Saturday, March 20, 2004

Whatever Became of That Document That the Vatican Was Going To Release "In A Few Months" That Would End the Ordination of Known Homosexuals?

Paul Likoudis in The Wanderer tells us the Vatican got cold feet, and discusses the need for such an order from on high.

Feast of Saint Cuthbert

Always been partial to this early English Benedictine from Lindisfarne. In college, I read a book about the monks of Durham Cathedral monastery, who considered themselves the spiritual children of St. Cuthbert (he is buried at Durham and is their patron).

Saint Patrick's Celebrations In Boston Continue

We here in Boston celebrate not St. Patrick's Day, but seemingly St. Patrick's Month, or at least St. Patrick's Fortnight.

The famous South Boston parade is tomorrow afternoon.

Daily Lenten Reflection From the Precious Blood Leadership Conference

Readings: Hosea 6:1-6; Luke 18: 9-14

In all three of today's readings, we find a powerful emphasis on our relationship with God at prayer.

In the first reading, Hosea calls our attention to the importance of a right disposition when we pray. He cites that it should be a refreshing experience, as fresh as the light of day or the cool spring rain, soothing our heated brow. It “re-lifes” us as He enters our life with His Spirit. It is not what we do that pleases God but our openness for Him to take residence within us.

Continuing in the responsorial psalm, the psalmist clearly insists all our strictly human efforts alone to regain God's friendship will be ignored by God. Prayer, he says, is an invitation for God's presence with His Spirit of compassionate love and Divine refreshment.

Dedicated as we are to His Precious Blood and reconciliation, this disposition for prayer should be a “natural.”

In today’s Gospel reading, Luke puts before us two different individuals at prayer in the temple. They approach God in far different ways. The Pharisee, a self-righteous individual, spends his prayer bragging about all his accomplishments and points out the shortcomings of others around him. The humble tax collector approaches God in humility, feeling bad about his failings and prays with few words, “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” Luke points out that God was pleased with the tax collector’s prayer but not with the Pharisee’s prayer. The tax collector asked for God’s refreshing presence in his struggle, the Pharisee told God about all his good works and didn't invite God into his life.

At prayer are you a Pharisee or a tax collector? Think about it.
Did you invite God's refreshing power into your life? Think it over.
Make your daily prayer become both an invitation to God to enter your life and surrender your all by letting go of self-righteousness.

Reflection by: Sister Nora Byrne, C.PP.S. (O'Fallon, Missouri)

Daily Lenten Reflection

From the Franciscans at AmericanCatholic.org.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Lenten Friday Stations of the Cross

We Have Accomplished Much In Iraq

This press release gives the details. What we will end up with, if we don't turn tail and run, as the liberals (the trumpet that always sounds retreat) want is a more or less democratic and responsible Iraq, a beacon to the rest of the Arab world. And that is why every armed fanatic in the Moslem world is rushing to Iraq to shoot at or blow himself up around American troops.

Frankly, I don't care if WMD were there or not. Hussein violated the terms of the cease-fire by not properly accounting for their disposal (they certainly were there in 1991). And I'm still not convinced that many of them were not shipped out to Syria on the eve of the war.

And a world without Saddam in power is a better world, one less prone to attacking us in our workplaces and travel arrangements. After 9/11, we became, whether we wanted the job or not, the world's policeman. And the world neighborhood needed cleaning up in a big way. There are still a few dangerous regimes likely to support terrorism or terrorists that need to go away: Syria, Iran, Libya, North Korea, and Cuba. Some will need to be actively taken out, others will fade away with the death of the current dictator.

And then there is China, which we dare not touch, but could also be a source of instability.

Being the world's policeman is not a glamorous position. Instead, it is a dirty necessary job, like being a garbage collector. If someone does not do it, the filth will overwhelm us.

To the members of our armed forces and their families, who have sacrificed so much in the last year to make the world safer: "Thank you."

To President Bush, who had the guts to stand up to world opinion to get the dirty, nasty, but necessary job done: "Way to go!"

You Can Never Have Too Many Blog Entries About Burke

Mark Sullivan over at Irish Elk finds Christopher Hitchens surprisingly positive on the topic of Burke.

What the Catechism Has To Say About Divorce

On this feast of St Joseph, patron of married people and especially husbands, I thought it would be a good idea to revisit what the Catholic Church teaches about the evils of divorce. Essentially, it comes down to: hang in there, there is grace and love to be found in any sacramental marriage, even one where things have gone awry. If there was love, there still is love, no matter what has gone wrong or what somebody has done. And the responsibility of the parties is to work things out with the guidance of a priest. And it is the responsibility of each partner to forgive the transgressions of the other.


2382 The Lord Jesus insisted on the original intention of the Creator who willed that marriage be indissoluble.174 He abrogates the accommodations that had slipped into the old Law.175

Between the baptized, "a ratified and consummated marriage cannot be dissolved by any human power or for any reason other than death."176

2384 Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death. Divorce does injury to the covenant of salvation, of which sacramental marriage is the sign. Contracting a new union, even if it is recognized by civil law, adds to the gravity of the rupture: the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent adultery:

If a husband, separated from his wife, approaches another woman, he is an adulterer because he makes that woman commit adultery, and the woman who lives with him is an adulteress, because she has drawn another's husband to herself.178
2385 Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society. This disorder brings grave harm to the deserted spouse, to children traumatized by the separation of their parents and often torn between them, and because of its contagious effect which makes it truly a plague on society.

2386 It can happen that one of the spouses is the innocent victim of a divorce decreed by civil law; this spouse therefore has not contravened the moral law. There is a considerable difference between a spouse who has sincerely tried to be faithful to the sacrament of marriage and is unjustly abandoned, and one who through his own grave fault destroys a canonically valid marriage.179

Other offenses against the dignity of marriage

2387 The predicament of a man who, desiring to convert to the Gospel, is obliged to repudiate one or more wives with whom he has shared years of conjugal life, is understandable. However polygamy is not in accord with the moral law." [Conjugal] communion is radically contradicted by polygamy; this, in fact, directly negates the plan of God which was revealed from the beginning, because it is contrary to the equal personal dignity of men and women who in matrimony give themselves with a love that is total and therefore unique and exclusive."180 The Christian who has previously lived in polygamy has a grave duty in justice to honor the obligations contracted in regard to his former wives and his children.

