May 20, 2006

Has anyone ever told you that you look like...?

Colin Powell? The Dalai Lama? All the time!

In Spain, 1936 to 1939: the martyrdom of more than 6,800 bishops, priests and male and female members of religious orders

In Spain, historically one of Europe’s most staunchly Catholic countries, large numbers of Catholics were butchered during the 1936-1939 Spanish Civil War solely for being Catholic. Unlike the martyrdoms in most parts of the world, whole sectors of the religious community were liquidated. More than 6,800 bishops, priests, male and female members of religious were martyred. Many were raped, tortured and mutilated before execution. Devout Catholic lay men and women also suffered horrendously. In the 20th century, probably no country witnessed so much bloodshed among its clergy and religious as Spain.

Here is an eyewitness account of the martrydom of the Benedictine monks of El Pueyo in 1936.
Click HERE for it.

May 19, 2006

Why slander, calumniate and discredit the Church?

A number of Catholic clerics are infamously guilty of grave sins.

We Catholics hold that priests and bishops are “sacraments in person”— signs and instruments of Christ as “Prophet, Priest and King” as the rite of ordination reminds us.

We Catholics must be the first to uphold a grave respect for those injured and scandalized by the hellish perpetrations of some of our clergy.

The scandal makes the Church appear filled with hypocrisy in the eyes of those who do not have faith.

Archbishop Angelo Amato, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, speaking last Wednesday on Vatican Radio, said the Catholic Church is the only remaining institution with a worldwide voice that openly defends moral principles that are universally basic to humanity:
"the Church is today the only institution
that clearly and explicitly protects human life from the beginning until death,
that protects the family,
that says a clear word on topics of sexual and bioethical ethics,
that proposes the values of the Ten Commandments."

We Catholics must nonetheless face and deal with the fact that some of our own sacramental “Prophets, Priests and Kings” are horrendously guilty of compromising the sexual ethics the Church’s teachings defend.

This may be the kind of demon that is cast out only by prayer and fasting.

[I say that Julie says that Steven says that Mark says….]

The reports that: reports that:
Catholic writer Mark Shea tells an anecdote about a college bull session among students at Central Washington University over The Da Vinci Code.
“Even if it’s just fiction,” a student opined,
“it’s still interesting to think about.”
To which another student replied:
“Your mother’s a whore.”
And then, to the first student’s stunned incredulity, he added,
“And even if that’s just fiction,
it’s still interesting to think about.”
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Jesus Decoded
Click HERE for it.

“The Letter of the Apostles to the Antiochians”

It is not listed as a book of the New Testament.

However, the Church acknowledges “The Letter of the Apostles to the Antiochians” to be authentically inspired by God, and gives it exactly the same religious respect as the entire Bible.

Here is the complete text of “The Letter of the Apostles to the Antiochians”.
The brethren—both the apostles and the elders—
to the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia:

Since we have heard that some persons from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your minds,
although we gave them no instructions,
it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord,
to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
men who have risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth.

For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things:
that you abstain
from what has been sacrificed to idols
and from blood
and from what is strangled
and from unchastity.

If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.


“The Letter of the Apostles to the Antiochians” is not some secret document that the Church keeps hidden.

In fact, you probably already have a copy of “The Letter of the Apostles to the Antiochians”.

It’s in your Bible.

Look up “The Acts of the Apostles”, the fifteenth chapter, verses 23 through 29.

There it is.

May 18, 2006

Sisters of the Order of St. Benedict in 1960 at Grayland Beach State Park, Washington

Mernuns, O.S.B. ... yeah, I thought the habit looked familiar.

The Blessed Martyrs of Nowogrodek: Eleven Sisters of the Congregation of the Holy Family of Nazareth

In July 1943, as the occupying Nazi regime began to arrest increasing numbers of men in Nowogrodek, Poland, the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, offered the following prayer intention.
O God,
if sacrifice of life is needed,
accept it from us who are free from family obligations.
Spare those who have wives and children.

On the last day of that same month, the Nazis suddenly arrested eleven of the sisters. The next day, in the forest next to the town, the soldiers shot the sisters and buried them in one grave.

Pope John Paul II beatified them on March 5, 2000.

The Church celebrates their annual memorial on August 1, the same day they died.

[Click on the picture to see a larger version.]

May 17, 2006

Draw your own conclusions!

May 16, 2006

The pope names Bishop Donald Wuerl as new Metropolitan Archbishop of Washington, D.C.

My translation of the Vatican's announcement:
The Holy Father has named as Metropolitan Archbishop of Washington (U.S.A.) His Most Reverend Excellency Monsignor Donald W. Wuerl, up to now the Bishop of Pittsburgh.

