Saturday, March 06, 2004
Colette was the daughter of a carpenter named DeBoilet at Corby Abbey in Picardy, France. She was born on January 13, christened Nicolette, and called Colette. Orphaned at seventeen, she distributed her inheritance to the poor.
She became a Franciscan tertiary, and lived at Corby as a solitary. She soon became well known for her holiness and spiritual wisdom, but left her cell in 1406 in response to a dream directing her to reform the Poor Clares. She received the Poor Clares habit from Peter de Luna, whom the French recognized as Pope under the name of Benedict XIII, with orders to reform the Order and appointing her Superior of all convents she reformed. Despite great opposition, she persisted in her efforts.
She founded seventeen convents with the reformed rule and reformed several older convents. She was reknowned for her sanctity, ecstacies, and visions of the Passion, and prophesied her own death in her convent at Ghent, Belgium. A branch of the Poor Clares is still known as the Collettines. She was canonized in 1807. Her feast day is March 6th.
The selections from Scripture today set us up for a big punch.
The first reading has serious legal tones: if we agree that we are people sacred to God, we observe all the commandments. No misunderstandings. No “wiggle” room.
Then the responsorial psalm has us repeat our promise to keep all the precepts of God with great care. To be firm and blameless as we walk the way of God’s teachings. No half-heartedness.
Now that we’re all set up, the Gospel turns out to be Jesus’ hardest teaching of all: “Love your enemies.” It’s very clear. It’s very practical. Reconciliation. Just do it. And not only do it, but with perfect compassion, like God’s!
I complain: But God, this is only the first week of Lent! It’s way too hard! You expect me to overcome my deepest fears of those-who-are-not-like-me and offer compassion? Some of these people have threatened me all my life. We, humans, have to work at these changes gradually, with lots of therapy and retreats and conflict management seminars...
Of course, in the face of today’s message, my attempts at getting God to lighten up are comical. But there’s no comedy in Jesus’ shedding his precious blood at the hands of his enemies, whom he loved and forgave. Jesus, the sacred one of God. Jesus, perfect Compassion.
Jesus, help me become like you. Help me take this hardest of teachings to heart and give me firm resolve to reconcile. Give me the strength to just do it!
Perhaps you are at war with some aspect of yourself and have turned it into an internal enemy. Maybe reconciliation and compassion start there.
Reflection by: Sister Janet Dohr, C.PP.S. (O’Fallon, Missouri)
Friday, March 05, 2004
I was hoping to find a book that combined St Alphonsus Liguori's standardized text format (in Latin and in English) with really first rate artistic representations of the Way of the Cross. Even with the resources of the Boston Public Library Fine Arts Department, I could find no such book.
If I knew how to do it, I'd be happy to put together a website that does that. I am surprised that such a site does not now exist.
But in my poking around today, I came across a Monsignor Guilio Ricci's Way of the Cross In Light of the Holy Shroud (Daughters of St. Paul, 1988).
Now I know that the carbon testing says that the sample they tested was medieval, but I still think it could not be a fake, and that the Shroud itself was, in fact, the burial cloth of the Lord.
I must admit that that is more an emotional judgment on my part than a rational one. I remember first hearing about the Shroud when my sainted mother asked me if I wanted to see a photgraph of Jesus. When I said yes, she presented me with a prayer card with the face from the Shroud that she had been using as a bookmark in her missal. And then, every Easter, we watched a special about the Shroud.
But more to the point, I don't think anyone before the 19th century possessed the equipment needed to fake something like the Shroud.
One of the interesting things that Monsignor Ricci shows in his book is a photograph of a crucifix (commissioned by a seminary) showing the wounds inflicted on the Lord as on the Shroud. Let me tell you, it is a much more "marked up" Corpus on that cross than on the one I grew up with (whose designer seems to have made the assumption that the flogger was so very careful to be sure that each mark of the whip would only be found on the Lord's back, and therefore would not be visible).
That crucifix, which I have been unsuccessfully trying to find a link to on the internet for the last hour, is quite similar to the terribly injured appearance of Jesus in The Passion. Mel Gibson did his homework.
I am guessing that smart makers of crucifixes will now change the appearance of the Corpus on their crucifixes to make them conform to how the Lord actually must have looked on the Cross. Fontinini is probably working on a new resin casting as we speak.
