make friends with you, and God, yes God, welcomes you and offers you His friendship. Seeing you, the world would say: poor women, poor girls, they are rejected from society, garbage and scum of the people; and by looking at you with love, your guardian angels will say: blessed souls, poor, miserable and humiliated by the world, these souls keep as a secret and a mystery in their heart, the greatest treasure, the most immense glory, the sweetest joy: they are loved by their God.

One would believe those women soiled, but no, they regained in the tears of their repentance a new innocence, one would believe them devoid of benevolent action, but their daily pains, suffered in a spirit of love and repentance, are written in the Book of Life and will be remembered one day- One thinks they are not free, even if their soul was a slave in a free body; today their bodies live in chains, but they found for their souls the safe freedom of the children of God.

The world despises them but they are loved by God. Jesus loves them most. Yes, don’t doubt, He loves them most. Didn’t I tell you yesterday what our Lord told Himself: there is more joy in heaven and so, more love in the heart of God, for one sinful and remorseful soul than for ninety-nine unrepentant souls.

Indeed this is a brave and hazardous idea, hard to believe, but don’t doubt, it is sure and certain. Yes, if you would, you could arrive with a dark past, and be loved by God more than the sinless souls. Do you know how? By loving Him more. Oh! Innocence, purity, humility are dear to His heart and having lost them one time, one moment, is a great misery, but what God loves more than those virtues, is to be loved!

(5) Homely 95, pronounced on Saturday evening 17th September 1864 in the Cadillac prison. Complete text in “Preacher for charity”, Paris, Cerf publisher, 1992, 123-136.

(6) Like many preachers at that time, Fr. Lataste sees Mary of Bethany, Mary Magdalena and the sinner of Simon’s are one and only woman.

Source: Blackfriars Province of France, ed. br. Jean-Marie Gueulette, op, Vice-Postulator of the canonization cause of Pere Lataste

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Failure is a matter of perspective. The best attitude to have about it is that it's part of the equation for success. Babe Ruth is called the King of Swat because of all the home runs he hit. But he was also called the Strike Out King because he had to swing a lot to hit all those home runs. So, people who take a lot of chances are bound to have a lot of failures, and not everyone will succeed.

So what? Look at failure as part of the learning process. People who have never failed have never pushed themselves. One could consider people who have never failed, cowards.

The worst part of failure is not the fact that you didn't cut it. It's what others think. It's telling your family that you're fired. It's never passing the law exam after all those years in school--not to mention money. Not being able to sell your book after devoting two years of your life to writing it. One could tell themselves that it just wasn't in the cards. It wasn't meant to be. But it's the look on your parents', your spouse, your friends, faces that hurts. It's not the failure itself; it's the opinion of others.

Regardless, one has to go on. Swing that bat, again. Thomas Edison experimented with 10,000 materials before he found the exact filament for his light bulb. Look at the video of Michael Jackson. He enumerates his failures and he concludes, "That's why I succeed." Take a chance.

Did you know that there's a Failure Club. It's a show on yahoo. The idea came from two girls. In Dec 2003, she told about how she had performed on stage in a holiday choir, something she had wanted to do her whole life, as the result of a dare with her sister on who could ‘fail’ first. A couple of producers were captivated by the idea of a support structure that used positive peer pressure and friendly competition to overcome the fear of failure, and they quickly gathered 9 friends for the inaugural Failure Club in 2004. It has been going on ever since.

About ten people pick an impossible goal and work at it for a year. Most fail. What of it? They failed because they had the courage to push themselves beyond their comfort zones. They tried and that was the start of an adventure. That's the way to look at failure.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Epiphany Blessing of Home

I stole this post from Father Austin. It's OK. He has a purple stole.

It's an old custom to bless homes on Epiphany which is celebrated this coming Sunday, January 8, 2012.

Some parishes provide blessed chalk for marking the front door as part of this house blessing, but if not, you may certainly bring chalk to Mass and ask Father to bless it.

The Blessing of a House on the Feast of the Epiphany

All gather at the front door and one person is chosen as the Leader of prayer.

In the name of the Father
and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit.

Peace be with this house and with all who live here.
Blessed be the name of the Lord, now and forever.

During these days of the Christmas season,
we keep this feast of Epiphany,
celebrating the manifestation of Christ to the Magi.

Today Christ is revealed to us
and his presence makes our home a holy place.
The lintel above the door is marked. If a number of people are present, individuals might be invited to mark the several elements of the inscription as found here:

20 + C + M + B + 12

The traditional marking of the doorway commemorates the three magi (traditionally named Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar) and gives the calendar year already recently begun.

Then one person is chosen to read the gospel:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Saint John

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father's only Son,
full of grace and truth.

All who are present proceed from one room to the next,
asking God’s blessing on all that takes place in that room:

Lord, bless this room
(where we eat, rest, gather, cook, sleep, bathe, play, work)
and bless those who dwell here
with faith, hope and love.

