Saturday, June 30, 2012

A wedding homily

I rarely witness weddings these days, as opposed to several years ago, when I had the privilege of presiding at several a year, but last week I was extended this privilege once again. Below is my homily for that sacred occasion. I used the couples' names in my homily, but have removed them before posting this.

Readings: Gen 1:26-28.31; Rom 12:1-2; Matt 5:1-2

The fact that God ordained marriage as a sacrament, while made explicit in the teaching of Jesus, goes all the way back to the beginning of the world. It is important to note that woman and man together make up the divine image. They do this precisely because they complement one another, making up two halves of a whole, as it were. This is even true of celibate vocations in the Church, which is Christ’s Bride, to whom priests, religious sisters and brothers, and even some unmarried deacons, pledge their troth as you are pledging your to each other today and doing so sacramentally, here in the bosom of the Church.

Another aspect our first reading highlights is the fundamental equality of women and men in marriage as husband and wife. Because the sacrament of marriage is meant to concretely show forth the great love Christ has for His Bride, the Church, a husband is to love his wife even as Christ loved the Church, being willing even to lay down his life for her. Laying down your lives out of love for each other, putting your spouse and her/his concerns before your own, constitutes the very nature of marriage. It is also the basic condition of Christian discipleship, as St. Paul made clear in our second reading, what it means to say that you are a Christian in any meaningful sense. As our first reading from Genesis also indicates, there is no way two people become more selflessly one than by being fruitful and multiplying, having children, the raising and educating of whom require the selfless cooperation of husband and wife, who, through having children, also become mother and father.

The Church teaches us that marriage, by its very nature, is given us by God and raised to the dignity of a sacrament for “the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of [children]” (Canon 1055 §1). The selflessness you are called to live out in your marriage, which today becomes your primary vocation, that is, the calling God has placed on your lives, is summarized well by St. Paul in his Letter to the Romans, where you are exhorted this very day to offer your entire selves to God as a sacrifice, an act of worship. This is what your marriage is to be, in imitation of Christ, a sacrificial act of worship, which is why, when you make your vows in a few minutes, you promise to stick with each other no matter what may happen, good or bad. As those here who are married can tell you, it won’t take very long for you to have reasons to bail on your marriage. So, you must look for reasons to remain faithful to the promises you make to each other today.



The Gospel just proclaimed was the Beatitudes, which are best described as the dispositions and attitudes we are to seek, foster, and cultivate as followers of Jesus Christ. In a setting like this these words can sound awfully sentimental, but they are among the most challenging words Jesus ever spoke. After all, if we are honest with ourselves, we are not normally disposed to be poor in spirit, to be meek, to be merciful, to be peacemakers, especially when we feel we have been wronged. The ability to forgive and to seek forgiveness, often over and over again for the same thing, is absolutely essential for your marriage to last a lifetime, as God intended.

Marriage, which will not always be as easy as it seems to you today precisely because it is now your path to salvation, is challenging and difficult at times. The challenge of living out this sacrament, which only begins today, will only be fulfilled at the end of your lives. Nonetheless, as Christians, we know that love is not merely as strong as death, but that by Christ’s resurrection, love has conquered death. He wants you to be together forever.

You may not grasp this fully right now, but marriage is more than either one of you can handle on your own, or that the two of you can handle together. God our loving Father, by virtue of the sacrament He confers on you today, will pour His amazing grace on you through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Because He loves us, God doesn’t violate our freedom, but always seeks our willing cooperation in bringing about our holiness. So, you must make it your constant practice to seek God’s wisdom and guidance everyday through prayer.

Very often the word “intimacy” is used as a euphemism for the physical aspect of marriage. I would submit, after years of preparing couples for marriage and counseling married couples, that the final frontier of intimacy is spiritual. So, this very night, I challenge to begin (if you have not already) the practice of praying together, of opening up your hearts to God in front of each other. All prayer begins with gratitude. So, let all of your prayers together begin with recalling this beautiful summer day and what we are doing right now in this magnificent cathedral, as well as the wonderful celebration that will take place for the rest of this day, and give God thanks for the gift of each other, for your wonderful family and friends, who surround you today, for giving you the gift of each other. Then implore His help so that this path on which you embark today will lead you both to your destiny.