But one thing I did notice that Gibson had wrong (but the Shroud has right): the nails in the palms of the hands, not in the wrists. Tradition does not say that the Lord was both tied and nailed to the Cross. The only way a nail through the palm would have supported the weight of a human body for 3 hours would have been with supplementary ropes. A nail through the wrist, however, would have supported the weight adequately.
It is an oddity to me that stigmatists invariably receive marks on the palms, instead of the wrist. This tells me that they receive marks where they sincerely believe the Lord received them. That doesn't mean that they have conscious control over the appearance of the stigmata, but that what they think has something to do with how they appear. Because if God was bestowing stigmata in an historically accurate manner (though of course pure historical accuracy need not concern Him) He would almost certainly put them on the wrists.
How is that for a ramble through semi-related topics?
"Good Gerbils, Cheap"
"So Many Bathhouses, So Little Time"
"The Fens Have the All Cover You Need For That Discreet, Impersonal Encounter"
"You Can Swallow It, Swallow It In Massachusetts"
"Art, Culture, Birkenstocks, and Lots of Amoral and Nonjudgmental Teenage Boys"
"Recommended By Geoghan, Shanley, and Birmingham"
"Because of Boston's Bio-Research, You Can Live Ten Years Or More With HIV"
"What A Happy Lifestyle: Come Join the Fun"
"Hello, Sailor. The Fleet comes in here regularly!"
Actually, British sentries were aware of the digging, and reported it to the Brigadier of the Day, Francis Smith, who had commanded the expedition to Lexington and Concord the previous April. But Smith was unworried by the development.
The next morning, General William Howe, the C-in-C, on seeing the fortifications, exclaimed that Washington's army had performed more work in a single night than his army could do in weeks (actually, Washington had used pre-fabricated field fortifications that had indeed been ready days in advance). Howe, though haunted by the memory of the frontal attack on prepared positions he had led at Bunker Hill, was willing to order an assualt. But bad weather intervened, and the rebel fortifications improved.
With the King's blessing to spend the next campaign working from New York, and to abandon Boston anyway, Howe opted for the path of least resistance. That is why, on March 17th (the day the British fleet pulled up anchor and started out of Boston Harbor), Boston celebrates Evacuation Day.
Click here for Lt. Jesse Adair's bungled, but not botched, effort to impede the rebel advance while the rear guard of His Majesty's forces boarded ship.
Captain Thomas Preston, 29th Regiment of Foot, a sentry of that regiment, a corporal and six grenadiers of the same regiment were assaulted by a violent Boston mob hurling rocks and ice balls, armed with cudgels and clubs. The incident occured after a week of escalating tensions between the inhabitants and the two regiments quartered in the town for the last two years. A justice of the peace who tried to read the Riot Act had been driven off by the mob. In the confusion, one musket went off, and the rest of the guard fired as well. Captain Preston had given orders to the men not to fire. These orders were repeated several times. Five of the mob were killed, and others injured.
Captain Preston and his men stood trial for the shooting. John Adams ably defended them. Preston and most of the men were acquitted. Two soldiers were convicted of manslaughter, but pled "benefit of clergy," a holdover from medieval English law, which allowed literates convicted of such a crime to merely be branded on the thumb after reciting the first line of the 50/51 Psalm (the Miserere: "Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness, in fullness of Your compassion, blot out my offense.").
Click here to see Paul Revere's outrageously innaccurate and unfair engraving of the incident.
Lithuania lowers the age of consent for gay sex to 14.
I think I warned everybody last year, in one of my slippery slope posts that this is were we will be headed next. The progressive impulse seems to be to eliminate as many traditional restrictions on sex as possible. Next to go will be restrictions on incest, sex with animals, and polyamory/polygamy.
Away, says the liberal, with these outmoded restrictions on what makes us happy! Our genitalia must be free to do whatever they want with whatever they want to do it with, at any time and in any place. That, says the new age liberal, is true freedom.
And society ends up just where? In the toilet, the one clogged up with the discarded condoms.
