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Veritatis Splendor

"Keep your eyes fixed upon Jesus, who inspires and perfects our faith" --Hebrews 12:2

Pope Benedict XVI before our Lord

And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution.
Each of us is the result of a thought of God.
Each of us is willed,
each of us is loved,
each of us is necessary.
There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him.
~Pope Benedict XVI, Homily April 24th, 2005

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Converting - despite the best efforts of Haugen & Co.

You know, converts to the Catholic Church are nothing new, though of course we're glad to have so many of them. Stories of conversions abound in print and online, many of them written very nicely and with a "moment" that makes you smile and say a pray for the newly converted. Oftentimes it is noted that it was an experience of authentic and transcendent liturgy (at either a Tradtional Latin Mass, a tradition-minded Novus Ordo parish, or an Eastern Rite parish) was a key moment in their conversion. And in more than a few of the conversions I've read, they've made mention of their disappointment in the "standard" fare of liturgical music at our "modern" Catholic Mass.

But, this Episcopalian's conversion announcement has to be the first one I've read with a sentence like THIS:

Sound doctrine will make it possible for me (I pray) to tolerate Masses where the priest sits in the Captain Kirk chair while the miasmal excrescences of Marty Haugen and David Haas waft into the nave.

ROTFLOL! Read the rest of his tale here, and check out the rest of his blog too! Don't forget to say a prayer for him, and all the other converts who came to the fullness of truth in spite of us "modern" Catholics and our banal ditties complete with tamborines!

Hey - this might also be a fitting time to plug the SMMMHDH again... you know, the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas (and all those other convert-shuddering tamborine-lovin' composers with lucrative OCP and GIA contracts).

Go to their site and read hilarious comments from other suffering souls, like these:

"The 1980's called Haas and Haugen. They want their situation comedy theme songs back."

"Week after week of the sheeplike hordes waving one hand in the air and singing the liturgical equivalent of "Louie, Louie". It's like trying to live on a diet of Cheetos and Sunny-D."

"Hi, my name is Tom, and I used to sing at Folk Mass . . . . . "

"I have used Haas and Haugen's music to line the bottom of my bird's cage. My bird Sebastian Bach made appropriate liturgical comments on their music."

"I think the appropriate prayer for the work of Messrs Haugen and Haas would be that nice prayer for blessing incense - 'Mayest thou be blessed by Him in Whose honour thou shalt be burnt. Amen.'"

"If there ever was such a thing as 'heaven on earth', then Marty Haugen and David Haas would have to be 'purgatory on earth.'"

"I feel that a moratorium on these faith expressions is the right thing for our faith community at this time. My faith journey has brought me to a place of thinking about how these expressions may not be the right thing for our tradition at this point on our journey as a community."

"When I learned about the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas, I thought ...'Gather ME In.'"

"Haugen-Haas....could be a whole new brand of ice cream? Fluffy texture, bland flavour, leaves you feeling emptier than before!"

"Am I a de facto member if I hear "One Bread, One Body" and think "One Bed, Two Bodies?""

"I have offered to sing "My Soul Thirsts" (Psalm 63) by Dan Schutte at the local jail; however, the warden called this "cruel and unusual" punishment."

And my personal favorite...

ba_by talk n.

1. the speech of children learning to talk, marked esp. by syntactic simplification and phonetic modifications like omission and substitution of sounds.
2. a style of speech used by adults in imitation of this, esp. in addressing young children.
3. the lyrics of the advertising jingle for Haugen-Haas ice cream.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Lovely report from New York

Fr. Z gives us access and of course, some of his commentary, on a nice article on the revival, renewal and relevance of the traditional Catholic liturgy: Catholic New York on “Solemn Joy”.

And lest you think it's just adults that are favorably responding to the Pope's decision to free the traditional Latin Mass, see also this letter to the editor by a 16 year old boy that has been making the rounds online.

