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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

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Sandals & Fiddlebacks

...a perfect combination if I do say so myself.

Ecco, behold, a wonderful video produced by the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate of the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass:

Gorgeous, simply gorgeous. Oh, and no - that wasn't Latin you were hearing, the singing was in Italian! (The community's order of Sisters in Italy recorded the "soundtrack")

They are singing a setting of St. Francis of Assisi's "Prayer in Praise of Mary".

Here is the Italian, and then the most common of the English translations:

Ave, Signora, santa regina, santa Madre di Dio, Maria, che sei vergine fatta Chiesa ed eletta dal santissimo Padre celeste, che ti ha consacrata insieme col santissimo suo Figlio diletto e con lo Spirito Santo Paraclito; tu in cui fu ed è ogni pienezza di grazia e ogni bene.

Ave, suo palazzo,
Ave suo tabernacolo.
Ave, sua casa.
Ave, suo vestimento, ave, sua ancella.
Ave, sua Madre.
E saluto voi tutte, sante virtù,
che per grazia e illuminazione dello Spirito Santo
venite infuse nei cuori dei fedeli,
perché da infedeli,
fedeli a Dio li rendiate.

Hail, holy Lady, most holy Queen,
Mary, Mother of God, ever Virgin.
You were chosen by the Most High Father in heaven,
consecrated by Him, with His most Holy Beloved Son
and the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.

On you descended and still remains all the fullness of grace and every good.
Hail, His Palace.
Hail His Tabernacle.
Hail His Robe.
Hail His Handmaid.
Hail, His Mother.
and Hail, all holy Virtues, who, by grace and inspiration of the Holy Spirit,
are poured into the hearts of the faithful
so that from their faithless state,
they may be made faithful servants of God through you.

Bellissima, eh?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Capital punishment revisited

Found on today's (always insightful) FIRST THINGS blog, On the Square, an interesting look at capital punishment and the difference between formal right of the state to allow it, and our modern day practical duty to abstain from using it.

Personally, I agree with this article's outline. It would seem to me that there is a fundamental right of the State to have the option of capital punishment inherent in the right of the people to be protected by the State. However, in the modern age, where we do indeed have the luxury of imprisonment rather than death, I also believe that we are practically speaking morally obligated to utilize this option - for "compassionate" reasons of course, but ultimately because I believe that for every moment that we are alive there is another chance for us to turn to God and be converted. To kill someone when it is not necessary to do so, even if they have committed heinous crimes, is to potentially deny them this possibility of salvation and for a Christian to ignore this is to be utterly inconsistent with the Christian life and witness.

At the same time, we cannot simply make capital punishment equal to abortion or euthanasia, because to do that is patently unfair to the innocent, being that it takes away all sense of moral right and wrong, particularly with respect to the victim. There is a fundamental difference between a pre-born baby and a murderer - the baby is innocent. Those two lives have the same inherent value, yes, however one is innocent, the other has willfully chosen to consider other life as less valuable. Justice demands that the innocent not be identified with their killers, it is only after justice is realized that mercy becomes a possibility - or even a duty, for the Christian.

Returning to the article, of particular note to me, as all things that examine the relationship and differences between European and American sensibilities are of interest to me, was the following section:

"Perhaps because we inherited an Anglo-Saxon system for constraining governmental power, America has seen many unjust social policies, some with lethal consequences, but never political prisoners marched to the gallows for mass execution. This goes a long way, I think, toward explaining our singularity. Europeans view our loyalty to capital punishment as barbaric, but, in truth, we retain the death penalty in large part because we have no rich history of barbarism to give us a sober sense of the need to remove the sacred power of the sword from the hands of the secular state."

Very interesting - the family I stayed with in France hinted at this idea to some degree in one of our conversations, as they talked about the effects of war on Europe that America has never had to deal with. However, we did not discuss the philosophical and political steps that Europe took to GET to the point where it became possible for Hitler to gas millions, and how America has or has not taken those same steps. Those philosophical underpinnings are something that I would love to consider more closely... but I doubt if Mother Superior will see such an interest as being complementary to the life of prayer in the convent :)

Read the rest of the editorial here.

