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

31 December 2011

Blessings on the New Year

To the patient readers of this web log, I express prayerful best wishes at the outset of the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twelve.  May it truly be a year of grace for all of you and your families. 

To the One who is the same, yesterday, to-day, and forever (Heb 13:8) be all glory and honor!

29 December 2011

The Year of Nature 2012: Act of Abolition

Long before any particular race or ethnic group was subjected to another's bidding, there was sin.  The Baby whose birth we have just celebrated has one aim: to deliver mankind from this ungodly servitude, all at once, yet one person and one choice at a time.

As if this weren't enough, the same Baby in the same Act aims to confer a new status upon former slaves: sonship.  He who is Son-by-Nature sends His Spirit to make us Sons-by-Grace.

Our life's work and play is the realization of our exalted dignity.  Why, then, do we reach for the shackles?

25 December 2011

Peace Be With All

On this most solemn feast of the Lord's Nativity, a prayerful wish for peace: that "every boot that tramped in battle, every cloak rolled in blood, will be burned as fuel for flames" (Midnight Mass, 1st rdg); that the interior of every man and woman might seek the Lord while He may be found--and where He may be found: particularly in the Word and the Sacraments; in the care of others, especially of the least; and in the silence of one's own clear conscience.

21 December 2011

20 December 2011

A Shot of B16 to make it through the Holydays

Lectores Carissimi:
Sermonem "In Nativitate Domini" Summi Pontificis Benedicti XVI invito vobis, ut Augustino parvulus dixit, <tolle et lege>.  Ut consideretis utilem inflatamque hanc sermonem.

(Excuse the highbrow display.  Translation follows.)
Dearest readers: I invite you, in the words of a child to Augustine, "take and read" a Christmas homily of our Holy Father Benedict XVI.  May you find it helpful and inspiring.

Juste pour rire

"Curiosity killed the cat, but for a while I was a suspect." (Steven Wright)

17 December 2011

This Week in Catholic Liturgy: Ark, the Herald Angel Sings

The Ark of the Covenant now dwells not in a mere tent, but in a Virgin's womb.  Virginal conception manifests the unmistakable power of God at work.  What events and persons in your life have helped to drive home the fact of God's reality and relevance?

10 December 2011

"Wreck" the Halls With British Poetry

A couple of days late and dollars short...but I am linking, for the good reader's meditative reading, the ode Wreck of the Deutschland by Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.  When Hopkins was a seminarian he overheard the seminary rector suggest that someone write a poem about that recent tragedy; this Hopkins did, dedicating the work "to the happy memory of five Franciscan Nuns, exiles of the Falk Laws drowned between midnight and morning of Dec. 7. 1875."

Hopkins' poem was ahead of its time, with its peculiar coinage of words and phraseology.  It was also his return from a self-imposed exile from writing poetry.  I have found in this and many other poems of Hopkins a challenge and a delight, a mirror and a window.

09 December 2011

Barron, Fruitful

If You Want to be a Good Person, It Does Matter What You Believe was written by Jesuit Father Robert Barron, whose recently aired series "Catholicism" is a terrific presentation of the Catholic Faith that is bound to inform believers and nonbelievers alike. Take a look, dear reader, especially if you happen to be or know a lapsed Catholic who feels entitled to be a sponsor for Baptism or Confirmation but who subscribes to the flawed mindset addressed in the article.

May the Holy Spirit enlighten you and me whenever and however necessary!

07 December 2011

Advent and the Eucharist

Recently I was privileged to speak to a gathering of women at St. Catharine of Siena Parish on the subject of the Eucharist, with an Advent "spin."  I do not know how to post a document as a specific web address, so here is the full text of the outline:

The Eucharist is the memorial (actualizing, vs. mere recollection) that perpetuates the Sacrifice of the Cross, and the Sacred Banquet of Communion with the Lord’s Body and Blood.

