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Christmas 2005

  • Happybrennan
    A number of folks have complained that even though I have a digital camera, I haven't been using it enough. Thus I tried to take some pictures of the Godkids from Christmas Morning, 2005.

December 23, 2005

St. Servulus

Servulus_1The feasts of two saints whose lives and deaths run counter to the spirit with which many today celebrate "the Holidays" bracket Christmas on the calendar.  The feast of St. Stephen, protomartyr, comes on Dec. 26 to remind us that sometimes faith in the babe whose mother wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger has brought death as its price, and the feast of St. Servulus comes on Dec. 23 to remind us that God can and should be praised, honored, and adored no matter where we are or under what circumstances we live.

St. Servulus of the 6th century in Rome, was a paralytic and beggar of whom all we know is what Pope St. Gregory the Great recorded of him.   Each day his mother and sister would carry him to beg for alms in front of the Church of St. Clement in Rome, a Church which is still there, and even though St. Servulus could not read he purchased holy books that he had read to him and distributed some of his alms to other beggars.  St. Gregory's account of his life and character is quoted here:

“Many alms came to the little house of the paralytic, to such an extent that he became rich in his poverty.  After having taken from these what was necessary for his subsistence and that of his mother, he gave the rest to the indigent, who often assembled around him to be edified by his words and his virtues.  His bed of pain was a pulpit of preaching, from which he converted souls.

“When the time came which was decreed by God to reward his patience and put an end to his painful life, Servulus felt the paralysis spreading to the vital parts of his body, and he prepared for death.  At the final moment, he asked those in attendance to recite Psalms with him.  Suddenly he cried out: ‘Ah! Don’t you hear that melody resounding in heaven?’  At that moment his soul escaped from his body, which until his burial gave forth a marvelous fragrance.”

November 15, 2005

On Dorothy Day

Dorothydayolder_1Tom Haessler, a regular reader at Sed Contra and a friend, has offered these memories of Dorothy Day over at Open Book in reaction to a post about this article.  I offer them for your edification, for they edified me.

I consider it one of the great graces of my life to have known Dorothy Day personally.

I'd like to start this by drawing attention to Paul Likoudis's article in the WANDERER a couple of weeks ago in which he acknowledged that in previous articles he had wrongfully maligned Dorothy. "She was not a Communist, as I had thought and written, she was a saint!"

After one of my friends had burned his draft card to protest the Vietnam War, there was one of those sixties type "liturgies" in a private apartment in New York. In attendance was the Quaker, A.J.Muste (Leon Trotsky's former secretary who converted to Christianity and religious pacifism), a number of New York Catholic intellectuals, and Dorothy. The priest who presided at the "home liturgy" was a "with it" type who wore a tee-shirt and shirts while presiding at the Eucharist (sorry to shock you youngins, but that sort of thing was common in the years immediately after the Council!). The bread used was, I think, Wonder Bread or some other aweful white bread; the wine was a bottle of Chianti (I think). Despite the unusual vestments and setting, the priest prayed a completely valid Eucharistic prayer and so it, indeed, was a valid Eucharist. After we'd all received the Eucharist this priest used his hands to sweep the remaining consecrated elements into a waste basket! Dorothy Day got down on her knees (she was in her late seventies, I think), looked up at Father, and said "I don't know about you, Father, but for me this is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." She then quietly and reverently recovered the dumped Species and reverently received the Remains.

Once I was eating with some of my college student buddies at the Catholic Worker on Chrystie Street in New York on a Friday evening. Dorothy was there eating with us. There was going to be a "round table discussion" on Russian religious writers that evening. These discussions were always fun because a number of street people (winos and junkies, etc.) who had sobered up would participate and ask the college professors to explain better what they meant! Well, this particular evening, there was a recently sobered up dude who had serious mental problems at the table. He started arguing with the guy next to him. Suddenly, in a rage, he stood up and pulled out a knife. Dorothy calmly stood up, established eye contact with "Clem" and said "Clem, we're trying to have a nice dinner and conversation together. Please hand me that knife and sit down and enjoy your dinner!" "Yes, Miss Day," he said (with an expression like a naughty boy who had just been scolded and threatened with a spanking). He sat down and within five minutes was giving his view of Dostoievsky! Dorothy could be quite strong and was totally unafraid of the fascinating marginal and broken people who frequented the Worker.