Readings: Ezekiel 18:21-28; Matthew 5:20-26
“Sometimes, even among the best people, certain misunderstandings arise, not for the heart but for the mind, thus allowing the most loveable God to remind us to acknowledge the profound abyss of our lowly status.” St. Gaspar (from letter 927 to Fr. Luigi Moscatelli, July 22, 1824, Resources -8, pg. 14)
“...since we are not permitted to go or remain without a companion.” St. Gaspar (from letter 1015 to Msgr. Francesco Bonomo, December 20, 1824, Resources 8, pg. 5)
God sees room for virtue in the worst sinner. If the sinner turns from evil to do what is right, none of the sin is remembered. Now God is asking us to see the same; to look at those who anger us and to find the same capacity for virtue and grace.
The ancients spoke of the difference between the feeling of anger, the judgmental or insulting remark, and the blind rage. We are not to repress the feeling, but certainly we are not to lash out in violence of word or action. We are to look to ourselves first to see where this passion originates. To St. Gaspar this leads to humility, the recognition that no one is perfect, and enables us to see grace in the offending one.
As we saw Monday, we cannot do the Christian Life alone, and our love for God must take tangible form in love for others. Now we see what to do when inevitable conflict arises. We look to ourselves first, and grow in humility and charity.
With whom do I need to be more generous?
What keeps me from forgiveness?
What will enable me to find room for grace or virtue in another?
What steps do I need to make in order to slow down my anger and judgment?
Reflection by: Rev. Jeff Keyes, C.PP.S. (Province of the Pacific)
Thursday, March 04, 2004
the probable indictment of Bishop Dupre, formerly Bishop of Springfield,
and the parish cluster "rebellion" in refusing to name parishes that can be closed.
I can't link to the second blog for some weird reason, and am too tired to try. Just scroll down from the previous one; it is just under it.
As we begin our reflection on these readings let us permit the dimension of God as Father/Mother who is ready to respond to the needs of His/Her daughter/son. May we as Esther feel the affliction of the people and say as she did, “Lord, I have no help outside of you.”
Matthew’s text does not consider the one who is asking, but rather God who listens. Let us leave three important verbs echo in our hearts: to ask, to seek and to knock. Let us sense how the three forms complement each other: asking is a looking for and the search is a calling or knocking. Implicit is “ask and you will receive, search and you will find, knock and the door will be opened for you.” During this time of Lent the Lord helps me to sense my reality and my needs. Am I sufficiently humble to ask for what I need?
Jesus speaks of His Father in heaven and how God will give us what is good for us, just as an earthly parent wouldn’t give their child a stone if they asked for bread or a snake if they asked for a fish. Many people today have not had this experience of a loving parent because of broken homes, children born for many reasons but not wanted nor loved, abused children, etc. In this reality Jesus presents me with a heavenly Father who is different, who gives me love, security, confidence, who gives me living bread–Himself.
As a person dedicated to the Precious Blood these texts challenge me: In my need to whom do I go? To the lord of power, money and pleasure? Or do I manipulate people to satisfy my needs? Am I aware of those who suffer poverty, anxiety, spiritual misery, etc.? Am I concerned about the dignity of each human person?
May the Blood of Jesus heal me, cleanse me of my hurts and attend to my needs so that from my weakness I may be able to strengthen others, to bring the hope and love which we have inherited from the God of mercy.
Reflection by: Hermana Noemi Flores, C.PP.S. (Dayton-Chile Vicariate)
Wednesday, March 03, 2004
I've known that the Democrat nominee would be John Forbes Heinz Kerry for quite a while. You can't resist that much money, except with more money, the kind of money an incumbent President can raise.
Tell me again that this desperation is not caused by the debt entered into because of the pervert priest litigation settlement. One more thing to thank the perverts and their enablers for. But for them, many of these parishes might have continued on for several more years, until they were not just demographically dying but actually dead.
It has been one week since we received ashes on our foreheads. Now is the acceptable time to make sure that our Lenten practices are proceeding properly. Are we making do with less words, less conspicuous consumption, less wasted time? Are we using our prayer time to the best advantage? Are we participating in the Eucharistic Celebration with full hearts and voices? Are we focusing on sharing our gifts with those who are truly needy? Are we witnessing to the action of Jesus in our lives?
Sometimes we may feel like Jonah. He tried to fool God once and got caught. He did as he was told the second time but was completely flabbergasted when his words, to his utter surprise, were heard and had their intended effect. Jesus tells us that, in the midst of a depraved generation, the simple sign of Jonah is the most powerful force in the world.