UST - Online Petition for TLM at UST

So, the petition to the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul for considering the start of the TLM on campus has over 80 signatures thus far - considering that it hasn't really been very well advertised, that's pretty dang good I'd say!

Now, according to the Aquin (student newspaper, linked above), the petition has been moved online. Of course the article's author didn't give a link to it, nor could I find a link to it anywhere on the UST website... But Google came through again - Click here for the Online Petition for current UST students (I'd say alumni too, who are in the area and would go!) and faculty. Honestly, I'd even say if you are a resident of the area who would attend, sign it too. UST is always talking about "community relations", so say something in the comments about how this would improve the relationship with UST's neighbors and would "celebrate diversity" between the students and their surrounding community.

Sign today!

Sunday, April 27, 2008


You Would Be a Pet Dog

You're friendly, loyal, and an all around good sport. People love to be near you.

You are very open with your feelings, and you're quite vocal in expressing them.

You are sincere and kind. You love many people - without any sort of agenda.

Why you would make a great pet: You're content to chill out with your friends

Why you would make a bad pet: You always find yourself getting into trouble

What you would love about being a dog: Running around and playing

What you would hate about being a dog: Being left home alone while everyone else is out having fun

The Complete Guide to the Apostolic Journey of Pope Benedict XVI

Clayton has done us all a marvelous favor - he's put together, in one file, ALL of the Pope's addresses and homilies to the American people.

He hopes to eventually offer it as a study guide to parishes and individuals - help him out by offering your suggestions and ideas for questions!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Padre Pio: Now you can go see him again!

In 2003, I was blessed to be able to go to San Giovanni Rotondo, the city of St. Padre Pio. I have to admit that I was not particularly overwhelmed at this good fortune at the time, I had just returned to the Church, was on a pilgrimage through Italy, and didn't really know all that much about Padre Pio.

Even today I have to say that I have not really developed an enormous devotion to him, though I know of many who have!

Today in San Giovanni Rotondo, in the Basilica of Our Lady of Grace, Padre Pio's incorrupt body was placed in a glass coffin for the public veneration of the faithful and there was a huge Mass in the square outside.

The exposition of Padre Pio's body

Some interviews (in Italian) and footage from the outdoor Mass

And, for comparison (?), here's Video of Padre Pio's last (public) Mass!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Take Action - Save Caring & Sharing Hands!

Mary Jo Copeland needs YOUR help, NOW.

I'm late to the game on this one, I kept meaning to post something on it - no excuse. So now that I'm here, I gotta make this good - TAKE ACTION on this issue, whether you live in the Twin Cities area or not. We need to speak out before April 25th - that's this Friday people!

I've been to Mary Jo Copeland's apostolic outreach Sharing and Caring Hands a few times and I can tell you that it is an AMAZING place. People find hope here - they find Christ here. The organization feeds, clothes, shelters, and provides innumerable forms of assistance to any and all who come here in need. They are the true hands and feet of Christ, who put their money where their mouth is and roll up their sleeves, while never losing sight of the reason for their being - Christ.

I also know personally that the city of Minneapolis, especially the police force, has at many times maligned and obstructed the work of Mary Jo. The city kicked her out of the downtown some years ago, arguing that her presence was feeding drug dealers. Now, at the location where she and other sacrificing citizens have built Caring and Sharing Hands' campus (including transitional housing at Mary's Place for women and children nearby), the site for the new stadium is going to be right across the street. And there's the matter of the Republican National Convention coming up later this summer - guess it's time to hide the uglies, according to City Hall. So what do they do? Try to weasel out of it by threatening to revoke Mary Jo's restaurant license, so that she would no longer be able to provide the hundreds of meals a day to the homeless. Their logic is, stop feeding people and they'll just "disappear", I guess. Of course, as a priest said to me just recently - the only thing worse than a drug dealer is a starving drug dealer.

