It was a very good Christmas celebration.Things seemed to flow alonWell, except for the fire in the
sacristy.But that wasn’t all that
bad.We only lost a trashcan, some
towels, and part of a sink is now singed black but what do you expect when you
have a vocation that involves fire? A
fire once every 80 years is not so bad.
g fairly well this
Of course, I am not as young as I used to be and staying up
for the Midnight Mass is a little more of a challenge than it used to be.(Why doesn’t anyone ever call up and ask what
time the 4:00 o’clock Mass is?)The
priests and seminarians here went down into the common room to watch a movie
together to help pass the time.It
probably wasn’t the best choice of movies.Definitely not a warm fuzzy Christmas movie.But believe me it kept us awake if not a
A very generous parishioner made a champagne breakfast for
priests, seminarians, and some of family who came to midnight Mass.Back when I was in the theater I used to
dream about opening a show and staying up with just such a breakfast in order
to be awake when the first edition of the paper came out with the review of the
show in it.Well, now that such a thing
doesn’t really exist anymore, this is now the best thing going.
It also helped keep me awake even longer since I had to lock
up the church after everybody left.Fortunately the alarms (which I do not know how to control) were set to
go off at 3AM so there was the excuse to get stragglers out of the church.
Three hours later we were up and getting ready for Christmas
Day.Three hours or no three hours,
Sebastian was insistent on his walk all the same.What a beautiful morning it was.Still dark because of the clouds, we had the
park to ourselves.It was a little bit
of quiet before the day really started taking off.
Back at the ranch there were stirrings.Everyone who stays the night at St. Sebastian
at Christmas gets something to open on the morning.You just have to no matter how silly or
small.Sebastian ripped into his
packages with reckless abandon, paper flying and wagging tail destroying the
bottom half of the Christmas tree.
There were still people in Church around 3:00.“You can still get out,” I told them, “but
you can’t get back in.”This is important
to know.Don’t forget anything.I could open up a small department store (or
at least a five and ten) with the stuff left over from Christmas including 5
purses.(How do you forget your purse???)
Finally joining family, we had a nice meal after which I
took a nap.ZZZZZZZZZOf course, I was then refreshed and ready to
go while everyone else was getting ready to go to bed.We still had to open presents and then I went
home to play with mine while everyone else was tucked in beds with visions of
Christmas dancing in their heads.
What a glorious celebration.Thank you God.Happy Birthday.
The past two days made me so happy to be Catholic!What a wonderful (if exhausting) celebration
it was.We may do a lot of things
poorly, but we know how to do Christmas as a community.
This is also my favorite time to get into conversations with
non-Catholic experts on Catholicism.One
of my favorites that usually takes place over the last cup of eggnog is the
person who pushes back in his chair with a crooked grin and announces, “Well,
you know, Christmas is just a pagan holiday that Catholics are celebrating.”Then, for some inexplicable reason, Catholics
feel they have to save the honor of the Church by fighting this accusation.
Catholics: Relax.There are a number of reasons not to get excited.
#1True pagans are
not evil.Paganism gave way to
Christianity.It passed for a
reason.Neo-pagans are trying to reclaim
something like guys in midlife crisis trying to reclaim college dorm life.(I know neo-pagans are not going to like
that.But this is not a pagan blog, it
is a Catholic one and is expressing Catholic beliefs.Counter this on your own blog.)It may not have given birth to it the same
way that the Jewish faith did, but in many ways it too prepared the way for a
belief in God.Chesterton spoke highly
of them.(Search for Chesterton and
pagans and find various essays.)Don’t
take the bait about being “tainted” with pagans.
#2So what if the 25th
isn’t the exact date of Christmas?What
if it was just decreed that day, say in the year 350 by Pope Julius I, to help
Europeans being introduced to Christ to make the transition from their pagan
roots to Christianity?The whole of
society is celebrating and were Christians supposed to sit at home and twiddle
their thumbs?If we don’t know the exact
date of Christmas, why not make it on this day?Does that taint the day somehow and if so, how?Once we “baptize” the day, does having it on
the same day as a former pagan holiday somehow make it evil?Is it really that far beyond the power of God
Does that mean we have to investigate every day of the year
and make sure there was not a pagan holiday on that day so that Christians will
not accidently celebrate something evil?(Just how does one accidently worship a pagan god when their intent is
to worship Jesus anyway?)Here is just
another example of something forming (worship of a god no matter how poorly
conceived) giving way or blossoming into truth.That is really quite beautiful.
