Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Sometimes you just have to be vulnerable ... yet we try to hide our poverty for as long as we can and to pretend we are strong ...

God's ways are not our ways; God's choices are not the choices of society.
God chooses 'the poor, the weak, the needy',
those who recognize their poverty -
not just a material poverty but an inability to cope with life,
a feeling of powerlessness and not knowing what to do.
A mother who just lost a child is poor.
A man whose wife left him is poor.
A man who lost his job is poor.
The man who learns he has cancer is poor.
The - pope - who senses his body is growing older and weaker is poor.
People who are faced with difficult family situations are poor.
The problem is we refuse to admit our weakness, our needs, our poverty
because we are frightened of rejection.
We have been taught to be strong, to be 'the best'. to win in order
to become 'someone'.
Since society tends to marginalize those who are weak
we think that weakness means rejection.
So we try to hide our poverty for as long as we can
and to pretend we are strong;
 - self-sufficient -
we build up an appearance of being in control.
We need to hear that gentle, inner voice of God who tells us:
'You don't need to pretend.
You do not need to hide your weakness.
You can be yourself.
I didn't call you to l'Arche or to another form of community
first of all to help others
or to prove that you were generous or efficient.
I called you because you are poor,
just like the ones you came to serve,
and because the Kingdom of God is promised to the poor.' - Jean Vanier

Monday, April 24, 2017

Why people don't go to church on Sunday ...

Justin McClain's post on categorizing The 20 Types of People You'll Meet At Mass.  That's why.

In the case of #16, you won't meet him - you'll just see him.  Otherwise you ignore him - unless you are #9 - but you will still not speak to him.

I hope Mr. McClain didn't compose his post in his head during Mass.  What?

I know the post is meant to be humorous, but it misses.  Over the years, one of the most popular excuses I hear from family and friends as to why they don't go to church is summed up in McClain's post on the 20 types of people you will see at Mass.  The most common excuse for avoiding Mass is this:  "People are there to size one another up, see what they are wearing, talk about what they do or don't do, and categorize them."  I know otherwise faithful Catholics who have skipped Mass because of something as silly as a bad hair day.  People might talk if you don't fit 'Sunday best' requirements.  Then there are those who back slap and shake hands at Mass but ignore you in the grocery store.  What's up with that?  But I digress.

So anyway.  Go to Mass to pray, to worship - but stop eyeing your neighbor.  In big cities, like New York or Chicago, or at any urban parish, things are more diverse, and people are less likely to get into this type of petty speculation.

I think I must live here.

Decades ago, a friend of mine who cut my hair told me I was losing my hair - at the whorl - or crown of the head.  He said it was thinning.  "No it's not" I told him.  "You are going bald and you think everybody else is too."  Then he showed me in the mirror.  "That doesn't mean I'll be bald!"  Over the years, he informed me of additional hair loss - so I never ever looked at the crown of my head again.

I never permit photos of myself.  So I think I still look like I did in my twenties, until I catch a glimpse in the mirror.  Which is why I may have to cover all my mirrors as people do at Shiva.


Talk of a de-facto schism.  I'm against it.

BTW - I still have hair on the top of my head.  It is not gray, but sandy blond.  I put on a little weight, but I'm so not fat.  I'm as old as I feel think I am - although now instead of thinking in my head I'm in my twenties - I think it's more very early thirties.

I tell people I'm in my seventies and they are always so amazed at how young I look.

For someone who always believed he was ugly - my mom liked to tell us that to save us from vanity I guess - I certainly got by on my looks .... now that I'm old, I have nothing.  Oh wait - I'm not old.

Sitting Shiva.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Of all the 'conditions' necessary to receive the graces of Divine Mercy ...

Jesus, I trust in you.

"I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners."

Some argue that the plenary indulgence attached to the devotion may only be gained in and through the usual requirement, while others insist that the promises of Our Lord for those who approach him on the Feast of Mercy are fulfilled with or without fulfilling the requirements for a plenary indulgence.

Sounds confusing, right?  

We can become so scrupulous over rules and conditions, and I'm often reminded that some mystic once had a revelation that few souls receive the Jubilee indulgence - plenary indulgence - because they are not completely detached from venial sin.  Who even knows that except God?  What is needed is trust.  One can will to be completely detached, even from unknown sins and/or attachment to venial sins - one can make a sincere and genuine act of contrition.  Those who insist upon conditions and dispositions of soul, either as a means of criticism, or in an effort to discourage the smoldering wick of hope in a soul, are limiting God's mercy.  Although there are canonical requirements to obtain the complete remission of sin - those who always hold up such precautions run the danger of completely missing the deeper meaning of the Divine Mercy devotion.  They can also discourage the ne'er do wells of the spiritual life from trusting the message of Divine Mercy.  The devotion to Divine Mercy is the foot in the door of salvation.  Christ's invitation is really a 'come as you are' invite.  "Come to me, all you who are heavily burdened and weighed down ..."  He came to call sinners - those who are well do not need a doctor - the dejected do.
On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. - Jesus to Faustina
Yet, even without these requirements, our Lord's invitation to those most in need of mercy stands out in a singularly unique manner.  He told St. Faustina to go throughout the world, extending his invitation to come to him, to come to his image, depicted for her, and revealed for us, as the Divine Mercy, signed with the prayer, "Jesus I trust in you!" He promised unimaginable graces to those who turn to him: "My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity."