2388 Incest designates intimate relations between relatives or in-laws within a degree that prohibits marriage between them.181 St. Paul stigmatizes this especially grave offense: "It is actually reported that there is immorality among you . . . for a man is living with his father's wife. . . . In the name of the Lord Jesus . . . you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh. . . . "182 Incest corrupts family relationships and marks a regression toward animality.

2389 Connected to incest is any sexual abuse perpetrated by adults on children or adolescents entrusted to their care. The offense is compounded by the scandalous harm done to the physical and moral integrity of the young, who will remain scarred by it all their lives; and the violation of responsibility for their upbringing.

2390 In a so-called free union, a man and a woman refuse to give juridical and public form to a liaison involving sexual intimacy.

The expression "free union" is fallacious: what can "union" mean when the partners make no commitment to one another, each exhibiting a lack of trust in the other, in himself, or in the future?

The expression covers a number of different situations: concubinage, rejection of marriage as such, or inability to make long-term commitments.183 All these situations offend against the dignity of marriage; they destroy the very idea of the family; they weaken the sense of fidelity. They are contrary to the moral law. The sexual act must take place exclusively within marriage. Outside of marriage it always constitutes a grave sin and excludes one from sacramental communion.

2391 Some today claim a "right to a trial marriage" where there is an intention of getting married later. However firm the purpose of those who engage in premature sexual relations may be, "the fact is that such liaisons can scarcely ensure mutual sincerity and fidelity in a relationship between a man and a woman, nor, especially, can they protect it from inconstancy of desires or whim."184 Carnal union is morally legitimate only when a definitive community of life between a man and woman has been established. Human love does not tolerate "trial marriages." It demands a total and definitive gift of persons to one another.185

A prayer to Saint Joseph developed by Retrouvaille members and published by Father Keyes at The New Gasparian:

We ask your prayers, St. Joseph, an upright man, a spouse who planned to divorce Mary in secret and who by God's grace was able to see his role in God's plan. We ask you in our behalf to pray to God that our marriage be healed. We are enveloped in pain and despair as you must have been when you learned of Mary's pregnancy. Be for and with us, Joseph, in our hour of doubt. Let us listen to and heed the voice of God as you did. Be our intercessor to your Jesus, to give us the blessings to change, to listen, to forgive and most of all to hope that our marriage will heal and our family remain whole and holy. We give you honor, quiet St. Joseph, for you are a spouse like us, who while knowing pain, did not divorce. By God's grace you nourished the Holy Family and the Savior of all families throughout the ages. Amen.

Dale Price Dissects the Anti-Latin Ramblings of An Arizona Figure

Well-deserved and superbly done as always.

If Heather Has Two Mommies...

Why shouldn't the King espouse himself to, not a woman to become Queen, but another man to become a second King?

"Not So Quiet" Catholic Corner, an excellent blog done by a Rhode Island priest, Padre Gio, CFR, which has recently come to me attention, spotlights this act of cultural subversion and tampering with the minds of children to make them accept the political goals of the homosexual lobby.

Not Only Is The Passion of the Christ Doing Quite Well (Thank You) At the Box Office

It just might surpass Star Wars as the top-grossing movie of all time.

But probably not. I don't see Gibson marketing a line of 4" action figures and other collectibles/toys.

Why Islam Hates the West? Because It Is Hopelessly Outclassed.

Kathy Shaidle has it just about right.

Daily Lenten Reflection From the Precious Blood Leadership Conference

Today's reflection is by St. Blog's own, Father Keyes. As he notes in the comments below, the PBLC has the wrong reflection up for today. The following is from Father Keyes' site. The format is a little different from what most of the other PBLC posters use, and includes notes.

2 Sam 7:4 5,12 14,16 , I will be a father to him, and he a son to me, the throne of David will endure forever.

Psalm 89, The Son of David will live forever

Rom 4:13,16 18, 22 , Abraham believed and became the father of many nations.

Matt 1:16, 18 21, 24, Joseph awoke from the dream and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.

St. Gaspar
As for me, I am cheerful, tranquil and content, only because I am doing the will of God. I proclaim that I want to live and die with total abandonment to him. (1)

I adore the will of God (2)

Likewise I would like you to be assured of the will of God in regard to your vocation. Excessive fear causes agitation too, as one can readily imagine. Oh, my beloved friend, why become anxious as long as we are in the hands of God? Is he not a most loving Father? Does he not take care of us? Does he not dispose all things for our own good? He used Moses to humiliate Pharaoh and, in general, infirma eligit, ut fortia quaeque confundat.(3) When we use the 24 hours of the day for God, in the mystical bed of his will, we have done everything. This does not deny, however, the necessity of prayer and faith in God. (4)

"But how is Jesus to be imitated? Look at him for just a short while. As an example to us, he is obedient to Joseph and to Mary and lives in the humblest of homes. He is employed in manual labor, shows himself to be a model of silence and is withdrawn from the world, a benefactor to all." …Seek, then, to be of service to the Society and respect the will of the Creator in his creatures. No task is menial if it tends to glorify the Almighty. On the contrary, your work is similar to that of Jesus Christ who aided his foster father, St. Joseph. Purity of intention alone is necessary for you to properly regulate your interior and exterior actions. Realize, too, that a hidden and humble life is a special shield against vanity and human glory.(5)

I give thanks to God for the concern that you nourish in promoting the glories of the Divine Blood and I hope that abundant blessings will be your reward. Our Father Amici is putting the final touches on the little work on St. Joseph to be printed after having gathered together a good number of supporters, the printing will be undertaken. This great saint is the special protector of our death. People are interested in this devotion. (6)

St. Joseph was a just man. He was faithful to the laws and customs, the ways of Israel. And yet he was also faithful to dreams, hopes and a vision of what God desires. More than being the patron of the Church, he is the patron of the hidden doing of God's will. In the silence of his sleep, we hear and see nothing. In his dreams he sees everything.

Imagine what his anxious moments must have been like. He desired to do what was right and just, but he also desired to do what was fair for Mary. Gaspar would have us look at our own anxious moments and know that just as Joseph was in the hands of God, so are we. Gaspar would encourage us to seek God's will with the same energy and devotion as Joseph.

Joseph challenges us to love the will of God and to trust the will of God with the same tangible faith. This faith would get us up from our sleep to follow a dream of God's way without fear or anxiousness.

•How do I show I love the will of God?
•What dreams have I failed to follow?
•In what ways could I follow God's will even as it goes against social values of my time?
•What makes me anxious?