#3All that being
said, there is some argument over which god was being celebrated and when.There is some belief that it is possible that
this was in fact THE DAY though we won’t know for sure in this life.There is some scholarly evidence out there
that in actuality it was not until AFTER Christians started really celebrating
Christmas that the pagan holiday took off in order to counter it.
In the end – who cares?God is so powerful in can purify any day.He is so awesome that He is not disappointed
in us if for 2,000+ years we celebrated His birth on the wrong calendar
day.And so to the guy trying to be the
(birthday) party pooper, the only response needed is, “And isn’t it so cool
that God is so good and powerful that that doesn’t really matter?”
When I was a kid, my best friend and next door neighbor Andy got the first computer on the block. It was a big, clunky thing that needed a cassette tape player thingy that acted as the dos. (I really don't know what that means.) We played games on it that by today's standards were pretty primitive. (Pong.) One day he said that I should get a computer and so being close to Christmas I went and asked my Mom for a computer for Christmas.
"What on earth would we do with a computer in this house." It was a statement, not a question. It was kind of a "You'll poke your eye out" kind of kill statement. (Remember this was before the Internet and when the typical phone was still leashed to the wall like a disobedient dog.)
So I went and asked Andy, my friend, what we could possibly use a computer for besides games. I needed to sell my Mom. He gave me some ideas and so I went back to my Mom:
"Mom! Andy said you could write your letters on it or even store your recipes!"
Mom's eyes narrowed and she placed her hand on a wooden box. "Here are my recipes," she said. "No wires, portable, instantly accessible, and I can store it anywhere. I don't need a computer to store my recipes."
My family was doomed to the stone age.
So I blame my parents for my lack of technical savvy. Recently I was gifted with an ithing. (I think it's an ipad but don't take money on it. I don't really know an ipad from an iball.) The problem is I can't figure out what to do with it like my Mother couldn't figure out what to do with a computer.
Fr. Pfeiffer (who helped me get it up and running) suggested that I do my Liturgy of the Hours on it. (That's the official prayer of the Catholic Church to be prayed throughout the day. Turns out it's a free download. Try it.) He said, "You know how you have to check an ordo to know what to pray and then flip pages like mad? Everything is just laid out for you on the (ithing). It helps you just focus on actually praying."
As it turns out, it did help me pray more:
"It's very intuitive," I was told. "Just play with it. It is very easy to figure out."
My liturgical underwear it is.
It just sort of happened and I have no idea why. I figure I accidentally must of hit something on the screen and so spent the next hour torturing the thing trying to figure out how to get my prayers back into an language I could pray.
I finally find a help button. Do you know what it says? "Hit the flag button to change languages." Sounds easy right? I PROBABLY WOULD HAVE HIT THAT BUTTON A LONG TIME AGO IF I COULD FIND IT. How this is supposed to be intuitive I don't know. I'm turning the thing, rebooting, hitting every button that I can find and GUESS WHAT! The FLAG BUTTON IS INVISIBLE UNTIL YOU HIT IT!
Well, now it works. And has been sitting on my desk for a few weeks while I've returned to my book. I'm trying to figure out what to do with it. Maybe I can keep recipes on it.
God is so cool.In
the same way He allows us to make up for sin by our asking forgiveness just as
He allowed us to sin by an act of our own free will, so also is Salvation
brought about.In Eve, we have a person who
chose to act against God by an act of her free will.In Mary, we have a person who chose to radically
unite man and God together by an act of her free will.Thus, as Scripture says that Eve became the
Mother of all the living since she was our first mother, Mary again becomes our
Mother since it is she, through saying yes to God, brought all of us a life of
Someone recently was telling me that one of their favorite
images of Mary is “Untier of Knots.”Eve’s
knot of disobedience is untied by the Virgin.I saw this images for the first time at the bookstore at St. Paul Shrine
this past month.Still learning new
I love the whole idea that the Church is some great, well
oiled mega power bent on taking over the world spawning books and movies about
secret societies and codes and spying and etc . . .Conveniently enough it keeps minds off our
own government that is spying on us .
That being said, there are secret messages that even
unknowing Catholics (and non-Catholic Christians) send out of which they may be
completely unaware.It is a little bit
like playing records backwards (popular in the ‘80s if I recall) and finding
Satanic messages.In this case however,
it is promoting the message of the Church.