The moral of the story is: don't sell our youth short, give them the fullness of truth and worship and they just might respond to it!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Spend some time in the Son

The Knights of Columbus run a wonderful website, the CERC, which I try to visit every week or so. They always have an assortment of articles ready to go for me to read, or to print off for others, on living the Catholic faith in our lives and on issues that matter to Christian families. One of the better ones I've come across today has this very thought-provoking analogy - our taking time to come before the Blessed Sacrament in Adoration and do "nothing" will indeed have an effect on our being, as our sitting in the sunshine will inevitably have an effect on us!

Granted, I did think as I was reading it that the analogy definitely falls short in one respect - if you sit in front of the sun for too long, something very bad happens too you, which I doubt would happen if you were in Adoration too long. Though, now that I think about it, maybe something similiarly bad WOULD happen if you truly spent more time than you should in Adoration, instead of being with your family or fulfilling your responsibilities. Maybe the analogy doesn't fall apart that much after all.

From the article:

Dan Rather once interviewed Mother Theresa. It was always a delight to watch cynical journalists interview Mother Theresa, because she would invariably make them look like fools. He asked Mother Theresa about prayer:

"What do you say to God when you pray," he inquired.
"Nothing," replied Mother Theresa. "I just listen."
"What does God say to you?" he responded, rather derisively.
"Nothing," replied Mother Theresa. "He just listens."

That's what prayer before the Blessed Sacrament can become. We are still, silent, and we listen to God listening to us. And the more time we spend before the Blessed Sacrament in silence, the more we will begin to hear God listen, the more aware we will become of his presence in our lives.

...Now it might feel that there is no point to just sitting down in front of the Blessed Sacrament, doing apparently nothing, but doing so is really the most fruitful of actions. Consider how many people love to sit in the sun. What possible effect can sitting in the sun have on a person? But if a person sits in the sun for a time, it will soon be obvious just by looking at him. He or she will have acquired a healthy and beautiful countenance.

Read the rest at How to Explain the Importance of Praying Before the Blessed Sacrament

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Fr. Holy Terror - God bless you!

Now THIS is something you all should read, by our dear friend Adoro: Holy Terrors.

This is a testimony that needs to be read by every "lost" Catholic out there, all those who just "are" Catholic without knowing why really, all those who are afraid of priests (those "Holy Terrors" in black!), who are afraid of Confession, who want Christ but do not know what to do or where to go to find Him.

In short, this is for all our friends and family members who are struggling with their Catholic faith. Maybe this is even meant for us.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Old MacDonald had a... gatto?

So I'm taking an Italian language class this semester. Even though I was in Rome for a year, I'm having to start with the 1001 level course (yes, because I didn't really learn Italian properly over there.) and will need to complete the 1003 level in order to graduate. So... you'll likely be hearing about my Italian adventures for quite some time yet!

I have to say, having a bit of understanding of Italian and now "beginning again" isn't such a bad gig - it's kind of fun actually. I'm "learning" what I already know at the moment and yeah, that is a confidence booster to be at the TOP of my Italian class this time instead of at the bottom!

However, I howled with laughter when listening to this was on my list of online assignments!

Buona sera!

(Betcha you thought I was going to be posting all excited about the motu proprio going into effect. Maybe later - I have a week of online Italian homework to sit through. Hopefully more stimulating than that sound clip!)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Evangelization made EASY!

I was browsing around online, looking for some answers to a question a friend had about the Catholic/Orthodox split (if anyone knows a good resource on this from the Orthodox perspective, let me know...) and stumbled across yet another great idea coming from the peeps in the pews!

Evangelization for FREE - aka, requesting cool faithful books to be added to your local library! In a 2005 issue of "This Rock" magazine was this awesome article that detailed how one woman, sick of seeing either crappy Catholic books, or no Catholic books at all, decided to do something about it - ASK for different books! (Crazy idea, huh? :)

There's an online group over at Yahoo! - PopeSaintNicholasV : Catholic Book Lovers Influencing Library Purchasing Decisions that helps us all to get organized and get the info we need on great Catholic books to submit to our libraries (don't forget the PARISH libraries too!)