Minneapolis wants to hide the fact that it is a city of poverty, a city with a high crime rate, a city with a large proportion of homeless or people threatened with homelessness. Instead of encouraging people who actually want to work towards solving the problem, the city wants to hide it.

Make your voice heard - save Sharing and Caring Hands! Tell the city of Minneapolis that you want them to leave Caring and Sharing Hands alone, and work to support the work of Mary Jo Copeland instead of obstructing her.

If you can and want to help, you need to contact Mayor R.T. Rybak's policy aide: Erica Prosser 612-673-2133 or erica.prosser@ci.minneapolis.mn.us BEFORE April 25th!!!

Go over to Cathy's blog for more details!

Spread the word!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ben Stein's "Expelled"

So I paid $7.00 yesterday at the movie theater to see... a documentary. A documentary that opened in more theaters than "Fahrenheit 9/11" and "An Inconvenient Truth" did, combined. You might have heard about it - Ben Stein's "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed." If you haven't yet, go see it!

"Expelled" was not at all what I was expecting. I was expecting more of a debate between Sten & ID proponents against atheistic Darwinists, and a nailed shut case of ID folks getting slammed by PC universities because of ideological intolerance.

What we get is a film that spends a great deal of its time just trying to crack open the door of the Darwinists that they will be intellectually honest enough to allow that Darwin's theories of the "origin of the species" doesn't in fact explain what the actual origin of any species is - evolution from... what? Ergo, it truthfully isn't either "atheistic" or "theistic" at all because it really simply begs the question of the origin of life itself.

And astonishingly, Stein succeeds in cracking this egg - getting none other than atheism's poster boy Dawkins to acknowledge in one breath that there cannot possibly be any kind of "god", that there is a definite link between (athiestic) Darwinism and atheisim. Then, in the very next breath (in an uncut shot I might add), he is saying that maybe originally the first cell of life here was "seeded" by aliens, and, one step removed from intelligent human life, he goes so far as to admit that there is then still the unknown of how THOSE hypothesised intelligent lifeforms came to be living. So, asks Ben, there might be a "god" of a sort after all - we don't know? Checkmate. No wonder Dawkins is complaining now about being mistreated.

(by the way, check out this story about how Dawkins and Meyers, a UofM biologist, tried to sneak into a pre-screening in Bloomington - Dawkins signing his name as "Clinton Dawkins"! Too funny!)

The other big theme of the film aims at helping us to connect the dots in regards to the real implications of holding either a form of Intelligent Design or a form of atheistic Darwinism - as previously pointed out, both of these arguments are, ultimately, philosophical, even metaphysical, ones. Within a framework of Dachau and one of the notorious Nazi "death" hospitals, Stein and others lead us through thoughtful philosophical analysis on the logical consequences of atheistic Darwinism: the devaluation of human life, eugenics, and ultimately a form of the Holocaust, whether it happens in a concentration camp or a sterile lab. Following the lead of atheistic Darwinism, Stein and others propose that Hitler was perfectly sane. The Nazi understanding of eugenics is what logically follows, ultimately, from the atheistic Darwinist views, because if man is just an animal, and there are no rights given to man by anything greater than another man's legal system, then it would seem that eugenics is just self-guided evolution - our next stage in evolution, if you will.

Now, Stein doesn't blame Darwinism for Nazism - nor is he is really out to debunk Darwinism scientifically, rather his goal is merely to show that the theory of evolution is itself incomplete, and, like all areas of science, needs to be further tested. But he does very much want us to realize that there are implications here, stemming from our motivations behind believing what we believe - our philosophy, or worldview.

"Expelled" is by no means perfect. For one thing, there are so many different flavors of "Intelligent Design" that there is the same problem defining it as there is defining "evolution". As a matter of fact, to this point there is no single coherent "theory of ID", as there are too many factions involved. The basic point, that the universe is a Creation (not necessarily created in 6 days!) is the only thing uniting the defenders of ID. There is a real inability to argue it substantially due to ignorant equivocation - on both sides.