Coming finally to the dining room or kitchen table,
all join in praying the Lord’s Prayer…

after which the Leader prays:

Lord God of Heaven and earth,
you revealed your only begotten Son to every nation
by the guidance of a star.
Bless this house and all who live here.
Fill them with the light of Christ:
may their concern for others always reflect your love.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

All join in singing a Christmas hymn
(Silent Night or O Come All Ye Faithful or We Three Kings)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Bls. Luigi Beltrame Quattrocchi and Maria Corsini

Here's another pair of saintly spouses. They both are holy people. The Prefect of the Congregation promoting their sainthood said that it was impossible to beatify them separately, since one could not separate their holiness, which they lived so intimately. They are models for all married couples.

They met as teens and married in their twenties. He was Catholic but not noticeable devout. And I haven't read anything about Maria's spirituality. But I bet she was the heart of the family. It seems that once they married they took their religion seriously and participated in many devotions. I've seen this before. Many couples decide that they've grown up, now. They've matured; it's time to be responsible. This results in taking their responsibilities seriously. Included in the term "responsibilities", is religion, especially bringing children up in the faith. What could be more important than saving your children's souls?

During Maria's last pregnancy complications developed. An abortion was recommended because Maria was in danger of not surviving. If they weren't religious before, they certainly were now. Enrichetta was born healthy and Maria was fine. Their faith had strengthen them.

Their family consisted of two boys and two girls: Filippo became a Monsignor for the diocese of Rome, Cesare became a Trappist monk, Stefania was a Benedictine religious, and Enrichetta married. Three of the children were alive to see their parents beatified.

Pope John Paul II assigned Nov. 25th as their feast day. Usually, feast days of saints are on the date of their deaths; however, since their deaths occurred on separate days, their marriage date was chosen as their feast day. Their beatification was in 2001.

h/t Father Kevin Kraft, O.P. and his work compiling "well married saints."

Monday, January 2, 2012

Theodoret's Torments

Yesterday, I was so repulsed by Count Julian's inhumane treatment of Theodoret, that I still can't get it out of my mind. I decided to enumerate the tortures. I made a list. And guess what. The enumerated list of tortures carried a momentum--a horrific register of one abomination after another. I just had to close my eyes and appeal to God.

In many psalms, there are lists. (Psalm 36: 5-6, Psalm 56:5-6, Psalm 83: 13-15) As I enumerated Theodoret's torments I felt like an Old Testament psalmist. Hunt down Theodoret's enemy. Stop his torturers. Send down a bolt of lightning. Turn Julian's vile outrage upon himself.

My Lectio Devina turned into a Psalm.

Theodoret's Torments

My God, I offer up my torments:
my raw, bloody and crippled feet,
my bruised and spittle-flecked face,
my stretched and broken joints,
my poor, humiliated, spirit,
my blood leaking wounds,
my charred, dripping flesh,
my simple, sinful, soul.

Destroy my oppressor, Julian,
terrify him with Your might.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

St. Theodoret

Two years ago, I was given the Archangel Raphael as a patron. I have never felt so close to someone whom I barely knew existed. I read the story of Tobit and was attracted to Raphael. For a year, he was a wonderful intercessor.

Last year, I was given St. Nicholas. Well, a few days later I went to a museum, which just happened to have a special exhibit of icons of St. Nicholas. I didn't know this. I was shocked at the coincidence. And then my friend, Tricia, bought me a little icon of St. Nicholas. you know, St. Nicholas loves to surprise people. What a blessed year I've had!
Deo Gratias.

This year, I've been given St. Theodoret.

Who? Yeah, that was my reaction. He's a wonderful saint. He's a church father, writer, apologist, and martyr. I loved how he defended the faith against the Monophysites, who denied the divinity of Christ. St. Dominic would have identified with St. Theodoret. They both fought heresies. They both defended the Faith. They both loved Veritas.

Theodoret was a theologian and his writings are still around today. I've copied out this saying and have it pinned up on my bulletin board:

To see visible objects we need the eyes of the body. To understand intelligible truths we need the eyes of the mind. To have the vision of divine things we cannot do without faith. What the eye is for the body, faith is for reason, puts it in contact with visible things; reason needs faith to show it divine things.

Would you like a patron saint? Go to Catholic Life.

The Fourth Magi

I was reading in Magnificat, about "The iconographic

evolution of the Magi, (January 2012, Vol. 13, No. 11, page 432)." It is interesting how the story grew over time. The story from Matthew (2: 1-12) tells of "wise men" coming from the east. By the fourth century, art depicts a differentiation in ages of the Magi. Tertullian refers to them as kings. In the eleventh century they are given names and are thought to represent the three continents that were known, at that time: Melchior from Europe, Balthasar from Asia, and Caspar of Africa. Then in the fifteenth century, the Portuguese and Spanish try to add an American Indian king, but the idea doesn't catch on.

I protest! I want a native American included.

If Bishop Anthony Fisher, OP can put a kangaroo in the nativity, and my granddaughter can put in, Elmo, then the least people can do is be politically correct, and add a native American for the Americas, the kangaroo for Australia, and a penquin for Antarctica.

Even the Catalonians put in the caganer, for gosh sakes!

A Priest's Day

Here is the book review I promised on Monday, for Death Comes for the Archbishop , by Willa Cather.  She really gets into the nitty-grit...