Here's what the group's info page tells us:

The library can be an awesome resource for bibliophiles, but is useless if it doesn't carry the books that you love most.

The library can also be a place for Catholic evangelization, if it has the right books on its shelves.

The sole purpose of the Pope Saint Nicholas V email list is to help Catholics make purchasing suggestions to their public libraries. Each week I will present an adult title, a child's title, or a video or music title, plus the occasional spiritual classic. I will include all of the information that one should need to make a patron request to their library -- title, author, publisher, date published, ISBN #, price, and comments.

Let your voice be heard. If your library has a website, go to it now and see if you can make purchasing suggestions online. If so, make a suggestion! If not, next time you visit the library ask for a patron request form and then fill it out!

Some tips:
--The form you need to fill out may be called a variety of things: patron request, item request, purchase suggestion, or something similar.
--Sometimes it's easier to ask a main library instead of a suburban or branch library.
--You'll have a better chance of a purchase at a big library than a small one which needs to get rid of books to save room.
--Titles published in the past year are more likely to be purchased. Librarians want their purchases to have a long shelf life and so are weary of older books.
--If you do suggest an older title, make sure to comment that it is a "classic" and will be checked out for years to come.
--Don't give up if you feel that your suggestions are ignored. Your voice will eventually be heard!
--Tell all of your like-minded friends to make purchasing suggestions too. There is power in numbers.
--And don't forget. Once the librarian purchases the books you suggest, check them out!

Now then - go forth and evangelize the nations!

Remembering 9/11

On this anniversary of that fateful day six years ago, I invite you to go visit this post over at Deacon Tony's Place. His parish, located in Brooklyn, was directly affected by the attacks on 9/11, with 9 families losing loved ones. In response, his parish has created this wonderful memorial and invitation to prayer at their church.

May all those affected continue to be healed by the power of God, and through the hands of His people here on earth. Through the intercession of our Lady, may all the souls of those who lost their lives be granted eternal joy in the company of our Lord and all the hosts of heaven.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

A sin of fashion!

"Your Holiness, I've discovered the reason why our vestments don't have the full rainbow of colors... the red paint ball was a dud."

Or, as Fr. Z said: "I don't know what it is sir, but I don’t think the Palantir had barcodes..."

Good heavens.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Faith. Hope. Love. Life. "Bella"

One person can change your life forever.

I really regret that I was not able to see this film at a special screening that the Archdiocese put on a month or so ago (but then again, the pneumonia in my lungs at the time was probably better left on the couch). Today I found this awesome article on the film by Steven Greydanus, courtesy, once again, of the Ignatius Insight blog.

Excerpt from the article: ..."Bella is not King Kong or Superman," said Verástegui. "We don't have these big budgets behind us. This is just a film with a small budget but with a lot of heart and soul. We believe in this so much because we feel this is a call from our holy father John Paul II. We just want to show it to everybody."

For all their enthusiasm about Bella and future projects, the filmmakers maintain a sense of perspective. Mindful of Mother Teresa's maxim about faithfulness and success, they regularly downplay the significance of the past or future successes. More than once, and by more than one party, the theoretical possibility of every print of Bella being destroyed and the film never being seen again was cited as a way of emphasizing that there are bigger issues than any one film.

Verástegui made the point this way. While preparing to shoot the film, he revealed, he made a fateful choice: to visit an abortion clinic as research for his role.

"I thought it was going to be very simple," he said. "I was very naive. I thought I was going to arrive in the morning, with a few papers and a pen... Now, when I arrived that day, I forgot about the film. I was in shock when I saw all these fifteen, sixteen, seventeen-year-old young girls going in. Next thing I saw this little group of people outside, trying to convince them not to do it."

Approaching the group, Verástegui found himself being asked to talk to a Latino couple who spoke no English. "I had no idea what I was going to say. I was very nervous," he reported. Then the couple recognized him—from his soap opera roles. "They were from Mexico. Even though I did them ten years ago, they repeat them in television forever."

