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

26 July 2012

A Religious Response to the Colorado Killings | Crisis Magazine

A Religious Response to the Colorado Killings | Crisis Magazine
The portal "New Advent" has listed the above posting as "what America's pastors should have said."
A Monday morning homilist, perhaps; but Father Orsi quite likely mentioned these things on Sunday.  My earlier posting, "Mors et Vita Duello Conflixere Mirando," was basically what I said.

Whenever and however we hear those things, they are worth hearing: the reality of sin, the reality of the Resurrection as the Last and Only Word to suffering and death, the need for constant spiritual vigilance, the inadequacy of generic faith in human/American goodness, the reality of the demonic, the need to pray for the dead.

It should get that basic, I suppose.  Rhetoric is rhisky if that's as far as it goes.

Baggage Check

The experiences and reflections of converts are worthwhile for "Cradle Catholics."  Newcomers "keep it green" for the rest of us--and we all know how easy it is to become accustomed to our beliefs and practices.  Many recent converts have 21st century communication skills, too, so we get to hear their stories on the internet, television, and radio.

Randy Hain speaks to us about Getting Rid of Excess Baggage, specifically in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Follow the link within his post to the Jesuit Daily Examen for a time-tested way to keep tabs on your spiritual, mental, and emotional life as it unfolds throughout each day.  Periodic self-examinations help us to subject our findings to the Sacrament with greater courage and honesty.  It's very much like cancer screenings: "Early detection saves lives."

24 July 2012

Sacerdos Currens

(Latin for "running priest," if you were interested in knowing.)

In the Twitter sense and not in the Stalker sense, I just started "following" Joe Muldowney (@rdrunnr00), longtime teacher and former mayor of Pottsville, PA, runner and author of Running Shorts, a book I picked up while shoe-shopping at A Running Start in West Reading.

Joe has been writing monthly columns for the Republican-Herald for many years.  Now he has written the aforementioned book, a clever combination of anecdotes and advice.

I must admit that, although I enjoy the book very much, it reads like a "Lives of the Saints" insofar as I find the likes of Joe, running-wise, unattainable.  But I read on anyhow, because inspiring persons aren't intended to keep us down but rather to spur us on to greater (and faster) heights.

My longtime admiration of excellent people has been fueled by more than masochism.  There's a saying I heard several years ago: "Stick With the Winners."  We learn from them by keeping company with them, by talking honestly with them, and by doing what they do.  That applies not only with athletics, but also with most other disciplines in this life.

23 July 2012

Open-and-Shut (Mental) Case

It isn't easy to work in the marketplace of ideas. Sometimes I envision myself as the guy who helps people load their groceries in the car, or who stocks the shelves. On several breaks from the seminary, I worked at a local supermarket chain. One summer my major project was to help replace the shelving all around the store--that was more helpful for me than some of my classes!

Jennifer Fulwiler of the National Catholic Register writes about the pitfalls of an interminably open mind with respect to religion--the equivalent of carrying groceries in a bag with a hole in it. After a while you're thankful for plastic bottles.


21 July 2012

Mors et Vita Duello Conflixere Mirando*

We cannot help but note the tragedy that has beset our land: the Friday morning shooting near Denver that claimed the lives of a dozen and wounded over 50 more.  How disturbing it is that cold, calculated violence continues to percolate in people’s hearts, until something like this happens.  We beg our Savior’s infinite compassion upon all parties, especially the victims and their families.

Perhaps you have heard about another death that took place on Friday morning.  Near Indianapolis, a driver accidentally struck a college student by the name of Andrew Moore.  Andrew was participating in a cross-country pro-life demonstration, and was also spending that time to discern whether God might be calling him to be a priest. We likewise ask the Lord of life to console and strengthen Andrew’s survivors.

Understandably we may bristle at the thought that either of these events could be used for political purposes.  Perhaps there’s a hint of opportunism behind my current interest.  I ask God to purify me of unworthy motives so that my postings can nourish His holy people with the Word of Life and Love.  This is one of those moments where, if I were to remain silent, the very keys of my computer would cry out.