As Jesus shed his blood on the night before he died he prayed “Not my will but yours be done.” Our call today is to pour out ourselves fully for the coming Reign of God on earth without question and in the belief that God will make all things right. God will not turn his back on us if we keep our eyes always fixed on him..
Reflection by: Br. Terry Nufer, C.PP.S. (Cincinnati Province)
Tuesday, March 02, 2004
The circle of life–birth, growth, death, re-birth into New Life. When we pass from this world into New Life, we will not be the same people that we were when we entered it. We will have gone through many changes all requiring, in various degrees, suffering, death and rising. The Paschal Mystery. Our sweat, tears and blood will be shed many times. But for what? Will they water the earth? Will they mingle with the blood of “our dear neighbor” and give seed to new life–new hope for The Kingdom? Our loving Creator sent the Son to spill His Blood to reconcile us to our God. We, too, are sent to reconcile a world where suffering and injustice are the norm to a Kingdom of love and life. We are not sent empty-handed or alone. We pray for and receive our daily bread. We carry a Spirit of hope and love. We are forgiven our failings to strengthen us to continue the journey. In the end, after we have done the work we were sent to do, we can return to our Creator, having not only changed a portion of the world but also having been changed ourselves. We will be new beings for a New Life.
What blood will it cost me to surrender to God’s Will to bring about The Kingdom?
What am I watering with my “blood” and making fruitful?
What bread am I being given for the journey?
Reflection by: Diana Keniley, (Co-Worker, A.S.C. – USA Province)
Monday, March 01, 2004
Hark, I hear the foe advancing
Barbed steeds are proudly prancing
Helmets in the sunbeams glancing
Glitter through the trees.
Men of Harlech, lie ye dreaming
See ye not their falchions gleaming
While their pennons gaily streaming
Flutter in the breeze.
From the rocks resounding
Let the war cry sounding
Summon all at Cambria's call
The haughty foe surrounding
Men of Harlech, on to glory
See your banner famed in story
Waves these buring words before ye,
"Welshmen scorn to yield!"
Mid the fray see dead and dying
Friend and foe together lying
All around the arrows flying
Scatter sudden death.
Frightened steeds are wildly neighing
Brazen trumpets loudly braying
Wounded men for mercy praying
With their parting breath.
See they're in disorder,
Comrades, keep close order
Ever they shall rue the day,
They ventured o'er the border.
Now the Saxon flees before us,
Victr'ry's banner floateth oe'er us,
Raise the loud exulting chorus,
"Welshmen win the field!"
Part of another version is sung by members of the 24th Regiment of Foot (South Wales Borderers) defending Roarke's Drift at the climax of the movie, Zulu.
Tonight is the grand dinner in the officers' mess of the Royal Welch Fusileers (formerly the 23rd Regiment of Foot), a regiment with, shall we say "unique," folkways. The Regimental mascot is traditionally a goat with gilded horns. The goat actually went into battle with the grenadier company at Bunker Hill and survived. The 23rd Regiment had a splendid fighting record in the American Revolution, and was considered one of three "elite" line regiments selected for Cornwallis' southern campaign.
On Saint David's Night guests and new members of the mess, after considerable draughts of the "water of life" stand (if they can still stand) with one booted foot on their chair, and one on the table, and eat an entire leek (yes, including the hot part) while saying "For God and Saint David," in Welsh. I've done this.
Happy Saint David's Day to my friends in the Royal Welch Fusileers.
Around the year 550, David attended a synod at Brevi in Cardiganshire. His contributions at the synod are said to have been the major cause for his election as primate of the Cambrian Church. He was reportedly consecrated archbishop by the patriarch of Jerusalem while on a visit to the Holy Land. He also is said to have invoked a council that ended the last vestiges of Pelagianism. David died at his monastery in Menevia around the year 589, and his cult was approved in 1120 by Pope Callistus II. He is revered as the patron of Wales.
The wonderful gospel from Matthew on the sheep and goats was always confusing to me as a non-farm boy growing up in the industrial city of Akron, Ohio. I knew the difference between sheep and goats (sheep gave wool, goats gave milk) but I was unsure of why the big distinction in this gospel. Now I know: Sheep were more prized than goats; sheep must be tended, goats could roam free, and sheep tasted better too.