Verástegui wound up talking to the couple for the better part of an hour, and gave the mother a miraculous medal. "We talked about life, faith, Mexico, dreams, about everything. I don't even remember what I said. I gave her a little teddy bear. Next thing you know I said something and she was touched. And she leaves, and she didn't go inside the clinic. So I told her the next day, 'Hey, I'm here to help you, anything I can do to help you, if it's money or whatever. Consider me your friend.' "

Shortly after that, Verástegui left for New York to shoot the film. "I came back a few months later," he continued, "and I received a call. And it was this man who was with her. And he tells me, I have great news. My baby was born yesterday. And I want to ask your permission, because I want to call him Eduardo. And I couldn't even talk, man."

Verástegui went to the hospital to visit the couple and their new baby. "It was amazing. I went to the hospital and met the baby, and carried him in my arms—the way how he was looking at me, and I was calling him Eduardito, and I was singing, dancing with him. It changed my life completely. Because I didn't plan to do that. I just thought I was going to do my research as an actor. I never thought that by the grace of God I was going be used as an instrument to say something to this young lady to touch her heart. And the next thing you know I'm dancing with Eduardito.

"If this film tomorrow disappears and it burns and nobody sees it again," he concluded, "the fact that one baby is alive by the grace of God, I will rejoice in the Lord."

The whole article is a must-read, and, dare I say, a must-forward to everyone on your e-mail list, along with a plug to contact all of our local theaters and ask that they carry this film when it is released on October 26th. (The official website is here or click the pic below.)

If you have a blog or web site, go here for resources to use to help promote the film!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle - RIP

The Ignatius Press blog just posted up that Madeleine L'Engle has died. There's a nice clip there of an interview that she gave in 2006 that I think reflects well on her and her beliefs - I had never really known precisely her understanding of faith in God, but figured it would be along those lines (Anglican, an intelligent believer, and honest about the areas she struggled with).

Her books were some of the better influences I had growing up, along with CS Lewis' Narnia series (less beneficial was my attraction to Susan Cooper's "Dark is Rising" series, though that too has, in the end, influenced me for more good than ill I think. At least it helped me to clarify some of the WRONG ways of thinking - at the same time, I don't really recommend those books to kids anymore and don't think they should be on the Catholic school's bookshelf. Whaddya know, Mom and Dad were right in their disapproval at the time!).

"A Wrinkle in Time" is what Mrs. L'Engle is perhaps best known for, and it was my first book of hers that I remember. Great book - I'm honestly not sure why it has been so popular, as it is really quite a confusing book to read, for an adult or a kid. In fact, I'd say that it's confusing aspects are better suited to kids, who don't expect to know everything, compared to adults who come across made-up lingo (that's not QUITE totally made up, as anything dealing with physics and space-time continuums ends up like) and feel somehow compelled to know WHAT exactly is being meant. With L'Engle's books, like "Wrinkle", the story is (as she so eloquently put it) "underneath" the words and it's only when your mind's eye becomes comfortable with that kind of gaze that you really get her story - and love it. Even so, I've found that the book is definitely still an enjoyable read as an adult, in fact I just reread "Wrinkle" again about a week or so ago after finding a copy at the local Goodwill.

Many of you have read "Wrinkle" at some time in your life, but did you know that there are three other books in the "Time Quartet" book series, all about the adventures of the Murray family? Now there's a great set of books to give to your young teen readers for Christmas!

To be honest, I think my favorite one is actually the final book, the fourth one, "Many Waters". It also happens to be the one that veers away a little from the storyline of the first three and concentrates instead on the two twin boys and what happens to them when they land in Noah's tent - literally. :) This is the Murray tale that is most blatantly Judeo-Christian-based (though done in a very historical/a-orthodox way - not that it is "unorthodox"... just a completely different way of looking at a Biblical story than I've ever seen before, without being offensive or "cute"). L'Engle's faith does obviously play a role in all of her writings though, there are hints of a very sacramental and theistic worldview in all of them, very much like Tolkien (though it a little more fantastical sense).