Here is the secret to the secret message:
First some background:Many people do not realize that the first part of advent is not about
the coming of Christ at Christmas, all the prayers of Mass and Liturgy of the
Hours and etc. tend to be focused on the SECOND coming of Christ.We wait of the second coming as the Jewish
people waited (and indeed some still wait) for the first.Starting on December 17th, we
start making immediate preparations for Jesus’ birth at Christmas.(By the by, the word “Christmas” is derived
from “Christ’s Mass Day.”Is it any
wonder so many people want to rid us of this nasty word.Do non-Catholics realize what they are saying
when they say, “Merry Christmas???)Secret, subversive, Catholic code #1.)
But I digress.On
December 17th, the official prayers of the Church change in nature
to focus on the upcoming Christmas holiday.(By the by again, “holiday” comes from two words whose definition is “holy”
and “day” and means a religious holiday and a day of recreation.So even though we fight against it, when we
say, “Happy Holidays!” we are, in a sense, wishing people a joyous religious
observance.There is the subversive and
secretive Catholic code #2)
But again I digress.So starting on this day, we start praying the “O Antiphons” during
vespers (the official evening prayer of the Catholic Church) just before
proclaiming the Magnificat.The O
Antiphons give the titles of the coming Messiah as presented in the Old
Testament – one for each day.You know
these.You sing at least some of them
every year in the carol, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” which is most appropriately
sung starting December 17th, not the first day of Advent.
So here are the titles; O Sapientia (Wisdom,) O Adonai (O
Sacred Lord,) O radix Jessi (O Flower of Jesse’s Stem,) O Clavis David (O Key
of David,) O Oriens (O Radiant Dawn,) O Rex Gentium (O King of All Nations,) O
Emmanuel (a name which means God with Us.)Now take the first letter of each title: SARCORE and on the last day,
the day before Christmas, reverse the letters and you get EROCRAS or, in Latin,
“Ero cras.”Translated into English this means, “Tomorrow
Secret, subversive Catholic code #3.Is that cool or what?
IF your town still has a newspaper, and IF you still get it,
and IF on Sunday they still have the Parade Magazine (will someday I have to
explain what a magazine was to kids?) this past weekend you would have seen an
article about Mark Wahlberg.The short
article is under a weekly feature called, “Sunday With . . .”In it, they interview a famous person and
there is at least one question that they ask every week: “How do you spend
Week after week after week I read this feature paying
particular attention if it is a person whose work I like, just hoping that one
of them would say that they somehow gave thanks for their talent, their wealth,
their notoriety, or the fact that anybody cares that what they do on
Sunday.But week after week after week
it is usually something along the lines of, “We sleep in.Then I make pancakes.We lounge around the house or go shopping or
to the zoo.”Not even a “we help out in
a soup kitchen.”Sunday, for many, seems
to be “Me Day.”I don’t have to work so
we spend time on ourselves.On the one
hand that is good.(I try for some me
time myself on Sunday if it is available.)But there is not even a mention of, “and we say grace remembering that
everything is a gift.”
Then there is Mr. Wahlberg, former crack-addict, prisoner,
Calvin Klein model, rapper, current actor and father.Here is how he describes his Sunday;
“If the kids are good, I’ll have doughnuts for them at 6:30
in the morning,” (Note: 6:30 in the morning
– ready for his kids.I have just started thinking about becoming
functional at that time – he’s already got doughnuts for the kids and I have
Mass!) “and I say, ‘You guys gotta let Mommy sleep in!”DO YOU KNOW WHY HE DOES THIS?!BECAUSE THEN: “I’ll go to church” (read:
Mass) “at 7:30 and everybody will be eating breakfast when I come home.”Nice right?Hold on to your biretta friends for the next sentence.“Then
we’ll go to church again at 10:30. .
Okay, maybe he’s making up for some of his famous peers who
forget to mention anything outside of themselves as a Sunday activity.But still: he’s once again proven himself one
of my heroes.(If you hear that he kicks
his dog or lets his kids eat Cheerios at Mass, please don’t tell me.I need my heroes.)But it just goes to show you how much good
you can do.He isn’t pictured waving a
Vatican flag or preaching (apparently like I am) about what people should do if
they consider themselves faithful, he was asked a question and he answered
honestly.It led to a second question by
the interviewer, “Faith is obviously a big part of your life.” Which, in retrospect is not a question but a
statement.But he answered
none-the-less, “It’s the most important part of my life.”
There.Very matter of
fact.No preaching (in the negative
sense) and no theatrics.And he did a
world of good for Catholics that need a shot in the arm.Thank you Mr. Wahlberg.I hope more of us can follow your example.
FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: "You don't always have to destroy a wounded animal. Sometimes you just remove the thorn." from the show "Dexter" season three finale.
QUOTE II: "The only thing new in the world is the history you don't know." Harry S. Truman
IN OTHER NEWS:
This sent in from Sarah: "Dear Fr. V, Interesting article about a Jesuit astronomer at the Vatican in the Detroit Free Press. (Of course I relate because he grew up in the Parish where Ron and I were married - and I'm a "scientist" too!). Thought you might enjoy his closing comments about God and science..." Read more and see the video here.
From the same source: I can't believe this . . . but it was inevitable. There are now ceremonial tablet cases so you can use your computer at Mass. Did I really not see this coming? Will you use this Pf? See more here.
Ron sent this in: Dog in Italy attends Mass. See article and picture here.
From the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter: "Pope Francis received a group of non-resident Ambassadors to the Holy See on Thursday in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican. The Holy Father focused his remarks to his guests on the scourge of human trafficking, denouncing the practice as a “real form of slavery” and calling for renewed and concerted efforts to end the inhuman trade." See more here.
From the same source: "Did you know, February 8 has been designated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) as a Day of Prayer for Survivors and Victims of Human Trafficking?" See more here.
Last Monday I was on a field trip, which ate up a sufficient amount of time that the blog post that day had to be skipped. Sharon Dietrick who is on the board of the Poor Clares, and Wes Hollendonner of Rubber City Productions (see photo below) headed up to St. Paul Shrine (see more here) to interview Mother Thomas (who spoke at a luncheon recently at St. Sebastian as a fundraiser for the new Academy of Culture and Arts) about her two works in progress. Below is part of her studio.
It was rather a unique experience. As you might expect not many visitors (especially men) are allowed about the cloister. So it was a very special and solemn visit for us.
This is the backside of a reredos of an old chapel that has been converted into an art studio for Mother. It is here that Mother is working on a painting of St. Sebastian that will be destined for this parish. Below is an under coating and Mother is preparing it for the final stage of applying more exact coloring, shading, and details. This is a picture taken by Sharon of Mother explaining her technique to me while Wes videos.
Wes shoots the nave from over the reredos for the second video we shot while I explored nooks and cranneys.
Below you can see the main room of the chapel. Behind the altar is where the other pictures were taken. Here you can see the enormity of the other painting on which Mother is working. It is of mammoth proportions. The title of it is Mary, Mother of the Eucharist and was destined for a parish of the same name in Philadelphia. Unfortunatley, after it was commissioned, it parish was closed. That is part of the reason for the documentary: a hope to find another home for the painting.
I think this is one of Mother's finest works. Here you can see Mary and Jesus surrounded by the communion of saints. If you could see the rest of the painting it would work its way down to the Church militant.
If you get the chance I recommend a visit to the shrine. You will get to spend some time in adoration (or go to Mass - see the link above for details) see the beautiful architecture, visit the gift shop (I highly recommend it if for no other reason than that there prices are VERY reasonable) and to see some of Mother's other paintings. You probably wont get to see Mary, Mother of the Eucharist or St. Sebastian since they are in the cloister. Hopefully, however, you might be able to see St. Sebastian at the parish as Mother hopes to have him done in time for our annual St. Sebastian Day celebration in January.
Now here’s a case when I will use the term “the spirit of
Vatican II” and think it has merit.As
we head into the last throws of advent (or perhaps slow boil of advent would be
better,) we enter that part of Lumen
Gentium that makes clear Mary’s role in salvation history – Totally
unplanned which makes it cool.
One of the reasons the Harry Potter books were so popular
was that it held out hope that even if it seemed completely unlikely, there is
a chance that you are special; your ordinary life was masking great power, notoriety,
talent, and all that.So can you think
of being a young girl in a backwater town, dirt poor, and of no note?What if, in actuality, your life was actually
part of one of the greatest stories ever told – of the greatest family lines in
history – of a dynasty that would last forever?And look at you sitting at home wishing something exciting would happen
in this one light town.