"... written primarily for piano and fire extinguisher..."

Given how intermittent my posting has become, I have several times flirted with terminating my blog. Whenever I begin to think about doing that, I feel a pull, an attachment that is borne of six years of constant blogging, which has been a great vehicle of personal growth for me, not a Ferrari exactly, but perhaps a Mazda Miata. Then, just yesterday, my friend, Fran, sent me a lovely card from a retreat center, where she is on a week-long retreat, telling me what my efforts here have meant to her. This, along with a few other convergences, caused me to go back and reconsider my reasons for blogging, which I grappled with throughout my first year or so.

I realized way back then that the reach of my writing would be fairly limited because it wouldn't appeal to everyone. I am fine with this, especially when I look at the tone and tenor of many popular blogs, which I work hard not to emulate, which is not to say I avoid difficult issues. I can honestly say that it is to my shame that the most popular post ever on Καθολικός διάκονος was one that I wrote during l'affair Corapi, one that got picked up and disseminated. I am not sorry for what I wrote, but it bothers me that this is the kind of thing for which people look to the Catholic blogosphere.



I want to continue to prioritize quality over quantity, which explains my recent downturn in posting. I am happy that Καθολικός διάκονος is a place that people who are looking for reinforcement of ideological positions, whether "conservative" or "liberal," will always find a bit unsatisfactory. This is due to the fact that I have never been able to achieve the kind of smug certainty that seems to be so prized in many quarters, which I can now see is a great grace. This is not to admit to being wishy-washy, blown about by every wind of doctrine, I remain very rooted in that regard, but it is to insist on approaching reality in an honest manner, that is, without the baggage of a lot of preconceptions.

Since my blog, when it first began, way back in August of 2005 (I didn't begin posting with any consistency until July 2006), was originally named Scott Dodge for Nobody, after an old radio program that aired late Sunday nights on a local community radio station, KRCL, Tom Waits for Nobody, this week's day-late traditio is Tom Waits' "Warm Beer, Cold Women." I find it especially appropriate that this video has Danish subtitles. Though its been a very long time, I used to visit Copenhagen on occasion. It remains one of my favorite cities:

Monday, June 25, 2012

Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist

The greatness of St. John the Baptist is manifest by the fact that today we celebrate his nativity, that is, his birth even though today is a Sunday. Sunday, which is the Lord’s Day, our weekly observance of Christ’s resurrection from the dead, the cornerstone of our Christian faith, being “considered the primordial feast day,” only “gives way to Solemnities and Feasts of the Lord” and “excludes in principle the permanent assigning of any other celebration” (Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and the Calendar par. 4). So, today’s solemnity is rightly classified by the Church as a Solemnity of the Lord.

Just as St. Luke’s Gospel contains an account of Jesus’ conception and birth, it also tells us of the conception and birth of the Messiah’s forerunner, John the Baptist, which is reminiscent of Sarah’s conception of Isaac in the Book of Genesis. Zechariah and Elizabeth were going to name their only child, conceived in old age, after years of barrenness, after his father. But Elizabeth declared he would be called John, or Yochan[anan- added ex post facto], a name confirmed by Zechariah in writing, which name means “gift of God. So, it is right and good that “John” is such a common name for men and, in some cultures, women, as the name “Gianna” attests, because all children are gifts of God.

The Lord Himself leaves us no doubt about the importance of John the Baptist. In Luke’s Gospel, after assuring some of the Baptist’s disciples who came to inquire of Him that He, not John, was the Messiah, Jesus asked those to whom He was speaking, “What did you go out to the desert to see—a reed swayed by the wind? Then what did you go out to see? Someone dressed in fine garments? Those who dress luxuriously and live sumptuously are found in royal palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet” (Luke 7:24b-26). Then, quoting the prophet Malachi, indicates that the Baptist is the fulfillment of the prophecy, “Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, he will prepare your way before you” (Luke 7:27; Malachi 3:1). He concludes by saying that “among those born of women, no one is greater than John” (Luke 7:28).

