Wednesday, January 17, 2018

So, kindness is not the same as love ...

"Our Lord does not want sin. 
But on the other hand, what kindness!"
Papa Luciani

Monsignor Pope attempts to clear things up.

I think this is at least the second post on kindness not being the same as love, that Monsignor Pope has published.  Evidently people are really, really confused about the subject.  Being kind to one another is somehow a problem? 

I wanted to leave a comment on Monsignor's post but there were a few hoops to get through and evidently I took too long filling things in and my comment was rejected.  All I wanted to say was this:
“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.” “The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.” - St. Teresa of Calcutta
I am not aware of people abusing the virtue of charity by being kind.  I'm not sure Christians are all that confused about the virtue of charity and the common courtesy of kindness towards others.  M. Teresa said, Be the living example of God's kindness.  What is so difficult to understand?  Monsignor Pope tries to explain:
The good eclipses the best. Herein lies the danger in reducing love to kindness: In simply seeking to alleviate the suffering of the moment or to give people what they want, many deeper issues go unresolved and can even be worsened. 
Welfare has engendered a slavish dependence in some people in our country—and it is not just the urban poor to whom I refer. There are many other entitlements that some feel they cannot do without. There are numerous corporate subsidies as well that fall into this category. Kindness in not the same as love

"I prefer you to make mistakes in kindness than to work a miracle in unkindness," - Mother Teresa

I met a Missionary Of Charity once who explained to someone that 'charity has no strings' - if someone asks you for something, give it, without questioning.  Be kind in the moment.  There is nothing wrong with being kind to one another.  I think a lot of Christians and especially Catholics think you have to preface everything with 'your life is in the toilet, go to confession, then we'll talk.'  They are suspicious of Franciscan 'mercy'.  Going out to the peripheries without a catechism to bang over someone's head. 

When considering God's kindness, I so often think of the saints, especially dedicated priest-confessors like the humble Capuchin, St. Leopold Mandic.  I came across something from the 'Smiling Pope' who exemplified kindness toward all.  Pope John Paul I knew St. Leopold, and wrote about him.  What a tribute to God's kindness!
Like Jesus the Redeemer 
On one hand, Jesus fights against sin as a “victim of expiation for sins,” on the other hand, he does not fight with, but meets with sinners. Open the pages of the Gospel: he fights against sin, says John the Baptist: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away sins.” Read St. Paul: “He died for our sins.” Listen carefully to the words of Jesus in the Mass: “The Cup of My blood, poured out in remission of sins.” No sins! Our Lord does not want sin. But on the other hand, what kindness! How much mercy toward sinners! I am moved when I think that yes, Paul VI beatified Fr. Leopold, but the first person canonized, the first man proclaimed a saint before the whole people, was a thief. On the cross Jesus said: “This very day you will be with me in paradise.” To a thief! And what kindness, as I said, to sinners! When they brought the adulterous woman to him: “Woman, has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir.” “Woman, neither do I condemn you. Go in peace and try not to do it again.” The good shepherd said clearly: go in search of the lost sheep. “There is greater rejoicing in heaven over one penitent sheep in Paradise than for ninety-nine just ones who have no need to repent!” - Papa Luciani

Let the priests and the theologians and their students debate such things as the difference between kindness and love, or let others repeat the old and very stupid maxim: 'Jesus was not nice.'  Leave God's judgement to God, and be kind to one another.  St. Paul urged as much in Ephesians: "And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ."

I do recognize Monsignor's concern, how misplaced kindness leads to such things as alleviating the suffering and pain of patients in and through euthanasia, and so on.  Of course we distinguish authentic love and kindness in such situations.  I'm not disputing that at all, it's just that sometimes - oftentimes - especially online, Catholics are most unkind.  And they want you to know how much they hate the sin, but love the sinner, and they are not afraid to beat up those who call them out for their self-righteous invective and contempt for those who disagree with them.  They have the law and the prophets on their side and they are willing to call down fire from heaven to prove it.  Or worse, contemptuously cite examples and sayings from Pope Francis which 'scandalize' them.