Continue reading "On Dorothy Day" »

September 28, 2005

Feast Of St. Wenceslas

WenceslasGood King Wenceslas last looked out
On the Feast of Stephen
When the snow lay roundabout
Deep and crisp and even.....

Good King Wenceslas has been one of my favorite Christmas hymns, even though I was a very secular child growing up in an irreligious household and even though, technically, the song says nothing explicitly about Christ and/or Christmas (though the placement of the song's events, the Feast of St. Stephen, does situate it in the Christmas Octave.)

So it was a real pleasure to learn, as a Catholic, that King Wenceslas of the song not only actually existed but that he has been proclaimed a Saint and that he is remembered to this day.  Here is a page which offers a good, if brief, discussion of his life and some of the political, economic and diplomatic currents swirling around him, as well as the family rivalries and pressures which got him assassinated:

When Wenceslas was thirteen, his father was killed in a battle. Drahomira took advantage of the confusion and religious animosity to garner the support of the powerful pagan nobility while Wenceslas awaited his majority. During that time, Grandmother Ludmilla arranged to bring up the boy; carefully she formed in his heart the love of Christ and His holy Church with the help of her priest, himself a disciple of St. Methodios. After Vratislav's death those same nobles encouraged Drahomira's jealousy of St. Ludmilla by sly suggestions. "Just look at what this interfering woman has accomplished: your own son is now better fit for a monastery than a throne," Between them they conceived and executed a plan to eliminate the  Grandmother's gentle influence. They had her strangled [commemorated as a  martyr by the Church on Sept. 16th].

Feeling herself now exempt from all Christian duty, the mother reclaimed her son, including him in her  idolatrous ceremonies. Secretly, however, Wenceslas continued to celebrate his Christian faith in private services, receiving the Holy Mysteries in the deep of night. His own crops of wheat and wine were contributed for their preparation. Soon, God saw fit to bring the goodness of the young Prince to light, at the same time rewarding Drahomira in kind for her evil accomplishment. Murder, even by a regent., was severely punishable, and an uprising deposed and banished her. Gaining the throne shortly at the age of eighteen, Wenceslas recalled his mother to the castle, heeding the commandment to honor one's father and mother.

He also has an altar in St. Peter's in Rome and is seems to be cheerfully recalled on the last weekend of each September by at least one small town in Czechoslovakia.

His feast day also comes along right a time when the events in the wake of Hurricane Katrina have once again reminded us that people living in poverty are definitely still with us and we have an obligation, as Christians,  not to let them slip out of our sights and minds.

August 23, 2005

Little Known Martyr

FrralemartyrTwo hundred and eight-two years ago today, Jesuit priest Father John Sebastian Rales was killed by a raiding party of English soldiers and native allies in the villiage where he had lived with, and catechized, the Abenaki Indians for 30 years.  The English, who in 1724 were busy settling Massachusetts were concerned that Rale's influence among the Abenaki would lead them to side with the French in the coming conflict over North America.

He is remembered in this web page (with many broken links) and his grave is marked with this monument.

After many acts of hostility had been committed on both sides by the two nations, a little army of Englishmen and their native American allies, numbering eleven hundred men, unexpectedly came to attack the village of Norridgewock. . . . At that time there were only fifty warriors in the village.  At the first noose of the muskets, they tumultuously seized their weapons, ad went out of their cabins to oppose the enemy.  Their design was not rashly to meet the onset of so many combatants, but to further the flight of the women and the children, and give them time to gain the other side of the river, which was not yet occupied by the English.