Secondly, honestly the "smacked down" interviews of ID scientists and the corresponding defenses by the pro-Darwinists is the weakest part. There is a limited number of "witnesses" to academic censure, and even more limited ways to know exactly what happens behind tenure board doors. The variety of censured individuals that Stein gets together are, taken together, impressive for their range of fields, but individually I think each of their cases falls short. Their own arguments for ID are, noticeably, absent for the most part. There is enough circumstantial evidence, and probably some actual evidence out there, to say that there is a climate of hostility in academia towards anything smacking of dissent from the evolutionary creed... but no body is going to change their mind on that by watching this film, I'd reckon.

Really, however, I don't think the point of this film was to showcase individual "bad boys" like these ID-entified scientists or even to "prove" once and for all that any reference to ID will be automatically quashed in America's higher institutions. The real point of the film was to be a warning to us to take seriously our beliefs and ideas, that ideas are not "harmless" and abstract but that they, like it or not, have real consequences on how you live - or determine how others live. It was not these incidents, or any individual incidents, but the very foundation of the atheistic Darwinist worldview - and what it implies for the future if those in power hold these views - that Ben Stein has put on trial.

Brent Bozell had this to say about the film:

...But when [Ben] Stein suggests to Dawkins that he’s been critical of the Old Testament God, Dawkins protests – not that Stein is wrong, but that he’s being too mild. He then reads from this jaw-dropping paragraph of his book:

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, blood-thirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

Dawkins has a website. Its slogan is “A clear-thinking oasis.”

It’s understood that God had nothing to do with the origins of life on Earth. What, then, is the alternate explanation? Stein asks these experts, and their very serious answers are priceless. One theorizes that life began somehow on the backs of crystals. Another states electric sparks from a lightning storm created organic matter (out of nothing). Another declares that life was brought to Earth by aliens. Anything but God.

The most controversial part of the film follows Stein to the Dachau concentration camp, underlining how Darwin’s theories of natural selection led to the eugenics movement, embraced by Adolf Hitler. If there is no God, but only a planetary lab waiting for scientists to perfect the human race, where can Darwinism lead? Stein insists that he isn’t accusing today’s Darwinists of Nazism. He points out, however, that Hitler’s mad science was inspired by Darwinism.

Now that the film is complete, the evolutionist prophets featured in the film are on the warpath inveighing against it, and the alleged idiots who would lower themselves to watching it. Richard Dawkins laments how the film will solicit “cheap laughs that could only be raised in an audience of scientific ignoramuses.” Minnesota professor and blogger P.Z. Myers predicts the movie is “going to appeal strongly to the religious, the paranoid, the conspiracy theorists, and the ignorant –– which means they're going to draw in about 90% of the American market.” Myers and Dawkins now both complain they were “duped” into appearing in the movie (for pay).

Everyone should take the opportunity to see “Expelled” – if nothing else, as a bracing antidote to the atheism-friendly culture of PC liberalism. But it’s far more than that. It’s a spotlight on the arrogance of this movement and its leaders, a spotlight on the choking intolerance of academia, and a spotlight on the ignorance of so many who say so much, yet know so very little.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Communicating Joy!

Today, Pope Benedict celebrated Mass for the priests, deacons and religious of the United States in St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. His homily, however, speaks to all of us, no matter what vocation we are living out in the life of the Church. My favorite excerpt is:

For true life – our salvation – can only be found in the reconciliation, freedom and love which are God’s gracious gift.

This is the message of hope we are called to proclaim and embody in a world where self-centeredness, greed, violence, and cynicism so often seem to choke the fragile growth of grace in people’s hearts. Saint Irenaeus, with great insight, understood that the command which Moses enjoined upon the people of Israel: “Choose life!” (Dt 30:19) was the ultimate reason for our obedience to all God’s commandments (cf. Adv. Haer. IV, 16, 2-5). Perhaps we have lost sight of this: in a society where the Church seems legalistic and “institutional” to many people, our most urgent challenge is to communicate the joy born of faith and the experience of God’s love.