That said, I'd like to share something Pope John Paul I wrote about St. Leopold's devotion and fidelity to the Pope.

[St. Leopold] had great respect and especially for the Pope. One time he said: “Peter has spoken, that’s it; everything is settled.” And his brothers say that he never named the Pope without lifting his skullcap as a sign of respect. And these are the saints, these are the examples to imitate. I cannot say to you who are in the world: “Hear confessions like he did.” But I will try to hear your confession. If you were priests, I would say: “Hear confessions with greater zeal, with greater patience. Then there are priests who do not believe so much in confession and say, “It’s enough for you to come once or twice a year!” What are they doing! Without frequent confessions, how can we become good? We always have faults and we must always be purified. Do mothers change their babies every two or three days? And the soul is like that too: not once or twice a year, but confess often if you can.
And then the Pope and then the Church, whom the saints loved; they were humble. Today on the other hand, people say: “Oh! The Pope!” No. If you are Catholic you must be with the Pope as Blessed Leopold was, as all the great saints were. The Pope is the representative of Christ. Anyone who feels with the Church, who feels with the saints, who feels with blessed Leopold, must feel with the Pope. - Papa Luciani

If Papa Luciani would have lived, I am sure he would have faced the same opposition of sinners Pope Francis faces - he was just too kind and merciful to be believed at the time - but we are all sinners, in need of God's kindness and merciful love.

Lord Jesus, Son of God, be merciful to me, a sinner.  Grant me your love, your kindness, and make reparation in me for all I have hurt throughout my life.

S. Leopold Mandic,
pray for us.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Menswear for 2018

This is actually last year.

This too, is so last year.

How to describe a Palomo Spain show? It is, altogether, highly intimate—akin to the largely lost practice of salon presentations—utterly mad, fearlessly proud, and, foremost, emotional. A young man who walked—wearing a periwinkle bouclé jacket with bunched Bermuda shorts and knee-high, heeled boots—evinced as much, as tears dappled his makeup during the finale.  Alejandro Gómez Palomo’s label caught the American market’s eye when the designer brought it to New York last February. - Palomo Spain- Spring 2018 Menswear.  Vogue

Works for me!  LOL!

The Holy Father in Chile

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, 
Patroness of Chile

"How much the heart of the Chilean people knows about rebuilding and starting anew! How much you know about getting up again after so many falls! That is the heart to which Jesus speaks; that is the heart for which the Beatitudes are meant!
Jesus, in proclaiming blessed the poor, the grieving, the afflicted, the patient, the merciful… comes to cast out the inertia which paralyzes those who no longer have faith in the transforming power of God our Father and in their brothers and sisters, especially the most vulnerable and outcast. Jesus, in proclaiming the Beatitudes, shakes us out of that negativity, that sense of resignation that makes us think we can have a better life if we escape from our problems, shun others, hide within our comfortable existence, dulling our senses with consumerism (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 2). The sense of resignation that tends to isolate us from others, to divide and separate us, to blind us to life around us and to the suffering of others. 
The Beatitudes are that new day for all those who look to the future, who continue to dream, who allow themselves to be touched and sent forth by the Spirit of God." - P. Francis

Papal Mass in Chile
Saints pictured flanking the altar:
Bl. Laura Vicuna
St. Alberto Hurtado
St. Teresa of the Andes
the last, I'm only guessing,
Bl. Zepherin Namuncura.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Fr. William Baer

Father William Baer, 60, pastor of Transfiguration in Oakdale, died early Jan. 14.

I'm so sorry to hear that Fr. Baer died.  He was a very holy priest, a gifted man, a truly humble man - no guile, no ambition - just enthusiasm for Christ and the Gospel - and great kindness and consideration towards ordinary people.  