Next to our Lord and the Blessed Virgin Mary, there is no person more important to God’s plan of salvation than John the Baptist. This is made more manifest in Eastern Catholic and Orthodox churches, which feature iconostases, on the lower of row of which, often referred to as the Sovereign row, along with icons of Christ and the Virgin Mary, is an icon of the Baptist. The great solemnity of his nativity, which is an observance that goes back to the early church, is observed today by Roman Catholics, Eastern Catholics, as well as our Orthodox brothers and sisters, also serves as evidence of the Baptist’s greatness and importance.

Something that is easy to overlook in all of this is the great joy with which the previously childless couple received the news that they were going to have a child. Until very recently in human history childlessness for a married couple was seen as a great deprivation, even a curse, sometimes it was even viewed, often erroneously, as Scripture attests, as a punishment from God. On the other hand, many children were seen as a great blessing, even a sign of divine favor.

Fra Angelico, The Naming of St. John the Baptist, 1434-35

We know from Zechariah’s experience in the sanctuary of the temple that he had implored God continually for children, which is why Gabriel the archangel, the same messenger sent to announce to the Blessed Virgin that she, too, would bear a son, told Zechariah that his prayer had been heard (Luke 1:13). After telling Zechariah, who was struck dumb because of his refusal to believe that God had heard and answered his prayers, Gabriel told him, “you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of [the] Lord” and that he would “filled with the holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:14-15). Gabriel, in anticipation of what Jesus would say later, also stated that Zechariah’s son, John, the Baptist, the Forerunner, Christ’s Precursor, was to be the fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy, going before the Lord “in the power and spirit of Elijah to turn the hearts of fathers toward children and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to prepare a people fit for the Lord” (Luke 1:17). It seems that very often in our time childlessness is seen as a blessing and having children, if not quite a curse, then at least a tremendous burden.

Last Thursday Catholics in the United States, at the instigation and urging of our bishops, began the Fortnight for Freedom, a two week period leading up the Fourth of July, when we celebrate our nation declaring independence from the unjust rule of the British monarchy over the colonies. These two weeks are a time of fasting, daily prayer, study of our founding documents on religious freedom, and study about the unjust Health and Human Services Department mandate that Catholic institutions offer and/or pay for contraceptive coverage in health insurance packages offered to employees, which would be a direct violation of Church teaching. Bowing to this executive decree would constitute material cooperation with evil since these “preventative services” would be offered through the insurance company not directly by the Church.

There is no aspect of our Catholic faith that puts us more at odds with the world than our insistence on the fundamentally objective nature of morality. The Church, in the face of great societal pressure, continues to insist that there are actions that are always and everywhere wrong for everyone regardless of intention or circumstance. Of course, we make the necessary distinction between sin, properly understood, which involves knowledge and deliberate acts of the will, and wrong-doing, but the objectively evil nature of certain actions is not malleable. Like the Baptist, the Church is not a reed swayed by the wind, and is prophetic.

While the particular teaching in question may vary, at certain points in our lives this concrete reality is very difficult for all of us, which is why we must constantly acknowledge our need for God’s grace and forgiveness, which is always already given us in Jesus Christ, and support one another in our sometimes uneven efforts to live the truth humbly out of love, confident that it is the path to joy.

As Catholics we must attend to the particular issue that gave rise to the Church’s clash with the state. If we fail to do this our insistence on religious liberty will remain a generic plea, lacking any concrete substance. The issue is one that we very often go to great lengths to avoid when we do not simply ignore it; I speak of the Church’s very pastoral and unambiguous teaching, not on birth control, as many imprecisely and erroneously insist, since NFP is morally legitimate, concerning contraception.