The story concerning Mary goes back to Genesis (para 55 of
LG).There will be a virgin and a
conquering of the serpent.In Isaiah
further prophecies are made.Throughout Scripture,
a blurry picture becomes clearer and clearer until one night it snaps into
sharp focus on a young, faith filled woman, by the announcement of an angel.From obscurity she is plucked, though in God’s
eye she was never out of the center of His plan.From her our God is given flesh and entrusted
to her care until He could go about the business of saving us from our self
(This is not in this paragraph but my own thought.)You, Christian, are not much different.Scratch just below the surface there is
greatness.It is not in your wealth,
your ability to command, your ancestry, or your prospects (or lack thereof!)All that will pass and be forgotten.But like in a C. S. Lewis novel, you have already
been named a king or queen with great dignity, inheritance, and rule, and it
will only come to light for the faithful who remain true to their nature and
enter into the kingdom of our heavenly Father.
While it is pretty cool that Pope Francis was named Time
Magazine’s “Person of the Year,” he is not the first pope to be named so.Blessed John Paul II was also given the
moniker of “Person of the Year.”There
was one more pope thusly honored but technically speaking he was named Time’s “Man
of the Year.”(Times and Time have
changed.)That would have been Blessed John XXIII. I bring this up just in case
people forget we have had a string of popular popes.But this is not to diminish the uniqueness
that is Pope Francis.
As reported on a Quote Tuesday, Mr. John Allen, Senior Correspondent
for the NCR and Senior Vatican Analyst for CNN, gave a talk on Pope Francis at
the First Friday Club of Greater Akron.In his talk he said that if you really want to understand this pope, one
must see his actions through three basic pillars through which the pope guides
The first is “Leadership through Service.”If there was anybody deserving to be served
and worshipped, it was God Himself, Jesus Christ.Yet what did He do?He came to live among us as a man and used
His glory, honor, and power to serve His people who were in need of
saving.Likewise, Francis calls on his
clergy to move away from a mindset of privilege and as shepherds to carry the
scent of the sheep on them.It is good
advice for everybody.Instead of using our
resources and privileges solely for self aggrandizement, use what we have been
given to assist those who do not have your blessings.
Second is the “Social Gospel.”He eschews what he calls the “Throw Away
Culture” of the world.This does not
mean that he wants us to recycle more.This
is referring to a tendency to see certain people as “less than” and not afford
them the dignity that all human beings should have.From conception to death, all humans should
have the right to life and dignity.Life
is the most basic of rights and that upon which all rights rest.And there will never be true peace on earth
until all are afforded this most basic of rights.
Finally is the idea of “Mercy.”Perhaps this pope will be remembered as the
pope of mercy.Though one cannot separate
the idea of judgment from mercy, perhaps we have a great handle on the judgment
of God, but not so much on His mercy, which this pope emphasizes.“God never tires of forgiving.”This is a message we need to proclaim and
This is the new pontifical age.With John Paul we had, “Be Not Afraid.”With Benedict we saw highlighted faith being
wedded to reason, and with Benedict: “Mercy.”How blessed we are in our leadership.
I will admit that I watch “Dexter.”For those unfamiliar with this show: it is
the story of a mass murderer trying to live a normal life – except for those
For those familiar with the show: Don’t worry.I will not be giving anything away.I’m only on season three.
Now, let me say from the start that much of the show is
reprehensible.That is the great thing
about Netflicks: the “ff” button.I do
not recommend the show.That being said
if one pays attention carefully (at least in the three seasons that I have
seen) they do grapple with lots of hot button issues concerning life, love, the
role of faith, the dignity (or lack thereof) of the human person and so
forth.I rarely agree with the title
character no matter how sympathetic they try to make him with swelling music,
kind words, and someone saying to him, “This is the right thing.”
Dexter supposedly is unable to have feelings; particularly
complicated feelings such as love.He
works hard then trying to figure what to do to express love to those close to
him and make them feel love.It is a radical decision for the other with
little consolation to himself.Inside
his head he is saying, “This is all fake.If they only knew I don’t know a thing about love.”From a spiritual standpoint he is in the
deepest throws of love.If he acted
lovingly toward those for whom he had great feelings of love, big whoop.As Scriptures says, “even the pagans do the
same.”But he overcomes his deficit to
love mightily.His is probably the
purest love in the show.
Well, except for those murders.