May he rest in peace.

Soul searching.


The inclination to hiddenness is a quiet mark of holiness. It corresponds to the secrecy of relations between a soul and God. For it seems to be God’s consistent habit with souls to conceal himself even when they are close to him. We can surmise that the saints came to know well this divine preference for concealment. It added intensity to their seeking after God in his many disguises. Rather than frustrating them, the divine hiding provoked them with intense longings. And it aroused in them a desire for their own concealment, not from God, but from the eyes of others, so that they might remain among the unknown and the recognized. If we want to find holiness, the first place to search is in the shadows and corners. - Fr. Donald Haggerty, Contemplative Provocations

Pope Francis on his way ...

Apostolic visit to Chile and Peru. 
As he boarded the plane for Chile on Monday, Pope Francis spoke of his fears in the face of threats of nuclear war. Talking to journalists on the papal plane, he also commented on the image of a young Japanese boy carrying the body of his baby brother on his back as he waited in line at a crematorium in the city of Nagasaki. - Vatican News
"Presumption is the crime of idolatry." - Today's first reading, Samuel 15: 16-23 

No one ever listens to popes when they attempt to broker peace.  Paul VI was ignored when he cried, "No more war!" at the United Nations.  John Paul II was ignored in his many please for peace as well.  From the beginning of his Pontificate he worked for peace.  In his address to the United Nations in 1982 he made his plea for disarmament:
The teaching of the Catholic Church in this area has been clear and consistent. It has deplored the arms race, called nonetheless for mutual progressive and verifiable reduction of armaments as well as greater safeguards against possible misuse of these weapons. It has done so while urging that the independence, freedom and legitimate security of each and every nation be respected. 
I wish to reassure you that the constant concern and consistent efforts of the Catholic Church will not cease until there is a general verifiable disarmament, until the hearts of all are won over to those ethical choices which will guarantee a lasting peace.
[My Predecessor, Pius XII, as early as 1946, referred to "the might of new instruments of destruction" which "brought the problems of disarmament into the center of international discussions under completely new aspects" (Address to the College of Cardinals, December 24, 1946).] - Vatican

Perhaps prophetically, Pope Benedict XVI, when explaining the reason for his name choice said:
In taking this name, I wanted to evoke both the Patron Saint of Europe, who inspired a civilization of peace on the whole continent, and Pope Benedict XV .... planning to acquire them— agree to change their course by clear and firm decisions, and strive for a progressive and concerted nuclear disarmament. - Holy See
It's maybe good to remember that in 1916-1917 Europe rejected the Papal Peace Plan of P. Benedict XV.  Catholics and Protestants alike seemed insulted that a Pope would attempt to broker peace.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

World Day of Migrants and Refugees

“You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, 
and you shall love him as yourself, 
for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God” 
(Leviticus 19:34).

From Pope Francis.
It is not easy to enter into another culture, to put oneself in the shoes of people so different from us, to understand their thoughts and their experiences. As a result we often refuse to encounter the other and raise barriers to defend ourselves. Local communities are sometimes afraid that the newly arrived will disturb the established order, will ‘steal’ something they have long laboured to build up. And the newly arrived also have fears: they are afraid of confrontation, judgment, discrimination, failure. These fears are legitimate, based on doubts that are fully comprehensible from a human point of view. Having doubts and fears is not a sin. The sin is to allow these fears to determine our responses, to limit our choices, to compromise respect and generosity, to feed hostility and rejection. The sin is to refuse to encounter the other, the different, the neighbour, when this is in fact a privileged opportunity to encounter the Lord. - P. Francis Homily

Saturday, January 13, 2018

How far to follow?

That was the title of a book on the Trappist martyrs of Algiers.