I have posted the following comment on other blogs today.

Wuerl is the editor of The Teaching of Christ--a book that accompanied me into the adult awakening of my faith. I discovered it as a freshman in college (1976-1977). I read it once a year throughout college and my first years in the monastery. It is the "spirituality-and-faith-formation" book I have most often recommended to people ever since.
Click HERE for it.

May 15, 2006

The Pope is a monk

In “America” magazine, Christopher Ruddy writes:
Benedict the abbot? – Pope’s focus on community, freedom in Christ

[Some excerpts from the article; then a link for the complete text of it.]

When Joseph Ratzinger chose Benedict XVI as his papal name, commentators quickly and correctly pointed out its significance. And in the year since his election, the new pope’s actions have borne out many of those expectations.

… And like St. Benedict of Nursia, the pope has worked to foster a Christian culture capable of renewing church and world in an age of daunting threats….

And yet, if his pontificate remains embryonic, a clear portrait of the man has begun to emerge: Pope Benedict the abbot. …I suggest that Benedict can be summed up as an abbot concerned with leading his community to a deeper encounter with God through prayer and service. …Benedict is a “gatherer,” concerned primarily with its [the Church’s] communion….

In one sense, the image of Pope Benedict XVI as abbot should not be surprising, as both titles, pope and abbot, mean father. And the pope’s admiration for St. Benedict and the Benedictines is well known.

On a deeper level, though, the Rule of St. Benedict tells us much about the pope’s vision of the church and of his ministry in it. Benedictine spirituality is perhaps the least spectacular of Catholic spiritualities. Where the Ignatian [Jesuit], for example, seeks the greater glory of God as a companion in Christ’s mission, and the Franciscan a radical identification with the poor and crucified Christ, the Benedictine encounters Christ above all in the routine of daily life. Rarely dramatic, it is a deep life, grounded in steady, prayerful attentiveness to God and in hospitable community.

The monastery, as the Rule famously describes it, is to be a “school for the Lord’s service”:
In drawing up its regulations, we hope to set down nothing harsh, nothing burdensome. The good of all concerned, however, may prompt us to a little strictness in order to amend faults and to safeguard love. Do not be daunted by fear and run away from the road that leads to salvation. It is bound to be narrow at the outset. But as we progress in this way of life and in faith, we shall run on the path of God’s commandments, our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love.
This entwining of moderation and zeal finds its complement in the Rule’s depiction of the abbot, who “holds the place of Christ in the monastery.” He is, literally, the vicar of Christ. Acting with discretion, the “mother” of all virtues, “he must so arrange everything that the strong have something to yearn for and the weak nothing to run from.”

I do not know whether Pope Benedict has consciously shaped his ministry in light of the Rule’s vision of the monastery and its abbot, though I suspect he has, but I suggest three areas in which that heritage helps make sense of his pontificate: love for the person of Christ, leadership as listening and his interpretation of Vatican II as an experience of renewal in continuity with the past….

Among the Benedictine Rule’s first lines are, “What, dear brothers, is more delightful than this voice of the Lord calling to us? See how the Lord in his love shows us the way of life.” In the gentleness of his person and the quiet joy of his words, this pope-abbot is showing … that call….

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For the complete text of the article, click on: HERE.

For the text of the “Rule of St. Benedict” click on: HERE.

May 14, 2006

Mother’s Day, Mother’s Month, Mother’s Gospel

Since the time of the Civil War, the United States has had a Mother’s Day. We now observe it on the second Sunday of May— this year, May 14.

However, Christians have specially dedicated the entire month of May to the Mother of God since about A.D. 1300.

The feast to commemorate Mary’s visit to Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-56) used to be on July 2. We now celebrate it on the last day of May, a fitting climax to the month we have already dedicated to her.

The providential beauty of having the feast of the Visitation crown Mary’s month is that the Visitation is the first event in the Gospel at which Mary is called “mother” literally. In fact, the Gospel of the Visitation addresses her as a royal mother: THE MOTHER OF MY LORD.
LUKE 1:39-56
In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah,
and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.
And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb;
and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit
and she exclaimed with a loud cry,
“Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb!And why is this granted me,
that THE MOTHER OF MY LORD should come to me?
For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears,
the babe in my womb leaped for joy.
And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm,
he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts,
he has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent empty away.
He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his posterity for ever.”

And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her home.

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I have made reference to mothers in my homily for the fifth Sunday of Easter. See my homily blog.
Click HERE for it.