But back to my original point.  It seemed to me this morning that the one, great condition necessary to obtain the graces of the Divine Mercy, is of course, trust.  The other may be to show mercy to others.  To forgive from our heart.  To genuinely forgive, and forgive, and forgive.  Over and over.  To show, to have mercy upon others ... unto folly.  To will to do so and to try to do so ... that is - to 'practice' showing mercy to others.  To become a channel of mercy.

Prayer to be Merciful to Others
[This prayer gives us a true measure of our mercy, a mirror in which we observe ourselves as merciful Christs. We can make it our morning invocation and our evening examination of conscience.]

O Most Holy Trinity! As many times as I breathe, as many times as my heart beats, as many times as my blood pulsates through my body, so many thousand times do I want to glorify Your mercy.

I want to be completely transformed into Your mercy and to be Your living reflection, O Lord. May the greatest of all divine attributes, that of Your unfathomable mercy, pass through my heart and soul to my neighbor.

Help me, O Lord, that my eyes may be merciful, so that I may never suspect or judge from appearances, but look for what is beautiful in my neighbors’ souls and come to their rescue.

Help me, that my ears may be merciful, so that I may give heed to my neighbors’ needs and not be indifferent to their pains and moanings.

Help me, O Lord, that my tongue may be merciful, so that I should never speak negatively of my neighbor, but have a word of comfort and forgiveness for all.

Help me, O Lord, that my hands may be merciful and filled with good deeds, so that I may do only good to my neighbors and take upon myself the more difficult and toilsome tasks.

Help me, that my feet may be merciful, so that I may hurry to assist my neighbor, overcoming my own fatigue and weariness. My true rest is in the service of my neighbor.

Help me, O Lord, that my heart may be merciful so that I myself may feel all the sufferings of my neighbor. I will refuse my heart to no one. I will be sincere even with those who, I know, will abuse my kindness. And I will lock myself up in the most merciful Heart of Jesus. I will bear my own suffering in silence. May Your mercy, O Lord, rest upon me.

You Yourself command me to exercise the three degrees of mercy.
The first: the act of mercy, of whatever kind. 
The second: the word of mercy — if I cannot carry out a work of mercy, I will assist by my words. 
The third: prayer — if I cannot show mercy by deeds or words, I can always do so by prayer. My prayer reaches out even there where I cannot reach out physically.

O my Jesus, transform me into Yourself, for You can do all things (163). - St. Faustina

Divine Mercy Sunday

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Another toldjaso ... Cardinal Müller on Amoris ...

"I have just about had it!"

Cardinal Müller speaks.

It is simply common sense.  Ordinary, common sense:  "The pope has not, will not, and cannot change Revelation. Some claim that the pope has changed the foundations of Church morality and has relativized the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. This he would not and cannot do."

So many act and speak as if the Church is teaching error, claiming the pope is a heretic, or a Protestant, or writing essays that the Church has become Anglicanized, and they talk defacto schism for clicks and donations and subscriptions to their more Catholic than the Church online magazines.  Their stuff cannot be said to be part of the sensus fidelium. 

"The pope has not, will not, and cannot change Revelation."

Cardinal Müller: The true intention of the apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, was to place at the center the full, complete biblical message concerning marriage as a sacrament and a way of life. In addition, it aimed to take into consideration those who, on account of various circumstances, have failed or have run into trouble, so that we would not say: “Here are those who do everything right, whereas the others do not belong to us.”
We want everyone to walk along the path of Christ’s followers, and we wish to be of assistance so that this path might be understood and put into practice.
In this sense, each debate or contention is good. This has one negative aspect, though. Namely, the debate boils down to only one issue, while other major and vital subjects raised are brushed aside. It generates small division and concern when one hears the question: “What do you think about Holy Communion for divorcees who are living in non-sacramental unions?”
We can approach this question only from the perspective of the fullness of the teaching of the Church. The pope has not, will not, and cannot change Revelation. Some claim that the pope has changed the foundations of Church morality and has relativized the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. This he would not and cannot do. - Source

Tomorrow is Divine Mercy Sunday.  Go to confession.

Friday, April 21, 2017

St. Conrad of Parzham, Capuchin lay brother

I wonder if there are any saints like him today?

Immediately after his profession he was sent to the Friary of St. Ann, in the city of Altötting. The friary served the Shrine of Our Lady of Altötting, the national shrine of Bavaria to the Blessed Mother. Conrad was given the position of porter at this shrine, and retained it until his death. Because it was a large and busy city, the duty of the friary porter was a very difficult one. Conrad was known to be diligent at his work, sparing in words, bountiful to the poor, eager and ready to receive and help strangers. Brother Conrad fulfilled the task of porter for more than forty years, assisting the inhabitants of the town in their needs of body and soul.
Conrad loved silence in a special way. His spare moments during the day were spent in a nook near the door where it was possible for him to see and adore the Blessed Sacrament. During the night he would deprive himself of several hours of sleep, to devote the time to prayer either in the oratory of the friars or in the church. It was generally believed that he never took any rest, but continually occupied himself in work and exercises of devotion.
On the 21 April 1894, Conrad died in the friary where he had served for 41 years. - Wiki

Христос воскрес! Christ is risen!