As our Lord revealed, a martyr is like the 'seed that falls to the ground and dies'.  Martyrdom is the supreme annihilation of self.  In this vein, I often recall what St. John of the Cross taught regarding the self-denial the Christian must embrace - sooner or later - and how difficult it is:  “Oh that someone might show us how to understand, practice and experience what this counsel is which our Saviour here gives us concerning the denial of ourselves, so that spiritual persons might see in how different a way they should conduct themselves upon this road than that which many of them think proper.... Oh that someone would tell us how far Our Lord desires this self-denial to be carried!”

This morning, the daily meditation in Magnificat reminded me once again of how necessary and extremely difficult this self-abnegation can be. 

Oh how different are the ideas of God from our ideas...

The Blessed Virgin Mary 
and the Annihilation of Matthew

Oh how different are the ideas of God from our ideas. Oh how far removed from our ways are the ways he takes to attain his ends! How pleasing in his eyes are obscurity, humility, retirement, solitude, and silent prayer! A thousand times greater in his sight are they than all sorts of brilliant exterior works! Oh how true it is that to be anything in the sight of God we must be nothing, we must pretend to nothing; we must only desire to be ignored, forgotten, despised, and considered as the most vile and abject thing in the world.

If the life of the Blessed Virgin does not teach us this great truth, if it does not make us love it and embrace it, if it does not stifle in us the desire of appearing as something of importance, if it does not convince us that to find ourselves in God we must first lose ourselves entirely, what more touching example, what more powerful lesson, could ever be able to persuade us? Jesus and Mary demonstrate to every Christian that God finds his greatest glory in this world in our annihilation. And they also demonstrate to us that the more we are annihilated on earth, the greater, the happier, and the more powerful shall we be in heaven.

How shall we then show our solid devotion to the Blessed Virgin? By striving to imitate her interior life, her lowly opinion of herself, her love of obscurity, of silence, and of retirement; her attraction to little things, her fidelity to grace, the beautiful simplicity of her recollection and prayer, the only object of which was God and his holy will, Jesus Christ and his love, her continual sacrifice of herself and of all she loved most dearly and had the greatest reason to love. Let us ask her every day that she may serve us as our guide and model in the interior life, and let us beg of her to obtain for us the graces which are necessary for us, that we may correspond to the designs of God upon us. And these designs are most certainly our death to ourselves and the destruction of our self-love.

Father Jean-Nicolas Grou, s.j.

Father Grou († 1803) was a French Jesuit priest and a beloved spiritual master. - Source

"Oh how true it is that to be anything in the sight of God we must be nothing, we must pretend to nothing; we must only desire to be ignored, forgotten, despised, and considered as the most vile and abject thing in the world."

Friday, January 12, 2018

Something on the Indefectibility of the Church ...

Remember Leo Taxil?

Enemies of the Church "want to see the Catholic Church weakened, especially the authority of the pope, who they feel has too much influence over voters and consumer practice."

I came across the following comment by Emmett O'Regan, the author of  "Pope St. Pius X on the Indefectibility of the Church and the Prophecies of St. John Bosco"

I want to share it, because it corresponds with my own opinion and theory regarding the assault upon the Papacy we are witnessing in the Church in the United States, fueled by ultra conservative Catholic media.  Several years ago we only came across this type anticlerical, anti-Catholic rhetoric on sedevacantist sites, or by right-wing-fringe bloggers and Fr. Gruner followers and Fatima-cultists.  Now it is ever more pervasive on Catholic social media and even espoused by individual priests and religious.  

Recently Cardinal Burke urged Catholics: "Never apologize for Church teaching."  Frequently his words are understood by some to be veiled references to the Holy Father, as if he is straying from Catholic teaching, or even teaching error.  That is unfortunate.   Would that the Cardinal instead urged Catholics: Never make apologies for remaining faithful to the Church and the Holy Father. Beware of those who hold other views.

That said, the following is an opinion expressed by the author Emmett O'Regan on the current disrespect and detraction, and in some cases, calumnies  against Pope Francis and the Bishops in communion with him.