The Father of mercies continues to love this world beset with sin and its dreadful consequences.  Once and for all He spoke His Word of Truth and Love, His incarnate Son.  Saint Paul reminded the Ephesians that Jesus has broken down the walls that have kept people unaware of and at odds with each other, roadblocks to human dignity.  Through His passion and death, Christ has already cleared the Way; yet all of us, to varying degrees and in various situations, haven’t gotten the Message.  And so we wander around, from expert to expert, from website to website, convincing ourselves that nothing is wrong while frantically searching for the solution to our every ill.

Yes, “not all who wander are lost,” but the God of all consolation has appointed a Shepherd to channel our wayward desires and instincts for His glory and our neighbor’s good.  He has established a Church that directs people to infinite Truth, Goodness, and Love.  Christ's peaceful Gift-of-Self remains the answer to all violence, whether it is unleashed in city streets or cozy suburbs, movie theatres or abortion clinics.  Perhaps the most prevalent aggression occurs in the mind that resists instruction in truth and the will that resists discipline for goodness.  No wonder the Good Shepherd’s first response to the crowd was to teach them many things.  It seems that we can be taught only when we’re at our weakest and hungriest.

Where does this formation happen?  Traditionally we have pointed to our churches as formation locales, but the Internet has become a most effective supplement.  I am a student in this formation program as much as the patient reader.  I think of our parish of Holy Guardian Angels: although we are in a key location on a major thoroughfare, close to several arterial highways in the County of Berks,  nonetheless we are a “deserted place.”  Our parish is an optimal place for disciples to gather: neither for entertainment nor for protest, but for wisdom and power and generosity.

*"Death and Life have clashed in a miraculous duel"; from the sequence Victimae Paschali Laudes

Acknowledgments to blogger Omar Gutierrez of for unwittingly providing the lead on this reflection.  He cites The Star Press of Indiana for local coverage of Mr. Moore's death.

14 July 2012

A "Bye" Week

This weekend a priest from the Piarist Fathers is preaching at our Masses, as part of the annual Mission Cooperative Appeal.  As a boy I don't recall meeting many priests from religious orders, aside from these co-op weekends.  Who knows whether a young man or woman might be inspired at the thought that he or she could serve where the Church awaits full flowering!

Our Reverend Guest "frees" me from a weekend homily, but I certainly don't want to neglect the Scriptures that Mother Church has offered for our consideration.

A cursory glance at the second reading--Ephesians 1:3-14 (q.v.)--might spawn confusion, what with its compound and complex sentences, its profuse profundities packed in prepositional phrases.  (Spare me!)  It might help us to look at the major verbs in the passage, which tell of God's actions and their results in our lives.

God has "blessed" (1:3) us--literally, spoken well of us--for in the sending of the Son, we receive everything.  He "chose" (1:4)--picked us out--and "destined" (1:5) us for adoption (it was on the horizon), manifesting His glory by giving us grace.  He "has made known to us the mystery of His will" (1:9), which includes us in the full summary of all that the Father created in view of the Son.

For our part, we "have redemption…in accord with the riches of His grace that He lavished upon us" (1:8).  No trickle, this.  This redemption comes to us by way of the Gospel that we hear and believe (1:13), as well as the sealing of the Holy Spirit (1:14).  The Spirit's designation conveys an inheritance that we, like the Prodigal Son, already begin to receive.  Our cherished possession is His possession of us!

This is a setup--and a far better one than the lot of Amos.  He neither considered nor desired the yoke of prophecy.  Yet God sent him north to Israel, into depraved and therefore hostile territory.  Amos had to approach his task with the radical trust that Jesus would recommend for His envoys (Mark 6:7-13).  Well, He didn't say, "Trust," but He did suggest that they travel light and be content with what they should receive--even if they receive indifference or outright opposition.

Our missionary speaks of the climes and cultures to whom his associates are sent, nestled in the backwoods of Kentucky.  Since the whole Church is, by nature, missionary, we don't have to travel far to find fields ready for sowing; nor do we have to invent the message.  In a sense it may seem like we're selling something that the people don't yet know they need.  The stirrings for justice, mercy, and truth are plentiful, even if the clamors of the marketplace have stifled their appetites.

What would happen if we anticipated a warm welcome, inviting eyes and perked ears?