So, in addition for praying for freedom of religion, which must not be restricted to freedom of worship, which reduces a robust freedom down to what we do in Church on Sunday, let us also use this Fortnight for Freedom as a time to both examine and better form our consciences in accord with the teachings of our Church.

Friday, June 22, 2012

"Maybe I'd give you my world..."

Yesterday at work we had our annual summer picnic. It was an amazing summer day. As I was driving down the road afterwards I was listening to the radio, our local classic rock station, 103.5 The Arrow. The songs they played were perfect for a summer afternoon. It was amazing the memories that came flooding back to me as I drove south on I-15, music cranked, window down. Pretty amazing at times this life I lead, the life I've led.

One of those tunes was Fleetwood Mac's "Go Your Own Way," which is why it is our Friday traditio for this first official Friday of summer 2012:



"... How can I when you won't take it from me?... Shacking up is all you want to do"

Because I have been such a negligent blogger, I am offering a bonus traditio, the always lovely Delores O'Riordan and the Cranberries covering this song, giving it a super Celtic/punk/New Wave twist, which is a little more my personal style:

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A note on vocation with a diaconal twist

As Catholics we tend to speak a lot about vocation and discernment. At least in my experience this often means waiting for God to give us some kind of special, highly personal revelation, over and above what He has already given us. So, up-front, it is necessary for us always and in everything to recognize and then to realize, that is, make real by how we live, that the Father reveals everything there is to reveal in Christ Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.

First off, by virtue of our baptism we received our call to holiness, which is the universal call, the one given by Jesus to His disciples at His Ascension when He said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:18-19 ESV). We are further strengthened and empowered to respond to Christ's call in the sacrament of confirmation and through the Eucharist. It is also renewed each time we take communion and when we participate in the sacrament of penance.



How do we concretely live out our baptismal vocation, our call to holiness, our call to be like Christ?. Our primary vocation is the way we live out our baptismal vocation. Marriage is one such vocation. There are various celibate vocations, to include priestly and religious life, as well as living as a single person in the world, either as a consecrated or non-consecrated person.

Then there is our secondary vocation, which is what we do for a living. This tiered way of looking at our vocation is what enables us to establish the priorities by which we are to live, to establish our rule of life.

One of the fundamental ways being a married permanent deacon differs from being a priest is that, along with my regular job, being a husband and a father comes before the service I perform at my parish. This does not render my diaconate a secondary, or even tertiary vocation, however. Being a deacon is all-pervasive, which is only to say that striving to be a good husband and father, as well as doing my job diligently, are part of my diaconate, thus helping me fulfill what theologian Herbert Vorgrimler wrote about the role of a deacon in the life of the Church: "In his person, the deacon makes it clear that the liturgy must have consequences in the world with all its needs, and that work in the world that is done in a spirit of charity has a spiritual dimension" (Sacramental Theology 270).

Along these same lines, Walter Cardinal Kasper, who, prior to being called to serve in the Roman Curia, served for ten years as the bishop of Rottenburg, Germany (where the International Diaconate Centre is located), observed in a speech he gave at the Centre on the permanent diaconate in 1997, that because most permanent deacons are married men who work in secular occupations it is often easier for people to relate to them than to priests. His Eminence insisted that the deacon’s ability to more easily relate to people is a very good thing, an important ministry, which is nothing other than a mode of service, of diakonia.

In his speech, Kasper went on to note that it is precisely because the deacon is married and lives with his family, while most often working in the world, that simply relating to people in the concrete circumstances of his daily life constitutes a major part of his diaconal ministry. Cardinal Kasper made the further point that because diaconal service is different from and complementary to presbyteral service, a deacon should not compete with the priest(s) in his parish by seeking to grab as large a slice of the pastoral pie as possible. After all, he went on to note, before parishes can gather around the altar of God to celebrate the Eucharist, the parish "must first be built into a collective community." Going all the way back to the seven men set apart by the apostles, in addition to bridging the gap between the church and the world, such community-building within the church has always been a necessary part of authentic diakonia.

Friday, June 15, 2012

"... eager to repair by a special act of homage..."