If you ask me, I think a lot of American politicians are pulling the strings behind some elements of the English speaking Catholic media, such as EWTN and the Register, CWR, etc., purely for their own agenda. Many politicians want to see the Catholic Church weakened (e.g. Masonic ones), especially the authority of the pope, who they feel has too much influence over voters and consumer practice. This is why you are seeing this new trend towards Gallicanism emerging - which was similarly politically oriented towards restricting papal authority. I think the similarities to the Gallican template is too systematic to be accidental. I think a political lobby group is purposely steering it in this direction, and is manipulating the right-wing Catholic media for its own ends. The dissent being stoked against the magisterium atm won't just affect this papacy, but all future papacies. If you can dissent from one magisterium, why not another? If this level of dissent is allowed to continue, will weaken the Catholic Church for ever. The vast majority of the media scorn is not Pope Francis' fault either - this hatred is being deliberately manufactured. He is being undermined on all levels, and there is some serious profiteering going on for doing so. Sites like 1P5 are raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations, even though it isn't a charitable organisation helping the poor. It's sole purpose is to incite hatred against the pope, and it is turning this into a business operation. Books like "The Dictator Pope" are raking it in. There is absolutely no money to be made in defending the pope, only scorn and derision. 
The Holy Spirit will always protect the Church from heresy. It is Catholic dogma that the Church has to remain a perfect society to the end of time in order to fulfil the Great Commission. If it did not remain perfect, it simply could not fulfil this commission, which is why it is indefectible. - Emmett O'Regan


“Holy Spirit, inspire me. 
Love of God consume me. 
Along the true road, lead me. 
Mary, my good mother, look down upon me. 
With Jesus, bless me. 
From all evil, all illusion, all danger, preserve me.”
- St. Mary of Jesus Crucified, OCD

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Holy Father's catechesis on the Holy Eucharist.

Few Catholic pundits seem to comment on the things the Holy Father is saying.

He's discussing the Ordinary Form of Mass - the Liturgy.  He speaks of silence, the meaning and necessity for the Penitential rite, as well as the liturgy as a school of prayer.  Consistent with Sacrosanctum concilium, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the Holy Father is offering the catecheses on the Mass of Paul VI, otherwise known as the Ordinary Form or Novus Ordo. The Sacred Liturgy of the Church.

It is important to note since this has been the Ordinary Form of Mass since it was promulgated in 1969.  This is the Mass celebrated by the Popes ever since.  The changes implemented following the Second Vatican Council are legitimate.  Hostility to Vatican II and downright rejection by some in the Church is most likely the reason many Catholics online are ignoring the Holy Father's catechesis.

My prayer is formed by and united to the Liturgy, the prayer of the Church - which as the Holy Father noted “the Opening Prayer is also called the “Collect”, because it gathers up and presents to the Triune God all our individual prayers.”

It seems to me this is one reason we need one calendar for both forms of Mass.

Anyway, I am happy the Holy Father is making this catechesis and continuing to implement the reforms of Vatican II.  For too many years Catholics online have been promoting the idea that the OF of Mass is deficient and heretical, or even 'un-holy', and that Vatican II was a bad Council foretold by private revelation. 

Never make apologies for remaining faithful to the Church and the Holy Father.  Beware of those who hold other views.
Concluding his catechesis, the Holy Father underlined that “by reflecting on these rich prayers, and uniting ourselves with the Church in lifting them up to God, we see how the liturgy becomes for each Christian a true school of prayer.” - Pope Francis

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

When you feel like you can't go on ...

Don Dolindo Ruotolo

"And when I must lead you on a path different from the one you see, I will prepare you; I will carry you in my arms; I will let you find yourself, like children who have fallen asleep in their mother’s arms, on the other bank of the river. What troubles you and hurts you immensely are your reason, your thoughts and worry, and your desire at all costs to deal with what afflicts you." - Jesus to Fr. Dolindo
O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything!

