Saturday, January 31, 2009

Capuchin Franciscan Renewal

Over at Catholic Fire I found this little video of the Frati Minori Rinnovati, a renewal of strict Capuchin Franciscanism in Naples and Sicily, Italy. Myself and two of my brothers met one of these guys in Assisi and unlike some English-speaking 'reformati' he was very warm and welcoming to us but alas we had no common language but the Rule of St. Francis. May this effort bear fruit in holiness.

What Comes First? Good Laws or Good Families? Zenit interviews Fr. Rainero Cantalamessa OFM Cap

A number of posts on the web lately have focused on social changes affecting family life (see here for one tragic story). Thanks to Kate over at At Home in My Father's House I can refer you to Fr. Rainero Cantalamessa's (image left) interview with Zenit. Needless to say Fr. Rainero, the Papal preacher, is a Capuchin Franciscan like yours truly, and a very humble man too. It makes some important points but what stands out for me is his argument that we stand viz a viz society as the early Christians did. We cannot depend on the law of the land to defend and shape society we must instead engage with society by our lives and actions above all and challenge the gospel of death with the Gospel of Life. The world needs a real radical alternative to the empty posturings and easy, heartless greed of our modern world. Only when we are a radical engaged alternative will we see society swing away from the abyss. That or we will be persecuted like never before. The Lord Jesus never said it would be easy.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Lifting of the SSPX excommunications

There has been much comment on the lifting of the excommunication of the four bishops of the Society of St. Pius X. They got excommunicated by co-operating in their episcopal ordination by Archbishop Lefevre. Since this was against the will of the Holy Father and in defiance of him the automatic penalty was excommunication. The present Holy Father's act is not an approval of their actions but a response to their expressed wish for reconciliation and the Holy Father's own desire to heal the rift and restore the seamlessness of Christ's tunic (see Jn 19:23-24). There remains a lot to be done. Others have said this better than I (see here and here) My only observation is a statement of hope: that this society will now seek to have true dialogue with the Church's teaching as it has unfolded over the last forty years and that it will have the courage to turn away from understandings (e.g. as regards the Jewish faith) which can seem to be little more than thin intellectual camouflage for racism. Many changes wrought after the Council can be legitimately questioned but if the authority of a Council can be so easily set aside where will the Church end up? When a seamless garment has been torn who can restore its seamlessness?

Myrrh-weeping Icon

Byzantine Ramblings reports that Russian media such as Interfax and Vesti TV are saying an icon, 'The Softener of Evil Hearts' Mother of God Icon at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow has begun to weep myrrh. Coming at the moment Kirill II is elected Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church let us pray that it is a sign that Our Lady's Protecting Veil is still wrapped around Russia and that her favour and God's are with this development. May her intercession gain him wisdom and courage in his tasks. At right is a version of the icon.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church

I found this image of the Holy Father with Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningradhere. It is surely a sign of Divine blessing that shortly after we finish the week of Prayer for Christian Unity the Russian Orthodox Church (it is claimed) elects Metropolitan Kirill, 62, to succeed Patriarch Alexi II who died recently. Metropolitan Kirill favours co-operation with the Catholic Church so hopefully, with God's blessing, he will help usher in a new era of renewal and unity and perhaps the Churches of East and West will begin to breath with both lungs. Voting began on Sunday. I say 'claimed' because my only source is a report on the blog 'New Liturgical Movement'. Their source was Inside the Vatican. Let us pray that the news is true.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Third Sunday of the Church's Year and the Conversion of St. Paul

The icon on the left is from the Protaton Church (dedicated to the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary), Karyes, Mt. Athos.
There's a connection between the Gospel (Mk 1:16-20)for today's Mass and the Conversion of St. Paul. As I see it the Lord comes to us in the ordinary events of the day, in the midst of our work, our play, our relationships. Although Saul is knocked to the ground by a blinding white light (Acts 9:3) this is unusual in the life of the Christian. Normally the Lord comes quietly, gently, even unobtrusively. So gentle, so kind and compassionate is our God that He will not exert the least force save to prevent us from the gravest evil. His one desire is that all be saved. It is His love that drove Him to the Cross and He does not change. His love drives Him to reach out to us, to call us to repent of our self-centeredness, self-obsessiveness, our illusion that we are the centre of the Universe. He loves us so much He calls us to follow Him, to discover Him, to let Him dwell within us and illuminate us from within with His 'uncreated Light'. Christ the Light walked into the lives of the fishermen and the fanatical Paul and they were never the same again. May He walk into our lives and lead us to heaven too!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Irish Capuchin Cartoons

The above image comes from our website (link at upper left) where our webmaster has collected some of the works of Fr. Gerard McCann OFM Cap. I never knew him but I knew his brother Cuthbert. They were printed in the Capuchin Annual. Some are ink drawings in black in white (some colour - very rare) while others are cut-outs. Always they are comments, often whimsical, on Capuchin life and frequently using portraits of actual friars of the time. They're delightful. We had to claim our copyright on them as they were being used all over the place without any acknowledgement. I have actually held a few in my hands and generally they are quite small, often postcard size or a lot less. Look them up!Note the use of the collot if that's how one spells it, the skullcap once worn by friars over the tonsure but now abandoned. I have a few somewhere, handy in winter as an extra layer under a cap.