(1) from Letter No. 22 to Countess Virginia Malaspina Carocciolo, June 18, 1811
(2) from letter 873 to Mr Giovanni Franceso Palmucci, April 14, 1824
(3) see 1 Cor 1:27, God chose the weak…to shame the strong
(4) from letter 1101 to D. Domenico Silvestri, April 19, 1825
(5) From Third Circular Letter, 1829
(6) Letter 1786, July 31, 1828, Giovanni Francesco Palmucci

Daily Lenten Reflection

From the Franciscans at AmericanCatholic.org.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Today Is Also the Memorial For Bl. Fra Angelico

But I would not have known that without the new Daily Saint link I'm using.

Made A Switch

I liked the Daily Saint feature I used from Catholic.org. But I like even better Catholic Forum's calendar of the saints. It is now the Daily Saint link on the right. It has links to many more saints whose feasts are celebrated each day.

I think most of you realize that the saints noted on the calendar and whose feasts are observed by the Church generally are only a tiny fraction of the total number of known saints (those canonized or recognized by tradition). Each day, there are at least a half dozen saints celebrated. This feature gives us a much better idea about the saints whose day it is.

The Extensive Patronage of Saint Joseph

against doubt,
against hesitation,
diocese of Baton Rouge,
Croatian people (in 1687 by decree of the Croatian parliment)
dying people,
expectant mothers,
Florence Italy,
happy death,
holy death,
house hunters,
interior souls,
diocese of La Crosse Wisconsin,
archdiocese of Louisville Kentucky,
diocese of Manchester New Hampshire,
married people,
diocese of Nashville Tennessee,
New France,
New World,
Oblates of Saint Joseph,
people in doubt,
people who fight Communism,
pregnant women,
protection of the Church,
diocese of San Jose California,
diocese of Sioux Falls, South Dakota,
social justice,
Styria Austria,
Turin Italy,
Tyrol Austria,
unborn children
Universal Church,
Vatican II,
Viet Nam,
diocese of Wheeling-Charleston West Virginia,
working people

Most people can look to St. Joseph as a patron.

St. Joseph, pray for us.

Litany of Saint Joseph

From Women For Faith and Family :

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God, the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Joseph, pray for us.
Illustrious Son of David, pray for us.
Light of the Patriarchs, pray for us.
Spouse of the Mother of God, pray for us.
Chaste Guardian of the Virgin, pray for us.
Foster-Father of the Son of God, pray for us.
Faithful Protector of Christ, pray for us.
Head of the Holy Family, pray for us.
Joseph most just, pray for us.
Joseph most chaste, pray for us.
Joseph most prudent, pray for us.
Joseph most courageous, pray for us.
Joseph most obedient, pray for us.
Joseph most faithful, pray for us.
Mirror of patience, pray for us.
Lover of poverty, pray for us.
Model of working men, pray for us.
Ornament of the domestic life, pray for us.
Guardian of virgins, pray for us.
Pillar of the family, pray for us.
Consoler of the miserable, pray for us.
Hope of the sick, pray for us.
Patron of the dying, pray for us.
Terror of demons, pray for us.
Protector of the Holy Church, pray for us.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.
V. He hath made him master of His house.
R. And ruler of all His possessions.

Let us pray.
O God, who in Thy ineffable providence didst vouchsafe to choose blessed Joseph to be the Spouse of Thy most holy Mother: grant, we beseech Thee, that we may have him for our intercessor in Heaven, whom on earth we venerate as out most holy Protector. Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.

A Gallery of Images of Saint Joseph

This Is the Eve of Saint Joseph's Day

And here is a recipe for Zeppole.

Phoenix To Get Indult Mass

It only took the arrest, resignation, and conviction of former Bishop O'Brien to get it.

Thanks to Otto Da Fe for the link.

Just as it seems likely that Boston will lose its Indult Mass along with the parish that hosts it.

Daily Lenten Reflection From the Precious Blood Leadership Conference

Readings: Jeremiah 7: 23-28; Luke 11:14-23

By our baptisms we are all called to be prophets. As we see in today’s readings, that is not always a popular thing to be. It seems that Jeremiah could be writing today rather than thousands of years ago. And Jesus faced opposition, even though he was helping people by casting out evil spirits. Some days you just can’t win! But the one word that keeps popping out at me in these readings is “faithfulness.” As Christians we are called to be faithful to our baptismal call. When we look at the culture of today’s world, faithfulness does not seem to be a popular word. We see examples of unfaithfulness in the work world, in marriage, in our Church, in so many aspects of society today. Jesus was faithful, even to shedding the last drop of his Precious Blood in his death on the cross. As women and men dedicated to the Blood of Jesus, we are called to witness to that faithfulness. We are called to be prophets of God's faithfulness.

Today is also the feast of St. Cyril of Jerusalem. Cyril is the author of the Catechetical Lectures on the Christian faith. These lectures were delivered to those about to be baptized at Easter and to the newly baptized after Easter. Soon there will be many more Catechumens and Candidates who will be entering the Church at the Easter Vigil. How can we be witnesses to them and to each other of our faithful God?

Reflection by: Sister Ann Clark, C.PP.S. (Dayton, Ohio)

Daily Lenten Reflection

From the Franciscans at AmericanCatholic.org.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

St. Patrick's Day in Boston

The Saw Doctors playing the Roxy.

The Chieftans playing Symphony Hall.

The Makem Brothers in Melrose last weekend.

Not even in Dublin do they have it so good. Maybe not even at Lisdoonvarna.

One of My Favorite Modern Irish Songs

Dublin In the Rare Ould Times
Written by Pete St. John

Raised on songs and stories, heros of reknown,
The passing tales and glories, that once was Dublin town,
The hallowed halls and houses,the haunting children's rhymes, That once was part of Dublin, in the rare ould times.

|: Ring a-ring a-Rosie, as the light declines, I remember Dublin city in the Rare Ould Times. :|

2. My name it is Sean Dempsey, as Dublin as could be
Born hard and late in Pimlico in a house that ceased to be.
By trade I was a cooper, lost out to redundancy
Like my house that fell to progress, my trade's a memory.

3. And I courted Peggy Diagnan, as pretty as you please,
A rogue and a child of Mary, from the rebel Liberties,
I lost her to a student chap, with skin as black as coal,
When he took her off to Birmingham, she took away my soul.

4. Well the years have made me bitter, sure the gargoyles've dimmed me brain,
'Cause Dublin keeps on changing and nothing seems the same.
The Pillar and the Met have gone, the Royal's long since pulled down,
As the grey, unyielding concrete makes a city of my town.

