Consecrated to the Heart of the Redeemer under the patronage of the Theotokos and Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.

31 March 2011

Show Us Your Face is a site devoted to the Holy Face of Jesus depicted on a napkin sometimes identified (though, according to this website and the Zenit article it cites, incorrectly) with the veil of Veronica.  Our digital era will profit from a renewal of devotion to Our Lord's face.  It was dear to "the Little Flower," whose full religious name was Sr. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.  We are bombarded by images, many of which leave an undesirable impression on our minds.  What a necessary corrective, to contemplate the face/person of Jesus as a way to defog our psyches, so stained by images malicious, deceptive, and abhorrent, in favor of Someone good, true, and beautiful!

26 March 2011

Vive et disce

While I'm sharing, Latin Grounds is yet another fine offering from the Catholic Education Resource Center ( I might have somehow erased the hyperlink, so if you're really interested, you may have to go right to the site. As a former Latin teacher, I couldn't agree more with the author's insights.

The People You Meet!

An Airport Encounter with Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York reminded me of this weekend's Gospel reading. Jesus engages in dialogue with a hurting individual and the two walk away with deepened mutual respect. On the part of both persons, this story offers a glimpse into the Church's humanity and what the Lord can do with even the smallest bit of openness.

The site that offered this article,, is a fantastic resource.

This Week in Catholic Liturgy: Give Me A Drink

Jesus hasn't bellied up to a bar; rather He approaches the human race for whose salvation He thirsts.  Who you are, what you've done, matters far less than who He is and what He's done.  He's picked up the tab, so drink freely of His life-giving water.

25 March 2011

Best wishes, Mr. Balistrere and Fr. Bortz!

Things are moving forward for BCHS. Today the Reading Eagle has announced that the Diocese appoints principal of Berks Catholic, as well as its Chaplain. I am certain that these good men will guide our new high school well. Keep them, and the entire school community, in your prayers.

23 March 2011

Mercy, Mercy, Mercy

The iPhone App and the Return to Confession suggests that the technosphere is picking up on the world's tell-all tendencies.

Something inside us wants to get it all out and to hear a word that challenges and consoles.

One way or another, the truth must out. Don't wait for the post-mortem rush!

Life, Interrupted

This Friday is the solemnity of the Annunciation, so Catholics get a reprieve from the rigors of Lent.  According to Canon 1251, "Abstinence from eating meat or some other food according to the prescripts of the conference of bishops is to be observed on every Friday of the year unless a Friday occurs on a day listed as a solemnity." 

Observe the significance of this day not just by reveling at Red Robin, but by pausing upon the fact that young Mary of Nazareth was going about her day, folding the laundry, sweeping the floor, when in a trice an angel declared that the Father's high regard of her prompted Him to sire the Son in her by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Life would never be the same...for Mary, or for anyone.

Yes, Mary, always yes!  To all that will be, yes!

God thinks highly of you, dear daughters and sons of Adam.  God chose not to become a monkey, or a Bosc pear, or a birch tree.  Human flesh now and forever conveys the promised One, the promise of redemption from our damnable, lamentable attachments to self.  Your human flesh and mine become the very instrument of salvation.

19 March 2011

Christ Centered Academic Excellence, Berks Catholic

Christ Centered Academic Excellence, Berks Catholic

Here's a wonderful website that may be of interest to the locals and to all alumni of BC's parent schools, Central Catholic and Holy Name. It tells of great things ahead for the future of Catholic education: pooled resources, shared vision, dynamic fidelity to Christ and the Church.

Lent is all about the death to self that yields new vitality. This holy season has special significance for the students, parents, faculty, and administrations of two fine schools of storied history. Let the children guide us in their generous openness to everything that God has planned.

This Week in Catholic Liturgy: Good to be Here

In the sacred Liturgy, we encounter the crucified and risen Lord, and we return from that encounter to the rigors of everyday life.  For Peter, the mountaintop experience could have lasted forever; but he was commanded to "listen to" Jesus, who accompanied him back to his life, never to depart from him even when he would depart from Jesus.  Can we faithfully enter the mystical liturgical encounter, trusting that the Lord of glory will facilitate our re-entry into society the better for having taken that time and having given that presence?

17 March 2011


Jesuit Father James Martin offers some hard-earned insight into the mystery of suffering in this article, sent by a priest friend:

May it be helpful for all and for each.

12 March 2011

"Confessiooooon! Confession! Confession!"

I recognize that it would make more sense if the title of this entry were sung.  (Think the trisyllabic title of the tune from "Fiddler On The Roof.")

'Tis the season for repentance (fa la la la la...oh, forget it)!  The liturgical season of Lent is now upon us, with its summons to take spiritual/moral inventory and to give it away in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Fr. John Dietzen, a columnist for the Catholic News Service, fittingly compares this divine and human act to the fourth and fifth step of 12-step programs (such as Alcoholics Anonymous) which call for their adherents to "take a searching and fearless moral inventory" and to "admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs."  He notes in his latest column (published in the most recent Catholic Standard and Times) that Catholics in these programs often "give away" fifth-steps to a priest in the sacramental forum.  While the addict or co-addict often needs to "hit bottom" in order to do these things, all Catholics would profit from the unsparing self-examination and self-disclosure of Confession. 