Perfect for the Easter Octave

Воистину воскрес! In truth he is risen!

Let's act like it then.

"We judge things from a merely human standpoint, as they strike the senses and our human estimation.  We judge things from a merely human standpoint, as they strike the senses and our human estimation. We fail to hold everything against the bright backdrop of faith. Instead we allow our emotions to dictate to us what is real and what is not. Far too easily we give way to our moods, our fears, our uneasy feelings.
Set your troubled hearts at rest, banish your fears. Do you love me? Then what do your ups and downs matter? I am risen and with my Father. All is unutterably well, and well forever. Dry your tears forever Mary. Choose. Live with me in the sunshine world of my Father or opt to live in your own subjective estimation of reality.
Let us not be mistaken. We are not talking about a state of emotional tranquility which nothing can disturb. We are not speaking of emotion but of faith. We must act out our faith at every moment.
Notice how often Jesus tells us that love consists in: it consists in doing what He has commanded, doing always what pleases the Father. Note, always, not just now and then when we feel alright. There must be no identifying love of God with intense feelings of love, with sublime intellectual insight. Hence there must be no anxiety, no discouragement when spiritually we feel dull and drab.
To say Jesus is risen is to say He has come back to us. This is our joy, our certainty, the security in which we live out our days.
He is with us, not in limitation but with the whole weight of His Father behind Him. He comes in the Father, with the Father. He brings the Father to us as He promised: “We shall come to them and make our abode in them.” So up, let us go forward to do the will of that same Father." - Sr. Ruth Burrows, o.c.d.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The kids will be canonized May 13...

Pope Francis on Thursday announced that the two young shepherd children from Fatima, Francisco and Jacinta Marto will be canonised during his forthcoming pastoral visit to the Portuguese town on May 13th. - Read more here.
So much about Fatima has now been confirmed.  Growing up, I was very much attached to the Fatima apparitions, the call to holiness, the promises of Our Lady - especially that she would take Jacinta and Francisco to heaven - although I was sure it would probably not be fulfilled in my lifetime.  Yet it is unfolding right now.  The example of the three children, especially Francisco and his fidelity to prayer, very much influenced my childhood piety, and as I learned more about prayer as an adult, he has been a guide and model for me to some extent.

Our Lady promised to take them to heaven, and canonization is affirmation of that promise.

What a difference in children today.  Generally speaking, I suspect the majority are raised without faith, without knowing there is really is a place called hell, or that we were created to go to heaven.  So many kids today want to be rich and famous, to attain celebrity status and fame.  I'm not even thinking of Catholic kids.  I wonder what they actually know about all of these things?  

May St. Jacinta and St. Francisco pray for us, now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

The icon I made for Fr. Robert Fox.

The first icon I did of Bl. Francisco and Jacinta.

Did I mention?

I just found out the monk who was the assistant novice master in the monastery I was at, died at the end of March.  I wrote to one of my fathers there and he sent back a note that they are all getting very old and haven't had anyone enter for 3 or 4 years.   It was a short note, which said very much.


Time is short.  Very short.

Song for this post here.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

What Missile Crisis?

Kennedy was smarter and had better advisors.

I'm so old , I distinctly remember the Cuban Missile Crisis.  My parents were very upset, my mother praying like it was the end of the world, the television tuned up to watch and listen to President Kennedy addressing the Nation, warning Khrushchev to stop banging his shoes on the podium, and so on.  (The shoe incident wasn't part of it - just added that in for fun.  What?)  At the time, we were closer to nuclear war than anyone could imagine.  It was a big, big deal.  A serious crisis.

What's going on with North Korea?

So we are prepared for war, we have a fleet of ships over there, Pence visited the DMZ - is it real? There are growing threats of nuclear war, and life goes on.  Trump doesn't address the nation, and someone is watching Dancing With the Stars instead.

While the big news locally is the anniversary of Prince's death and the investigation into his addiction to prescription drugs.  They keep talking about it as if it was an addiction that happened accidentally.  Like it's somehow different from recreational drug use.  Maybe it started out because of over-prescribed pain medication, but like Michael Jackson's dependency, maybe that kind of blame-shift is really denial?  Clinical denial.

I think we all must be in some sort of denial - drug induced, or not. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Benedict and his drinking buddies ...

Typical.  Retire early and drink your days away.  What a crew.  Look at the one in the blue dress, cigarette hanging out of her mouth.  And they say the Irish are a bunch of drunks.


Ate things you need to know about Easter...

This is the Bun-Bunny.

1-8) Rabbits are not your friends...

Just sayin'.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter!

The finished icon of the Annunciation,
on my mantel for Easter.
Details here.

'After all you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.'


Saturday, April 15, 2017

Many conversions happen in Holy Week and throughout the Easter Octave.

Mine did.

Years ago my friends used to like to go to the Good Friday services high.  We were all raised catholic, and so something beckoned us I suppose.  One year, no longer high, I encountered Christ.  It was Paschal time.  It was pretty stunning.

Legend has it that at Monte LaVerna in Italy, the rocks split apart during the earthquake at the moment Jesus died on the cross.  I like to think of those legends, how the dead arose and appeared, the earth shook, the curtain in the Temple was torn in two, people beat their breasts.  And Christ descended into hell, among the dead, truly the Son of God ... he descended.

