31 December 2008

Henri Nouwen

When we become aware that we do not have to escape our pains ... those very pains are transformed from expressions of despair into signs of hope.


Be bold
like the

Do not

your comfort,
but rather

set out
the star

in your
It will lead

to the place
you are

in need of
the place

God is.
And if

an angel
warns you
in a dream

not to
by the old



26 December 2008


In the begining...

"Start with good people... everything else flows from there." - Elbert Hubbard

24 December 2008

Merry Christmas

May there always be room for Him...

21 December 2008


God has become man. He has become a child. Thus he fulfills the great and mysterious promise to be Emmanuel: God-with us. Now he is no longer unreachable for anybody. God is Emmanuel. By becoming a child, he offers us the possibility of being on familiar terms with him.

I am reminded here of a rabbinical tale recorded by Elie Wiesel. He tells of Jehel, a little boy, who comes running into the room of his grandfather, the famous Rabbi Baruch. Big tears are rolling down his cheeks. And he cries, My friend has totally given up on me. He is very unfair and very mean to me. Well, could you explain this a little more? asks the master.

Okay, responds the little boy. We were playing hide and seek. I was hiding so well that he could not find me. But then he simply gave up and went home. Isn't that mean? The most exciting hiding place has lost its excitement because the other stops playing.

The master caresses the boy's face. He himself now has tears in his eyes. And he says, Yes, this is not nice. But look, it is the same way with God. He is in hiding, and we do not seek him. Just imagine! God is hiding, and we people do not even look for him.

In this little story a Christian is able to find the key to the ancient mystery of Christmas. God is in hiding. He waits for his creation to set out toward him, he waits for a new and willing Yes to come about, for love to arise as a new reality out of his creation. He waits for man.

Pope Benedict XVI

19 December 2008


Can't argue with that

The God Christmas reveals...

Rolheiser, OMI

Christmas is God's answer to human longing, God's response to the centuries of prayers that lay hidden in our groaning, our sighs, our frustrations, and our religious efforts, each of them a plea, mostly silent, for a divine intervention, all of them asking God to come and rid the world of injustice and our hearts of loneliness and heartache.

But God's answer didn't exactly meet our expectations even as it surpassed them. What was born with Jesus' birth and what still lies seemingly helpless in mangers all around the world wasn't exactly what the world expected.

What the world expected was a superstar, someone with the talent, sharpness, and raw muscle-power to out-gun everything that's bad on this planet, someone charismatic enough to make everyone who opposes him slink away in defeat. God's answer to that: A baby lying helpless in the straw!

Why? Why would God choose to be born into the world in this way?

Because you can't argue with a baby! Babies don't try to compete, don't stand up to you, don't try to best you in an argument, and don't try to impress you with their answers. Indeed, they can't speak at all. You, on your part, have to coax everything out of them, be it a smile or a word, and that effort, which demands great patience, usually draws out what's best in you. Moreover, you can't push at a baby too hard, it will begin to cry and the session is over.

And that is the Savior who was born in Bethlehem, and that is too how God is still basically in the world. Like a baby, God does not outgun anyone, out-muscle anyone, threaten anyone, or overpower anyone. The power of God revealed in Christmas is the power of a baby, nothing more, nothing less: innocence, gentleness, helplessness, a vulnerability that can soften hearts, invite in, have us hush our voices, teach us patience, and call forth what's best in us. We watch our language around a baby in the same way as we watch our language in a church, with good reason.

The power of Christmas is like the power of a baby, it underwhelms in such a way so as to eventually overwhelm. There is a greater power than muscle, speed, charism, unstoppable force: If you were to put a baby into a room with the heavy-weight boxing champion of the world, who ultimately would be the stronger? The boxer could kill the baby, but, no doubt, wouldn't, precisely because something inside the baby's powerlessness would overwhelm the boxer. Such is the way of God, the message of Christmas.

But we have always been slow to understand this; we want our messiahs to possess more immediate power. And we are in good company here. The messiah that people longed for during all those centuries leading up to Jesus and Bethlehem was precisely conceived of as a human superhero, someone with the earthly muscle to bang heads together and purge the world of evil by morally superior muscles.

Even John the Baptist expected the messiah to come with that kind of power. His concern was justice, repentance, asceticism. He warned people of an approaching time of reckoning and expected the longed-for messiah to come precisely as a violent fire, a winnowing fan that would separate the bad from the good and burn up the former with a righteousness that came straight from God. When he heard reports of Jesus gently inviting sinners in rather than casting them off, John was scandalized, that kind of a messiah didn't fit his expectations, or his preaching. That's why Jesus, in sending a response to him, invites John not to be scandalized in him. John hadn't wanted a gentle, vulnerable, peace-preaching messiah. He wanted bad people punished, not converted. But, to his credit, once he saw how Jesus' power worked, he understood, accepted a deeper truth, stepped back in self-effacement, and pointed people in Jesus' direction with the words: He must increase and I must decrease. I'm not even worthy to untie his scandal strap!