But Jesus’ realities go much deeper. He is talking about taking care of our neighbor and looking after the needs of those around us. He uses the images of sheep and goats to get at how we treat others, how we care for them, and that in caring for others we are taking care of Jesus himself. The lesson is practical and theological: practical in that others do need our help, and theological in that Jesus is seen in others. Our neighbors are not just human beings, they are beings created by God, a human reflection of the divine.
Sheep are placed on the right, always a place of honor. Goats get the left side, always the least favored. This image we have carried into right and left-handed people, or writing with our right hands, etc. Somehow the ‘right’ seems to be favored over the ‘left’ in sports and other activities. The reading ends with the accounting: life and death, reward and punishment.
What is there about our Precious Blood spirituality that moves us to assist others and become the flock (the sheep) of Jesus? I think part of the answer is in the covenant. God makes the covenant with all of us, so in caring for the other we are caring for our own people.
Reflection by: Rev. James Urbanic, C.PP.S. (Kansas City Province)
Sunday, February 29, 2004
Dale Price has posted two supplementary pieces on the movie here and here.
I particularly liked this from Dale's third piece on the movie:
As I have thought about the film, I think there is a great, ragged cross-shaped hole in American Christian spirituality. There is a tendency to try to beam to the empty tomb on Sunday, bypassing All That Unpleasantness on Good Friday. Catholicism has hardly been immune, what with a treacly, self-centered spirtuality that predominates at far too many Community Affirmation Hours, which never quite get pass celebrating what wonderful folk happen to be in attendance.
But this film reminds us there is no way out but through. You can't get to the Resurrection without the Crucifixion. The letters of St. Paul, preaching Christ and Him Crucified, dying and rising with him, reminding us we were bought at a price--all have a fierce new immediacy. My already-strained tolerance of community-centered liturgy has probably frayed beyond all recognition.
This film fills that cross-shaped hole in ways that forty more years of Catholicism: Wow! and Josh the Palestinian Tolerance Mascot™ never will.
But that was at the Indult Mass.
I'll bet the same was not the case in every parish where it was mentioned in the sermon.
What did your homilist or pastor have to say, if anything?
The time for renewal and re-commitment is once again upon us. We are presented with the images of desert, fasting, and temptation. It is a time for us to engage in our own desert experience: our confrontation with the forces of evil and sin, our journey with Jesus to the fullness of life that we celebrate through his Body and Blood.
Luke shows us that Jesus was on a relentless journey to Jerusalem where he would fulfill the Paschal Mystery of his death and resurrection, to shed his blood for the redemption and salvation of all humanity. Before he began his public ministry, Jesus went into the desert to prepare himself for the reconciliation of humanity to God. A journey that we, too, join in with our Saviour as we head toward our own Jerusalem.
Through his desert experience, Jesus emptied himself of the temptations that had become a part of him as a result of his entering our human condition. First, he threw out selfishness. The devil tempted him to use his power for himself, for his own convenience, by turning stone into bread. Jesus, however, was patiently waiting for the day when he would, instead, turn bread into his body and wine into his blood.
Next, Jesus abandoned the temptation of false worship known as materialism, or consumerism. The devil had promised him the power and glory of all the kingdoms of the earth if only he would bow down and worship him. Jesus, however, was prepared to proclaim the kingdom of God, not the oppression and slavery of sin.
Finally, Jesus emptied himself of pride. Satan tempted Jesus to throw himself off the parapet of the temple in a wondrous display of power. Jesus, however, wanted to proclaim and witness to the doctrine of simplicity, humility, and meekness as the characteristics of those who would become like little children in the kingdom of God. Having emptied himself of all these temptations, Jesus set out on the journey that was to be completed in the city of Jerusalem.
We began our own journey when we were baptized. We were given the grace to abandon sin and temptation and fortified ourselves with the gifts of faith, hope and love. Unfortunately, we continually make the mistake of succumbing to the wrong choices. God is patient with us and our mistakes. Every year he gives us the Lenten experience as our opportunity to reject the wrong values and to choose the right ones.
Reflection by: Rev. Mario Cafarelli, C.PP.S. (Atlantic Province)