I am particularly happy that we have gathered in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. Perhaps more than any other church in the United States, this place is known and loved as “a house of prayer for all peoples” (cf. Is 56:7; Mk 11:17). Each day thousands of men, women and children enter its doors and find peace within its walls. Archbishop John Hughes, who – as Cardinal Egan has reminded us – was responsible for building this venerable edifice, wished it to rise in pure Gothic style. He wanted this cathedral to remind the young Church in America of the great spiritual tradition to which it was heir, and to inspire it to bring the best of that heritage to the building up of Christ’s body in this land. I would like to draw your attention to a few aspects of this beautiful structure which I think can serve as a starting point for a reflection on our particular vocations within the unity of the Mystical Body.

The first has to do with the stained glass windows, which flood the interior with mystic light. From the outside, those windows are dark, heavy, even dreary. But once one enters the church, they suddenly come alive; reflecting the light passing through them, they reveal all their splendor. Many writers – here in America we can think of Nathaniel Hawthorne – have used the image of stained glass to illustrate the mystery of the Church herself. It is only from the inside, from the experience of faith and ecclesial life, that we see the Church as she truly is: flooded with grace, resplendent in beauty, adorned by the manifold gifts of the Spirit. It follows that we, who live the life of grace within the Church’s communion, are called to draw all people into this mystery of light.

What a beautiful and understandable way to express our faith and our joy to others - through the image of stained glass windows! Later on he uses the form of Gothic architecture itself to help us to see the integrity and continuity that our faith gives to us, the universality of the faith that corresponds to all areas of earthly existence.

The entire homily is itself a model of this integrity, with each piece building upon and complementing the others, a piece that yet has the character of "wholeness", and that is in turn part of a larger whole and ultimately is meant to be united in the One that is the Triune Godhead, Himself a communion of absolute wholeness.

What a marvelous and gentle nudge by our Holy Father to reclaim our Catholic heritage of beauty and integrity, in everything - from architecture to music to art to the very prayer of the Church, her liturgy!

Fr. Z has the rest, including his typically insightful unpacking of the major themes and high notes.

Friday, April 18, 2008

"Like a strong father"

One thing that has been wonderful these past few days, apart from the Pope himself being here, has been the delighfuly unexpected quality of a lot of the public commentary on the Pope, the Church and faith itself. (Granted there's also been some real doozies too, but they were here before the Pope came)

This recent post from Kathleen Parker over at NRO is particulary enjoyable to read, perhaps more so because it comes from a non-Catholic's observations:

..."The question is how we reconcile what is true with what is merely convenient? That we might choose a path other than the pope’s is the prerogative of a free people — and no one recognizes that freedom with greater consistency than this pope. No one has to be Catholic.

But to ask Benedict to change the church’s rules to suit modern appetites and lifestyles is to ask that he forsake the sanctity of human life for the benefit of earthly delights. Those are not his concerns.

Even for non-Catholics like me, there’s something comforting about a stubborn pope in a world of moral relativity. Like a strong father, he ignores his children’s pleas for leniency knowing that his rules, though tough, serve a higher purpose.

If Benedict were to relent and compromise the value of human life, what would be left to debate? Perhaps only one’s own time to die. And then ...

Who decides?"

Read the rest at: Kathleen Parker on Benedict XVI in America on National Review Online

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The End of an Era... Let Us Pray.

When the community of faith, the world-wide unity of the Church and her history, and the mystery of the living Christ are no longer visible in the liturgy, where else, then, is the Church to become visible in her spiritual essence? Then the community is celebrating only itself, an activity that is utterly fruitless. And, because the ecclesial community cannot have its origin from itself but emerges as a unity only from the Lord, through faith, such circumstances will inexorably result in a disintegration into sectarian parties of all kinds - partisan opposition within a Church tearing herself apart. This is why we need a new Liturgical Movement, which will call to life the real heritage of the Second Vatican Council.
~ Pope Benedict XVI

Well, after experiencing via the wonders of the web this morning some of the, well, event that playacted at being a Mass of the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church but was instead a forum for self-promotion and showmanship at how special, different, and diverse we all are here in AmChurch... I turned it off. I turned off the Pope's Mass. Work was more condusive to prayer.