Mount Athos Documentary

This video (part of 5) brought back memories of 2005. My photos of that excursus occasionally appear at the left. We have yet to return and visit the Northern side of the mountain. It truly is a sacred place while also being very human. One part of the video shows some monks lining up to venerate an icon and then be blessed with oil from the lamp that burns before it. Each monk kisses the hand of the priest blessing them. Where did I see that before? In the Extraordinary Form or usus antiquor of the Mass. If you're male and get the opportunity to go, then go. Clergy need special papers and permissions but there are no serious blocks. Go in Autumn though, the Greek summer is hot.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Riches of

I don't think I can praise the site enough. It is rich with texts and reflections from the Orthodox tradition. The podcasts alone are worth a visit. Much of the work is by Fr. Deacon Matthew Steenberg, of the Russian Orthodox Church in the north of England. Go and be inspired!

Agnes the Martyr

St. Ambrose of Milan on St. Agnes the Martyr:
Today is the birthday of a virgin; let us imitate her purity. It is the birthday of a martyr; let us offer ourselves in sacrifice. It is the birthday of Saint Agnes, who is said to have suffered martyrdom at the age of twelve. The cruelty that did not spare her youth shows all the more clearly the power of faith in finding one so young to bear it witness.

There was little or no room in that small body for a wound. Though she could scarcely receive the blow, she could rise superior to it. Girls of her age cannot bear even their parents’ frowns and, pricked by a needle, weep as for a serious wound. Yet she shows no fear of the blood-stained hands of her executioners. She stands undaunted by heavy, clanking chains. She offers her whole body to be put to the sword by fierce soldiers. She is too young to know of death, yet is ready to face it. Dragged against her will to the altars, she stretches out her hands to the Lord in the midst of the flames, making the triumphant sign of Christ the victor on the altars of sacrilege. She puts her neck and hands in iron chains, but no chain can hold fast her tiny limbs.

A new kind of martyrdom! Too young to be punished, yet old enough for a martyr’s crown; unfitted for the contest, yet effortless in victory, she shows herself a master in valour despite the handicap of youth. As a bride she would not be hastening to join her husband with the same joy she shows as a virgin on her way to punishment, crowned not with flowers but with holiness of life, adorned not with braided hair but with Christ himself.

In the midst of tears, she sheds no tears herself. The crowds marvel at her recklessness in throwing away her life untasted, as if she had already lived life to the full. All are amazed that one not yet of legal age can give her testimony to God. So she succeeds in convincing others of her testimony about God, though her testimony in human affairs could not yet be accepted. What is beyond the power of nature, they argue, must come from its creator.

What menaces there were from the executioner, to frighten her; what promises made, to win her over; what influential people desired her in marriage! She answered: “To hope that any other will please me does wrong to my Spouse. I will be his who first chose me for himself. Executioner, why do you delay? If eyes that I do not want can desire this body, then let it perish”. She stood still, she prayed, she offered her neck.

You could see fear in the eyes of the executioner, as if he were the one condemned; his right hand trembled, his face grew pale as he saw the girl’s peril, while she had no fear for herself. One victim, but a twin martyrdom, to modesty and to religion; Agnes preserved her virginity, and gained a martyr’s crown.

I found the text here.
There are extraordinary similarities between Agnes and Maria Goretti. Both young, devout girls. Both the victims of brutal injustice and unwanted sexual attention and both victims of violent death. To have such courage in the face of such hatred! When I think of such martyrs I am reminded of the First Years in our school, they are about the same age. It is frightening that any0one could subject them to violence or harm. But the evil one has nothing but jealousy and he drives those under his way to attack even the most sacred and innocent. Witness to Christ is holistic - it encompasses the whole of our life - intellectual, moral and social. We must face the enemy in every aspect of our lives.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sts. Fabian and Sebastian, Martyrs

It's not often I get to blog at this time mid-morning but I'm out sick with a chest infection. Today of course is a feast both of St Sebastian (c.288) and St Fabian (c.250), the former a Roman officer and the other a Pope, both martyred. Sebastian should be called the twice-martyred for first he was shot full of arrows and when this did not kill him (some accounts say he was nursed back to health, others that his death followed more or less immediately) he was clubbed to death with staves. His determination to give witness to Christ overruled any other considerations and he paid for it with his life. How dreadful then that this man of courage should become a gay icon. Fabian the Pope was a layman elected and then ordained so that he could be bishop of Rome and successor to St. Peter. He paid for his humble submission to the will of God with his life. Obedience and courage I guess are important virtues to have in any age. The icon of St. Sebastion was found here. It's by an anonymous icon-painter.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Come and See