·      The Altar is both the place of sacrifice and the banquet table: there we receive Him who is both the Victim for our reconciliation and the Food for our nourishment.
·      The First Eucharistic Prayer emphasizes the centrality of the altar in our corporate worship (our offering to God and God’s offering to us):
o   In humble prayer we ask you, Almighty God: command that these gifts be borne by the hands of your holy Angel to your altar on high in the sight of your divine majesty,
o   so that all of us, who through this participation at the altar receive the most holy Body and Blood of your Son, may be filled with every grace and heavenly blessing.
·      Jesus extends the invitation to Communion, one we would do well to heed if we know what’s good for us: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life in you” (Jn 6:53)
·      For such a moment we must examine ourselves, lest we profane the Lord’s Body and Blood—failing to discern (recognize, perceive, regard) the Reality-at-Hand.  Likewise we often fail to discern the Lord’s Presence in each other; there is a certain reciprocity between “what we do ‘in here’ [Church, the Liturgy]” and “what we do ‘out there’ [in the world, in our sphere of influence].”
·      What is the proper spiritual disposition for reception?  We express it before approaching the Altar: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof; but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed.”  The Eastern Church, in the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, has a beautiful prayer before Communion that expresses the same sentiment: “…Accept me as a partaker of your mystical supper, O Son of God; for I will not reveal your mystery to your enemies, nor will I give you a kiss as did Judas, but like the Thief I confess to you: Remember me, O Lord, when you shall come into your Kingdom…”
·      The Church enjoins upon us the discipline of fasting as a way to prepare ourselves for Communion; preparation in fact extends to our attire, our time and state of arrival…though I have gained great respect for parents who struggle heroically to arrive at Mass, dealing with accidents (with cars, with their kids).
·      What’s in It for us?  What do I receive when I receive the Lord?
o   Augments our union with Christ: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” (Jn 6).  This word “abide” is used to describe the relations of the Persons of the Trinity—a dynamic relationship.  The Eucharist “preserves, increases, and renews” the life of grace inaugurated at Baptism and strengthened in Confirmation
o   Separates us from sin, past and future.
§  As with the Penitential Rite at Mass or the Act of Contrition, devout reception of the Eucharist wipes away venial sins that whittle away at charity like fine-grade sandpaper.  Holy Communion helps break our disordered attachments to whatever is taking the place that God deserves and desires to have in our lives.
§  Holy Communion also preserves us from committing future mortal sins.  As we share the friendship of Christ it becomes more difficult to break away by mortal sin
o   Makes the Church: The Eucharistic Body of Christ is the Food that renews, strengthens, and deepens the identity of the Mystical Body of Christ.  The relationship between the Eucharistic and Mystical Body is a dynamic one
o   Commits us to the poor: The Eucharist is Mercy and Compassion Incarnate.
§  Recall that Bl. Teresa of Calcutta’s communities spend substantial time before the Blessed Sacrament before going out into the streets to encounter Jesus in His “most distressing disguise,” the poor
§  Recall Matthew’s Parable of the Judgment of the Nations, in which the Lord explicitly connects our regard for “the least brethren” to our regard for Him.
§  “The poor you will have with you always” (Mt 26:11)—I believe this can refer not only to that ever-increasing class of persons in material poverty, but also to the spiritually deficient…among whom we must number ourselves.  That which is poor in you, you will have with you always; and your poverty can only be filled, one Meal at a time, by the Lord in the Eucharist
o   Fosters the Unity of Christians:  As of yet all Christians do not share a common table, making the experience of division all the more painful.  Our Lord knew it would happen, but still prayed for unification under One Fold, and One Shepherd
·      The Eucharist is the Pledge of Future Glory
o   If we deem ourselves blessed here, how much more hereafter?
o   “I will not drink this fruit of the vine again with you until I drink it anew in the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt 26:29).  This emphasizes the forward-looking nature of the Eucharist.  Note Revelation: “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come’…Come, Lord Jesus!”  Like the culmination of Ravel’s Bolero, the Liturgy incites us to “await the blessed hope and the glorious coming of the Savior, Jesus” (Titus 2:13—this quote is now more evident in the newly-retranslated “Embolism,” the prayer inserted between the Our Father and the Doxology in the Mass).
o   The Eucharist is a refuge amid life’s sadness.  We celebrate it for ourselves, the “Church militant,” for the “Church suffering” (those in purification for the vision of God)—yet along with the “Church triumphant,” the saints and angels in heaven—until that day “when every tear will be wiped away,” when the “new heaven and the new earth” (2 Peter 3:13) come to fruition.

01 December 2011

Aridity: A Threat For Any Climate

Several times I have mentioned the Catholic Education Resource Center, an online clearinghouse of solid Catholic reading material. I mention it again because of the article in my last post, and also because of this one:

I enjoy reasoned expositions of Catholic teaching, especially Catholic moral teaching. In recent years I have become even fonder of people telling their stories. Whether or not the storyteller has a didactic aim in mind, it is good to listen to someone with an interest/intention to learn from the speaker. The value of the speaker's disclosure may not necessarily be this or that point of information; it may rather be an opportunity for the listener to enter compassionately into that person's life. As a Catholic I recognize the merit of entering compassionately into a young man's gradual and grace-filled journey with an unwelcome relational disposition. To observe his virtuous subjection of passions to intellect and will is nothing short of beautiful, nothing short of exemplary.

The writer concludes that a vocation to self-giving love is the corrective to that sort of spiritual and even physical sterility that a same-sex attracted person may experience--that is, without committing to a vocation of self-giving love (not to be equated with sexual expression). Such is the apparent problem of a fair number of heterosexual "marriages," which are little more than two persons using each other for pleasure. Priesthood and consecrated life are subject to such sterility, as well. Whosoever refuses to believe this may look at the statistics regarding marriage and religious vocations (notwithstanding a current upward trend, no doubt a result of the solution below).

What makes the difference? A candid admission of one's need for God and for the sorriness of one's (current) state without Him; a sincere abandonment of self to a God who is ready and willing to effect positive change in one's life; an unsparing review of one's past conduct and attitudes; a complete willingness to be rid of baneful attitudes and the resultant misconduct; concerted efforts to repair any damage done; and a daily commitment to the prayer and action needed to sustain peace with God, with others, and within oneself--a truly fruitful existence.