5. So fare thee well sweet Anna Liffey, I can no longer stay,
And watch the new glass cages that spring up along your quays,
My mind's too full of memories, too old to new chimes,
I'm a part of what was Dublin, in the rare ould times.

For Many, the Beverage of the Day

I only use it in wassail myself, preferring my amber colored beverages to be distilled in Scotland, by those other Celts.

It Is Snowing In Boston

We have had a few inches, including some slush. Just a few days ago, the whole Boston area was imaging spring to be here. I personally noted that some willows are getting ready to leaf out. And forsythia should start to turn yellow in a couple of weeks.

But for now, we have to deal with snow, lots of it.

Daily Lenten Reflection From the Precious Blood Leadership Conference

Readings: Deuteronomy 4:1, 5-9; Matthew 5: 17-19

Moses tells Israel that obeying the Law will witness divine wisdom to the nations. This was a sign of God’s special love for God’s people. As our first reading reminds us, do not forget the statutes and decrees and teach them to our children and our children’s children. Jesus shows the same piety. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or prophets . . . but to fulfill them.”

There are many Christians who believe that all they have to do is pray, pray and obey and they have an express train to heaven. In Jesus, fulfilling a commandment is not simply the same as doing it and then checking it off a list of things to get done. It is a call to action, not just taking the easy way out. Recall Moses’ ultimate command, which Jesus taught as the first commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Love then fulfills the law.

When I reflect on these readings I am drawn to remember the interaction of Jesus with the people during his ministry. The empathy Jesus had for the people shows us the love and compassion of our God. Jesus sets the example of obedience to the law by helping the poor, feeding the hungry and loving and caring for the marginalized. When we step out of our comfort zone to help our brothers and sisters we are fulfilling the law as Jesus taught. We are reminded that “. . . whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

I invite you to join me today as I pray to be aware of . . . and respond to . . . the needs of my brothers and sisters.

Reflection by: Arlene Pelzer, Companion (Cincinnati Province)

Daily Lenten Reflection

From the Franciscans at AmericanCatholic.org.

Images From the Book of Kells

The Book of Kells was probably created at Lindisfarne (an island monastery on the Northeast coast of England founded by Irish monks and home also to the Lindisfarne Gospels, which are rather similar in style).

The Book of Kells is at Trinity College, Dublin and is Ireland's greatest cultural asset from the period after the death of Saint Patrick.

Saint Patrick's Breastplate

My favorite version of this prayer:

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me:
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.

Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.

A Happy and Blessed Saint Patrick's Day to all!!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Guide To My Saint Patrick's Day Blogging

My favorite version of St. Patrick's Breastplate

Images from the Book of Kells.

Just for the fun of it, how about a T-Shirt or coffee mug for Dillon's Regiment, Irish Brigade, Army of Louis XV?

The Makem Brothers, my favorite contemprary Irish group, all the way from New Hampshire.

Check out some links on Turlough O'Carolan the 18th century blind harpist and bard.

My favorite Irish songs.

Famous Fitzpatricks.

Where the Irish Saved Civilization: Skellig Michael.

Honoring the Saint and Drowning the Shamrock: A feast for St. Patrick.

My favorite Irish movies.

Over At the Globe

An interesting, in-depth look at the role the Catholic parish has played in the lives of Boston Catholics and the city.

Much more objective than one would expect of the Globe.

Daily Lenten Reflection

From the Franciscans at AmericanCatholic.org.

Had trouble accessing this site earlier this morning.

St. Patrick's Day is Comin', Part VII

I'm a little late with this one, but it is only a modified version of a post from last March.

There are a fair number of movies with an Irish theme out there. That is probably not surprising, given the number of Americans of Irish ancestry, especially in the Northeast, where we stay for closeness to the Auld Sod.

Here are some of my favorites.

The Year of the French
You won't find it on IMDb or on Amazon.com. As far as I know, it was never put in wide distribution in the US. But Irish TV produced this good adaptation of Thomas Flanagan's historical novel about the 1798 French invasion of County Mayo (second only to Patrick O'Brian's work, in my opinion). The only star most Americans might recognize is the late Sir Robert Stephens. The "Cornwallis" character dominates every scene he is in and gets way too many good lines. The Chieftans did the excellent soundtrack (Paddy Moloney has a bit part). I taped it off the old Boston Channel 38 Movie Loft more than a dozen years ago, and the tape is in danger of wearing out. I would love to get a hold of a good DVD copy of it, or transfer my tape to DVD, if possible.

The Secret of Roan Inish
This heart-warming fantasy also stars no one American audiences would recognize, except maybe Susan Lynch, who was also in Waking Ned Devine . A family from an Irish island, evacuated during World War II, comes back to their ancestral home through the agency of seals and a long-lost baby. Good soundtrack.

Waking Ned Devine
"I've never smelt intestines before, but they can't be as bad as Annie's Brussels Sprouts." The late Ian Bannen and Susan Lynch head the cast of this modern Irish comedy set in the rural West. Two elderly schemers plot how to cash in the winning lottery ticket of a villager who died of the shock of winning millions. The ending song is a great rendition of The Parting Glass.

The Quiet Man
Irish-Americans John Ford, John Wayne, Barry Fitzgerald, Victor McLagen, and Maureen O'Hara combine to give us a quintessential tale of American Irish nostalgia about returning "home" and adjusting to rural Irish life. The climactic scene was re-worked as the climax of the western McClintock with Wayne and O'Hara.

Angela's Ashes
Dark, gloomy, and depressing tale of growing up poor, Irish, and Catholic with a good-for-nothing father, and a mother scarcely better. Yes, it is negative, profane, and more than a little bawdy in places. But the Irish are not saints. There is more than a little truth in McCourt's story. This is an excellent and very faithful adaptation. Rising stars Emily Watson and Robert Carlyle head the cast. The movie is set in Limerick, and my grandparents hailed from Ennis, Co. Clare, only a few miles away across the Shannon.

The Devil's Own
Unfortunately, Brad Pitt is in it. But Harrison Ford is not too bad as an Irish-American cop who unwittingly takes in an IRA terrorist. The title is an interesting use of the nickname of my grandfather's regiment, the Connaught Rangers, popularly known as the Devil's Own Regiment for its fighting qualities. Simon Jones ("Bridey", in Brideshead Revisited) has a small part as the SAS agent on Brad Pitt's trail.