For the medically-inclined readers out there, the third book, "A Wind in the Door", is the most fascinating - Charles Wallace's mysterious illness is due to his mitochrondria being "tempted" into disordered frenzy, instead of well-ordered living. I always thought this was the most insightful storyline on the problem (from Original Sin - our inclination to disordered passions and desires) behind all of the painfulness of sin and death in our world. The fact that a cherubim makes an appearance in very fine literary fashion is a definite bonus too!

And for those who love space travel and "time paradoxes", the second book is for you! (Yes, yes, I know I'm doing this all out of order... so sue me!) In it, Charles Wallace is given help from God (not named, but well, it is Him) in the form of an angelic being that appears in material form as a winged unicorn. Charles Wallace then goes on many adventures through time - but never far from the same spot, which happens to be a rock in their backyard. Interspersed throughout this tale is the idea that "what we do in life, echoes in eternity" (as our favorite Gladiator might say) and that all of us are interconnected with one another, all of us matter, and what we do or don't do MATTERS. It's a great tale, and the rune that frames of the story (which reminds me a lot of the canticle from Daniel 3:52-90) will stick with you like Tolkien's Ring verses.

I regret that I haven't read much else of Mrs. L'Engle's, but perhaps in the future I will be able to. Today, however, I will add her to my list of souls to pray for:

Saints of God, come to her aid!
Come to meet her, angels of the Lord!
[Response] Receive her soul and present her to God the Most High.

May Christ, who called you, take you to himself;
may angels lead you to Abraham's side. [Response] Receive . . .

Give her eternal rest, O Lord,
and may your light shine on her for ever. [Response] Receive . . .

Let us Pray.

All-powerful and merciful God,
we commend to you, Madeleine, your servant.
In your mercy and love,
blot out all the sins she has committed through human weakness.
In this world she has died: let her live with you for ever.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.


These verses may also be used.

V/. Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord.
R/. And let perpetual light shine upon her.

V/. May she rest in peace.

R/. Amen.

V/. May her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

R/. Amen.

Attn: Catholic Bloggers on Facebook

A shout-out to all the other Catholic bloggers who have bit the bullet and got onto Facebook (or who have been happily networking away for awhile now). If you're on Facebook, check out a new group called St. Blog's Parish - Catholic Bloggers. Spread the word!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Developer restores former L.A. cathedral, converts it into event hall

Over at CNA is a report on the old cathedral church of Los Angeles - Developer restores former L.A. cathedral, converts it into event hall.

The report says that following damage caused by the 1994 earthquake, the Archdiocese decided St. Viviana's cathedral wasn't worth the money to fix, despite urging of both public and Catholic pleas to keep the beautiful and historic old cathedral. Nope, said the Archdiocese, it isn't worth it and we can't afford to spend our money on that building. Instead, it was determined to build a new cathedral elsewhere.

So how has the story ended?

A developer spent $4.6 million to buy the old cathedral, and another $6 million to restore it, spending a grand total of $10.6 million dollars. Now, while we have the beautiful structure again, and that is a very good thing, it has been made into a "event venue". Here is a picture of what was:

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles, in its wisdom, decided to build this instead as the Cathedral and central church of the region:

At a total reported cost of between $163 and 195 million dollars.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Spiritual Food for Thought

We confess that there is only one Church which is holy, catholic and apostolic. All those who have truly loved the Church have known how to relate these four marks to the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity, which is the most ineffable mystery of our faith...

We need to meditate frequently on the fact that the Church is a deep, great mystery, so that we never forget it...

Let us strengthen our faith in the supernatural character of the Church. Let us profess it with shouts, if necessary, for there are many, physically within the Church and even in high places, who have forgotten these capital truths. They try to propose an image of the Church which is neither holy nor one. Neither would it be apostolic since it is not founded on the rock of Peter. Their substance is not catholic, because it is riddled with unwarranted irregularities which are mere human caprices...