Father Rasles, warned by the clamor and the tumult of the danger which was menacing his neophytes, promptly left his house and fearlessly appeared before the enemy. He expected by his presence either to stop their first efforts, or, at least, to draw their attention to himself alone, and at the expense of his life to procure the safety of his flock. As soon as they perceived the missionary, a general shout was raised which was followed by a storm of musket-shots that was poured upon him.

He dropped dead at the foot of a large cross that he had erected in the midst of the village, in order to announce the public profession that was made therein of adoring a crucified God.  Seven native Americans, who were around him and exposing their lives to guard that of their father, were killed by his side. The death of the shepherd dismayed the flock; the native Americans took to flight and crossed the river, part of them by fording, and part by swimming.  They were exposed to all the fury of their enemies, until the moment when they retreated into the woods which are on the other side of the river. There they were gathered, to the number of a hundred and fifty. From more than two thousand gunshots that had been fired at them only thirty persons were killed, including the women and children; and fourteen were wounded.  The English did not attempt to pursue the fugitives; they were content with pillaging and burning the village; they set fire to the church, after a base profanation of the sacred vessels and of the adorable Body of Jesus Christ.

The precipitate retreat of the enemy permitted the return of the Norridgewocks to the village. The very next day they visited the wreck of their cabins, while the women, on their part, sought for roots and plants suitable for treating the wounded Their first care was to weep over the body of their holy missionary; they found it pierced by hundreds of bullets, the scalp torn off, the skull broken by blows from a hatchet, the mouth and the eyes filled with mud, the bones of the legs broken, and all the members mutilated. This sort of inhumanity, practiced on a body deprived of feeling and of life, can scarcely be attributed to any one but to the savage allies of the English.

After the devout Christians of Norridgewock had washed and kissed many times the honored remains of their father, they buried him in the very place where, the night before, he had celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, --- that is, in the place where the altar had stood before the burning of the church.

By such a precious death did the apostolic man finish, on the 23rd of August in this year, a course of thirty-seven years spent in the arduous labors of this mission.  He was in the sixty-seventh year of his life . . . .

May 22, 2005

Real Love

RitaToday is the feast of St. Rita of Cascia, an Augustinian nun who died in 1457 and who is the patroness of my parish, St. Rita's in Alexandria, Virginia.

I have been in other parishes when they have had patronal feast days come up and I have usually seen them offer a few extras at Mass, a mention in the homily perhaps, or once a presentation on the saint prepared by schoolchildren and displayed in the church's vestibule.  But St. Rita's has done far more.

Yesterday evening, in honor of  the eve of the Feast, The Palestrina Choir performed music from William Byrd's Mass For Four Voices and included some of his propers for the Feast of Corpus Christi and some Eucharistic hymns. The musical event transported me.  If there is ever something I envy it is others ability to sing, and these 12 people were just so very good and performed so well.  And the choir explained in the program a lot about William Byrd, a Catholic composer living in Anglican England and who wrote mostly for Masses which could only be held in secret and for which both lay and ordained Catholics were being fined or even put to death.

Even more potentially dangerous than the publication of he Masses was Byrd's project to provide music for the propers of major feast days of the Roman rite....Byrd doubtless wrote the music for the kind of services he himself attended, which, by necessity, were held secretly in private homes and chapels....

Then, on the feast day itself, the homilies didn't just touch upon the Saint's life, they also sought to show how the Saint's life could show us something about God as well as provide us examples of Christian life and attitude.

For example, although St. Rita is almost always depicted in an Augustinian habit, for she was an Augustinian nun for 40 years, before she entered religious life she was a wife and mother of two boys who may have been twins.