Patriot Games
Harrison Ford as Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan again thwarts IRA terrorists, this time led by Sean Bean (Sharpe). Inexplicably, I did not detect any use of Makem & Clancy's excellent, if bitter, song of the same title. We see via thermal-image satellite US or SAS commandos taking out a terrorist camp. The war on terrorism is bound to be much like this, small groups of commandos descending on and exterminating the inhabitants of terrorist camps in a few minutes in an unnamed country, with entry and exit utterly unknown to the terrorists' host government.

Michael Collins
Yes,the movie was marred by the presence of Julia Roberts and the fact that every-other word is the script was "f-ck." But I include it for family reasons. Collins was a friend of my grandfather. An autographed photo of Collins, taken a few days before he was assasinated by the anti-Treaty element of the IRA, hangs in my study, next to that of another great Irishman, Ronald Reagan. Loosely based on Tim Pat Coogan's biography, The Man Who Made Ireland.

Saint Patrick: The Irish Legend
I've never actually seen this one. It has an excellent cast (Patrick Bergin, Malcolm McDowell, Alan Bates, Susannah York).

The Field
Richard Harris and Tom Berenger square off as a brutal irish peasant and an Irish-american with money who want to buy land held by the peasant. A dark tale of the closed world of pride and a zero-sum game over a meadow that can lead to murder and mayhem. John Hurt does a nice job in a supporting role.

I'm not including Meryl Streep Michael Gambon in Dancing At Lughnasa, because I have not seen it.

The Fighting Sullivans, The Fighting 69th, and Yankee Doodle Dandy are a little too peripherally Irish to qualify, I think. Going My Way is a little too schmaltzy. Besides, it is more of a Christmas movie.

What is surprisingly missing is a tribute to the Irish soldier. I have really not seen a good tribute to the Wild Geese (a movie of that title starring Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Roger Moore and Hardy Kruger was about mostly-English mercenaries fighting in Africa in the late 1970s), who fought in the armies of Spain and France in the 18th century (most notably at Fontenoy), the Irish Brigade of the American Civil War (though they appear in Gods & Generals fighting at Fredericksburg against a mostly Irish regiment from Georgia), or the hundreds of thousands of Irish redcoats or Tommys who helped vanquish Great Britain's enemies from 1740-1918. If done well, I would love to see movies on any of those topics.

"For the great Gaels of Ireland
Are the men that God made mad,
For all their wars are merry
And all their songs are sad."
G.K. Chesterton

A Really Good One

Over At the Summa Mamas.

Daily Lenten Reflection From the Precious Blood Leadership Conference

Readings: Daniel 3:25, 34-43; Matthew 18:21-35

The story of the debtor who could not repay his debt, throwing himself at the feet of his master crying and asking mercy and forgiveness, begging for his master to be patient with him. With compassion, his master forgave all and let him go on his way. In leaving and rejoicing in his good fortune, he runs into a person who, likewise, was in his debt, unlike his master, he finds no compassion for his fellow man.

How many times have we?

Turned our backs on someone who needed our help when we ourselves have had mercy shown to us?

We criticized others who never did anything to harm us?

There are many other examples that could be used in relation to this reading, all one has to do is remember how many times they were not as loving and understanding to others as Our Lord has been to us.

As Jesus was hanging on the cross do you suppose as His Precious Blood drained from His bruised and battered body that he thought to Himself maybe I won’t give up my blood for this one or that one because they did not love me as much as I love them.

What if you were the one that He decided did not love Him enough to die for?
He died for us and all He asked of us is to love others as He loves us.

Reflection by: Ivan Lange, (Associate, Wichita, Kansas)

Monday, March 15, 2004

St. Patrick's Day Is Comin', Part VI

And it is time to think about feasting in honor of the Saint who brought the Faith to Ireland. Here are some recipes to make your St. Patrick's Day menu authentically Irish.

Note the absence of Corned Beef and Cabbage and Green Beer.

Limerick Ham
Limerick is that very depressing gray place depicted in Angela's Ashes. It is just across the Shannon from where my family is from, Ennis in County Clare. To the Irish, ham is a cured leg of pork. Traditionally, Limerick Ham is smoked over juniper branches. Whole hams should be steeped in cold water overnight before cooking but this is not necessary with smaller joints. The ham in this recipe is not really baked but rather finished off in the oven after having been marinated in cider.

3-5 lb ham pre-cooked
cider to cover
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp mustard
20 whole cloves

Cover the ham with fresh apple cider (from the produce department; frozen at this time of year, not the clear apple juice sometimes called "cider" from the juice aisle) and cover with plastic wrap in the refrigerator for 2 days. Take out the ham and stud with whole cloves. Mix the sugar and mustard and rub well into the surface of the ham. Bake in a pre-heated oven for a further 10 minutes to the 1 lb at 400°F.

Adapted from the Appletree Press' A Little Irish Cookbook.

Chicken and Leek Pie
10-12 inch pie pastry
11/2 lb of seasoned boneless chicken breasts
4 1 inch-thick Slices ham steak
4 large leeks, cleaned/chopped
1 large onion, chopped
freshly ground black pepper (or 4-pepper blend w/ allspice)
1/2 tsp ground mace or nutmeg
3 cups cream of chicken soup

In a deep 1 - 1 1/2 quart dish, place layers of the chicken, the ham, leeks and onion, adding the mace, nutmeg and seasoning, then repeating the layers until the dish is full. Add the stock, then dampen the edges of the dish before rolling out the pastry to the required size. Place the pastry over the pie and press the edges down well. Crimp them with a fork. Make a small hole in the center. Roll out the scraps of pastry and form a leaf or rosette for the top. Place this very lightly over the small hole. Brush the pastry with milk, and bake at moderate heat, 350F, for 25-30 minutes. Cover the pastry with damp greaseproof paper when partially cooked if the top seems to be getting too brown. Gently heat the cream. When pie is cooked, remove from oven. Carefully lift off the rosette and pour the cream in through the hole. Put back the rosette and serve. (This pie forms a delicious soft jelly when cold.)

Baked Stuffed Herring
4 TBSP Breadcrumbs (heaping)
1 TBSP Parsley, chopped
Small egg, beaten
Juice and rind of lemon
1 pinch Nutmeg
Salt and pepper
8 Herrings, cleaned
2 cups Hard cider
Bayleaf, well crumbled
Fresh ground pepper

First make the stuffing by mixing the breadcrumbs, parsley, beaten egg, lemon juice and peel, and salt and pepper. Stuff each of the fish with the mixture. Lay fish in an ovenproof dish, close together; add the cider, crumbled bayleaf and salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake at 350F for about 35 minutes.