That is the part of the show that peaks my interested.The producers go through great lengths to
make Dexter a lovable character.And he
had a code by which he lives; he will only kill those who kill and have escaped
responsibility for their murders and who will most likely kill again.So if you would become friends with Dexter,
you most likely would never experience the dark side of him that “needs” to
kill.You would only know this great
Think of that for a moment.Allow Dexter to not be safely on the other side of the screen.Suppose he was a true friend of yours and you
know about his propensity for snuffing out life.Could you be his friend and allow him to live
his life as he allows you to live yours?Though a bit odd and maybe a tich distant, he is thoughtful, friendly,
pleasant, helpful, and fiercely loyal.And
really, he only takes the life of those many would say “deserve to die.”Some would day that he is making the world a
But he is in your living room having a beer with you and you
can sense that you about to have a severe disagreement about something.Though he says he would never turn his
butchery on you, do you completely trust him?Can you?Would you not have some
fear that the line that separates the “worthies” from the “worthless” might
slip – maybe even for just a moment – and in a moment of passion you would
become a victim instead of one of the protected class?
I submit that this is a wonderful analogy for our modern
state which Pope Benedict calls a throw away culture.The list grows of people we can discard –
that are on the wrong side of the line.This week was a story that there are more people on death row in Ohio
than in a long time.There is physician
assisted suicides, euthanasia, abortion, and now we are on the verge of federal
mandates forcing churches to be direct agents in actions they believe to be violations
of human dignity.There are questions
about how we treat the poor, the insane, the refugee, the addict, the ignorant,
the disenfranchised, and even the criminal.
For every person added to this list of undeserving of life,
the line that separates each of us from the undesirables creeps up.It may seem a far distance away, but it is
only an accident, a false accusation, or change in government away.Many priests talk about the future and wonder
if we will now end up in jail some day for teaching something that has been a
part of our core beliefs for 2,000 years.
FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: "(The room) smelled of the past, of a time before computers, before information was 'Googled' or 'blogged.' Before laptops and BlackBerries and all of the other tools that mistook information for knowledge." from Louise Penny's, "Bury Your Dead"
QUOTE II: "In fact, I think most (persons of greatness) are both brilliant and demented and almost certainly unfit for polite society. Unlike us." same source
IN OTHER NEWS:
Parish duties made it impossible to post yesterday. Sorry for the skipped day!
From the "In Box": "When someone tells you the Catholic Church’s stance on abortion, homosexuality or euthanasia is wrong, when someone makes fun of your religion, when someone mocks a religious practice you hold dear, how do you respond? How should you respond? Can you really challenge someone’s deeply held beliefs or will you just make them mad? These questions are at the heart of an intelligent and engaging new documentary by Father Robert Barron entitled, 'Catholicism: The New Evangelization.' (Not to be confused with Father’s popular 10-part epic, 'Catholicism.')
"Most Catholics have heard of 'the New Evangelization.' But few actually know what it means, how to do it effectively, or why it’s so critical. Get the answers you want and need when this program premieres at 9:30 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Dec. 18 – exclusively on EWTN. The program will encore at 1 p.m. ET, Saturday, Dec. 21."
From the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter: "Most Reverend Richard Lennon, Bishop, Diocese of Cleveland addressed a room full of those enjoying lunch and waiting to hear him speak at the December gathering of the First Friday Club of Cleveland. The following is a video excerpt from his Thursday, December 5, 2013 talk at The City Club of Cleveland, 850 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH." See the video here.
Speeking of First Friday clubs, the Greater Akron First Friday club has a stellar presentation on Pope Francis this month. The speaker was John Allen. I was hoping to hook you up with the pod cast but it is not up yet. Just the same, here is the site and you can hear past speakers and Mr. Allen when it finally make it up there.
What was she thinking?What was she feeling?What was
she facing?To some extent, these are
easier questions to ask about Mary than they are about her Son.Mary is, after all, a human person.Jesus is a Divine Person and therefore it is
often very dangerous to say, “At this point, Jesus was feeling (fill in the
blank).”How do we know?True, He was fully human, but He was also
fully Divine and to think we could know the inner workings of His mind might be
presumptuous.(This is my opinion, not
part of this document.)
Mary on the other hand is fully human without divine being a
divine person.True, she was also
sinless from her conception, but still, it is a little less tricky to ponder
what she might be thinking.
As she was the Mother of God and Mother of the Redeemer, she
is also our Mother.By her saying yes to
God, she helped bring about our birth into Christ and everlasting life.In this way, while being the best of us, she
is still one of us, “who occupies a place in the Church which is the highest
after Christ and also closest to us.”(54)
The II Vatican Council did not write a complete end all be
all treatise on Mary and even allowed for further
development of our understanding of her place and our relationship.Immediately following VII, there was the
erroneous thought in many circles that Mary was being downplayed in order to
more fully focus on Christ.Nothing
could be further from the truth to anyone who actually read the documents.In fact, all valid schools of thought on Mary
were upheld while still allowing for future development by theologians.