So these miracles continue, especially during this holy season - I'm convinced of it.  I also think these miracles happen especially during the Divine Mercy novena.

So, let nothing impede you.  Drunk or high, steeped in sin, filthy from rolling in the mud of your passions, stop into a church.  Visit the 'tomb'.  Visit Christ in the tabernacle.  Stop and look at the Divine Mercy image, or the Sacred Heart, or the crucifix.  Just look.  Whisper a little prayer, a thought, show him your wounds ... light a candle for Our Lady.  She opens our hearts - and Christ rushes in.  Love overcomes all.

Nothing is impossible with God.  No situation, no addiction, no lifestyle.  Nothing is impossible for God to fix.

I'm convinced many conversions happen during Holy Week and Easter.  The lame walk, the blind see, the deaf hear, the dead are raised.  The power flowing from his Resurrection is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow,  and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.  He who descended among the dead is closer to you than ever ...

Jesus, I trust in you.

Second Day ...

(Artist unknown)
I like the light in this.

Second Day

"Today bring to Me the Souls of Priests and Religious, and immerse them in My unfathomable mercy. It was they who gave me strength to endure My bitter Passion. Through them as through channels My mercy flows out upon mankind."

Divine Mercy

The church where it is installed.  (I don't know where.)
I like this image very much, it is unusual.

I thought the final prayer of Pope Francis at the conclusion of the Via Crucis last night was especially poignant, and a strong impetus for those who walk in shame to run to the Divine Mercy devotion ...

O Lord Jesus! Son of God, innocent victim of our ransom, before your royal banner, before the mystery of your death and glory, before your scaffold, we kneel in shame and with hope and we ask that you bathe us in the blood and water that flowed from your lacerated heart; to forgive our sins and our guilt; 
We ask you to remember our brethren destroyed by violence, indifference and war; 
We ask you to break the chains that keep us imprisoned in our selfishness, our wilful blindness and in the vanity of our worldly calculations. 
O Christ! We ask you to teach us never to be ashamed of your Cross, not to exploit it but to honour and worship it, because with it You have shown us the horror of our sins, the greatness of your love, the injustice of our decisions and the power of your mercy. Amen. - Pope Francis

I love this image
because it feels so 'Umbrian'.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Good Friday and the painter.

The Painter and Christ - Marc Chagall

Just some thoughts.

I couldn't find an image of Jesus Crucified to display online so I settled upon this one by Chagall.  I like it that he painted the Crucifixion so often.  Many artistic depictions strike me as bordering on homo-erotic.  Christ's musculature is often too well developed and the pose much too sinuous, and so on.  I much prefer early iconography and Siennese style depictions, as well as medieval style images, which seem to me more sober, while moving the soul to devotion.

Good Friday begins the novena to the Divine Mercy - so don't forget.  And remember the chaplet is the most important part of that.

I finished my Annunciation icon but I'm waiting to varnish.  I had to redo some calligraphy as well.  I'm not sure when I'll present it.  I'm not even sure it will be accepted.  My entire Lent was spent working on it - and before that of course.  So.  That means my Lent was a complete failure.

Which means I especially need the Divine Mercy, because I have empty hands ... 

“[During prayer] while standing before the Lord, show Him not only your empty hands but also your dirty hands filled with your attachments . . . and pray that He will have mercy on you.” - Fr. Tadeusz Dajczer

Good Friday

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Francis on his Holy Thursday visits.

The Triduum is so about rubrics ...

Looking through the Missal or Magnificat - the amount of 'red' to do almost overwhelms the 'black' to say.  So, when Pope Francis leaves the Vatican to celebrate the Lord's Supper with prisoners - and performs the ritual foot-washing - I appreciate that.  I love how Pope Francis goes out to others.  Especially prisoners and those most of us consider 'worse' than ourselves.  You know, because we haven't mugged anyone, or killed anyone.  It seems especially appropriate since after Jesus celebrated the Passover with the disciples who abandoned him anyway, he was arrested and spent the night in jail.

What the Pope had to say:

Vatican City, Apr 13, 2017 / 06:22 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis has given an interview ahead of his Holy Thursday visit to a prison, warning, among other things, against the hypocrisy of viewing inmates only as criminals beyond hope who deserve to spend their lives in jail.
“At times a certain hypocrisy pushes us to see in prisons only people who have done wrong, for whom the only path is that of the prison,” the Pope said in the interview, published April 13, Holy Thursday.
He said the idea of visiting prisons came largely through the example of the late Cardinal Secretary of State, Agostino Casaroli, who passed away in 1998 and would frequently spend his Saturday nights at youth prisons on Rome’s Via Casal del Marmo.
Francis, who has washed the feet of inmates on Holy Thursday in both 2013 and 2015, said the reason he is choosing to do so again is because of Christ’s declaration that “I was a prisoner and you visited me.”
“The mandate of Jesus goes for each one of us, but above all the bishop, who is the father of everyone,” the Pope said, noting that when some inmates express their guilt to him, he responds by telling them: “let whoever is not guilty throw the first stone.”
“Let us look inside and try to find our faults. Then, the heart will become more human,” he said, explaining that priests and bishops must always be disposed to serve others. - Read the rest here.

Holy Thursday

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Wars and rumors of wars.