We too are slow to understand. Like John the Baptist, our impatience for truth and justice makes us want and expect a messiah who comes in earthly terms, all talent and muscle, banging heads together so as to rid the planet of falsehood and evil. We want the kind of messiah we see at the end of every Hollywood thriller, Mother Theresa turned into Sylvester Stallone or Bruce Willis, beating up the bad guys with a violence they can only envy.

But that's not the Christmas story, nor the power revealed in it. An infant lying in the straw in Bethlehem didn't outgun anyone. He just lay there, waiting for anyone, good or bad, to come to him, see his helplessness, feel a tug at his or her heart strings, and then gently try to coax a smile or a word out of him. That's still how God meets us.

caption call

As high as an elephant's eye today....

18 December 2008

so very many things

"...He entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed Him. She had a sister named Mary who sat...at His feet listening to Him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, said, 'Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do the serving? Tell her to help me.' The Lord said, 'Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.'"--Luke 10:38-42

Christmas Creed

I believe in Jesus Christ and in the beauty of the gospel begun in Bethlehem.

I believe in the one whose spirit glorified a little town; and whose spirit still brings music to persons all over the world, in towns both large and small.

I believe in the one for whom the crowded inn could find no room, and I confess that my heart still sometimes wants to exclude Christ from my life today.

I believe in the one who the rulers of the earth ignored and the proud could never understand; whose life was among common people, whose welcome came from persons of hungry hearts.

I believe in the one who proclaimed the love of God to be invincible:

I believe in the one whose cradle was a mother's arms, whose modest home in Nazareth had love for its only wealth, who looked at persons and made them see what God's love saw in them, who by love brought sinners back to purity, and lifted human weakness up to meet the strength of God.

I confess my ever-lasting need of God: The need of forgiveness for our selfishness and greed, the need of new life for empty souls, the need of love for hearts grown cold.

I believe in God who gives us the best of himself. I believe in Jesus, the son of the living God, born in Bethlehem this night, for me and for the world.


15 December 2008

14 December 2008



wherever there is great love, miracles occur


O come let us...


via (Indexed)

In heavenly peace...

American David

The Cardinal...


Mama said...

It's hard... but good things usually are...

I annoy myself anytime I find that I'm nodding my head in agreement with movie stars during their TV interviews, but alas, sometimes (albeit rarely) the words that leave their mouths are not pure drivel, and sometimes (even more rarely) the words that leave their mouths are actually meaningful...
So anyway, Barbara's doing one of her softball interviews with Will Smith, and she asks him something about marriage and how he keeps his strong. Smith is currently on his second marriage, to Jada Pinkett Smith.
He told Barbara that divorce is not an option this time. He said marriage is the hardest thing you will ever do. He said if you're married, and divorce is an option, then you're getting divorced.
I thought that was insightful and probably true.
My own marriage has been something of a trial by fire. Divorce isn't an option, so even though he or I may leave the house in anger or slam a door or yell and scream or cry in frustration, when that nonsense is done, we figure out how to make it OK.
I tell people all the time, if my husband and I had lived together before we got married, we never would have gotten married. If you're serious about it, marriage forces you to do the hard work that's required when you've made a lifelong commitment to someone.
Not to make marriage sound awful. It's the best thing that's ever happened to me, but also the hardest.
I can't explain it much better than that.

(via Musings of a Madwoman)

Something to get you in the holiday spirit....

Pontifical High Mass (Missa Pontificalis) of Christmas Day... the video!

13 December 2008


"Advent" does not mean "expectation," as some may think. It is a translation of the Greek word parousia which means "presence" or, more accurately, "arrival,", i. e., the beginning of a presence. In antiquity the word was a technical term for the presence of a king or ruler and also for the god being worshiped, who bestows his parousia on his devotees for a time.

"Advent," then, means a presence begun, the presence being that of God. Advent reminds us, therefore, of two things: first, that God's presence in the world has already begun, that he is present though in a hidden manner; second, that his presence has only begun and is not yet full and complete, that it is in a state of development, of becoming and progressing toward its full form.

His presence has already begun, and we, the faithful, are the ones through whom he wishes to be present in the world. Through our faith, hope, and love he wants his light to shine over and over again in the night of the world.

That night is "today" whenever the "Word" becomes "flesh" or genuine human reality. The Christ child comes in a real sense whenever human beings act out of authentic love for the Lord.

Pope Benedict XVI

Communion wafers now polyunsaturated - and flavored

The Archdiocese of Boston has announced plans to switch a number of parishes from bland traditional communion wafers to a more contemporary wafer containing polyunsaturated fats plus flavoring.

"Don't let it be said that the Catholic Church isn't a forward-thinking ecclesiastical entity," said Archbishop Sean Patrick O'Malley. "Whether we're the first internationally-renowned religion to openly cover-up clergy sex abuse scandals or the first to make Mass taste better, we always have our congregations' best interests in mind."