Well, another week away from blogging, extending my needed respite. I have some posts in mind. Hopefully they will result in something. This week's Friday traditio, given that today is the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, calls for something beautiful, which is why I am posting Glenn Gould playing Bach Partita 6 Tocatta.

Today's beautiful feast is moveable, falling 19 days after Pentecost, meaning it is always on a Friday. Of course, a solemnity trumps Friday abstinence. In my admittedly idiosyncratic observance of Eastern Christian fasting seasons, such as the currently underway Apostles Fast, I take a little relief on Sundays and solemnities. One way to make Friday penitence and a liturgical solemnity mesh, as well as to partially fulfill the requirements for a plenary indulgence, is to pray the Actus reparationis.

According to the Church's Enchiridion of Indulgences, in addition to the Actus reparationis, the following three conditions must also be met- "sacramental confession, Eucharistic Communion, and prayer for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff. It is further required that all attachment to sin, even venial sin, be absent." This is a tall order for sure. But with God's grace it is attainable.

Friday, June 8, 2012

"The heavenly bread ends all symbols"



Panis Angelicus for the Friday after Corpus Christi, or the Friday before, depending on whether you observed it on Thursday or will observe it on Sunday. This is sung by Andrea Bocelli and is our Friday traditio.

Pauper, pauper, servus et humilis/Pauper, pauper, servus et humilis

Sunday, June 3, 2012

PP. Benedictus XVI: Homily for Trinity Sunday, the Family



Homily for Mass in Milan during 7th World Meeting of Families
Delivered by the Supreme Pontiff
BENEDICT XVI


TRINITY SUNDAY 2012


Dear Brother Bishops,
Distinguished Authorities,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,


It is a time of great joy and communion that we are experiencing this morning, as we celebrate the eucharistic Sacrifice: a great gathering, in union with the Successor of Peter, consisting of faithful who have come from many different nations. It is an eloquent image of the Church, one and universal, founded by Christ and fruit of the mission entrusted by Jesus to his Apostles, as we heard in today’s Gospel: to go and make disciples of all nations, “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:18-19). With affection and gratitude I greet Cardinal Angelo Scola, Archbishop of Milan, and Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, the principal architects of this VII World Meeting of Families, together with their staff, the Auxiliary Bishops of Milan and all the other bishops. I am pleased to greet all the Authorities who are present today. And I extend a warm welcome especially to you, dear families! Thank you for your participation!

In today’s second reading, Saint Paul reminds us that in Baptism we received the Holy Spirit, who unites us to Christ as brothers and sisters and makes us children of the Father, so that we can cry out: “Abba, Father!” (cf. Rom 8:15,17). At that moment we were given a spark of new, divine life, which is destined to grow until it comes to its definitive fulfilment in the glory of heaven; we became members of the Church, God’s family, “sacrarium Trinitatis” as Saint Ambrose calls it, “a people made one by the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”, as the Second Vatican Council teaches (Lumen Gentium, 4). The liturgical Solemnity of the Holy Trinity that we are celebrating today invites us to contemplate this mystery, but it also urges us to commit ourselves to live our communion with God and with one another according to the model of Trinitarian communion. We are called to receive and to pass on the truths of faith in a spirit of harmony, to live our love for each other and for everyone, sharing joys and sufferings, learning to seek and to grant forgiveness, valuing the different charisms under the leadership of the bishops. In a word, we have been given the task of building church communities that are more and more like families, able to reflect the beauty of the Trinity and to evangelize not only by word, but I would say by “radiation”, in the strength of living love.