Famine in East Africa.

With all the threats and fears we endure ...

Is there any suffering like famine?

With all the hatred for Islamic terrorists and suspicion of Muslims, resulting in an outcry against immigrants and refugees ...

Is there any suffering like famine? 

Think about it - instead of worrying about who gets their feet washed on Holy Thursday, or the rubrics get messed up during the Triduum.

The third part of the Fatima secret Bl. Jacinta was told by Sr. Lucia not to speak about, included the following ...
"I saw the Holy Father in a very big house, kneeling by a table, with his head buried in his hands, and he was weeping. Outside the house, there were many people. Some of them were throwing stones, others were cursing him and using bad language. Poor Holy Father, we must pray very much for him.
"Look! Don’t you see many roads, paths and fields full of people crying of hunger, not having anything to eat? And the Holy Father in a Church praying next to the Heart of Mary?" - Blessed Jacinta

And yet so many ignore these 'signs' when they are right before our eyes.  They wait for some sort of 'warning', and yet we've been warned by wars and revolutions over and over.  They wait for signs - when they are right in front of our face.  They hope the secrets of Medjugorje will be revealed when the secret of Fatima is unfolding now.

What is wrong that we keep looking for signs and ignoring the urgent humanitarian crises on our doorstep?

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Saints for Holy Week

St. Mary of Egypt is thought to have died in Holy Week.  I was thinking of that when I recalled Little Therese coughed up blood on Good Friday, confirming her intuition that death was soon approaching.  In her Story of A Soul she wrote:
“Oh! How sweet this memory really is, I had scarcely laid my head upon the pillow when I felt something like a bubbling stream mounting to my lips. I didn’t know what it was”. The next morning she coughed up more blood in her handkerchief. “I thought immediately of the joyful thing that I had to learn, so I went over to the window. I was able to see that I was not mistaken. Ah, my soul was filled with great consolation, I was interiorly persuaded that Jesus, on the anniversary of His own death, wanted to have me hear His first call”.
If the thought of the passion and death of Christ does not put everything in perspective in our lives, the thought of our own death ought to - and then perhaps, we can understand our desperate need of mercy and maybe even appreciate the sacred passion of Christ more deeply.

I think it needs to be personal to be appreciated on such a profound level.  Not sure how to explain that however.

Yesterday, I came across a devotional picture of Padre Pio receiving the transverberation of his heart.  His stigmata and all of those wonderful charisma he received do not move me.  They do not lead me to Christ, as it were.  They seem like novelties on some level.  Yet the ordinariness of St. Therese is for me, so much more real, more edifying, more deeply interior, without sensation.  It just seems more real to me.

I posted a devotional picture of Therese because of its lovely simplicity.  It is this which attracts ordinary people I think.  And like Our Lady, Therese always directs us to the Little Jesus, who loves us and finds us irresistible.  We can pray with Therese and all the ordinary saints of Holy Week: 'Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything.'  No matter what.

Covering statues ...

Monday, April 10, 2017

What's Wrong With the World ... Brain Hacking ...

"We must alert Catholic social media about this."

I knew that.

Stepford lives online, Catholic social media experts, Catholics on Facebook, Catholic apologists on Facebook, Facebook Catholic Twits, Instagram Catholics with Facebook accounts, Catholic bloggers with Facebook accounts, Facebook Tweeters with Catholic issues, ... all brain hacked.


APRIL 9, 2017, 7:05 PM| Why can't we stop looking at our smartphones? And are the designers of the apps and content on them using brain science to keep us hooked? Anderson Cooper reports. - Look and see here.

We're all being manipulated.  It's a rewards system.  We want prizes, pats on the back, kudos, approval, Likes and comments.  We don't like it when people disagree with us, criticize us.  We want followers and friends and greetings in the marketplace - because that is where we always are - in the Marketplace, fixin' our tassels and adjusting our phylacteries.

"How can you believe when you seek approval from one another?"

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord

My eyes stream with tears over the destruction
of the daughter of my people.
My eyes will flow without ceasing,
without rest,
Until the LORD from heaven
looks down and sees.
I am tormented by the sight
of all the daughters of my city. 
- Lamentations 3

Prayers for the Coptic Christians bombed today, Palm Sunday.

Story here.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Just something I saw on "The Catholic Ladies Home Journal": Aleteia

The Comte de Reynaud
The village mayor in the film Chocolat.

Katrina Fernandez has some suggestions to help make what's left of Lent feel fruitful ...

I love Kat and her advice column is well written.  Her latest post here is encouraging for anyone who feels they've 'failed' at Lent.  Failing at Lent really only happens when one fails to repent - or maybe fails to deepen their conversion and love of God ... but that's not what Catholics emphasize so much.  It's more about what you do, or did, gritting your teeth, and making it to Easter to pick up your Easter basket.  Like Christmas - you expect something in return for not eating chocolate.  What?

Seriously, the ideas Kat shares are wonderful, and the experts she links to on Aleteia offer a variety of suggestions for a fruitful Lent.  I was struck by the 'entertainment' possibilities that were suggested - to get a 'penitent' in the mood.  I had to leave my own suggestion ... the 2000 film Chocolat.  Pretty much on how not to do Lent... unless it ends in failure, as in the case of the Comte de Reynaud.  