CAP News reports that according to O'Malley, the first batch of new wafers will be made available in three flavors: chocolate, cinnamon, and Ritz. The plan is to taste test the varieties at some of the more tolerable parishes in the region, like throughout South Boston, and then expand the more successful kinds into other dioceses.

"Wow, Jesus never tasted so good," said 47-year-old Darren St. Clair, one of (more...)

(What is scarier is that the paulists seem to have fallen for this prank...)

08 December 2008


Innovative or lazy?

Pastor’s style leaves people wondering...

ALEXANDRIA, La. — George Vaughn, pastor of Bethany Church, likes to put ministry in the hands of the people. "My whole leadership style is about equipping others to do what used to be considered the pastor’s job," he says. "The era of the do-everything, superstar pastor is over."

But some say Vaughn’s innovative approach is less about empowerment and more about taking time off. He no longer counsels people, having off-loaded that task to his care pastor. Wednesday Bible study is taught by the senior associate pastor. The executive pastor budgets and spends the money, while Sunday morning preaching is mostly handled by a team of teaching pastors and guests. He has even turned over instructional duties... (more)

07 December 2008

Mother of Christmas...

Our union with Christ becomes at the same time a union with Mary, and this implies the reproduction of her virtues in our lives. Since the whole spiritual life is the life of Christ in us, then Mary, the mother of the Incarnate Word, is the mother of our spiritual life.

Our strength in Christ depends on our confidence in Mary. Our confidence in her should be without limits. We should never cease to praise her, no matter how unworthy we may feel. We must constantly give thanks to her for bringing us Jesus. We must seek the mercy of God in and through her.

In her we find peace, because in her we find the Truth, the Incarnate Word whom she brings to us. She gives us strong faith and by her intercession defends us against every form of sin. She is the great 'sacrament' of God, so to speak, containing within herself all the abundance of his graces.

Feast of Freedom
Thomas Merton

04 December 2008

Advent Virus

Be on the alert for symptoms of inner Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. The hearts of a great many have already been exposed to this virus and it is possible that people everywhere could come down with it in epidemic proportions. This could pose a serious threat to what has, up to now, been a fairly stable condition of conflict in the world.

Some signs and symptoms of The Advent Virus are:
-A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based on past experiences.
-An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment
-A loss of interest in judging other people
-A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others
-A loss of interest in conflict
-A loss of the ability to worry (This is a very serious symptom.)
-Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation
-Contented feelings of connectedness with others and nature
-Frequent attacks of smiling
-An increasing tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen.
-An increased susceptibility to the love extended by others as well as the uncontrollable urge to extend it.

Prepare ye... self

"It is a custom with many Christians to anticipate the arrival of Christmas… by fitting up in their homes a crib to represent the birth of Jesus Christ; but there are few who think of preparing their hearts, so that the infant Jesus may be born in them… Among those few, however, we would be reckoned, in order that we too may be made worthy to burn with that happy flame which gives contentment to souls on this earth, and bliss in heaven. Let us consider… how the Eternal Word had no other end in becoming man than to inflame us with his divine love. Let us ask for the light of Jesus Christ and of His most holy mother, and so let us begin.”
—Saint Alphonsus Liguori

01 December 2008

Careful what you ask for...

We wait...

Msgr James P. Moroney
(via Whispers)

* * *
I remember the day that Gerry died, as Mary held his hand. She wept. Oh how she wept as she clung to his body in the hopes of somehow not losing the fifty-seven years of married life they had lived and loved together. The kids tried to console her, but it was of little use. She just needed to cry until she couldn’t cry anymore. The pain and the emptiness was deeper than I could ever imagine.

She spent the next days and weeks longing for Gerry more than she had ever longed for anything ever before. She so wanted him to come back that every creak of the floorboard and shadow around the corner made her heart leap in hope.

I lost track of Mary, but bumped into her again about a year later. She was still sad, but not as desperate as the last time I had seen her. I inquired how she was doing and she told me about the day that made all the difference.

She had gone to Church and she was sitting all alone in the pew staring at the crucifix above the tabernacle, she said. When all it once it occurred to her that it was not Gerry for whom she longed, but God. The God who she prayed would forgive Gerry’s sins. The God who would keep her in his grace until the last day. The God who had gone to prepare a place for Gerry and for her and for all who loved others as he had loved them.

And Her waiting for Gerry was just a shadow of her deepest longing for God, her desire for love, and her desire to live in God and to know peace with him forever.

We all ache for God, and we wait…

The addict in the alley behind the Cathedral waits:
for a God who will come and remove all that enslaves him...

The single mother waits:
for a day when she no longer has to work 54 hours,
a night when she can sleep eight,
a life when she’ll finally know the kids will be ok.

The soldier in a ditch in Iraq waits:
for a morning when there are no more explosions of IEDs,
and every look is not feared as the precursor to an assault,
and you don’t have to bury your new best friends.