The Holy Father receiving the Eucharistic gifts at the open air Mass in Milano today

It is not only the Church that is called to be the image of One God in Three Persons, but also the family, based on marriage between man and woman. In the beginning, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply’” (Gen 1:27-28). God created us male and female, equal in dignity, but also with respective and complementary characteristics, so that the two might be a gift for each other, might value each other and might bring into being a community of love and life. It is love that makes the human person the authentic image of the Blessed Trinity, image of God. Dear married couples, in living out your marriage you are not giving each other any particular thing or activity, but your whole lives. And your love is fruitful first and foremost for yourselves, because you desire and accomplish one another’s good, you experience the joy of receiving and giving. It is also fruitful in your generous and responsible procreation of children, in your attentive care for them, and in their vigilant and wise education. And lastly, it is fruitful for society, because family life is the first and irreplaceable school of social virtues, such as respect for persons, gratuitousness, trust, responsibility, solidarity, cooperation. Dear married couples, watch over your children and, in a world dominated by technology, transmit to them, with serenity and trust, reasons for living, the strength of faith, pointing them towards high goals and supporting them in their fragility. And let me add a word to the children here: be sure that you always maintain a relationship of deep affection and attentive care for your parents, and see that your relationships with your brothers and sisters are opportunities to grow in love.


God in Three [Divine] Persons: Blessed Trinity

On this Trinity Sunday, I was reminded by a friend of something taught to me years ago by now-Archbishop (then-Father) J. Augustine DiNoia, O.P. in a seminar I attended many years back right here in Salt Lake City: God created human beings because God cannot create other gods because to be created, among other things, is NOT to be god or divine. An essential attribute of God is being uncreated. To create a being that is un-created is to perform a contradiction, which does not violate the scriptural assertion, given to the Blessed Virgin by the archangel Gabriel in response to Mary's protest that she could have a child because she was still a virgin, that nothing is impossible for God (Luke 1:37). A contradiction is not a "thing," but precisely an impossibility. The great logician Ludwig Wittgenstein was fond of saying nothing is impossible except a contradiction. If we throw the law of non-contradiction out the window, we no longer live in a cosmos, which is the universe regarded as a harmonious and orderly system. The beginning of St. John's Gospel reveals to us something that can be known by reason, namely that the universe is a cosmos: "In the beginning was the Word," the Logos. Besides, on Christian terms, the original sin was the rejection of human creatureliness, which is why all sin is a recapitulation of the original sin- our desire to be self-determining, which is why overcoming ourselves by living for others is what Christian discipleship aims at; bringing about the harmony, the communion, God created, redeemed, and is now sanctifying us to have.

Rublev's Trinity icon- a very cleaned up copy


In this same regard it seems well to note that two of the key attributes of God, of the divine nature, which is shared by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are infinite and aeternal. Both of these words have negative prefixes (i.e., in and the dipthong ae). Often these two are conflated, but finitude has to do with space and aeternity with time. Time is a function of change and space requires an object or objects in relation to one another. God qua, who is a communion of divine persons, who is distinct from creation, is also timeless. All of this makes the Incarnation of the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity all the more amazing.

A couple of passages from the first chapter of The Letter to the Colossians, which I am reading and re-reading right now, helps me grasp the mysterium tremendum by referring to Christ: "For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority (verses 9-10). And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross (verses 17-20).

Saturday, June 2, 2012

HRM QEII- marriage a "celebration of the God-given love that binds a family together"

Today marks the sixtieth anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, making today her diamond jubiliee. Her Majesty is a truly Christian person and a benevolent monarch, who leads by her selfless service, putting on no airs, yet never diminishing the dignity or majesty of her queenship. If any proof for any of these assertions is needed, I encourage you to watch her Christmas speech from last year, which puts those of many bishops to shame, a quote from which serves as the title of this post. Of course, she very much remains head of The Church of England, staying above all the controversies tearing that ecclesial communion apart and leading by her inspired and inspiring Christian faith.

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, on the day of her coronation, 2 June 1952


It seems very fitting on today's auspicious occasion to post a rousing version of Rule Britannia, performed by the lovely American soprano Renée Fleming, costumed as Britannia, which explains why she waved the Stars and Stripes and not the Union Jack.



Below is an extract from the end of Her Majesty's 2011 Christmas speech:
Finding hope in adversity is one of the themes of Christmas. Jesus was born into a world full of fear. The angels came to frightened shepherds with hope in their voices: 'Fear not', they urged, 'we bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

'For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.'

Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves - from our recklessness or our greed.

God sent into the world a unique person - neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a Saviour, with the power to forgive.

Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God's love
God save the Queen.

PP. Benedictus- "selfishness is the enemy of true joy"

Yesterday the Holy Father arrived in Milan for a pastoral visit to that venerable and ancient See and to participate in the festivities and activities of the 7th World Meeting of Families. As part of his pastoral visit, Pope Benedict addressed young people who are preparing to complete their Christian initiation by receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation:
Dear friends, you're in luck because there are oratories in your parishes, a great gift of the Diocese of Milan. The oratory, as the name implies, is a place where people pray, but also where you are together in the joy of the faith, where catechesis is done, where you can play, organize activities and other services, where you can learn to live, I would say. Be assiduous frequenters of your oratory, to mature more and more in both your knowledge and in following the Lord! These seven gifts of the Holy Spirit grow in this very community where He carries His life in truth, with God's Family, be obedient to parents, listening to the directions they give you to grow as Jesus "in wisdom, age and grace before God and man "(Lk 2:51-52). Finally, do not be lazy, but my dear young people, be involved, especially in your studies preparing for your future: it is your duty daily and you have a great opportunity to grow and prepare for the future. Be willing and generous to others, overcoming the temptation to put yourself in first, because selfishness is the enemy of true joy. Even now enjoy the beauty of being part of the community of Jesus, you too can make your contribution to make it grow and you will invite others to join. Let me also tell you that the Lord every day, even today, calls you to greater things. Be open to what He suggests and if He calls you to follow the path of the priesthood or consecrated life, do not tell Him no! It would be wrong and lazy! Jesus will fill your heart for a lifetime! (my translation)
Pope Benedict addressing pilgrims in front of the Duomo in Milan yesterday. He looks great. I think he needed to get out of Rome and simply serve, give of himself, it's what he knows, it what he does, it what makes him who and what he is

Apart from more effectively ministering to the marginalized and the increasing number of lonely seniors, I can think of no greater challenge facing the Church than serving, teaching, and empowering our young people! After all, how else will the Church continue to serve the others I mentioned?

If there was any doubt that Papa Ratzinger is a true father, his injunction not to be lazy, given to teens, shows he knows whereof he speaks! In addition to being lazy, he says clearly that it is just plain wrong to tell Jesus, who always seeks to move us beyond ourselves to service to others for His sake, (known popularly as breaking us out of our comfort zones), "No". Vive il Papa!

Oh, I almost forgot. Welcome to June!

Friday, June 1, 2012

"Shattered fragments of the past"



Sunday marked the 55th birthday of the ever-lovely Siouxsie Sioux. So, our traditio for this first day of June, a first Friday for sure, is by Siouxsie and the Banshees. Also, on the old calendar, the one used by those who adhere to the Extraordinary Form, today is a Spring Ember Day.

I chose "Israel," a favorite song of mine from the Banshees ouvre. I always prefer to post live performances. I have to say, while I think Siouxsie very lovely, she bears a little too much resemblance to Robert Smith in this performance. Who knows, perhaps the follow-on number was a cover of The Cure's "Killing an Arab," which, just to be clear, is song that takes its cue from my dear Camus' L'Etranger (i.e., The Stranger), which features perhaps the best anti-hero in twentieth century literature, Meursault

Meet in veins of real stained glass/Like the lifeline in your palm/Red and Green reflects a scene/Of a long forgotten dream/There were Princes - and there were Kings!

Today is also the feast day of one of the greatest of the early Church Fathers, St. Justin Martyr: "Therefore neither Abraham, nor Isaac, nor Jacob, nor any other man, saw the Father and ineffable Lord of all, and also of Christ, but [saw] Him who was according to His will His Son, being God, and the Angel because He ministered to His will; whom also it pleased Him to be born man by the Virgin" (from chapter CXXVII of his Dialogue with Trypho).