It is years since I read it but an article in the English language version of 30 Days made a big impact on my reading of John. I don't know how authoritative it was but the author claimed that in John his use of the Greek words for 'see', 'look' etc., all carried the implication of contemplation and of a deeper encounter with Jesus than the words might imply in English. "Come and see" he says to Andrew and John and they go not just to where He's living but to that relationship with Him that enables them to come to faith in Him. Within twelve hours or so it seems Andrew is excitedly declaring to Simon that he has found the Messiah. His enthusiasm and certainty brings Simon to Jesus. The encounter does not leave him untouched. He arrives as Simon the fisherman and leaves as Cephas, Peter, 'Rock' future leader of the Apostles, Bishop of Rome and the first Pope. Jesus' invitation to 'come and see' is still addressed to us. We too are invited to go to Him and spend time with Him - in the Eucharist, in the Scriptures, in prayer, in our brothers and sisters. We too are invited that encountering Him will not leave us unchanged, we each have tasks and paths that are ours alone. In this year of prayer for vocations it would do no harm to pray that not only would men and women hear the Lord's call but that they would answer it! It's a two part movement. God loves us first, sent His Son into the world to reveal that love and make it effective but we must respond, open up, believe and walk with Him. God will not force a response so we must pray that all hearts will recognize and respond to the Lord. Age, gender, intellectual ability are no barriers. Anna and Simeon were old, Maria Goretti was less than twelve, Joseph of Cupertino was intellectually challenged (so much so he was called 'the gawper') while Thomas Aquinas was one of the most intelligent men in history, Teresa of Avila was converted in middle age and Matt Talbot was an alcoholic. The only block there is to following the Lord is oneself. If one has the courage and the generosity nothing is impossible. The image above is by Duccio.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Present Faith Situation Amongst Young People

I hope this is not too negative. It's only a start. The idea is that it is more intimate and real. Video better fits the medium of the net anyway.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I suppose I should not let this Sunday go without a comment on the Feast. A lady asked me after Mass why Jesus needed to be baptised. A warning to preachers (!) just because one makes sense to oneself does not mean one makes sense to others. I thought I had dealt with that in my sermon. Jesus accepted John's baptism as the next step in His mission to reveal the Father's love and mercy (to reveal the Father!) and to save us for eternal life. By being immersed (exactly what the word means) in the waters of Jordan He made sacred all the waters of the world just as the Church sings. He also establishes the Sacrament of Baptism which He will commission His disciples to offer to the world for its salvation.
In the icon above, from Holy Trinity Church, Ohio, Christ stands in the midst of the waters of Jordan with John on the left and three angels, shocked at his humility, ready to minister to Him on the right. Above Him the Holy Spirit descends from the Father. This day is a Trinitarian feast, a celebration of the action of all three Divine Persons in our salvation and sanctification. For Him this is not a baptism of personal repentance but a prophetic act. He repents on our behalf, the sinless for the sinful, the pure for the impure, the perfect for the imperfect, God for man. He is both the axe laid to the root (Mt 3:10; Lk 3:9)and the axeman who wields the axe.
Scholars have suggested that the differences in the synoptic accounts of the Baptism are due the early Church coming to terms with who Jesus was and who John was. But what if the differences are due to different experiences? What if different people saw different things and the Gospels record them because these individuals were at different spiritual levels? Some had the eyes to see and ears to hear what the Lord was doing while others had not. Some could hear the voice of the Father, some that of an angel, some thunder. On this feast of the Baptism of the Lord perhaps we should pray for the spiritual eyes and ears we need to see what the Lord is doing now so that we can immerse ourselves in it with Him.

The Elderly, Bad Weather and Monks

It being a grey and grim day here in Dublin my thoughts took a similar line. After celebrating mass for the elderly in a local nursing home and mass for my parents (both effectively housebound) I was checking out the blogs I follow when I decided to check out Fr. John McGuckin whose book on St. Gregory Nazianzus I am reading and enjoying. This led me to his project with Norris Chumley a film called Sophia Secret Wisdom. Despite the New Age-sounding title it is actually a documentary that attempts to put people in touch with the wellsprings of Eastern Christian spirituality. I was very much impressed especially as I have visited Mt. Athos myself (just one of their destinations) and I have seen the third part of the BBC's series Extreme Pilgrim. In the third program Rev. Pete Owen-Jones, a Church of England minister, visits the mountain and monastery of St. Anthony in Egypt and spends a week there guided by a monk Fr. Lazarus who is living the same kind of life as St. Anthony today. These documentaries both nurture and respond to a growing need to encounter the Lord in a real and life-giving way. That way turns out to be the Church's ancient path of asceticism. What does that have to do with the elderly and the awful winter weather? Well I suppose I had fallen into the subconscious misconception that to be spiritual one needs to have a particular place or lifestyle. It turns out that God is present everywhere and what it is important is that one's heart and mind are united in their focus on the Lord. In a nursing home or on a mountain, in sunshine or rain, the Lord is ever present one need only be present in return.
Fr. McGuckin and Mr. Chumley seem to have another project that would bring young people from around the world and and from different religious traditions into dialogue but the web link leads to a disused address.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Who brings whom to Christ?