Interestingly, accounts of her life differ.  According to accounts like this one and this one, Rita married early in accord with the wishes of her parents to a man who was cruel and abusive to her. Nonetheless she bore him two sons, persisted in prayer for his conversion and eventually saw him converted - sadly only a relatively short while before he was set upon by enemies and murdered.  Rita then saw over time that her sons were becoming steadily more caught up in the notion or avenging their father's death through murder and prayed that God would either grant the grace to change their minds or allow them die before having the time to commit a sin which could endanger their eternal lives.  Shortly afterward the young men contracted illnesses that, eventually, did take their lives - but only after having both been forgiven and forgiving their father's killers.  Rita then entered the convent after some difficulty and lived a holy life replete with signs, including a stigmata of a wound of thorns on her forehead.

Now,  The National Shrine to St. Rita, in Philadelphia, omits any real information about her husband's abuse in its account of her life, and significantly downplays her praying for her sons to be allowed to die rather than sin.  But it does offer an interesting account of her entrance into religious life.  According to the National Shrine, Rita's problem with entering was that one of the members of the family widely seen as responsible for her husband's death was already a sister and the convent thought it imprudent to introduce so much potential rivalry into the community.  The only way Rita could enter was to approach the family in question and make sure there was peace and only upon doing so was she admitted.

Continue reading "Real Love" »

April 27, 2005

A Thought From Mother Teresa

Mteresa_1Jesus taught us to forgive out of love, how to forget out of humility. So let us examine our hearts and see if there is any unforgiven hurt - any unforgotten bitterness!

It is easy to love those who are far away. It isn't always easy to love those who are right next to us. It is easier to offer food to the hungry than to answer the lonely suffering of someone who lacks love right in one’s own family.

The world today is upside down because there is so very little love in the home, and in family life. We have no time for each other. Everybody is in such a terrible rush, and so anxious…and in the home begins the disruption of the peace of the world.

If you liked this little reflection and would like to recieve one like it daily in your email box, click here.

April 18, 2005

Gandhi On Contraception, Chastity

GhandiOne of the interesting things I discovered when I began to consider coming into the Catholic Church was the extent to which the beliefs I had come to about the purpose and meaning of human sexual expression echoed the teachings and understandings of the Catholic Church on the same topics.

It seemed extraordinary to me, and still does, that one man's experience of gay sex and a multi-year same sex relationship could have prepared him to hear these teachings as mine had.

Before I became a Catholic I had begun to endeavor to live chastely, coming to understand quite clearly that, as a human being generally and as a man in particular, my body has a meaning in its design and that to ignore that meaning through same sex acts both insulted and in a certain way blasphemed God's creation in both myself and my partners - at least two of whom I claimed to love.

Since then I have occasionally been pleased to stumble across other folks, both among the famous and the not so famous, whose own experience and teaching also echoed the Church's understanding and teachings as well..

Mohandas Gandhi is widely revered as the father of independent India and as a moral teacher in his role as Mahatma, or great soul.  He never became a Christian so, from my perspective, I could not believe he got it right about Christ. However some of the truths he stumbled across regarding contraception and chastity could have flowed from the pen of a solidly orthodox Christian bishop.
This came from The Essential Gandhi: An Anthology of His Writings on His Life, Work and Ideas, Vintage Spiritual Classics, 2002.

In 1936, Gandhi wrote in Harijan, a magazine he founded, about contraception:

It is dinned into one's ears that the gratification of the sex urge is a solemn obligation like the obligation of discharging debts...and not to do so would involve the penalty of  intellectual decay.  This sex urge has been isolated from the desire for progeny and it is said by the protagonists of the use of contraceptives that conception is an accident to be prevented except when the parties desire to have children.  I venture to suggest this is a most dangerous doctrine to preach anywhere, much more so in a country like India....Marriage loses its sanctity when its purpose and highest use is conceived to be the satisfaction of animal passion without contemplating the natural result of such satisfaction.

Continue reading "Gandhi On Contraception, Chastity" »

April 02, 2005

Thank You, John Paul

JpiinelThe pope has died.  I have no words to offer but that my heart already misses him.

Mary, mother of God, pray for us.
St. Joseph, pray for us.
St. Peter, pray for us.

This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.