Reynaud, played by Alfred Molina, is the the stern, traditionalist mayor of a very traditional French village which never let go of its Jansenist yoke.  Reynaud's wife has left him and he leads a very strict life.  Devout, pious, and impeccably observant, he is appalled a non-believer arrives in the quaint village and opens an exotic chocolatierie at the beginning of Lent.  (Because we all give up chocolate, of course.)  Reynaud denounces everything about it and those who are seduced by the charms of the mysterious woman who operates the shop. 

Reynaud's character reminds me of some Catholics online - you know, those feisty Catholic social media personalities who accuse and condemn all the heretics and leftist-neo-whatevers.  Similarly, the mayor meddles in the moral life of townsfolk, he proof reads the young priest's sermons, and instructs him on how and what to preach.  Convinced of his own self-righteousness, he pretty much looks down upon everyone else.  His words against the moral decay he fears will overtake the village even incites a man to arson - to burn out the 'heretics', as it were, because the poor man thought he would gain favor with the mayor that way.  Reynaud sends him into exile from the village, lest he himself be discovered to have had any influence in his act. 

Overcome with zeal, Reynaud seeks to 'cleanse' the village of the 'witchy' woman who opened the shop, and opened the hearts of the villagers.  One dark night, he attempts to destroy the shop, and accidentally tastes the magical confection  specially the scenes of the very rigid, yet devout Jansenist Mayor who observes Lent impeccably until one night, no longer able to suppress his passions, he devours the chocolatier's display window.  I think of it now as a sort of Pope Francis type of admonition.of Mme. Rocher.  He is seduced, and his passions overtake him, and he is found the next morning, asleep in the shop window, chocolate covering his face ...  his Lenten observance failed, Easter Mass soon to begin, he was ashamed, humiliated, and, so it seems to me, finally able to repent.the very rigid, yet devout Jansenist Mayor who observes Lent impeccably until one night, no longer able to suppress his passions, he devours the chocolatier's display window.  I think of it now as a sort of Pope Francis type of admonition.  

Lent isn't about what we give up, or how good we are at keeping the laws we make for ourselves, or even about how many devotions we perform or attend.  It's actually good to fail.  In the last weeks of our Lord's life, Passion Week/Holy Week, all of the disciples failed - they abandoned our Lord.

Song for this post here.

the very rigid, yet devout Jansenist Mayor who observes Lent impeccably until one night, no longer able to suppress his passions, he devours the chocolatier's display window.  I think of it now as a sort of Pope Francis type of admonition. 

the very rigid, yet devout Jansenist Mayor who observes Lent impeccably until one night, no longer able to suppress his passions, he devours the chocolatier's display window.  I think of it now as a sort of Pope Francis type of admonition.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Another 'New' Carmelite Group of Hermits?

Hermits used to find caves
to live in and earned their living
by the work of their hands.

Donation alert.

Fr. Z posted on a new group near Asheville, North Carolina, looking for donations to purchase property to establish a hermitage dedicated to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, following the primitive rule of St. Albert.
By a gift of Divine Providence, we have been led to a 400-acre mountain retreat property in the Blue Ridge Mountains about one hour from Asheville, North Carolina. The owners have desired for 35 years that this place be consecrated to God and have been waiting for religious to realize that. Now, they desire our community of traditional hermits to make this another Mount Carmel for Our Lord and Our Lady. - Hermits
Neither Fr. Z nor the hermit's website identifies any contact person, they say they are Catholic laymen seeking to establish a traditional contemplative community of hermits, and they are asking for a great deal of money to purchase the property.

Untried, untested vocations?

Before you jump on board, I would suggest getting some details.  Is this an offshoot of an existing group?  Are these men all laymen?  Is their no priest?  Are they experienced in religious life?  More importantly, are they authorized by the diocese to ask for donations?  They say they are seeking canonical recognition - which means they do not have it right now.  Is this their own initiative?  Normally a diocesan bishop invites a community to make a foundation, and or, gives permission to establish a group - the website gives no indication of any such approval.

Fr. Z offers no clue as to the identity or the legitimacy of the group save for revealing he received the news in an email.  There is not even a link to the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte.

There are groups of traditional Carmelite Hermits in the U.S. already: Minnesota, Wyoming and Texas.  They all have diocesan approval, each is asking for donations to build, and at least one is safely under the umbrella of O. Carm. authority.  Which means, a new Bishop is less likely to dissolve a contemplative community/association of the faithful of diocesan right because they are too traditional.

I recall a friend of mine who established a monastic group for men.  He had years of experience as a monk.  He is a priest.  He was invited by the Bishop of the diocese to form a traditional community - and he did so publicly.  He had everything in place.  His community is doing well.  He asks for donations, but he does so transparently and with the approval of the local ordinary.  Everything is in order.

Make sure you know who and what you are supporting.  Before donating, I would suggest contacting the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Reparative Therapy: A Catholic Perspective

Deacon Jim Russell has an excellent essay on the subject.