INCIDENTALLY, I note with gratitude the nod from Big Pulpit, who has linked its readers to a previous posting from 7 July.  That's a first, as far as I am aware; may it not be the last!

13 July 2012

The Litany of Sinners

Our local daily ran the story of the concealment of child sexual abuse at the direction of several  members of Penn State's leadership.  Former FBI director Louis J. Freeh was tapped to lead an investigation into reports that dated back to 1998.  Freeh concluded that the university president, vice president, athletic director, and head football coach "failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children" that had been victimized by a popular and influential assistant football coach.

Sound familiar?

And the subsequent series of questions: How could such a widely respected institution place the reputation of its football program and its coaches above the welfare of children?  How could leaders sleep at night, knowing that other victims lay ahead?  How could people--even the victims and parents themselves--allow this to continue for so long?  How could this (or any) institution consider itself impervious to scrutiny, criticism, and reform?

Disturbingly familiar.

There is no solace to be found in protesting, "See?  The Catholic Church isn't the only institution that has failed in this regard!  How many years have people been ignoring what goes on in untold numbers of families, schools, orphanages, and religious bodies?"  I suspect that even the most vehement watchdogs and opponents would concede these points without considerable arm-twisting.

Penn State University has begun to experience what the Catholic Church has been walking through for at least two decades.  Whenever it should happen to any institution, it's about time.  Apparently exposure must happen for repentance and reform to become standard operating procedure.

The Church all around the world is beginning to address these realities squarely.  Thanks to Mr. Freeh's recommendations, PSU will do likewise.  Whether on a corporate or personal level, primary attention must be paid to those who hurt, and not just to shut them up or quell our own guilt.  See, it's not about "us" and "how 'they' feel and what 'they' think about us."  When reputation becomes more important than character, there's trouble.

The protection of children involves education, vigilance, and most of all, sound formation in virtue.  No matter how much we think we know, we often need to be reminded how to be human beings made in the image of a wise and loving God.

There is no room for self-pity in the Church or in any network of persons where abuse has occurred.  There is copious room for compassion, contrition, and gratitude: compassion for victims; contrition for all sins of commission and omission; gratitude for our children and for the formative role that we still have and hold with profound reverence.

Some years ago our parish must have conducted a prayer service for victims of child sexual abuse.  I discovered a "Litany for Healing" in one of the drawers in the vesting case.  It is included below (with some modifications).

Lord, have mercy.  Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.  Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.  Lord, have mercy.

Protect all children, Lord, with your enduring love.
Grant us the grace, Lord, to guard and nourish the innocent.
Preserve our nation, Lord, to be chaste and pure in love.

For children wounded and tearful, save, heal, and protect them, O Lord!
For children confused or alone, save, heal, and protect them, O Lord!
For children afraid or abandoned, save, heal, and protect them, O Lord!
For children beaten, save, heal, and protect them, O Lord!
For children who sleep in fear, save, heal, and protect them, O Lord!
For children afraid to go home, save, heal, and protect them, O Lord!
For children afraid of their abusers, save, heal, and protect them, O Lord!
For children assaulted, save, heal, and protect them, O Lord!
For children whose innocence has been stolen, save, heal, and protect them, O Lord!
For those who cannot trust, save, heal, and protect them, O Lord!
For those who cannot love, save, heal, and protect them, O Lord!
For those whose hearts are filled with fear, save, heal, and protect them, O Lord!

For the Church, called to be the light of the world, banish all darkness from her children, O Lord!
For Bishops, called to be Good Shepherds, make them vigilant defenders of the weak, O Lord!
For Priests, conformed to the person of Christ, grant them purity and Christ-like love, O Lord!
For all ministers of the Church, called to live the Gospel, grant them a love of Christian virtues, O Lord!
For clergy and religious who have abused children, grant them repentance, O Lord!
For parents or relatives who have abused children, grant them repentance, O Lord!
For teachers or coaches who have abused children, grant them repentance, O Lord!
For all who have abused children, grant them repentance, O Lord!