April 01, 2005


JpiicampoThis morning, if the news reports are accurate, Pope John Paul II has grown significantly closer to ending his earthly life.  He is the only Pope I have known for the decade or more than I have been a Catholic and the Pope who I have met and who has blessed me.  Today will be a day of prayer and vigil for me,  not for John Paul to stay with us necessarily - as much as I love him! - but for the will of God to be done.

After all the different ways John Paul has taught and edified me over the years, it is hardly surprising he is still doing so now.  He has not rushed to the hospital as his health has failed him, he has not grasped at every medical technology available.  He has remained engaged in his medical treatment and chosen to accept what God has for him.  In fact, one report this morning said that he has actively opposed going to the hospital and, a few weeks ago, checked himself out of the hospital against the advice of his doctors.

Should his life on earth end in this way I think he may offer all of us an example of how to make use of the medical technology available to us without allowing it to dictate to us the terms of a gift that, after all, only comes from God and in the end must go back to Him.

John Paul II, I love you! Thank you for what you have given me and the faith to which you have helped call me.  One day, God willing, we will meet again and I will be able to tell you all this face to face.

Here is my memory of the day we met.

March 28, 2005

Speaking Truth To Power

Pius250afpThe Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, the second largest city in Zimbabwe, has run afoul of the government by calling on Zimbabweans to rise up in a peaceful revolution similar to those staged in Ukraine:

The highly respected Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, the Most Rev Pius Ncube, said that the parliamentary elections on Thursday were certain to be rigged. "I hope that people get so disillusioned that people really organise against this government and kick him [Mr Mugabe] out by non- violent popular mass uprising," said Archbishop Ncube. "As it is, people have been too soft with this government. So people should pluck up just a bit of courage and stand up against him and chase him away."

Archbishop Ncube, who is a prominent critic of Mr Mugabe and the ruling Zanu-PF, made the radical suggestion, in an interview with The Independent, as evidence was mounting of more subtle forms of intimidation and coercion than the overt violence that characterised the previous two elections. "I am simply backing a non-violent popular uprising, like that in the Philippines in 1986 and such as in Ukraine," he said.

Many believe that the results of the national elections, in which President Mugabe has the right to appoint 30 members of the 120-seat parliament, have been pre-determined by the government. Rallies of Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have largely been peaceful but a steady stream of complaints accuse the government of using other tactics such as withholding food aid from MDC supporters in a time of near-famine.

The government of Zimbabwe has reacted by calling Ncube an insane liar.

March 24, 2005

Twenty Five Years Ago Today

RomeroHow easy it is to denounce structural injustice, institutionalized violence, social sin! And it is true, this sin is everywhere, but where are the roots of this social sin? In the heart of every human being. Present-day society is a sort of anonymous world in which no one is willing to admit guilt, and everyone is responsible. We are all sinners, and we have all contributed to this massive crime and violence in our country. Salvation begins with the human person, with human dignity, with saving every person from sin.

Twenty five years ago an assassin's bullet felled Archbishop Oscar Romero at the altar.  The day before he had taken the courageous and terrifying step of confronting the military of El Salvador about its role in the continuing repression and supression of the country's people.

This from a Broderhof page about him:

Romero was a surpise of history. The poor never expected him to take their side and the elites of church and state felt betrayed. He was a compromise candidate elected to head the bishop's episcopacy by conservative fellow bishops. He was predictable, an orthodox, pious bookworm who was known to criticize the progressive liberation theology clergy so aligned with the impoverished farmers seeking land reform. But an event would take place within three weeks of his election that would transform this ascetic and timid man.

The new archbishop's first priest, Rutilio Grande, was ambushed and killed along with two parishioners. Grande was a target because he defended the peasant's rights to organize farm cooperatives. He said that the dogs of the big landowners ate better food than the campesino children whose fathers worked their fields.