The old man in the nursing home waits:
for the day he will no longer be alone,
when pain will no longer be his most constant companion,
and when he can once again rest in the embrace of her whom he loved.

The prisoner on death row waits:
for a place where he will no longer be seen as evil,
for a life that makes sense,
for a time when love can be given and received,
for the coming of a God who will love him.

The investment banker waits:
for the day when he’s not gripped by the fear
that he’s about to lose everything,
for the day when he can count his value
in the quality of his love rather than the size of his profit.

The little child waits
within her mother’s womb:
for a world that will welcome her.
and parents that will love her,
and a country who will protect her.

We all wait in joyful hope, with baited breath, as we gaze toward the Eastern skies in expectation of the one who rises with healing in his wings…

Exiled in a Babylon of our own selfishness, we cry out: “rend the heavens, O Lord, and come down to us!” Yet he waits for us in that confessional, ready to embrace us pick us up on his shoulders and carry us home to himself.

Longing to be loved, orphaned by our infidelity and broken promises, we cry out “Why do you let us wander and harden our hearts?” Yet he waits on that altar, to feed us with himself and to make us sons and daughters of his Father, to live in us that we might live in him.

Frightened that we have been abandoned, strangers in a strange desert, we cry out: “Let us see your face and we will be saved!” Yet he waits for us in the poor, the sick, and the old, ready to console our frightened spirits.

We wait in joyful hope. The part of us that is afraid to confess that secret sin. The part of us that doesn’t think it’s possible to forgive what ‘that one’ did or that God could really forgive me. The part of us that cries in the middle of the night. The part which feels empty and alone. The part that’s overwhelmed and confused. The part which amidst all the din and doubt, waits…waits in silence for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ upon a cloud in all his glory.

Get ready my brothers and sisters. Get ready! “Be watchful! Be alert! Go to confession, celebrate the Sacred Mysteries, and pray! Feed the poor. Go visit the prisoners and the old people in nursing home. Find the one you’ve not yet forgiven and call him right now.

Make your heart a manger to receive your king, for he is coming. He is coming very soon!

23 November 2008

16 November 2008

In the trenches...

Bend it...

“The Holy Spirit, wherever he breaks into our lives, always hinders the plans man makes.”~ Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, May 1998 (aka Pope Benedict XVI)

When everything seems like an interruption and you feel your life is suddenly, terribly off course, just remember God likes his people flexible. He is shouting, “Go with it.” (via the Windshield)



via Postsecret.com

11 November 2008

Old and New Struggles with the Church

Ronald Rolheiser, OMI

Today a lot of people are struggling with the church and this is more complex than first meets the eye.

Statistics show that in the last fifty years there hasn't been a huge drop-off in the number of people who say that they believe in God. Surprisingly too there hasn't been a huge drop-off in the number of people who name a church or a denomination to which they claim to belong. The huge drop-off has come mostly in one area, actual church-going. People still believe in God and their churches even when they don't often go to church. They haven't left their churches; they just aren't going to them. We aren't so much post-Christian as we are post-ecclesial. The problem is not so much atheism or even religious affiliation, but participation in the church.

Why? Why does our culture struggle so much with the church?

Liberals like to think that it is because the church has been too slow to change and that it is unhealthily out of step with today's world. Conservatives like to think the opposite, namely, that people have grown disenchanted with the church because it has changed too much and been too accommodating to the culture. There is some truth in both views, but analysts suggest that there are other reasons, reasons to do with the general breakdown of family and public life.

It is not just church-life and parish-life that are in trouble today. Declining church attendance is paralleled everywhere: Families and neighborhoods are dissipating and breaking down as people guard their privacy and individuality more and more. Civic organizations and clubs are finding it hard to function as they once did and there is simply less of a sense of community everywhere than there once was.

No wonder that our churches are struggling. Churches and parishes are, by definition, communities that are not based upon private intimacy, that is, they are not made up of people who choose to relate to each other on the basis of being like-minded. Rather churches and parishes are, by definition, made up of people who are called together despite their differences to meet around Christ and a set of values that molds them into a community beyond private preference. But that is not easily understood in a culture that believes meaningful community can only be formed on the basis of private choice and a personal need for intimacy. Today we don't just bowl alone, we also do spirituality alone.

People today tend to treat their churches in the same way as they treat their families, namely, they want them to be there for them, for rites of passage, for special occasions, and for the security of knowing they can be turned if needed, but they don't want them to interfere much in their actual lives and they want participate in them on their own terms. People no longer feel they need the church. They admit their need for God and for spirituality, but not their need for the church. Hence we have the popular notion that says: I want spirituality but not the church.

Finally, there is too the notion that the church as an institution is too flawed, too fraught with compromise, too narrow, too judgmental, and too hypocritical to be credible, to be the institution that mediates salvation. Jesus is pure, but the church is flawed, goes the logic. Hence, a lot of people choose to relate to the church very selectively and very sporadically.