Jeffrey Tucker manages to put into words exactly what I thought as I watched the Mass this morning:

Let us talk about principles.

In the name of "multiculturalism," the Pope was subjected to music more suitable to dingy dance halls than Churches. The Psalms of David were distorted to the point of ear-splitting dissonance. The congos, pan flutes, meringue rhythms, the jazz and blues and rock, the swaggering vocals, the puffed-up soloing, went beyond even the most pessimistic predictions.

Indeed, when Marty Haugen's Mass of Creation finally came on at the Sanctus, it was a moment of dignity—so much so that I want to take back all my negative comments back when I thought that this Mass setting was unsuitable for a Papal Mass. I don't think anyone knew before this what the phrase "unsuitable" could really mean.

I personally feel the greatest hurt toward American Catholics of diverse races and ethnicities, who have been quite viciously caricatured here. How wounded they must personally feel by this presentation done in their name.

Blues and jazz – intended to appeal to African Americans? What about those African Americans who sing in chant scholas, are accomplished singers, are working to actually compose excellent sacred music?

Meringue and samba for Hispanic Americans? Please. Does this include the Hispanic scholar who wrote me about an hour ago with heartbreak at what saw and heard? He is an expert in the polyphonic music tradition of Latin America, and has done extremely important work in showing how the themes from chant strongly informed the construction of 16th century mass settings.

And were all those wacky instruments somehow supposed to appeal to Asians? I really can't go on here. There is grave insult at the heart of all these attempts to construct styles that appeal to all people, pigeonholing their tastes the same way a racialist writing in the 1930s might do. This is not unity but dangerous division.

I know that none of this was intended, but let us remember that we are united in Christ, united in our Catholicism. The Pope has written in his book The Spirit of the Liturgy that the issue of multicultural was confronted and dealt with early in the Christian history, as the Roman Rite developed to deal with intense diversity of early converts from many regions and language groups. The result was the Latin language in liturgy, and Gregorian Chant and its timeless and universal sound, together with the text of the Psalms that speak to universal impulses in the human person. True multiculturalism is achieved in the Roman Rite itself, a point which is still emphasized in Church teaching.

Read all of Jeffrey's insights, including his very positive spin on what may come of this in the end, over at The New Liturgical Movement: Music for the D.C. Mass: The End of an Era, and the Beginning of Something New

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Benedict on vocations

I have been, of course, following with great interest the words of our Holy Father during these days in America. In particular, I appreciate these words he gave to the US Bishops and to all of us this evening at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on the topic of vocation:

3. [Asked by Bishop Losten] The Holy Father is asked to comment on the decline in vocations despite the growing numbers of the Catholic population, and on the reasons for hope offered by the personal qualities and the thirst for holiness which characterize the candidates who do come forward.

Let us be quite frank: the ability to cultivate vocations to the priesthood and the religious life is a sure sign of the health of a local Church. There is no room for complacency in this regard. God continues to call young people; it is up to all of us to to encourage a generous and free response to that call. On the other hand, none of us can take this grace for granted.

In the Gospel, Jesus tells us to pray that the Lord of the harvest will send workers. Only the Lord can give the workers, and we always have to pray that He gives us the workers. He even admits that the workers are few in comparison with the abundance of the harvest (cf. Mt 9:37-38). Strange to say, I often think that prayer - the unum necessarium - is the one aspect of vocations work which we tend to forget sometimes or to undervalue!

Nor am I speaking only of prayer for vocations. Prayer itself, born in Catholic families, nurtured by programs of Christian formation, strengthened by the grace of the sacraments -- prayer is the first means by which we come to know the Lord's will for our lives. To the extent that we teach young people to pray, and to pray well, we will be cooperating with God's call. So I think learning prayer, being prayerful people, is an essential point for the living church. Programs, plans, projects are necessary and have their place; but the discernment of a vocation is above all the fruit of an intimate dialogue between the Lord and his disciples. Young people, if they know how to pray, can be trusted to know what to do with God's call.