The night Romero drove out from the capitol to Paisnal to view Grande's body and the old man and seven year old who were killed with him, marked his change. In a packed country church Romero encountered the silent endurance of peasants who were facing rising terror. Their eyes asked the question only he could answer: Will you stand with us as Rutilio did? Romero's "yes" was in deeds. The peasants had asked for a good shepherd and that night they received one.

Romero already understood the church is more than the hierarchy, Rome, theologians or clerics—more than an institution—but that night he experienced the people as church. "God needs the people themselves," he said, "to save the world... The world of the poor teaches us that liberation will arrive only when the poor are not simply on the receiving end of hand-outs from governments or from the churches, but when they themselves are the masters and protagonists of their own struggle for liberation."

At his funeral, sharpshooters shooting from rooftops killed 40 people and no one has ever been called to justice for his murder.

December 17, 2004

Still on Campion

Campion_1Well, St. Edmund Campion's feast day passed on December 1, but I admit I still find his story fascinating.  Partly because I ordered a used copy of Evelyn Waugh's 1935 biography, Edmund Campion: Scholar, Priest, Hero, and Martyr and it arrived late and so I am reading past the day so to speak.

I am not sure why Campion so fascinates me, but I can put a finger on some clues.  First, he was a man who could have had charted for him an excellent life with many of the things that men and women take for granted; position, worldly success, the esteem of peers, marriage, a family if only he would have conformed to the prevailing mores of his surrounding culture in terms of religion.  Indeed, quite a career since he had attracted the favorable attention of very high men in Elisabeth I's court.

But he didn't take it.  And instead chose a life of devotion and service to God and to education in a foreign land.  I had been under the impression that Campion had gone abroad with the notion that he would necessarily be ordained and sent back to England, but this was not actually so.  When he went abroad it was with the notion of being ordained and, after his recruitment, being ordained as a Jesuit.  But as the Jesuits at that time had no English province, Campion was sent to Prague to teach, which he did faithfully for six years, before being called back to go to England to become a hero to Catholics there, a martyr and an example to use today.

Second, because of his whole attitude throughout the adventure, torture and mock trial and execution.

Here is how Waugh describes the Catholics to whom Campion had been sent to minister, this ministry was entirely important because William Cecil, Elizabeth's Chief Councilor, had determined to kill the faith slowly by depriving Catholics of the sacraments, imprisoning some who refused to recant their faith, executing a few more and generally just grinding out the old religion through taxes and the sword.

These were the conditions of life, always vexatious, often utterly disastrous, of the people to whom the Jesuits were being sent, people drawn from the most responsible and honourable class, guilty of no crime except adherence to the traditional faith of their country. They were conditions which, in the natural course, could only produce despair, and it depended upon their individual temperaments whether, in desperation, they had recourse to apostasy or conspiracy. It was the work of the missionaries, and most particularly of Campion, to present by their own example a third, supernatural solution. They came with gaiety among a people where hope was dead.

The past held only regret, and the future apprehension; they brought with them, besides their priestly dignity and the ancient and indestructible creed, an entirely new spirit of which Cam­pion is the type; the chivalry of Lepanto and the poetry of La Mancha, light, tender, generous and ardent.

After him there still were apostates and there were conspirators; there were still bitter old reactionaries, brooding alone in their impoverished manors over the injustice they had suffered, grumbling at the Queen's plebeian advisers, observing the forms of the old Church in protest against the crazy, fashion­able Calvinism; these survived, sterile and lonely, for theirs was not the temper of Campion's generation who - not the the flower only, but the root and stem of English Catholicism - surrendered themselves to their destiny without cal­culation or reserve; for whom the honourable pleasures and occupations of an earlier age were forbidden; whose choice lay between the ordered, respectable life of their ancestors and the faith which had sanctified it; who followed holiness, though it led them through bitter ways to poverty, disgrace, exile, imprisonment and death; who followed it gaily.