I have never found a better answer to that than the one given by Carlo Carretto, the Italian spiritual writer, who loved the church deeply but was honest enough to admit its faults. Late in his life, he wrote this ode to the church:

How much I must criticize you, my church, and yet how much I love you! You have made me suffer more than anyone and yet I owe more to you than to anyone. I should like to see you destroyed and yet I need your presence. You have given me much scandal and yet you alone have made me understand holiness. Never in this world have I seen anything more compromised, more false, yet never have I touched anything more pure, more generous or more beautiful. Countless times I have felt like slamming the door of my soul in your face - and yet, every night, I have prayed that I might die in your sure arms! No, I cannot be free of you, for I am one with you, even if not completely you. Then too - where would I go? To build another church? But I could not build one without the same defects, for they are my defects. And again, if I were to build another church, it would be my church, not Christ's church. No, I am old enough, I know better.

That's an insight that can help all of us, both those of us who are going to church and those of us who aren't.

convergence in Christ

Friendship presupposes both equality and complementarity. It feeds on this diversity which enables each of the friends to give something to the other. Likewise in the common life this exchange of different charisms can nourish mutual love.

There are, however, many differences between people - the character of each, his experience before he came to the monastery. The monks come from different backgrounds. Perhaps one was a student, another a worker, another in the army. One may be from the city, another from the countryside. At the time of St. Benedict there were free men and slaves.

What matters is that the monastery be truly ecumenical; it does not obliterate differences but leads them to convergence in Christ. In this connection St. Benedict reminds us that we all serve the same master and the one Lord (RB 61:10). In fact these differences provide grounds for sharing and for mutual respect, which cannot but be for the strengthening of the community.

The Cistercian Alternative

Andre Louf, OCSO

Sorry. Been away...

reading the papers:

19 October 2008


.. the windshield:

Maybe it’s not, as I’ve thought, that we suffer because Christ suffered, because Our Lady suffered.

Maybe I had it mixed up.

Maybe they suffered because we suffer. Because they knew we would suffer, that there was no avoiding it no matter what, and they wanted to be close to us.

14 October 2008


...from looking in the Window:

"Love is an act of endless forgiveness." From "Light from Heaven" by Jan Karon

"Trials help greatly to detach us from earth. They make us look to God, rather than to this world."
-St. Therese of Lisieux

"Blessed is the servant who loves his brother as much when he is sick and useless as when he is well and can be of service to him. And blessed is he who loves his brother as well when he is afar off as when he is by his side,and who would say nothing behind his back he might not, in love, say before his face."
-St. Francis of Assisi

“Some Saints are privileged to extend to us their patronage with particular efficacy in certain needs, but not in others; but our holy patron St. Joseph has the power to assist us in all cases, in every necessity, in every undertaking.”
-St. Thomas Aquinas

"Lord, help me to do great things as though they were little, since I do them with your power; and little things as though they were great, since I do them in your name."
-John Ortberg

"What a weakness it is to love Jesus Christ only when He caresses us, and to be cold immediately once He afflicts us. This is not true love. Those who love thus, love themselves too much to love God with all their heart."


"Love God, serve God; everything is in that."
St. Clare of Assisi


The saint is the person who is so fascinated by the beauty of God and by his perfect truth as to be progressively transformed by it. Because of this beauty and truth, he is ready to renounce everything, even himself.

Love of God is enough for him, experienced in humble and disinterested service to one's neighbor, especially towards those who cannot give back in return.

Like the disciples of Emmaus, whose hearts were kindled by the words of the Risen One and enlightened by his living presence recognized in the breaking of the bread, who hurriedly returned to Jerusalem and became messengers of Christ's Resurrection, we too must take up the path again, enlivened by the fervent desire to witness to the mystery of this love that gives hope to the world.


Pope Benedict XVI

Truth in Advertising


For $1???

Made in 1643 - E-bay it now...

07 October 2008

28 September 2008

In meetings, I meet me

Faith is not a magic formula. But it does give us the key to learning for ourselves. So that we can get answers and find out for ourselves who we are. It is always the case that a person first recognizes himself in others and through others. No one can arrive at knowledge of himself just by looking within himself and trying to build up his personality from what he finds there.

Man as a being is so constructed for relationships that he grows in relation to others. So that his own meaning, his tasks in life, his advancement in life, and his poetntial are unlocked in his meetings with others.

From the starting point of this basic structure of human existence we can understand faith and our meeting with Jesus. Faith is not just a system of knowledge, things we are told; at the heart of it is a meeting with Jesus

This meeting with Jesus, among all those other meetings we have need of, is the truly decisive one. All our other meetings leave the ultimate goal unclear, where we are coming from, where we are going. At our meeting with him the fundamental light dawns, by which I can understand God, man, the world, mission, and meaning - and by which all other meetings fall into place.

Pope Benedict XVI

27 September 2008

Why no more papal slippers?

Paul VI and the spirit of the sixties from his personal secretary...

"This reform attained persons and ceremonies. The ancient choreography of the military corps: the Noble and the Palatine Guards disappeared. The Papal Court was drastically remodelled.