Faith. We need faith. If we look with the eyes of faith, we will see that the Church carries within herself the explanation for her existence and purpose. Anyone who contemplates her with eyes filled with love for the truth, must recognize that, quite independently of those who are her members and the ways in which the reality that is the Church is expressed in the material world, she carries within herself a unique and universal message of light, which is liberating, necessary and divine. (Leo XIII, "Divinum illud munus")

We cannot but help feel sadness invade our soul when we hear heretical voices around us. And that is what they are, for I have never liked euphemisms. We see that the sanctity of marriage and of the priesthood is attacked without fear of rebuke. We see people deny the immaculat econception and the perpetual virginity of our holy mother Mary, along with all the other privileges and gifts with which God adorned her. We see the perpetual miracle of the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist, the primacy of Peter and even the resurrection of our Lord put in doubt. How can anyone not feel tempted to sadness? Have confidence, for the Church is incorruptible. The Church will shake if her foundation shifts; but can Christ be moved? As long as Christ remains her immovable base, the Church will remain strong until the end of time. (Paul VI, 23 June 1966)

~St. Josemaria Escriva

Taken from his homily The Supernatural Aim of the Church, 28 May 1972, Solemnity of the Blessed Trinity.

Why Pray to Mary?

A new piece by Fr. Joseph Carola is up at my other blog, the Roamin' Roman!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Thank God for work!

Prayer To Saint Joseph for Workers

Joseph, by the work of your hands
and the sweat of your brow,
you supported Jesus and Mary,
and had the Son of God as your fellow worker.

Teach me to work as you did,
with patience and perseverance, for God and
for those whom God has given me to support.
Teach me to see in my fellow workers
the Christ who desires to be in them,
that I may always be charitable and forbearing
towards all.

Grant me to look upon work
with the eyes of faith,
so that I shall recognize in it
my share in God's own creative activity
and in Christ's work of our redemption,
and so take pride in it.

When it is pleasant and productive,
remind me to give thanks to God for it.
And when it is burdensome,
teach me to offer it to God,
in reparation for my sins
and the sins of the world.

Have a wonderful Labor Day, to all the US readers! :)

A great grace: a good death

From Kansas City comes An Unbelievable Set of Circumstances. WOW. A must read and a remarkable story of a soul. Perhaps this was due to many prayers made on his behalf unknowingly? It would seem that his family was seperated to some degree, in that he had never met his priest relative - it makes me wonder whether or not the full story is even more amazing, if there is a modern-day Monica in that family who has been mindful of the need for God's mercy. God bless that family, and I pray that He gives them consolation and peace, and healing, out of this tragedy.

This, my friends, is why I never stop praying to God, and through the intercession of St. Joseph, for the grace of a "happy death" for all of my family and friends. Sound morbid? Perhaps, by our modern culture - but apart from our Baptism, the moment of our death is the most important moment of our (eternal) life! I think that warrants our attention and prayer, no matter how uncomfortable that may make us or others feel. Also, death is only morbid for those who fear it. Through acknowledgement of our mortality, and prayer for the mercy of God out of love and trust, fear no longer has a hold on us and NO subject is "morbid" any longer, because all things, even death, give life through the power of Jesus Christ! Life is a grace, death is a grace, as St. Therese of Lisieux said, "everything is grace!" - but if some gifts are rejected they may indeed seem a curse instead. Choose life, choose grace, choose to believe and to be grateful - and look forward with joy to the day the Lord has chosen to receive you before His throne!

My favorite prayer on this is by Cardinal Newman:

O my Lord and Saviour, support me in my last hour by the strong arms of Your Sacraments and by the power of Your consolations. Let the absolving words be said over me, and the holy oil sign and seal me. Let Your own Body and Blood be my food and drink; and let my Mother, Mary, breathe on me and my angel whisper peace to me.

May the glorious saints and my own patrons smile upon me that, in them all and through them all, I may receive the gift of perseverance, and die as I desire to live in Your Church, in Your service, and in Your love. Amen.

Fra Angelico's Annunciation