From Traditional Irish Recipes.

Tom Fitzpatrick's Champ
8 large russets (I like Yukon Gold)
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 pound butter
fresh or dried chives to taste
fried or dried onions to taste
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1/4 pound butter
1 pound Irish back bacon

Cut a strip 1/2 inch wide along the circumference of the spuds. This gives them better flavor, and allows for easier peeling once they have been boiled. Then boil them in their jackets.

Fry up the Irish back bacon. Irish back bacon is more like cured pork than our smoked breakfast bacon. Once the back bacon is done, dry it off with paper towels, and cut off and remove the fat and dice up the choice pieces.

Peel the spuds, and place them in a large bowl and mash them with the cream, the 1/2 pound of butter (or more, if you like) chives, onions, salt and pepper. Mix them up and bring the spuds to a consistency you like. I prefer firm, smooth, and very creamy. Add in the back bacon and stir.

To serve, mound up the champ on each plate, and hollow out a crater at the top. Here, put in the additional butter sliced up so so that it melts. As you eat forkfuls of champ, dip them in the crater of butter. Sinfully rich and delicious!

Black Pudding With Vegetable Casserole
2 Shannon Traditional Black Puddings, skinned and sliced
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
2 carrots, pared and sliced
1 large leek, sliced
2 onions, peeled and sliced
1/4 small white cabbage, shredded
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Optional: 1 chicken buillon cube
Salt & pepper to taste
2 tablespoonfuls of oil

Put the prepared onions, carrots, potatoes and leek into a large non-stick skillet with about 4 cups of boiling water. Add stock cube if desired. Cover and cook until the vegetables are almost tender, for 25 to 30 minutes. Add the cabbage and the kidney beans and cook for 5 minutes more. Saute the slices of black pudding in oil until they are crisp on the outside. Gently stir into vegetables and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the seasoning and serve hot with bread or rolls.
Serves 4 to 6

Irish Soda Bread, Fitzpatrick Family Version
2 C. flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. nutmeg
1 1/2 T. sugar
6 T. butter
2/3 C. raisins, brown or golden or mixed
2 t. caraway seeds
1 C. buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and sugar. Using a pastry blender or fingertips, work the shortening into the flour until the consistency is the same as that of small peas. Stir in the raisins and caraway and mix to distribute evenly.

Gradually stir in the buttermilk, 1/4 cup at a time, using only enough to allow the dough to come together. Knead the dough for 1 - 2 minutes.

Shape the dough into a round loaf and place on a greased baking sheet. Cut an X on the top and over the sides of the loaf. Bake for 45 minutes or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped.

Cool on a rack.
Great heated with butter melting over the top.

Lemon Curd
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel

In saucepan, combine all ingredients except lemon peel. Stirring
with wooden spoon, cook over lowest heat, being careful not to
let mixture boil or yolks curdle. Cook until mixture coats back
of a spoon. Pour into small bowl and stir in lemon peel. Allow
to cool.
Makes 1/2 cup. Great on hot soda bread!

Irish Cream
1 cup whisky (Jameson's)
1 can condensed milk
3 eggs
1 tablespoon Hershey's chocolate syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla

Blend and refrigerate

Irish Whisky Cake
8 ounces Raisins
Grated rind of 1 lemon
150 milliliters Irish Whisky
6 ounces Softened butter
3 Eggs
6 ounces Soft brown sugar
6 ounces Plain flour
1 pinch Salt
1 pinch Ground cloves
1 teaspoon Baking powder
Juice of 1 lemon
8 ounces Confectioners' sugar
Warm water as needed

Put the raisins and grated lemon rind into a bowl with the whiskey, and leave overnight to soak. Grease a 7-inch cake pan, and line the bottom with parchment; preheat oven to 350F. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Separate the eggs and sift the flour, salt, cloves and baking powder into a bowl. Beat the yolks into the butter and sugar one by one, including a spoonful of flour and beating well after each addition. Gradually add the whiskey and raisin mixture, alternating with the remaining flour. Do not overbeat at this stage. Finally, whisk the egg whites until stiff and fold them into the mixture with a metal spoon. Turn into the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for about 1 1/2 hours, or until well risen and springy to the touch ~- or test with a skewer: when it comes out clean, the cake's ready. Turn out and cool on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, make the icing by mixing the lemon juice with the sieved confectioners' sugar and just enough water to make a pouring consistency. Put a dinner plate under the cake rack to catch the drips, and pour the icing over the cake a tablespoonful at a time, letting it dribble naturally down the sides. Don't worry if a lot of it ends up on the plate underneath -- just scoop it up and put it on top again. When the icing has set, it can be decorated with crystallized lemon slices if you like.

Walnut Mince Tart
1 (9-inch) unbaked pastry shell
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 (27-ounce) jar mincemeat

Refrigerate unused half for up to 3 days or freeze, double-wrapped, for up to a month.

Preheat the oven to 400° F. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, and salt. Add the eggs and mix well. Add the melted butter, walnuts, and mincemeat. Spoon into the pastry shell. Bake for 15 minutes; reduce oven temperature to 325° F, and bake for 50 minutes longer, or until the filling is slightly puffed and firm. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack for 15
Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Serves 6 to 8.
From the Irish Abroad.

Liberal amounts of Bushmills', Jameson's and Guinness complete the feast. And have a couple of Clancy Brothers with Tommy Makem and Chieftans CDs on the CD player for the soundtrack for your Irish party.

Ides of March

Today is also the anniversary of the assasination of Julius Caesar in 44 B.C.

In 1781 on this date, Cornwallis won the bloody battle of Guilford Courthouse (NC), about which I may blog at greater length later. I noticed that there is a new Osprey title on Guilford Courthouse available.

Saint Louise de Marillac

From Catholic.org.:

Louise de Marillac was born probably at Ferrieres-en-Brie near Meux, France, on August 12, 1591. She was educated by the Dominican nuns at Poissy. She desired to become a nun but on the advice of her confessor, she married Antony LeGras, an official in the Queen's service, in 1613. After Antony's death in 1625, she met St. Vincent de Paul, who became her spiritual adviser. She devoted the rest of her life to working with him. She helped direct his Ladies of Charity in their work of caring for the sick, the poor, and the neglected. In 1633 she set up a training center, of which she was Directress in her own home, for candidates seeking to help in her work. This was the beginning of the Sisters (or Daughters, as Vincent preferred) of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul (though it was not formally approved until 1655). She took her vows in 1634 and attracted great numbers of candidates. She wrote a rule for the community, and in 1642, Vincent allowed four of the members to take vows. Formal approval placed the community under Vincent and his Congregation of the Missions, with Louise as Superior. She traveled all over France establishing her Sisters in hospitals, orphanages, and other institutions. By the time of her death in Paris on March 15, the Congregation had more than forty houses in France. Since then they have spread all over the world. She was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1934, and was declared Patroness of Social Workers by Pope John XXIII in 1960. Her feast day is March 15th.