I think there is a growing thirst for holiness in many young people, and that those who come forward show great idealism and much promise. It is important to listen to them, to understand their experiences, and to encourage them to help their peers to see the need for committed priests and religious, as well as the beauty of a life of sacrificial service to the Lord and his Church -- this is beautiful, to have a sacrificial service for the Lord and the Church. To my mind, much is demanded of vocation directors and formators: candidates today, as much as ever, need to be given a sound intellectual and human formation which will enable them not only to respond to the real questions and needs of their contemporaries, but also to mature in their own conversion and to persevere in life-long commitment to their vocation. As Bishops, you are conscious of the sacrifice demanded when you are asked to release one of your finest priests for seminary work. But I urge you to respond with generosity, for the good of the whole Church.

And finally, I think you know from experience that most of your brother priests are happy in their vocation. What I said in my address about the importance of unity and cooperation within the presbyterate applies here too. There is a need for all of us to move beyond sterile divisions, disagreements and preconceptions, and to listen together to the voice of the Spirit who is guiding the Church into a future of hope. Each of us knows how important priestly fraternity has been in our lives. That fraternity is not only a precious possession, but also an immense resource for the renewal of the priesthood and the raising up of new vocations. I would close by encouraging you to foster opportunities for ever greater dialogue and fraternal encounter among your priests, and especially the younger priests. I am convinced that this will bear great fruit for their own enrichment, for the increase of their love for the priesthood and the Church, and for the effectiveness of their apostolate. Thank you very much!

Read the rest at Rocco's, of course.

Keep in mind that these were the prepared comments - the Pope is known to diverge from the prepared version frequently, so I'd keep an eye on Rocco or Amy for any updated versions of his speeches this week.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Gorgeous images of our beautiful home world, rising over the lunar horizon, taken on April 5th:

See the full Earth-rise video online!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The love of Christ impels us

The "Help Send Mary to the Convent by Donating to Pay Off Student Loans" fundraising drive continues this week, in the Cathedral of St. Paul bulletin - see my testimony/vocation story on page 6... after you check out the rockin' image of then-Cardinal Ratzinger when he last visited St. Paul on the cover!

Or, I guess I can just post it here too:

2 COR. 5:14

Over these past five years, much of it spent here in the Cathedral, I have grown more deeply aware of the depth of Christ's love for each of us. Out of that realization has come an openness to learning from the Lord what vocation He has created me to fulfill in my life. Gradually, I began to understand that the Lord is calling me to be His own, and to be His own in that most mysterious of vocations, the contemplative life of a nun. On June 11, God-willing, I will enter the convent of the Benedictines of Mary in Kansas City, Missouri. Me, Mary, the girl who loves talking, traveling, eating, and spending time with friends (and a stranger is only a friend that I haven't met yet)—living, working, and praying every day in a "spirit of silence" in a Midwest monastery? Yes!

How can this be? All I can say is that every vocation from the Lord is, ultimately, a marriage—a call to give everything out of love for another. Whether our vocation is to marriage or to the consecrated life, we are called to love, to be loved, and out of that love to "be fruitful and multiply." To enter the convent does not mean that I am giving up anything, it means that I am giving everything! For many years, I have been about Jesus: learning about my faith, talking about Him and teaching others, organizing events and doing many things for Him in this Cathedral. But now I realize that to be about Him is not enough, what I truly desire is to be with Jesus. I have found my beloved. I have seen His face and I want only to run to Him!