It has been a strange week. On Wednesday we returned to school. Traffic was light (due to the recession?) but the school was abuzz with energy - teenagers are irrepressible. I got news that a former pupil has given birth to a baby boy and another is pregnant. I remember when they weren't much more than babies themselves. neither is married of course and while I am overjoyed that they have chosen to keep their babies I am sad that their life will not be as easy as, or rather will now be harder than, it might have been. I wonder whether I am making any impact on these young lives that makes a long term difference. But of course that requires the long term. Only God knows and it is He who brings people to Himself, He invites, calls, and touches lives. Sometimes we are listening and respond. Sometimes we choose not to. Sometimes we are deaf. All we can do is try to be open, to be good sowers and good soil. It is so tempting, though, to look for results, for shoots in the midst of winter.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

10,000 Masses for the Unborn

Fr. Tim also informs us of the effort to have 10,000 masses said for the unborn. Given President Obama's stated intention to sign FOCA and the prevalence of abortion and embryo experimentation around the world praying for our brothers and sisters in the womb is no mean act of charity. When we lose respect for the weakest and most vulnerable we lose respect for all.

Benedictine Sisters thriving.

Fr Finegan over at hermeneutic of continuity has a little piece about the Benedictine sisters of Mary, Queen of Apostles in Kansas the photos are here. They're young, growing and joyful. They are loyal to the Holy Father and to the Church's Tradition. It makes one think!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Our True Value

The video sort of says it all. I found it at Creative Minority Report so thanks to the guy(s) over there. Unless we start seeing our value as grounded in God the Father's love for us - His unconditional, unqualified love then we, not just the kids, end up measuring ourselves by what we have or how we look, or who we know or whom we control. That way lies unhappiness and insanity. We have to teach the little ones how to find their true value - in the sacrifice of Christ.
Catholic Calendar: day after Epiphany also optional memorias: Raymond of Penyafort (1175/80 - 1275) Catalan Dominican, scholar, pastor, asked St Thomas Aquinas to write that little work of his and Angela of Foligno,(c.1248 – 1309) Third Order Franciscan, penitent, nun and mystic called by some the 'mother of theologians'. The saints teach us our true value and our true purpose. Whether we're a 'good son' like Raymond or a prodigal like Angela the Lord has come running out to meet us with love. He has given us back our inheritance (eternal life), our freedom (to truly love) and our authority (we are co-heirs with Christ) and sacrificed the fatted calf for us (Jesus on the Cross) so that we can join the eternal celebrations of heaven.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Blog Analysis

Having surfed to the blog of Anglopapist at 3rd blog from the right I found a link to typealyzer which declares my blog to be an INFP and gave the following report
The meaning-seeking and unconventional type. They are especially attuned to making sure their beliefs and actions are congruent. They often develop a passion for the arts or unusual forms of self-expression.

They enjoy work that are aligned to their deeply felt values and tend to strongly dislike the more practical and mundane forms of tasks. They can enjoy working alone for long periods of time and are happiest when they can immerse themselves in personally meaningful projects.
Interesting, very interesting.

Our Shepherds on the Way to Storage

Just thought someone might like to see our shepherds and their sheep before they disappear for another year. They're made of wood alright but I can't find of indication of where they were made. Probably continental, maybe German?