Excellent Review of TPOTC by Orson Scott Card

Thanks to The Ratzinger Fan Club for the link.

Another Statistic To Document the Decline of Catholic Practice In the Last 40 Years

From this article in today's Globe on parochial school closings:

"In 1965, the Boston Archdiocese was educating 119,229 pupils in 246 elementary schools and another 33,640 students in 99 high schools. Today there are 36,577 pupils in 123 elementary schools and 16,315 students in 33 secondary schools."

And a great number of those kids in Catholic schools today are not Catholic.

The Weekend's Number One Movie Was...

The Passion of the Christ, which has now brought in some $264,000,000.00, and has been number one since it opened on Ash Wednesday. It will probably surpass Matrix Reloaded as the top grossing R-Rated movie this week (and Matrix Reloaded made a deal of its gross on the DVD, which has been out: TPOTC is months away from DVD release).

Daily Lenten Reflection From the Precious Blood Leadership Conference

Readings: 2 Kings 5: 1-15; Luke 4: 24-30

The first reading for today, from Kings, is the story of Naaman, the Syrian Army commander, who also was a leper. Through a series of journeys, ultimately at the command of God, he is cured of his leprosy. But the journey and Naaman's obedience leads to his cure. This story has so many wonderful lessons: obedience to God, the original idea coming from a Jewish child (his wife’s servant), cleansing in the river seven times (a simple command, considering all the other options), and the intercession of Kings and prophets. Even Naaman’s pride and anger at the command is all used by God to affect the wonderful cure that happens.

For me, this reading is about seeing God in every step of the journey. Although not always mentioned by name, going back and seeing Naaman’s journey to be one of faith and obedience is a mirror of our life: obedience to God at every step. When we decide to go it alone, or think we know best how life is to be lived, it is then we lose our way. Naaman receives guidance at every turn, and sometimes he takes it and other times he balks. And when he accepts it, things go well; but when he balks, things do not go well and he loses ground.

The persistence of St. Gaspar, in the face of detractors, remained focused on devotion to the Precious Blood and the founding of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. What is our focus in life, and are we too easily ‘going it alone’?

Reflection by: Rev. James Urbanic, C.PP.S. (Kansas City Province)

Daily Lenten Reflection

From the Franciscans at AmericanCatholic.org.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Saint Patrick's Day Is Comin', Part V

I have often used an allusion in a sort of intellectual shorthand, and it recently occurred to me that a sizable chunk of even my well-informed audience may not get it.

I sometimes speak (justifiably) of the decline of traditional morality in rather apocalyptic terms, adding that there is no safe place, no "Skellig Michael" to which the civilized may repair to wait out the latest triumph of barbarism (gay marriage, overwhelming immigration, political correctness, safety Nazis, high taxes, Islamicization of Europe, environmental weirdness, vegetarianism, what have you).

Well, the reference to Skellig Michael comes from my varied reading. Four books in particular have shaped this little intellectual shortcut. Kenneth Clark in Civilization wrote that:

"Looking back from the great civilizations of twelfth-century France or seventeenth-century Rome, it is hard to believe that for quite a long time-almost a hundred years-Western Christianity survived by clinging to places like Skellig Michael, a pinnacle of rock eighteen miles from the Irish coast, rising seven hundred feet out of the sea."

Clark's theme was picked up and amplified by Thomas Cahill in his recent bestseller How the Irish Saved Civilization. Cahill's book is about the very phenomenon that Clark mentioned in his first chapter, the survival of Western Civilization.

You see, at the time of the barbarian takeover of the declining Roman Empire, civilization was in quite a plight. Learning declined markedly. Even high culture declined precipitously. In the looting of the pelf of the empire, many of the works of classical culture were lost. The Germanic warlords who came to replace other Roman officials in actual charge out in the provinces were often illiterate. They did nothing to encourage literacy or to preserve the Graeco-Roman literary deposit. While the Church preserved some of Graeco-Roman culture on the continent, she and her agents could not hold all together.

A great deal was preserved in the island hermitage/monasteries of the Irish, who had absorbed Roman culture through the work of St. Patrick and his successors. Skellig Michael, a particularly uninviting location in the Northern Atlantic, was one of those places where the traditions of Graeco-Roman culture and writings were preserved by the Irish monks until Europe had calmed down enough to allow for this learning to be re-exported to it.

Irish monasticism was not the safe, comfortable sort of Saint Benedict and those who follow him. It was the white martyrdom of the desert fathers, harsh, almost brutally ascetic in ways Saint Benedict rejected so that monasticism could be followed by many, rather than just the elite ascetics. It sought out desert places, wastes, inaccessible islands, deep forests. And there it enacted sometimes harsh penances, like the Cross Vigil, in which a monk held out his hands in the posture of the Lord on the cross for days or weeks at a time. Sometimes, these monks would make the Cross Vigil waist-deep in freezing water.

Their greatest enemy was not the lack of women or material goods. Indeed, they considered themselves as athletes in training for Heaven. Such deprivations were just routine. No. The real enemy was depression, acedia, or the noonday devil "the destruction that wasteth at noonday," in the words of the Psalmist, the feeling, which uncannily comes in the middle of the day, that you have made no progress, that you are wasting your time, indeed your life. I have, for the first tie in my life, come to know this scourge myself in the last 6 months. A formidable enemy indeed, one that I am not sure I have conquered. Indeed, it seems to return, in one guise or another, every few days.

But they also kept libraries and scriptoria, and spent some of their time studying such literary works as their limited involvement with the greater civilization of the continent before its collapse afforded them.

Once Europe had recovered somewhat from the initial shock of the fall of classical civilization and the breakdown of government of the Western Empire, Irish monks, venturing forth from fastnesses like Skellig Michael roamed about France, Germany, and Italy, bringing with them copies of the books from their monasteries, books in which much of Plato and Aristotle, Cicero and Ovid were preserved, some works that Europe had not seen in a hundred years and more. These Irish monks gained great influence in the Merovingian, and later in the Carolingian courts.