He explains the difference between the Catholic understanding of same sex attraction/homosexual inclination as simply a temptation to sin, as opposed to the more Protestant understanding that the inclination itself is sinful.  That's huge.
Here is the major distinction Catholics need to make between the Catholic understanding of reparative therapy and the understanding espoused by at least some Protestant Christian reparative therapy supporters: The competent and informed therapist will ground therapy in the understanding that the homosexual inclination itself is not an instance of personal sin but is a temptation to sin. As such, the Christian’s goal of therapy will be shifted—the goal will not be to completely eliminate the erroneously perceived personal “sin” of having the inclination, by stopping the inclinations altogether. Rather, it will be to move the person toward a less-difficult pursuit of chastity despite whatever may remain of the inclination itself after therapy. 
If a therapist misunderstands the fundamental truth that the objectively disordered homosexual inclination is not a form of personal sin, someone can indeed be harmed by such therapies, even in a Christian setting. - Finish reading here.
Deacon Russell also affirms the fact that reparative therapy may not be for everyone.  That too is huge.
Simply stated, reparative therapy—grounded in a Catholic understanding of the human being—is one vitally important tool in the toolbox for anyone seeking both healing and chastity from the inside out. It is important to note that the Church doesn’t see reparative therapy as a form of healing that every same-sex-attracted person should or must choose. But the Church’s view of the human person clearly reveals the potentially great value of reparative therapy for those who may choose it. - Deacon Russell

Sometimes Catholics criticize Deacon Russell and other Permanent Deacons.

Before closing, I just want to say I cannot say enough good about the Permanent Diaconate in the Church.  Deacon Russell and others are actually in Holy Orders.  Those like Deacon Russell as well as others I have met, are solid, well formed, Roman Catholic ministers who work tirelessly for the Church.  Usually married, with children, many have full time jobs and yet work in their dioceses, in chanceries, parishes or as chaplains elsewhere.  They have the authority to teach.  Which places them in the forefront of Evangelization.  They are a great gift to the Church.  Pray for them and support them, just as you do our priests.

Gänswein talks.

In a new interview, "Archbishop Georg Gänswein,  Prefect of the Papal Household and private secretary to Benedict XVI, denies all the rumors and recent interviews about alleged pressure that led Joseph Ratzinger to resign."


1) On the rumors about alleged pressure from the US government under President Barack Obama to push for Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation. Rumors and plots recently relaunched in some articles and interviews, from which Pope Ratzinger ended up emerging as someone weak.

G: “It’s not true, it is invented, it is a groundless statement- Don Georg said - I spoke to Pope Benedict after this interview, and these rumors, he said that it is not true. His renunciation was a free decision, well thought out, as well as prayed for. The things I have read recently are invented and not true. - Read more here.
Be certain to read the rest of the interview.  One Pope, one Church, happy, happy, happy.  Notice the word Gänswein repeats, 'invented'.  These stories are invented.  Their connections to spurious messages associated with apparitions and private revealtions regarding two popes does not fit with reality.

He also responded to the idea of a gay lobby.  Which pretty much accords with what I have often said.  The Archbishop says it better, and of course, knows what he is talking about:

The secretary of Benedict XVI also answered a question about the “gay lobby” in the Vatican. “I don’t think the gay lobby is a power lobby - he said – there was an attempt to put things right and to give the necessary response.” But “the importance of this group has been exaggerated; an answer and a solution were given at the time. Speaking of power lobby is not only exaggerated, but a hundred times exaggerated. “ - Vatican Insider
I've just about had it
with these stupid rumors!

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

The worst chemical attack in years in Syria ... and a post about a comment.

For how shall we hear unless someone cries out 
above the tumult and destruction and delusion? - Alfred Delp

We have in our day, no prince, prophet or leader ...

BEIRUT, Lebanon — One of the worst chemical bombings in Syria turned a northern rebel-held area into a toxic kill zone on Tuesday, inciting international outrage over the ever-increasing government impunity shown in the country’s six-year war.
Dozens of people, including children, died — some writhing, choking, gasping or foaming at the mouth — after breathing in poison that possibly contained a nerve agent or other banned chemicals, according to witnesses, doctors and rescue workers. They said the toxic substance spread after warplanes dropped bombs in the early morning hours. Some rescue workers grew ill and collapsed from proximity to the dead. - Source
It is absolutely appalling.  A horror.  The killing of civilians.  The destruction of cities, villages, communities, families, women and children.

I wasn't going to post on Steve Skojec, simply because his life and work is none of my business.  I reconsidered after reading more about the Syrian chemical attack, killing dozens of people, many of them children.  I was struck by something Skojec said in a comment, defending "the work we do here to defend the family and the institution of marriage."  That's his work?

So what follows is the post I was not going to post yet decided to do so because it is so damn ridiculous that an American Catholic husband and father can post the bullshit he does in the face of serious, real life, in your face, suffering and death.  People have to snap out of their delusion.

Are you driving your family nuts with your religious fanaticism?

Religious parents might do well to take a sort of moral inventory.  I thought of this after Steve Skojec posted something yesterday about how spiritually tried he has been:
I don’t know about all of you, but lately I’ve not been in a very good state of mind. Everything feels harder than it used to. The battle, which was always fought uphill, has begun to appear almost futile. Trials and difficulties have seeped into all the various facets of life — work, family, expenses, the lived experience of the faith — making each burden feel heavier than it would have felt alone. I have the sense — and I know that I am not alone — that chaos and discord are being intentionally sown right in the midst of the people I hold most dear, all while something cruel and defiant whispers in my ear that none of it matters. Nothing matters. Just give up.
I think he should listen to those voices in his head.  He goes on to describe his malaise:
The writing that once came almost effortlessly for me has turned into an elusive craft. If it isn’t interrupted by an unexpected phone call or email about some new, negative development, it’s thwarted by an oppressive feeling of near-total malaise. Anger. Frustration. Apathy. It alternates, but it’s rarely conducive. My spiritual life has taken a noticeable beating as well ...
Well of course it has Mr. Skojec.  What have you been dishing out?  What have you been doing on your website?