The canopy, feather fans and silver trumpets were no more.

When some Oriental bishops remarked that a golden cross decorating the papal slippers was a lack of respect for the Cross, he gave orders for it to be removed immediately.

He wanted to abolish the special chair [sedia gestatoria] which carried him on four men's shoulders, but no solution was found to allow the pilgrims to see the Pope easily.

The liturgical vestments lost their lace and everything else judged redundant, towards a religious sobriety and dignity.

To encourage such renewal he was the first to give example: he replaced the golden chain of the pectoral cross with a silk cord, and never wore a golden watch or gold-rimmed glasses, and never used a golden fountain pen."

-Paul VI The Man and His Message, by Archbishop Pasquale Macchi, 2007, pp. 65-66

For the priest who has everything!

... no sacristy should be without one!

22 September 2008


among many sad others


Once you accept the existence of God - however you define Him, however you explain your relationship to Him - then you are caught forever with his presence in the center of all things. You are also caught with the fact that man is a creature who walks in two worlds and traces upon the walls of his cave the wonders and the nightmare experiences of his spiritual pilgrimage

-Morris West

17 September 2008

14 September 2008


In the name of the...

The most basic Christian gesture in prayer is and always will be the sign of the cross. It is a way of confessing Christ crucified with one's very body.

To seal oneself with the sign of the cross is a visible and public Yes to him who suffered for us; to him who in the body has made God's love visible, even to the utmost; to the God who reigns not by destruction but by the humility of suffering and love, which is stronger than all the power of the world and wiser than all the calculating intelligence of men.

The sign of the cross is a confession of faith: I believe in him who suffered for me and rose again; in him who has transformed the sign of shame into a sign of hope and of the love of God that is present with us. The confession of faith is a confession of hope: I believe in him who in his weakness is the Almighty; in him who can and will save me even in apparent absence and impotence.

By signing ourselves with the cross, we place ourselves under the protection of the cross, hold it in front of us like a shield that will guard us in all the distress of daily life and give us the courage to go on. We accept it as a signpost that we follow. The cross shows us the road of life - the imitation of Christ.

Whenever we make the sign of the cross, we accept our Baptism anew; Christ from the cross draws us, so to speak, to himself. We make the sign of the cross on ourselves and thus enter the power of the blessing of Jesus Christ. We make the sign over people to whom we wish a blessing. Through the cross, we can become sources of blessing for one another.

Pope Benedict XVI

09 September 2008

Favorite quote...

Let us dream of a church
so salty and so yeasty
that it really would be missed if no longer around

From THIS (which, I would argue, needs some theological tweaking but, all in all, is a great conversation starter)


For as the Apostle Paul says, we are no longer to be enslaved by the elemental spirits of the world or to be trapped in the yoke of slavery to the letter of the law. This is the summary of the benefits Christ has secured for us. In Christ the mystery is unveiled, nature is made new, divine and human, and the deification of our human nature is assumed by God. But so radiant, so glorious a visitation of God among mortals required some prelude of joy to introduce to us the great gift of salvation. Today's feast, celebrating the birth of the God-bearer, is that prelude, and the final act is the destined union between the Word and human nature.

Today a virgin is born, suckled and nurtured, and is being made ready to be the God-bearer, the king of all. With justification we should celebrate the mystery of this day, for if we do, our gain will be two fold: we shall be led towards the truth, and we shall be led away from a life of slavery to the letter of the law.

How can this be? In the same way that the shadow gives way to the presence of the light, grace introduces freedom in place of the letter of the law. Today's feast stands on the boundary between these two dispensations: it joins us to the truth instead of to signs and figures, and it ushers in the new in place of the old.

Let the whole creation, therefore, sing praise and dance and unite in celebrating the glories of this day. Today let there be one common feast of all in heaven and earth. Let everything that is, in and above the earth, join together in rejoicing. For today a shine is built for the creator of the universe. The creature is newly ready as a divine dwelling for the creator.

St. Andrew of Crete, homily
Celebrating the Saints

05 September 2008


right is right, even if no one is doing it. wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it. st.augustine.

02 September 2008

23 August 2008

Batter Up!

Dieter-Phillip Hats (???) [Warning: loads VERY slow]

For when the Reds play the Padres

22 August 2008

Is the real point that one returned or that ten were healed?

Where are the nine?
By: Martin Bell

How about a word or two on behalf of the nine lepers who did not return to give thanks? The Gospel reads something like this: there were ten lepers cleansed and one of them – just one of the – when he saw he was healed, turned back and in a loud voice glorified God and fell down on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks.

And Jesus answered saying, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?”

Ten lepers were cleansed and one of them returned to give thanks. That must be a nice thing to be able to do.

What about the others? It’s simple, really. One of them was frightened – that’s all. He didn’t understand what had happened and it frightened him. So he looked for a place to hide. Jesus scared him.