To doctors and therapists, Lord, grant compassion and skill.
To houses of healing and renewal, Lord, grant concern and dedication.
To men and women of the media, Lord, grant a love for truth alone.
To lawyers and judges, Lord, grant wisdom and conviction.
To those imprisoned for abuse, Lord, grant repentance and healing.
To silent victims and witnesses of abuse, Lord, grant honesty and courage.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!
Saint Peter and Saint Paul, pray for us!
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, pray for us!
Saint Maria Goretti, pray for us!

Lord, have mercy.  Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.  Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.  Lord, have mercy.

12 July 2012

More Than Meets The Eye

Entertainment is to our culture as bread to an Italian table.  In a daring expose', Fr. Rutler informs us of the true nature of good diversion.  So "sit back and enjoy" this thought-provoking piece.

10 July 2012

There Are Issues, and There Are People

Jennifer Fulwiler spoke about "A conversation with my gay friend" with clarity and charity.  When we are embroiled in arguments about what the Church says about __________, it is easy to forget that human beings--in our families, our neighborhoods, workplaces, and parishes--contend with __________ every day.

07 July 2012

The Most Beautiful Sound I Ever Heard

On the sixth of July the Church celebrates Saint Maria Goretti, a girl of twelve who got it.

Speaking about those who get it, where else but the Catholic Church is great dignity lavished upon  persons who

  • fend off their aggressor,
  • while alive, pray for their aggressor while warning him of his sin, and
  • while dead, pray for their aggressor into his conversion!
Where else will you find people like Jason and Crystallina Evert, who get it and can speak about it to young people--to those allegedly incapable of receiving and processing anything beyond a sound byte? Where else will people not only get it, but walk the talk and have oodles of fun doing so?

The prophet Amos (8:11-12) spoke of a coming famine--not of food or drink, but of "hearing the word of the Lord."  Alas many pulpits run the risk of becoming empty granaries or kicked kegs!  But the New Evangelization is out to get people who haven't been near a pulpit since they went to a bar that was "converted" (strange use of that word!) from a church, or who aren't old enough to be in a bar.  Hats off to the apostles of the New Evangelization, who know better than I how to reach this audience (of which, demographically, I may still be a member).

I was in the pharmacy the other day when I noticed that one side of aisle 9 featured products for "Incontinence" and for "Family Planning."


If the former were in place, the latter wouldn't be necessary.

Aisle 9 has products for those who are unable or unwilling to "hold it in": to contain themselves, to keep their urges in check, to channel/consecrate their human desires for the right outlet in the right context.  Sacraments, Sacred Scripture, Church Teaching, Divine Grace, and Human Discipline are solutions for the sexually incontinent.

In our time we're not used to hearing that word, "incontinence," with regard to the generative faculty.  It is one of the "fruits of the Holy Spirit", of which Galatians 5 mentions nine and traditional lists sport twelve.  It is the last, for which the best is saved; and never more appropriately so than with the first-fruits, "the best of my love."

While Maria offered her very life in exchange for her purity, many of us do not.  We are relieved to know that, while bodily integrity cannot be recovered, spiritual integrity can be.  Human and divine helps are out there in spades, but, owing to the delicacy of the concern, they are not easy to find.  Your Reverend Blogger and many other priests (who, despite popular notions and increasingly well-publicized activities, are in a position to talk) can point the way to those in need.

May God reward the courage of those who, even in the anonymity of the confessional, take the necessary step of asking for help.  

St. Maria Goretti, pray for us; strengthen our resolve to order our desires according to the heart of Christ.  Help so many of us to believe that such realignment is necessary, desirable, and possible!

05 July 2012

On Your Mark(s), Get Set, Go (Forth and Proclaim…)

Tonight our parish is holding the sixth installment of the Catholicism series starring Father Robert E. Barron of the Archdiocese of Chicago and Word on Fire Ministries.  The sixth episode concerns the Church.  Naturally it considers the four "marks of the Church," the Church in distinction to/service of the "world," and other such topics.

I am glad that a number of people have come out each week to attend.  It is a sign that the desire to grow in the knowledge of the faith is not dead.  Good News!

02 July 2012

Congratulations in Advance

You may already be a winner!
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If you happen to become the thirteenth, the fourteenth, or the 325th, no matter--
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*That is a bald-faced lie.  No connection has been established between my followers' membership and follicular condition.