Later on, Skojec, responding to a sympathetic string of comments revealed something that may hold the key to a bigger problem ...
Steve Skojec Mod The Great Stalin • 12 hours ago I, too, have a wayward child. It has been...excruciating, this past year or two. A huge distraction from my work, and in many respects I see what has happened as a direct attack on the work we do here to defend the family and the institution of marriage.

To be sure, Skojec's private life is none of my business, yet he makes his personal life public when he posts stuff like this. So, even though it's none of my business, what I'd suggest to him is first and foremost - avoid those who praise you and donate to you and boost your stats.  Get the attention of your family instead.

Stop viewing unexpected demands as an interruption in your life. Start accepting God's providence and his will in your life. You are a husband and a father and that is your primary state in life. If the duties of your state in life seem to be an intrusion, an interruption, even a distraction - that's a bad sign. Something is wrong. If your 'wayward child' is a distraction and is causing problems for you - it will only get worse if you ignore it. To respond in anger only foments anger. Frustration does indeed lead to apathy. Apathy is a form of sloth. When we neglect the duties of our state, apathy in the spiritual life is the end result. If your family is a distraction, something may be missing. The family may need your love and attention more than you realize.

Religious fanatics blame the devil when things go wrong - more often than not, I think we can place the blame upon ourselves.

Just saying.

I may be wrong, and I may sound like Job's friends, but I think it is important to remember what Our Lord told Sr. Lucia of Fatima about what he expects of us:
 Our Lord explained to her: "The sacrifice required of every person is the fulfillment of his duties in life and the observance of My law. This is the penance that I now seek and require." - Sr. Lucia

Our Lady of Syria, pray for your people,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour
of our death.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Online Hoaxes

Not just for April Fools Day either.

I think there are a few online hoaxes going around once again.  We know the Fatimist hoax, the Sr. Lucia double, the incomplete secret, and now more absurdly, the newly found addition to the secret stating Church authority will be transferred to Fatima.  (Here)  Then there are all the Masonic conspiracy theories which tend to indict the Popes and Vatican II and the Novus Ordo.  Many Catholics are deceived.

It reminds me of the Leo Taxil hoax, his fake conversion, as well as the Diana Vaughan hoax.  I've written about it before.  April Fools posts were unusual enough this year to suggest that some of the most faithful people online could maybe not be as faithful as we think.  Pope Francis talks a lot about corruption and corrupt people.  Leo Taxil was corrupt.  He even deceived Leo XXIII, and of course, the Carmelites of Lisieux.

"About 1894 there appeared in France a series of self-styled revelations of the secrets of Freemasonry, published by a certain Dr. Bataille (Leon Taxil) and a woman called Diana Vaughan. These accounts gripped the imagination of the French public for a while. Later they were found to be false. The Servant of God took a certain interest in them at first, but long before there was any official denial of them she told us that they were not to be believed. Her only reason for rejecting them was the fact that Diana Vaughan once spoke against episcopal authority. 'That kind of thing cannot come from God, ' she said." - St. Therese By Those Who Knew Her

Keep that in mind when vetting the more preposterous things you read online.  When Catholics speak against episcopal authority - especially and including the Pope - remember what St. Therese said about the Taxil hoax: 'That kind of thing cannot come from God.'

Monday, April 03, 2017

Cardinal Burke on irregular marriages.

The Church has always allowed that.

In an interview on "Church Chat" Cardinal Burke stated:

“In the whole history of the Church, it’s never been possible that someone who was living publicly in a state of sin, for example a person who is bound in matrimony to one person, is living in a marital way with another person, it has never been permitted that such a person could approach to receive Holy Communion,” the cardinal said in his latest interview. 
“Now, suddenly, there are those, who are saying, ‘Oh, yes, but it is possible in certain cases,’ and so forth - but if this is something that is always and everywhere wrong, how is it possible that someone who is living this way can receive the Sacraments?” 
Burke said couples in such situations - for a just reason - may receive the sacraments if they refrain from sexual situations.
“The Church has always helped such couples,” he said, “… the point is this: that the couple has the firm resolve to live chastely, and to take all measures to live chastely. If they fail, on one occasion or another, then they simply have to confess that, and renew their effort to live chastely.” - Source

A man commenting online about the situation Burke referred to, said that is like giving a kid an ice cream cone and telling him not to lick it.

That's not true.  People have done that, people do that, and people will continue to do so - with the help of God's grace.  Quite seriously, their love deepens - to love another is to desire what is best, what will make them happy, and to do all you can to do that.  Love of God and one's eternal salvation is the greatest good, to receive Christ in the Blessed Sacrament is the greatest happiness on earth.  I know people who have respected one another so deeply, as to willingly consent to live in such continence.  Neither God, nor the Church and her ministers can condemn such devotion.

Disinterested, but loving.