In order to enter in June, however, I face an obstacle—that of my educational loan debt. Due to the unique life of a consecrated person it is not possible to enter with any outstanding debt. I am working with the Laboure Society, a local non-profit organization, to work toward clearing my debt through the generous donations of people like you. Perhaps you have been praying for vocations for a long time. Perhaps you have only recently become aware of the different ways that the Lord calls His people to serve. Or maybe this is your first encounter with the idea of different vocations. Whatever your situation, I ask you to please consider supporting my vocation, both through your prayers and though financial support. Donations can be made out to the Laboure Society, with the memo "Cathedral bulletin 4/2008", and mailed to 1620 Johnny Cake Ridge Lane, Eagan MN, 55122. Or go online to www.labouresociety.org.

The Lord, in His goodness, has given the Church and the world all kinds of vocations: marriage and family life, the priesthood and deaconate, and the consecrated life. Each vocation is special, each one is necessary for the health and life of the Church and the world. The Holy Spirit in every age calls people to be open to the will of God, most to marriage, as the family is the heart and origin of society. But there are many, like me, whom God is calling and challenging to be His own. As I move forward to become a Sister, my heart belongs to Christ, but I will never be far from you, my parish family. Daily, I will be praying for the Cathedral and all who worship here. This has been my spiritual home, and united in Christ this bond and love will be strengthened, not destroyed. I invite you all to always send me and the community any prayer intentions that you may have. More information about my community can be found at www.benedictinesofmary.org.

God bless you! -Mary Gibson

(Cathedral of St. Paul bulletin, 4/13/08)

You are what you eat?

You Are A Peanut

You are popular, even with people who tend to have picky taste.

Kids love you, as do dogs. From rednecks to snobs, most people have a place for you in their hearts.

As popular as you are, there are some people who can't be near you.

Don't take it too personally. There's just a few people you rub the wrong way.

Maybe I shouldn't have eaten all those pounds of salted-in-the-shell peanuts. Or maybe this is why I eat them.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

TLM petition at UST

Calling all Tommies!

From today's Bulletin:

Petition drive launched to have Latin Mass celebrated on campus

A petition drive has been started to ask that the traditional Latin Mass (called the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite) be celebrated at the University of St. Thomas.

The petition is located in Sitzmann Hall, home of the Center for Catholic Studies. The hall is located on the northeast corner of Summit and Cleveland avenues.

Students, staff and faculty are invited to sign the petition, which will be submitted to Campus Ministry.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Contemplative prayer is "fundamental" to Papal visit

From Fr. Stephanos comes word that the US Apostolic Nuncio (Pietro Sambi) has sent a letter addressed to contemplative religious communities (I assume that includes the Benedictines of Mary, whom I most eagerly await joining this June!) in which he urges them to prayer for the fruitfulness of the Holy Father's upcoming visit to the USA. È fantastico!

The letter concludes: I am deeply convinced that my request is fundamental to the real success of the pastoral journey of the Pope as well as to the spiritual renewal of our beloved Catholic Church in the United States.

Go to Fr. Stephanos' post for the rest!

Need prayer? Send intentions to the Pope.

Via Vincenzo, grazie!:

Faithful Offered Chance to Have Pope Pray for Their Intentions

Washington DC, Apr 2, 2008 / 04:54 pm (CNA).- With less than two weeks left to go before Pope Benedict arrives in the United States, the rector of the National Shrine, Msgr. Walter Rossi, is offering people the opportunity to participate in evening prayer with the Pope by sending him their prayer intentions.

During his visit to Washington D.C., Pope Benedict XVI will tour the Great Upper Church and celebrate a private Evening Prayer with the United States’ bishops on Wednesday, April 16, at 5:30 p.m. (EST).

The event is closed to the public, but Msgr. Rossi is offering people the chance to have their prayer intentions to be remembered at the Solemn Vespers by the Holy Father.

Anyone who wishes to have their prayer intentions included at the celebration of Vespers, can do so by emailing them to webdevelopment@bnsic.org no later than Friday, April 11, 2008.

As the visit of the Pope approaches, Msgr. Rossi asked that the faithful keep the priests and staff of the Shrine in their prayers as they finish their preparations for the Pontiff’s arrival.

The website for the National Shrine can be found at http://www.nationalshrine.com.

(Original article at CNA.)

Fra Angelico's Annunciation