Campion never came to overturn the Queen or even particularly to engage is disputations about the Faith. Campion came to minister to the Catholics who needed faithful priests and who sought to preserve their faith in the teeth of a regime determined to exterminate it.
I haven't finished the book yet, so my impressions are not nearly as clear as they will likely later be.  But I have been doing more research on the Internet and I have found a remarkable convent built near the former site of the Tyburn Tree, the three sided gallows in London where Campion and many of other martyrs were slain.  It's worth a visit, I think.


December 01, 2004

St. Edmund Campion

CampionToday is the Feast of one of my favorite Saints and Martyrs, St. Edmund Campion, the one-time renowned scholar and favorite of "Good Queen Bess" until he heard the call of God more strongly than the calls of fame, power and wealth, became a priest with the Society of Jesus on the continent and then returned to England to minister to the nation's beleagured remaining Catholics.

Readers can learn more about him and his life here.

During his ministry, when the Crown appeared to be turning the whole of England upside down looking for him, Campion maintained his charity towards his persecuters and continued to address and pray for them, often in the form a popular pamphlets.   One of these, which his detractors dubbed Campions Brag (and which will be reproduced in full in the linked part of this post) included this paragraph:

Moreover I doubt not but you, her Highness' Council, being of         such wisdom and discreet in cases most important, when you shall have         heard these questions of religion opened faithfully, which many times by         our adversaries are huddled up and confounded, will see upon what         substantial grounds our Catholic Faith is builded, how feeble that side         is which by sway of the time prevaileth against us, and so at last for         your own souls, and for many thousand souls that depend upon your         government, will discountenance error when it is bewrayed [revealed],         and hearken to those who would spend the best blood in their bodies for         your salvation. Many innocent hands are lifted up to heaven for you         daily by those English students, whose posterity shall never die, which         beyond seas, gathering virtue and sufficient knowledge for the purpose,         are determined never to give you over, but either to win you heaven, or         to die upon your pikes. And touching our Society, be it known to you         that we have made a league—all the Jesuits in the world, whose         succession and multitude must overreach all the practice of         England—cheerfully to carry the cross you shall lay upon us, and never         to despair your recovery, while we have a man left to enjoy your Tyburn,         or to be racked with your torments, or consumed with your prisons. The         expense is reckoned, the enterprise is begun; it is of God; it cannot be         withstood. So the faith was planted: So it must be restored.

Warning: I have included some data discussing the method of execution by which Campion was killed and that might be disturbing, so be aware before you click.

Continue reading "St. Edmund Campion" »

November 15, 2004

St. Albert The Great

St_albertToday's Saint has been proclaimed a Doctor of the Church and is the patron saint of scientists, among other things.

Albert was born about the year 1200. He belonged to the family of Bollstädt and was probably born at the castle of Lauingen on the Danube in Germany. Little is known of his early life, but he was the eldest son and his father was wealthy and held a military office. He attended the University of Padua, studying the liberal arts.

While at the university, Albert met Blessed Jordan of Saxony, the Master General of the Dominican friars. Against the strong opposition of his uncle and father, he decided to enter the Dominicans. He was sent to study theology in Germany and about 1233 he received a lectureship and taught in several primary cities of Germany. He was sent to the University of Paris about the year 1241 to study for a mastership in theology and there he came to know the works of Aristotle. Aristotelian philosophy was just making itself known in Europe and this was to have a profound effect on Albert's studies and direction of thought.

Albert was the first German Dominican to receive a mastership in Paris. There are numerous books detailing the teachings of Albert which are beyond the scope of this presentation. Suffice it to say that he was an authority, teaching and writing treatises on logic, mathematics, metaphysics, geography, chemistry, mineralogy, biology, astronomy, ethics and other subjects.

Thanks to The Monastary of Christ in The Desert for their information on the Saint.

Continue reading "St. Albert The Great" »

November 13, 2004

Mother Cabrini

Mother_cabrini_1Today is the feast day, according to Magnificat, of  Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini, one of my favorite saints.