Song for this post here

Monday, January 08, 2018

Mass Chat: Eucharistic Adoration

At my parish we are preparing for Perpetual Adoration.

We are preparing for it by prayer, Mass, and catechesis.  Establishing an adoration chapel is a good thing.  I see it as a means to revive devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and to make reparation for sin, and so on.  I think my pastor also sees it as a source for vocations.  It's a wonderful thing, a holy and sacred work.  Some of us at the parish have desired this for many years, and now it may become a reality.

Is this the best way to promote devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and restore faith in the Real Presence?

Because I think that is some of the motivation behind the initiative.  It seems to me there can be another, more practical approach taken before establishing a separate adoration chapel.  I think it is more necessary to restore the tabernacle to the center of the sanctuary.  We have a box off to the side - the interior falling apart, and in summer, the hosts sometimes become soft, due to humidity.  The box is on a shelf, and did I mention - off to the side, not very visible.  We desperately need a new tabernacle and it needs to be central in the church.  Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament needs to be rehabilitated to simple devotion to the Eucharist reserved in the tabernacles. 

I think it needs to start and be affirmed in connection with the Mass - the Eucharistic celebration, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  The source and summit of our faith.  First things first - then a special adoration chapel - if needed.

When I was younger, we used to kneel whenever the priest went to the tabernacle and opened it, outside of Mass.

We also genuflected whenever we walked in front of the tabernacle attached to the altar reredos.  There was no disconnect from the Mass when the tabernacle was central and devotion clearly linked to the altar of sacrifice.

It seems to me devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and adoration can be jump started with 40 Hours Devotion, along with periods of silent adoration after feast day and Sunday Masses, concluding in solemn benediction.  As it stands, when parishes have a day set aside for adoration, the Blessed Sacrament is exposed on the altar of sacrifice - which seems to me most appropriate, since the devotion is thereby  an obvious extension of the Mass.  Frequently lay people recite the prayers of Benediction at the closing, and repose the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle.  Sometimes awkwardly.  I think that's a problem, especially since solemn benediction seems to have become rare.  Likewise, I've seen some carelessness when reposing the Blessed Sacrament.

I love perpetual adoration, I'm just not sure it is always the ideal first step for a parish.  Especially when the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle is more or less ignored.  I'm sure people will disagree with me, but reverence for the Blessed Sacrament needs to begin at the foot of the altar, before the tabernacle, at Mass, and at Communion time - and after - especially in a silent period of thanksgiving.  As I stated, exposition and Solemn Benediction would be an excellent way to increase devotion and restore true devotion.

I may be wrong.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Buona Epifania a tutti!

Befana never showed up last night.

I'm thinking she's pissed Epiphany has been moved to Sunday.  Oh well.

Buona Epifania a tutti!

Christian legend had it that Befana was approached by the magi, also known as the Three Wise Men (or the three kings) a few days before the birth of the Infant Jesus. They asked for directions to where the Son of God was, as they had seen his star in the sky, but she did not know. She provided them with shelter for a night, as she was considered the best housekeeper in the village, with the most pleasant home. The magi invited her to join them on the journey to find the baby Jesus, but she declined, stating she was too busy with her housework. Later, La Befana had a change of heart, and tried to search out the astrologers and Jesus. That night she was not able to find them, so to this day, La Befana is searching for the little baby. She leaves all the good children toys and candy ("caramelle") or fruit, while the bad children get coal ("carbone"), onions or garlic.
Another Christian legend takes a slightly darker tone as La Befana was an ordinary woman with a child whom she greatly loved. However, her child died, and her resulting grief maddened her. Upon hearing news of Jesus being born, she set out to see him, delusional that he was her son. She eventually met Jesus and presented him with gifts to make him happy. The infant Jesus was delighted, and he gave La Befana a gift in return; she would be the mother of every child in Italy. - Source