Sermon for the Epiphany

Hans Kung story (true)- after Kung got into trouble with the Church a young Dublin priest and a fan of Kung, fresh from further studies decided to share his outrage with his Sunday morning congregation. He let them all know about Kung and how awfully the Church was treating him. After Mass he went outside to greet the faithful. Two old ladies came up to him, “That was a wonderful sermon, Father,” they said, “and we hope your Chinese friend gets better soon.” A lesson for preachers, and an invitation for you to pay close attention to the message of this feast. Three great events are celebrated today: the visit of the Three Wise Men, the Magi, the Baptism of Christ in the Jordan and the Turning of Water into Wine at the Wedding Feast of Cana. Its ancient name from the Greek is Epiphany from Epiphania meaning a revelation or manifestation. This is our true Christmas.
Three wise men follow a star and since then people have tried to figure out what kind of star it was. A meteor? Too quick, too frequent. A comet? All the world would’ve seen and recorded it. A supernova? As before and we would be able to see its remains in space. No one seems to think that the reason no one records such a star was that it was not a material star but a spiritual one. Already the grace and light of the Incarnate Word was reaching out into the world and calling hearts to Himself. Their spiritual eyes being opened they saw the light and came to find the new born King, the God-man, it heralded. They came searching and after encountering the darkness of Herod they found the light again and the One they sought, Who is both the Source and Object of the light. They bring gifts: gold for His humanity, frankincense for His Divinity and myrrh for the Sacrifice He will make.
At the Jordan Jesus comes to be baptised by John, a baptism of repentance, and He the spotless, sinless One. He humbly does this as a sign that He comes to cleanse and renew all those whom He will unite tot Himself by faith and baptism. This is affirmed by the descent of the Holy Spirit. Again only a few grasp something of what happens. Only a few have their spiritual eyes and ears open to sense the action of God.
At the Wedding Feast at Cana He turns, at His mother’s invitation, the water into wine and thus gives us the sign that He intends not just to turn the water of human love into the wine of Divine love but the intends to ‘transubstantiate’ creation (and above all us) into His Body, each nature according to its capacity. He will turn wine into His Blood and bread into His Body, He will make us one with Himself. He is the New Wine of the Kingdom.
What drives Him to these signs? It is the excess of His love what Gregory of Nyssa calls His Manikon Eros or ‘mad, crazy love’. Our mad, crazy God reaches out to us in love, to enlighten us not with earthly light but the Divine, Uncreated Light for He burns with the devouring fire (Heb 12:29)of His love for us. Yet He is so gentle that He, the Author, Creator and Sustainer of all creation, Heart and Source of the Universe, that He condescends to descend at our prayer, the prayer of a sinner, into the hands of a sinner for the sake of sinners, to humbly and gently turn bread and wine into Himself, His Body and Blood, and sits still in the Tabernacle, waiting on us, so that He can give Himself to us and unite us to Himself, and through Him to the Father. He wants to reveal Himself to us and set us on fire with love for Him and our neighbour. Ought we not to love Him?
Ought we not to enter ever more deeply into this Mystery that we celebrate here? Here the altar stands a little above and apart with the steps symbolising the holy mountain which the priest, as an icon of Christ ascends, as Moses did Sinai and Elijah Horeb, but above all as our Saviour ascended Tabor and Calvary so that the Divine Fire might descend from the Father, the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ offered in an unbloody manner in the one, eternal sacrifice so that we might become whole. Here on the altar Christ is incarnate, here He ministers, here He is crucified, here is laid out in the arms of His mother and then entombed, here He rises and ascends to the Father, and takes us with Him, and here the New Jerusalem descends. But we need our ‘spiritual eyes’ opened to see this, as they were for the Magi, for John and for His Mother so we might see the glory and majesty of the Divine plan. We must ask Him to open our eyes so that we might see. We need to bring our gold, our frankincense, our myrrh, our water, our bread and our wine to Him, to the altar so that His fire can descend on them, so the offering can be made and God’s will be done.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Martin Mosebach reads from his book

Reading Mosebach's 'The Heresy of Formlessness' inspired me to do some surfing which led to this little video, the first of six involving first a talk by Fr. Lang of the Oratory and then a reading of the first chapter of the book by the author.

New Favicon

After much to-ing and fro-ing I finally got my new favicon to work thanks to Peter Chen and his recommendation of FavIcon Generator. Well if the Dominicans over at Godzdogz can have a favicon why can't I? Simple and easy to install! The image comes from a photo I took in Italy at the 'Franciscan Sinai' or Fonte Colombo in the Rieti valley where our Lord Himself appeared to St. Francis to confirm the Rule of the Order of Friars Minor. St. Francis painted this Tau cross onto the wall by one of the windows in a little chapel there. May this cross bring a blessing to this blog.

Well done Bishop O'Donoghue

Fr Tim Finigan over at the Hermeneutic of Continuity blog has a little piece on the Vatican's latest approbation of Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue, Bishop of Lancaster. Alive! also has a piece on him. Why wouldn't he be great since he's from Cork! (Note that I do not usually speak well of the 'Rebel County' even though my paternal grandfather came from Mitchelstown). The Irish Church has been making a major contribution to the British Church since just after the time of St. Patrick. St. Augustine of Canterbury would have failed in his mission to re-evangelize Britain but for the Irish monks that came to his aid from the North. The Irish along with the Italians and Poles, and many other Catholic communities have made the Catholic Church in Britain possible, though you might not read that in the history books. The English have always avoided telling the whole story and it's not just the Protestants that suffer from that flaw. Well done Bishop O'Donoghue, I hope you can still sing 'the banks'. For those who wish to read his report 'Fit for Mission Church' you can get it here. It's well worth the effort of reading. Go get inspired!

I Just love this!

From Creative Minority Report:

You either get it or you don't.

Catholic Saint brings Abortionist back to Orthodoxy

I first heard of this story from Alive! the alternative Irish catholic paper run by an Irish Dominican. This is the story as told by the Catholic News Agency CNA
Madrid, Nov 12, 2008 / 09:21 pm (CNA).- The Spanish daily “La Razon” has published an article on the pro-life conversion of a former “champion of abortion.” Stojan Adasevic, who performed 48,000 abortions, sometimes up to 35 per day, is now the most important pro-life leader in Serbia, after 26 years as the most renowned abortion doctor in the country.