“Community is lost in virtual communion” was the title of an
editorial that appeared in the Beacon Journal last week written by Alex Beam of
the Boston Globe.It concerns a
Methodist minister in North Carolina who wants to start a “virtual campus” of religious
services via computer which would include Holy Communion, one of two
sacraments, the other being baptism, that the Methodists recognize.Adherents would be able to have a house
Church of sorts, gathering together on line to pray under the leadership of a
The article was against this idea.I must admit that I am not that much against
it.Not for Catholics mind you, but for
much of the Protestant world I do not think it that far off track.Once one lets go of the catholic ideal in the
small “c” sense (that they may all be one John 17:21), how can one really argue
against it as long as certain precautions are met.The word catholic means universal.For Catholics, it means one Church for all
peoples, all times, everywhere.There a
ton of implications with that, far too many to go into here but which include such
as unity in worship, leadership, belief, and etc.
But what if you are starting point is a division?(Remember, I am taking this from a Catholic
position, my Protestant brothers and sisters will take a very different
view.)For example, the minister cited
above makes the argument that Methodism’s cofounder, John Wesley, was a radical
religious innovator in the 18th century.Part of that innovation was to break from
established Church and begin something new (or old, if one believes they were
returning to something original in Christ’s mission.)A new Church was formed with its own belief
system and hierarchy.What gave them the
authority to do so?Well, one argument
is that the Bible did.The Holy Spirit did.The teachings of Jesus did.
There was in interesting religious (non-denominational
Protestant) talk show on the radio a few years ago (the particulars escape me
now) concerning the problem of people not showing up for Protestant
services.A man called in who said he
and few other families were no longer satisfied with the Protestant churches in
his area and so, after taking classes in the Bible, they decided to start their
own Church.They gather at each other’s
homes on Sunday morning, sing, read Scriptures, and have a sermon that is
crafted just for them.The radio host
admitted that he could not argue with him.They were getting back to the roots of Christianity (in their view.)Where did they get their authority to do
this?The same place that John Wesley
The on-line Church is just the next phase of this I would
think.Why not?The biggest question would be why
bother?Perhaps it would be nice not to
have to write your own sermon, study the Bible, or come up with your own
hymns.But instead PayPaling this
minister, why not invite your two neighbors over and start your own
Church?It seems a natural evolution of
the roots of the movement.
Unless your theology is really about universal community and
sacraments and Apostolic succession (as the Catholic Church holds it) and human
touch and voice and unity as a corporate body connected in worship, leadership,
and belief.Then there is a
Last week in the Letters to the Editor of the Akron Beacon Journal, Mr.
Thomas Fann, while pointing out that many people feel that certain provisions
of HHS mandate impedes their freedom of religion, he assures us, “It does not.”
I was worried.I am
so glad he cleared that up for me.
Of course, he goes on to say that there really are limits to
freedom of religion so even if it does really impinge on your faith: too bad.
Back to feeling bad again.
“We are all free to believe what we want, conduct our lives
according to our beliefs and worship as we please.”
Okay, I’m with you again.
“However, our religious freedom does not give us the right
to force others to change their behavior to fit our beliefs.”
Of course it does.Mr. Fann demostrates this himself. His system of beliefs says that it may force another individual to
violate his belief system by making him become directly culpable in what
amounts to an intrinsic evil to him.You
can’t have it both ways.Either we can
force others people to behave according to a belief system or you can’t.
“Attempting to prevent or impede what many employees feel
are valid (and legal) health-care choices is not a religious freedom protected by
Here again Mr. Fann plays the game of denouncing a behavior
for those he’s against, and then shows how perfectly logical it is for him to
do it.None of the people against the
HHS mandate are forcing anybody to do anything.Nobody is protesting that such items should be taken out of the store; nobody
is protesting clinics because they are handing out free birth control, but Mr.
Fann places the desire of one person to have birth control paid for by a person
who finds it morally repugnant over and above the religious freedom of the provider.One can still have the freedom to act
according to his conscience (and have it paid for), the other may not.
And “legal” does not mean moral.
And since when is it not protected by the Constitution?Of course it is.On what planet is protection of religious
liberty not a part of the Constitution?It is a handy argument to make up with absolutely no citations or
references.“It just isn’t” is not an
“Employers are free to reject contraception for themselves,
but religious freedom does not give them the right to make that decision for
First, I am thankful that Mr. Fann has given me permission
to reject contraception.But I have not
read a single article anywhere of an employee of any company has been fired
because they used contraception even though his employer finds it to be morally
abhorrent.Or maybe there has been a
rash of front page articles that I missed.