The period in which Ireland, in the form of its monks, "saved civilization" was roughly from the death of St. Patrick to the time of Charlemagne. Then, in rapid succession, new waves of barbarian invaders, Vikings, mercilessly plundered the Irish monasteries, attacking even remote Skellig Michael in 823, only a few years after the death of Charlemagne. Duns Scotus was the last great figure in this Irish Renaissance.

Skellig Michael itself has been described by the local (Newburyport) Irish-American author James Charles Roy in his superb book The Road Wet, The Wind Close: Celtic Ireland. He explored the place for a couple of bleak days. It is indeed from his description a desolate spot. It is indeed hard to imagine that here, a large part of western civilization's written heritage was preserved.

"Skellig Michael now stands before us....Even from afar it looks menacing, unfriendly, barren, seemingly a perfect cone rising from the sea. jet-black in colour and everywhere jagged, sharp. There doesn't seem to be a smooth place anywhere."

Nevertheless, Roy is probably correct in calling it the "very essence of Celtic Ireland."

Today, ithe island's inhabitants are three lighthouse keepers who rotate every few months to lessent he chances of going mad, puffins, rabbits, and various seabirds. The island has two peaks. The higher one has a Way of the Cross, after a local fashion. In the vale between the two peaks, under a windswept spit known as "The Saddle of Christ," is the monastery. The monastery was built of dry-laid stone, and consists of 6 clochans, or dwelling huts, circular and beehive shaped. There are two stone oratories.

The monastery was probably built around 650 A.D. It was almost literally carved out of the rock of the island. It is not certain when the Way of the Cross was developed. It consists of "The Needle's Eye," a narrow vertical shaft in the rock about 20 feet high which must be climbed, "The Stone of Pain," a smooth rock 14 feet high which must be scrambled up, and "The Spindle":

"...a long narrow fragment of rock, projecting from the summit of this frightful place, over a raging sea (700 feet below-GTF); and this is walked to by a narrow path only two feet in breadth, and several steps in length. Here the devotees, women as well as men, get astride of this rock, and so edge forward, until they arrive at a stone cross...and here, having repeated a Pater Noster. Returning from thence concludes the penace."

The cross on "The Spindle" was usually kissed by the pilgrim, which required getting very far out onto the ledge.

In Slouching Towards Gomorrah, Judge Robert Bork, perhaps the most prescient observer of our culture of the present age, sees a new barbarian invasion. This invasion that threatens western culture today is almost entirely from within.

The new barbarism takes the form of a decline of standards, a coarsening of public life and discourse, and decline in educational achievement, and standards. It is vile rap music, played very loudly. It is political correctness destroying the study of history and forcing history through the unnatural prism of womyn's studies, African-American studies, gay and lesbian studies, etc. It is immigration run amok, so that a tidal wave of people unable or unwilling to conform themselves and their families to the American Way (the English language and the Anglo-Saxon culture, Christianity and democratic pluralism combined with free enterprise) It is drugs and the culture of dependency on government transfer payments. It is a loss of objective truth and morality and a rise of moral relativism. It is the abortion culture, the gay rights culture, the equality-at-any-price-to-civilization culture that dominates the fields of law, journalism, academia, increasingly the helping professions, and government service. It is ever-more invasive government intruding into areas of personal behavior that were never regulated before, while allowing mayhem to rage in other areas.

Bork sees this barbarism as all-engulfing, its reach being co-equal with the spread of television, popular music, liberal social attitudes, and the nanny state. Looking back to how western civilization in 450-850 was able to survive the barbarian onrush by clinging to rocky outcroppings like Skellig Michael, Bork sees little possibility of survival now.

There are gated communities, conservative publications, Latin Mass parishes, TV-less families, and homeschooling. But nowhere can a traditionalist parent spank without fear of the DSS worker showing up on your doorstep with a warrant and two cops to take your children away if you dare "abuse" them by spanking. The barbarians will not let us withdraw to a safe place, a Skellig Michael. Their reach is all-encompassing. It is everywhere the writ of a modern western government runs. No one was able to stop the British legal system from jailing that farmer who shot two burglars breaking into his home for the third time.

So that, my friends, is what I mean when I say that there will be no Skellig Michaels this time. There are no safe enclaves where traditional life can flourish in the midst of the liberal take-over. Civilization as we know it faces extinction.

Daily Lenten Reflection From the Precious Blood Leadership Conference

Readings: Exodus 3: 1–8, 13–15; 1 Corinthians 10: 1–6, 10–12; Luke 13: 1–9

Most young people, especially in the past, did not really like the season of Lent. The reason for this was simple due to the insistence of the Church and their parents to give up something that they liked, such as eating chocolate or watching television. For young people this can be an experience of difficulty and futility, especially since we live in a society that can give us anything we want. Of course, the Church and parents had in mind only the spiritual welfare of their children.

The Church, like a good parent, has our spiritual welfare in mind during the season of Lent, but we have to rise above our limitations to appreciate its value. In the three-year cycle, the Church relates Lent to three realities of our life of faith.

The first reality is the Paschal Mystery, the and resurrection of Jesus, which brings about our salvation. The Church developed Lent specifically as a preparation for the celebration of this important event at Easter. The Paschal Mystery is at the heart of our faith in Christ.

The second reality deals with Christian initiation. Very early in our history, it became clear that the most appropriate time to introduce new members into the Church was at the time the Church was celebrating its birth. Lent became a season of special preparation for baptism, and Easter was understood to be the ideal time for the celebration of this sacrament or for its renewal.

The third reality is repentance and renewal. The Church recognizes that Easter is the time for Catholics to be reconciled to God and his Church. Each year one reality takes on a prominence, and this year is the time for us to focus on repentance.

This Sunday we will hear Jesus refer to horrible tragedies that had occurred recently. From these two situations he draws a lesson for us to think not of the sins of the victims but of our own need for repentance.

All three realities are present in every Lent, but this year we should turn our attention to our need for repentance. To allow Christ and our fellow Christians to tend to our souls so that we may bear fruit that is worthy of our calling. This Lenten season should not be a time for us to give up things, but a time for us to increase our efforts to continue Christ’s work in the world today.

Reflection by: Rev. Mario Cafarelli, C.PP.S. (Atlantic Province)

Daily Lenten Reflection

From the Franciscans at AmericanCatholic.org.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?