“The medical textbooks of the Communist regime said abortion was simply the removal of a blob of tissue,” the newspaper reported. “Ultrasounds allowing the fetus to be seen did not arrive until the 80s, but they did not change his opinion. Nevertheless, he began to have nightmares.”

In describing his conversion, Adasevic “dreamed about a beautiful field full of children and young people who were playing and laughing, from 4 to 24 years of age, but who ran away from him in fear. A man dressed in a black and white habit stared at him in silence. The dream was repeated each night and he would wake up in a cold sweat. One night he asked the man in black and white who he was. ‘My name is Thomas Aquinas,’ the man in his dream responded. Adasevic, educated in communist schools, had never heard of the Dominican genius saint. He didn’t recognize the name”

“Why don’t you ask me who these children are?” St. Thomas asked Adasevic in his dream.

“They are the ones you killed with your abortions,’ St. Thomas told him.

“Adasevic awoke in amazement and decided not to perform any more abortions,” the article stated.

“That same day a cousin came to the hospital with his four months-pregnant girlfriend, who wanted to get her ninth abortion—something quite frequent in the countries of the Soviet bloc. The doctor agreed. Instead of removing the fetus piece by piece, he decided to chop it up and remove it as a mass. However, the baby’s heart came out still beating. Adasevic realized then that he had killed a human being,”

After this experience, Adasevic “told the hospital he would no longer perform abortions. Never before had a doctor in Communist Yugoslavia refused to do so. They cut his salary in half, fired his daughter from her job, and did not allow his son to enter the university.”

After years of pressure and on the verge of giving up, he had another dream about St. Thomas.

“You are my good friend, keep going,’ the man in black and white told him. Adasevic became involved in the pro-life movement and was able to get Yugoslav television to air the film ‘The Silent Scream,’ by Doctor Bernard Nathanson, two times.”

Adasevic has told his story in magazines and newspapers throughout Eastern Europe. He has returned to the Orthodox faith of his childhood and has studied the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas.

“Influenced by Aristotle, Thomas wrote that human life begins forty days after fertilization,” Adasevic wrote in one article. La Razon commented that Adasevic “suggests that perhaps the saint wanted to make amends for that error.” Today the Serbian doctor continues to fight for the lives of the unborn.

What struck me is that a Catholic saint, one unrecognized by the Orthodox Church, is the one whom God uses to bring this man back to sanity and the Orthodox faith. The Church is not divided in heaven, there the communion of the faithful is full. Perhaps there is a message here for us: that part of the path to unity is a shared resistance to the culture of death and an affirmation of the Gospel of Life. In rediscovering what is common to both our traditions we rediscover the full beauty of Christ. The icon of St. Thomas is from Monastery Icons.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Art and the New Liturgical Movement

I was just at the website of Juventutem Ireland. I have nothing against the aims of this group. In fact I heartily endorse anyone that tries to bring young people to faith in Christ and support them in that, even more so when it is done with fidelity to and respect for the Church's tradition. But the art? Not bad, worse! Awful kitsch that IS NOT part of the Church's tradition. It is the by-product of the long standing failure of the Church to take art seriously. Instead the Church is supposed to embrace all art forms and in the end supports none. The faithful are left with the trash. This is where dialogue with the East is so vital to the renewal of the Liturgy. Liturgy is more than ritual and music for art belongs in there too. Gregorian chant and the Roman liturgy were born in the very milieu of the ancient Mediterranian that gave birth to her tradition of icon-painting. Icon-painting was part of her tradition until the drift began in the Middle Ages. That drift slowlly sapped her art of its theological and Liturgical role and it became devotional. Indeed it became dominated by the artists and their patrons. Caravaggio was even to use the body of a drowned prostitute as the model for the deceased Mother of God! These two images of Christ represent what I see as our problem: the icon of Christ the Pantocrator or 'Ruler of All' on the left (I've lost the source- apologies- but it may have been done by Aidan Hart) and the painting of Christ the Sacred Heart. One keeps the liturgical-theological purpose of the image but the other (and it's by no means the worse I've seen) subordinates it to a devotional purpose. If the visual dimension of spirituality, of liturgy is neglected or under-nourished; if it is not restored then the whole will be unbalanced. Restoring access to the best of her art - especially the liturgical-theological tradition of icon-painting via the Christian East - is part of the renewal, it must be or the whole enterprise will be lob-sided. As a first step we must banish the trash!

Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem

The title says it all. As things worsen in Gaza let us pray for peace there, not just an end to violence but an end to fanaticism, fundamentalism and racism, to everything that makes one human hate another and fail to see in him the image and the likeness of God. Video from the BBC here.
Perhaps you might pause and pray these three psalms (Grail version)
Psalm 120(119) Ad Dominum

To the Lord in the hour of my distress
I call and he answers me.
"O Lord, save my soul from lying lips,
from the tongue of the deceitful."