A second was offended because he had not been required to do something difficult before he could be healed. It was all too easy. He had expected months, maybe years, of fasting and prayer and washing and righteous living to be the requirement. But he had done none of this. He had not earned his reward. His motto was, “you get what you pay for.” and so Jesus offended him.

The third realized too late that he had not really wanted to be cleansed. That he did not know what to do or how to live or even who he was without leprosy. Although it had been his fervent plea to be healed, he now began to see how much he needed his leprosy and consequently how necessary it had been in defining him as a person. Jesus had taken away his identity.

It is difficult to explain the reason why the fourth leper did not return to give thanks. Perhaps, it is because it is such a simple reason – and perhaps because we very nearly tread on holy ground even to talk about it. In a word, the fourth leper did not return because, in his delirium of joy, he forgot. He forgot. That’s all, he was so happy, he forgot.

The fifth leper was unable to say thank you anymore to anybody. There is something that happens to a man who must beg and who is shunned by his fellows, and who is grudgingly thrown a few coins and who is always – in the midst of such an existence and in the face of such treatment (perhaps even because of such treatment, for instance, the few coins) – expected to say thank you. He just doesn’t say thank you any more to anybody – not even Jesus.

The sixth leper was a woman – a mother who had been separated from her family for eleven years because of the leprosy. She was now free to rejoin her husband and her children. She did not return to give thanks because she was hurrying home. Like a wild animal released from captivity, she had been freed by Jesus. And like the animal, she simply went straight home.

The seventh didn’t believe that Jesus had anything to do with the cleaning. He knew that healing had taken place, but why and how were the questions. Certainly he did not believe in hocus pocus, magic, miracles – any of that. There was a perfectly intelligible explanation of what had happened, but it didn’t have anything to do with Jesus. He didn’t return to give thank because Jesus had nothing to do with the healing events.

The eighth leper did not return precisely because he did believe that Jesus had healed him – that the Kingdom of God was here and the Messiah had arrived. To return to give thanks when the Kingdom of God was so close at hand – unheard of! And so he ran to publish the news!

What shall I say about the ninth leper? What he was his experience? Why didn’t he return? I don’t know the answer to either of those questions. All I know is that he showed himself to the priest and immediately was cleansed. He then stood still for a moment and smiled. The priest reports that the ninth leper gave two utterances. First he said, “So!” And then, “Ah, yes!” Without another word he walked away. His eyes blazed fire but his shoulders sagged as if under a great burden. The air around him was silent…

Ten were cleansed and only one returned. It must be nice to be able to do that. What shall I say now – that the real point is not the one returned but that ten were cleansed? You already know that. That condemnation is easier than investigation – that if we take the time to investigate the reasons why people act as they do, we would find that they have to act the way that they do and that such action in light of the circumstances is quite understandable and totally forgivable and even completely reasonable and just as it should be? You already know that.

What then shall I say? That it is good to give thanks? Yes. That it is understandable not to give thanks? Yes. That God does not heal people and than stand around just waiting for us to say thank you and then get angry and have his feelings hurt if we don’t. Yes, that’s true. Which is the same thing as saying – no he certainly doesn’t.

But what of the nine? They are on the way home, hiding in fear, refusing to believe, offended at what they call cheep grace, so happy they forgot, lost without their leprosy, unable to say thank you ever again, publishing the news of the coming Kingdom – God, who knows where they are! The point is this: Jesus does. He knows where they are. First he says to the leper who did return, “Arise, go they way” and then he goes on his own way – with a strange smile on his lips.

But where are the nine? Don’t you see it in his eyes? He knows where they are. He knew all along. Without another word, Jesus walks away. His eyes blaze fire and his shoulders sag as if under a great burden. The air around him is silent…

The Wheat and the Tares... and me

The Wheat and the Tares
By: Martin Bell

The Kingdom of God, Lord, is like so many things. Yet, like nothing at all I have ever known. Perhaps my poor head will never even grasp a single strand from your complex multiplicity of images. But the story of the wheat and tares will always be the hardest for me to understand. Because, at the end, the man burns the tares. And if the tares represent people, Lord, I’ll never understand that. Never.

The Kingdom of God is like so many things. Did you mean for the wheat to represent good people, Lord? And are the tares then desperate and evil men whose willful sins are so bound to them that there is no release – only the fire? And is it somehow a stranger who stands responsible, after all? (I mean ultimately responsible, since it is he who has sown the tares in the first place?) Is that what the story means, Lord? That God created good men? And somehow a stranger brought into being a number of bad men? And that the good men and the bad men must continue to live together side by side until the day of judgment when they will be either rewarded or punished? God, I hope that’s not what the story means. Partly because I am an evil and desperate man. More because I am willfully an evil and desperate man. Heard this way, the story promises me nothing but the fire. Lord, will there be nothing for me but the fire?