So why wait for an experience of personal tragedy to do it?  The truth is, many people do just that because their fears prevent them from doing such things until they're ready--that is, until the pain is so great that they'll go to any length to stop it.  Admission of their powerlessness over alcohol, gambling, lust, etc., or admission of their powerlessness over a loved one who is enmeshed in these things; recognition of the unmanageability of their lives; the gradual or sudden arrival at belief in a Higher Power who can return them to right thinking and living (" sanity"); and total surrender to that Power: these actions suffice for 12-steppers to commence that painful yet liberating, momentous yet lifelong process.  It is a relief to know that such depths aren't necessary for everyone.

The founders of AA were on to something that even they would admit was nothing new.  They and millions in their company have mined a gem worthy of G. K. Chesterton's insight that Christianity "is not something that has been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried."
God knows it ain't easy, but a good Confession is worth rigorous effort.  It saves lives.

By way of an Ecclesial Service Announcement (ESA), I note that Holy Guardian Angels Parish is offering two extra hours of Confession from 4 to 5pm and 7 to 8pm on the Thursdays of Lent (excluding Holy Thursday).  All parishes in the five-county Diocese of Allentown are doing likewise at various times, thanks to Bishop Barres' call for a more lavish provision of Reconciliation during the Lenten season.  HGA is blessed to have more than one priest, which has made it easier for us to be available for Confessions before each Lord's Day Mass.  This has been in force for many years, to great effect. 

Big fish, guppies--we catch 'em all...or at least we cast the divine dragnet.  And thank God, for sinners like you and me need an invitation sometimes.  When sin's discomfort weighs us down, we eagerly yet silently yearn to be caught by the One who, once lifted up from the earth, vowed to "draw everyone to myself" (John 12:32).  So consider this to be the offer you can refuse, but only to your undoing.  And not just yours, for in some fashion the whole Church is diminished--earthly speaking, at least--by a sinner's refusal to repent. 

It is God's to judge what constitutes an outright refusal, of course, but while we have the faculties of mind and will, we also have the quality of passivity, which is, on one hand, the ability to remain inert, and on the other, the ability to yield to a superior force--a Higher Power, whose power over us is both harsh and gentle, dreadful and delightful.  Paradox of paradoxes, this latter passivity is the apex of action.

So act now!  And if you confess within the next forty days, you will receive--absolutely free--the same thing you'd receive any other time of the year: "grace and mercy for timely help" (Heb 4:16).

11 March 2011

This Week in Catholic Liturgy: Eyes Opened

"The eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked" (Gen 3).  This dreaded self-consciousness lies at the root of sin.  Preoccupation with how we're doing, with what people think of us when they see our faults, our vulnerability, our strengths, and our good is paralyzing!  OK: I will try not to think of myself too often.  Here I go about my business, not thinking of myself...and before you know it, you're right back where you started.

Then there's the faithful of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, wondering just what the heck happened with the removal of almost two dozen priests.  What did they do?  What did the leaders do, or fail to do?  Who can be trusted?  Most of all, how are these children, no doubt most of them adults now?

Then there's the people of Japan, hit by a monstrous earthquake and tsunami.  How can they possibly rebuild, if they're even alive to rebuild?

Lord, help us to make the best of our opened eyes by facing all the effects of evil in our world and in our selves.  Help us to focus more on the other person, and what he or she needs right now.  Guide us to solutions.

05 March 2011

This Week in Catholic Liturgy: Binding Reminder

In literal obedience to the Law of Moses--"bind [these words] at your wrist...and...[as] a pendant on your forehead"--many Jews wear a phylactery, a small box that contains the Great Commandment ("Hear, O Israel...").  The most recent equivalent today is the rubber wristband that features all sorts of causes.  More important is the choice to take God's words "into your heart and soul," concretely observing them in our words and actions.  While our observance is not a condition for God's love, it certainly predisposes us to receive that love most fully.

03 March 2011

Por eso, no os descuideis

I have taken the cue of some good friends in reading an excerpt from a spiritual book before driving.  The most recent book in my car is the fourth of a set called Sermon in a Sentence (Ignatius Press), which features writings of the Carmelite reformer and mystic St. Teresa of Avila.  The other day the random line was a verse of a poem entitled For the Veiling of Sister Isabel de los Angeles, a retelling of the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Mt 25).

Keep ready your oil jar / Of merit and deeds, / Ample to keep / Your lamp aflame / Lest outside you be kept / When He comes. / Do not be careless.

For Spanish speakers and curious types like me, I include the original, leaving you to provide the accent marks:

Tened oleo en la aceitera / de obras y merecer, / para poder proveer / la lampara, no se muera; / porque quedareis de fuera / si entonces no la teneis, / por eso, no os descuideis.

St. Teresa pulled no punches in talking to her sisters.  I would profit from not being spared any punches myself.