What shall he repay you in return,
O treacherous tongue?
The warriors arrows sharpened
and coals, red-hot, blazing.

(Alas, that I abide a stranger in Meshech,
dwell among the tents of Kedar!)

Long enough have I been dwelling
with those who hate peace.
I am for peace, but when I speak,
they are for fighting.

Psalm 121(120) Levai oculos

I lift up my eyes to the mountains;
from where shall come my help?
My help shall come from the Lord
who made heaven and earth.

May he never allow you to stumble!
Let him sleep not, your guard.
No, he sleeps not nor slumbers,
Israel's guard.

The Lord is your guard and your shade;
at your right side he stands.
By day the sun shall not smite you
nor the moon in the night.

The Lord will guard you from evil,
he will guard you soul.
The Lord will guard your going and coming
both now and for ever.

Psalm 122(121) Laetatus sum

I rejoiced when I heard them say:
"Let us go to God's house."
And now our feet are standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is built as a city
strongly compact.
It is there that the tribes go up,
the tribes of the Lord.

For Israel's law it is,
there to praise the Lord's name.
There were set the thrones of judgment
of the house of David.

For the peace of Jerusalem pray:
"Peace be to your homes!
May peace reign in your walls,
in your palaces, peace!"

For love of my brethren and friends
I say: "Peace upon you."
For love of the house of the Lord
I will ask for your good.

Why Can't We?

Yesterday I made my way into Dublin City Centre which is small enough to wander around but big enough to have lots of things to see - too many to see in a day or a week even. As the tourist board used to say "You haven't seen the half of it." Well I bought lots of books; two second hand the rest reduced by sales (or seeming sales - caveat emptor ). One book has already gotten me thinking: "The Heresy of Formlessness: the Roman Liturgy and its Enemy" by Martin Mosebach published by Ignatius Press (God bless them but I love that publisher). While I, like Fr. Fessio in the introduction, cannot agree entirely with Mr. Mosebach he has gotten me thinking already. This may end up as an article in our Capuchin periodicals but at least the bones will get an airing here first and you, dear reader, will be the first to hear my own simple thoughts. My thought is 'why can't we?' Why can't we do as the Holy Father is asking and restore reverence and mystery, faithfulness and beauty to the Liturgy? Why can't we reverse those decisions that have 'banalized' our Liturgy? As priests and as members of the Church who have responsibility to care for and promote the Liturgy we have a duty to make sure the people have access to the best that the Church has to offer not the best of our imaginations. Yes some will say this is a step back, or that it is too hard or too much. Those are excuses. Recovering the Liturgy of the Church is not the same as going back to the mindset of some before Vatican II. It is not going back to legalism (we will always have extremes). It is seeking the beauty of faithfulness. Our Capuchin forefathers were known for faithfulness and some paid for it with their lives. Right back to our Holy Father Francis there has been at the heart of our way of life a love for the Eucharist and for the Church and her Liturgy. We must not let 'pragmatism', that insidious ideology, deflect us from what the Holy Spirit is calling us to - recovering the pure source of our life - Christ in the Liturgy.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A Step Towards Unity: Pope and Patriarch recite the Creed Together

I forgot to note that this video came via Byzantine Ramblings. Apologies!

Padre Pio Offering the Mass

Just a little Youtube video:

Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus

This is a bit late in the day but for us this is a feast: that of the Holy Name of Jesus. A partial indulgence is attached to certain Litanies and this is one of them.
V. Lord, have mercy on us.
R. Christ, have mercy on us.
V. Lord, have mercy on us. Jesus, hear us.
R. Jesus, graciously hear us.
V. God the Father of Heaven
R. Have mercy on us.
V. God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
R. Have mercy on us.
V. God the Holy Spirit,
R. Have mercy on us.
V. Holy Trinity, one God,
R. Have mercy on us.
V. Jesus, Son of the living God, R. Have mercy on us.
Jesus, splendor of the Father, [etc.]
Jesus, brightness of eternal light.
Jesus, King of glory.
Jesus, sun of justice.
Jesus, Son of the Virgin Mary.
Jesus, most amiable.
Jesus, most admirable.
Jesus, the mighty God.
Jesus, Father of the world to come.
Jesus, angel of great counsel.
Jesus, most powerful.
Jesus, most patient.
Jesus, most obedient.
Jesus, meek and humble of heart.
Jesus, lover of chastity.
Jesus, lover of us.
Jesus, God of peace.
Jesus, author of life.
Jesus, example of virtues.
Jesus, zealous lover of souls.
Jesus, our God.
Jesus, our refuge.
Jesus, father of the poor.
Jesus, treasure of the faithful.
Jesus, good Shepherd.
Jesus, true light.
Jesus, eternal wisdom.
Jesus, infinite goodness.
Jesus, our way and our life.
Jesus, joy of Angels.
Jesus, King of the Patriarchs.
Jesus, Master of the Apostles.
Jesus, teacher of the Evangelists.
Jesus, strength of Martyrs.
Jesus, light of Confessors.
Jesus, purity of Virgins.
Jesus, crown of Saints.