The Kingdom of God is like so many things. Yet, like nothing I have ever known. For there is no godliness in my daily walks amidst the meaningless drudgery of my life. There is only disappointment. And, at that, hardly any large-scale, dramatic, or bitter let-down. Only the simple, weary disappointment that is certainly the most disturbing by-product of any real insight. My world has disappointed me. I have disappointed myself. Lord, help me to understand. Could it be the very fabric of existence that itself is permeated by tares?

Dare I hope that all of mankind is represented by the wheat and that it is in explanation of the distortion of life itself that the parable is told? Is it impudent of me to wonder whether or not you are referring to the very stuff of existence as having been somehow corrupted; with the corresponding result that all men find themselves living in a matrix of sin and of desperation and of disappointment? Is it only I, Lord? Or do all men find themselves inextricably in the grasp of meaninglessness and sin? Dare I hope that the tares do not represent people, but rather alienation and despair, the universal condition of existing men? Or have I misunderstood the Kingdom of God?

The Kingdom of God is like so many things. I hope that the parable of the wheat and the tares is about man’s universal condition of sinfulness and alienation. I pray, Lord, that in the end it will be this alienation that is destroyed and the whole of mankind is gathered into the Kingdom. If so, then there is no longer any mystery as to the identity of the stranger who sowed the seeds. He is none other than I, myself. And there comes to my conscious awareness a new appreciation for the old saying that I am my own worst enemy.

We each have sown the tares, and we are all of us virtually strangled by them. If this is what you are telling us, Lord, burn the tares that we have sown in order that mankind may breathe. Burn the tares and gather your children into the Kingdom. I hope that’s what you meant by the parable of the wheat and the tares, Lord. I believe that’s why you meant. I’m betting my life that’s what you meant. But if there tares represent people, Lord, then you are the stranger. Because at the end the man burns the tares. And if the tares represent people, Lord, I’ll never understand that. Never.

20 August 2008

18 August 2008

To tame and make gentle...

Amid the tragedy of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, April 4, 1968, an extraordinary moment in U.S. political history occurred as Robert F. Kennedy, younger brother of slain President John F. Kennedy, broke the news of King's death to a large gathering of African Americans in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The gathering was actually a planned campaign rally for Robert Kennedy in his bid to get the 1968 Democratic nomination for President. Just after he arrived by plane at Indianapolis, Kennedy was told of King's death. He was advised by police against making the campaign stop which was in a part of the city considered to be a dangerous ghetto. But Kennedy insisted on going.

He arrived to find the people in an upbeat mood, anticipating the excitement of a Kennedy appearance. He climbed onto the platform, and realizing they did not know, broke the news:


Ladies and Gentlemen - I'm only going to talk to you just for a minute or so this evening. Because... I have some very sad news for all of you, and I think sad news for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world, and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.

Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings. He died in the cause of that effort. In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it's perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in.

For those of you who are black - considering the evidence evidently is that there were white people who were responsible - you can be filled with bitterness, and with hatred, and a desire for revenge.

We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization - black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion and love.

For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.

But we have to make an effort in the United States, we have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond these rather difficult times.

My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He once wrote: "Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God."

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black. (Interrupted by applause)

So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King, yeah that's true, but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love - a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke. We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times. We've had difficult times in the past. And we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; and it's not the end of disorder.

But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings that abide in our land.

(Interrupted by applause)

Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.

Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people. Thank you very much. (Applause)

Robert F. Kennedy - April 4, 1968

Just two months later, Robert Kennedy was gunned down during a celebration following his victory in the California primary, June 5, 1968.

17 August 2008


Robert Schmitz reflects on the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus promises a harvest of 30 or 60 or even 100-fold. He tells us in that day, when agriculture was rather primitive, seeds did not even yield 30 fold. One historian says that wheat farmers could not even expect 4-fold returns until modern times.

He speculates that when people heard that story told by Jesus, they laughed. Some who knew better would be laughing at Jesus, the carpenter's son, for his obvious lack of knowledge about farming. Others might have been laughing out of greed; they thought that perhaps someday they would grow rich sowing such seeds. Some laughter might have been a cynical scoff from people who knew, after all, that God does not operate in this way.

Some, however, might have been laughing out of pure joy. The last group would be those ready to hear the promise of God's reign. The laughter would rise from those whose hope was in the dream that God's kingdom is, indeed, at hand.

Today, all sorts of laughter still sounds whenever the world -- and even us Christians --hear about the coming Kingdom of God. Which kind of laughter is yours?

-Fr. Bob Waters

16 August 2008

Jesus would be, like, thrilled...

Far Sighted:
"I spent some time following women who belong to the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist that teach at Ave Maria Grammar and Preparatory School. I was struck by how "normal" they were. They were about my age, all 30-ish, give or take a few years. They said words like awesome (and not only in the correct way of saying that God is Awesome.) They were kind and funny and were great with their students."

Photo easay: http://lexeyswallbobay.blogspot.com/2008/08/jesus-would-be-like-thrilled.html

Money Quote: My students understand that "Sister" belongs to them in a way that their lay teachers don't. They are a part of my vocation.

h/t The Rosary