The only person making demands on anybody’s behavior (and
tapping their resources) is Mr. Fann and backers of this portion of the HHS mandate.(This reminds me of 2 Maccabees chapter 7).
“Where are the employees going to get the money?From their paychecks, from the same employer
who refuses to pay for contraception coverage on the grounds of ‘religious
freedom.’ I don’t see the difference.”
And that is the problem.
You don't see the problem. First of all, I highly recommend that you do not take a job writing an etiquette
column.If I give you a gift, it is
yours.I no longer have control over
it.If I give you twenty dollars and you
use it on cigarettes, there is really not much I can do about it.A paycheck is the same thing.Once I give you the money it is yours.What you do with it is your business.
Secondly, I recommend that you do not take a job writing an
ethics column.There is a huge
difference between indirect and direct culpability.It is one thing for me to give twenty dollars
to a teenager who then goes out and buys smokes, it is another thing to make
available smokes for the teenager “because he is going to smoke anyway.”
There is one thing Mr. Fann and I do agree upon.It is this sentence: “This issue really isn’t
about religious freedom; it is about control.”
FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: The following quotes are taken from the last three chapters of G. K. Chesterton's, "The Club of Queer Trades" which was the reading for last months St. Sebastian Chesterton Society meeting.
QUOTE I "Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction . . for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it."
QUOTE II "[A]ll women of any kind think all men of an kind mad. But they don't put it in telegrams, any more than they wire to you that the grass is green or God is all-merciful."
QUOTE III "I know of nothing that is safe . . except, possibly - death."
QUOTE IV "I never said a word against eminent men of science. What I complain of is a vague popular philosophy which supposes itself to be scientific when it is really nothing but a sort of new religion and an uncommonly nasty one."
IN OTHER NEWS:
Fr. Ference, a professor of philosophy at our seminary in Wickliffe wishes to invite YOU to attend THE SAINT NICHOLAS BASKETBALL BLOWOUT! Borromeo Seminary (our minor seminary) vs St. May Seminary (our major seminary) will be held at the field house at CPL December 6th at 7:00PM. Free admission, Halftime entertainment, Games and Prizes. All are invited but this is a particularly good time to check out the seminary in a very fun way. Cheer on your favorites: the young guys or the old guys. For more information go here.
Mary sent this in: "Fr. Mike McCandless, the vocations' director for the Diocese of Cleveland is featured in a story in the National Catholic Register on encouraging vocations." Read more here.
From the same source: Fr. Haydu, the international director of The Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums was in town recently to give a talk. Unfortunately I read my Email too late to catch it. Here is some information about the organization and about Fr. Haydu's new book.
In his talk he encouraged people to read Pope Francis' thoughts on art and beauty. Here is an excerpt from Evangelii Guadium paragraph 167:
Every form of catechesis would do well to attend to the “way of beauty” (via pulchritudinis). Proclaiming Christ means showing that to believe in and to follow him is not only something right and true, but also something beautiful, capable of filling life with new splendour and profound joy, even in the midst of difficulties. Every expression of true beauty can thus be acknowledged as a path leading to an encounter with the Lord Jesus. This has nothing to do with fostering an aesthetic relativism which would downplay the inseparable bond between truth, goodness and beauty, but rather a renewed esteem for beauty as a means of touching the human heart and enabling the truth and goodness of the Risen Christ to radiate within it. If, as Saint Augustine says, we love only that which is beautiful, the incarnate Son, as the revelation of infinite beauty, is supremely lovable and draws us to himself with bonds of love. So a formation in the via pulchritudinis ought to be part of our effort to pass on the faith. Each particular Church should encourage the use of the arts in evangelization, building on the treasures of the past but also drawing upon the wide variety of contemporary expressions so as to transmit the faith in a new “language of parables”.
Along the same lines, the American Chesterton Society has a video on line in which Dale Ahlquist makes the case for Chesterton's canonization. In this video he talks about how, days before he was elected, Pope Francis inquired what could be done by the Spanish speaking world to help move forward Chesterton's cause. There's a guy to have pulling for you! See the video here.
From the Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter: "WASHINGTON - The US Supreme Court will consider the legality of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) "preventive services" mandate, which requires virtually all employers to include female sterilization and all drugs and devices approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as contraceptives in their employee health care plans." Read more here.