V. Be merciful, R. spare us, O Jesus.
V. Be merciful, R. graciously hear us, O Jesus.

V. From all evil, R. deliver us, O Jesus.
From all sin, deliver us, O Jesus.
From Your wrath, [etc.]
From the snares of the devil.
From the spirit of fornication.
From everlasting death.
From the neglect of Your inspirations.
By the mystery of Your holy Incarnation.
By Your Nativity.
By Your Infancy.
By Your most divine Life.
By Your labors.
By Your agony and passion.
By Your cross and dereliction.
By Your sufferings.
By Your death and burial.
By Your Resurrection.
By Your Ascension.
By Your institution of the most Holy Eucharist.
By Your joys.
By Your glory.

V. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
R. spare us, O Jesus.
V. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
R. graciously hear us, O Jesus.
V. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
R. have mercy on us, O Jesus.

V. Jesus, hear us.
R. Jesus, graciously hear us.

Let us pray.

O Lord Jesus Christ, You have said, "Ask and you shall receive, seek, and you shall find, knock, and it shall be opened to you." Grant, we beg of You, to us who ask it, the gift of Your most divine love, that we may ever love You with our whole heart, in word and deed, and never cease praising You.

Give us, O Lord, as much a lasting fear as a lasting love of Your Holy Name, for You, who live and are King for ever and ever, never fail to govern those whom You have solidly established in Your love. R. Amen.

All over Italy (OK the few parts I've seen) there are reminders of the work of St. Bernardine of Siena (1380-1444) Franciscan reformer and preacher. He succeeded St. Vincent Ferrer OP as a preacher and evangelist of renown. He popularised devotion to the Holy Name in particular and sought to bring conversion, reconciliation and healing to Italy. The reminders one can see are the monograms of "IHS" surrounded by rays which he had designed and propagated. Nearly six hundred years later they are still there. Not bad for one man. Perhaps we need another Bernardine to help us recover our respect for that Name which is so often profaned especially by Christians.

Friday, January 2, 2009

MARTYR THEODORE (+ 1784). In the Western calendar it is simply the feast of Basil of Ceasarea and Gregory of Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church. I am reading (Fr.) John McGuckin's Saint Gregory of Nazianzus: An Intellectual Biography which is full of detail about these complex and gifted men without whom the faith would have had a much more difficult time. They led the Christianization of the Romano-Hellenic world and helped lay the foundations for the civilization of the West as we know it. McGuckin's aim is to reclaim Gregory's place in that achievement. Well worth the read.
The lesson I draw from their lives is to use one's particular gifts for the Kingdom in so far as one can, to strive to overcome one's faults and failings and in the meantime trust that the Lord will use you to do His will. Once we are trying to remain in the Lord's will, to remain faithful then He will reveal His faithfulness to us in His own good time.
I have also come across this at Creative Minority Report.
Its from Fr. Barron at Word on Fire.
Its well worth listening to.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


I found this Te Deum at Argent by the Tiber and I thought it worth adding here. Enjoy.

Beannachtai, a Mhuire! Beannachtai!

I found the following in Scots Gaelic rather than Irish but there's not that much in the difference here:
Failt, a Mhoire ! failt, a Mhoire !
Righinn nan gras, Mathair na trocair;
Failt, a Mhoire, air mhodh gun choimeas,
Geil ar slainte, fath ar solais.

Riut tha sinne, dh' oidhch's a latha,
Sliochd seachranach Adhamh is Eubha,
Togail ar guth's ag achan,
An gul's an gal's an deura.

Tabhair duinn, a Fhreimh an aigh,
O 's tu copan nan grasa fial,
Creid Eoin, is Pheaid, is Phail,
Le sgeith Airil an aird nan nial.

Deoin dhuinn, a gheug dhonn,
Aros ann am Fonn na sith,
Tamh o ghabhadh's o anradh thom,
Fo sgath toraidh do bhronn, Ios.

In english:
Hail, Mary! hail, Mary !
Queen of grace, Mother of mercy;
Hail, Mary, in manner surpassing,
Fount of our health, source of our joy.

To thee we, night and day,
Erring children of Adam and Eve,
Lift our voice in supplication,
In groans and grief and tears.

Bestow upon us, thou Root of gladness,
Since thou art the cup of generous graces,
The faith of John, and Peter, and Paul,
With the wings of Ariel on the heights of the clouds.

Vouchsafe to us, thou golden branch,
A mansion in the Realm of peace,
Rest from the perils and stress of waves,
Beneath the shade of the fruit of thy womb, Jesu.

All Praise to the Mother of God, the Gate of Heaven through whom Salvation has entered the world and we are given every grace and blessing. Beannachtai la Feile Mhuire!


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