Frances Xavier Cabrini was born on July 15, 1850 in Sant'Angelo Lodigiano, in the Lodi region in Lombardy, Italy. Her parents, Agostino Cabrini and Stella Oldini managed to instill important values on their children always following Gods intention. Born into a poor family and the youngest of thirteen children where only four, including herself, survived, was enriched with the Catholic faith and a devout love in God. Even the day of her birth a mysterious event occurred. A flock of white doves came down from the sky onto her fathers land. Agostino tried to fight them off but managed to harm one dove. He tended to the Dove's wounds and then set the dove free to go. Since this was uncommon "the family thought of her as a little dove. They made her one by having her baptized the same day."(Maynard, 22)

Frances was born a frail and weak child always becoming susceptible to illness. She was usually tended to by her equally devout sister, Rosa who was fifteen years her senior. This health problem would affect her severely later on in years as she extensively traveled throughout the world. It was from Rosa and her Uncle Don Luigi Oldini of Livagra, a local priest, where she trained and practiced on becoming a faithful Catholic. Frances completed her primary schooling under her sister Rosa who at this time was the village schoolmistress.

One of the most extraordinary events of Frances Cabrini's life was the day she received confirmation. On August 1, 1858 while still only a little girl of eight, Frances was anointed with the chrism and it was "at that moment, she received the special grace of being forever seduced by God."(Galilea, 13) This began her intense training of becoming a good Christian. Obedience was the way Frances could reach God and strict discipline was her answer to be closer to God. Rosa was the instructor for Frances instilling on her such values as humility, modesty and obedience. Frances copied Rosa and continued this until it was like second nature to her. Frances felt the more humble she became the closer she was with Jesus.

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November 10, 2004

St. Leo The Great

LeoChristian, remember your dignity, and now that you share in God's own nature, do not return by sin to your former base condition.  Bear in mind who is your head and of whose body you are a member.  Do not forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of God's Kingdom.

This is from the monks at the Monastary of Christ in the Desert:

Leo's family is probably from Tuscany, in Italy, but because of his frequent reference to Rome as his "patria," he may have actually been born in Rome. He appears to have been well-educated, although he doesn't appear to have a knowledge of Greek. We first hear of him as a deacon under Pope St. Celestine I and it is believed that he was responsible for the care of the poor in Rome.

While a deacon under Sixtus III, St. Cyril appealed to him to help with curtailing the ambitions of Juvenal of Jerusalem. In 430 John Cassian writing against the Nestorian heresy, dedicated his treatise De Incarnatione Domini, to Leo. In 440 Leo was sent to Gaul and successfully mediated a dispute between the imperial generals, Aetius and Albinus. During his absence, Pope Sixtus died and Leo was elected to the Chair of Peter.

Ninety-six of his sermons, 143 letters which he wrote and 30 letters written to him are still in existence today. His pontificate was one of great pastoral concern and during it many heresies were refuted, in particular, Manichaeism, Nestorianism, Pelagianism and Priscillianism. As bishop of Rome, he spent a great deal of time teaching the people and his pattern of instructions was followed by many other bishops.

At a later time in his pontificate Leo had to deal with another heresy which was the opposite of the Nestorian one, namely that of Eutychianism. It was in a doctrinal letter entitled, "The Dogmatic Letter" or "The Tome of St. Leo" that Pope Leo I explained the two-fold nature of Christ (human and divine), which is the official teaching of the Catholic Church to this day.

Once again Rome was threatened with attack, this time by Atilla. Leo was able to procure a truce by convincing Attila to accept an annual tribute rather than to ransack the city. Three years later the Vandal Genseric threatened to attack. Leo was not as successful this time, but he did convince Genseric to be satisfied with looting, restraining his troops from killing the people and burning the city.

Leo reigned for twenty-one years and in that time he won the respect of the people: poor and rich, royalty and invader, clergy and laity. His was a reign that showed his only concern was not for himself but the well-being of his people, both physical, and spiritual. Leo died at Rome on November 10, 461.

August 31, 2004

News From Honduras


Father Rich Perozich continues his work in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and shared this picture of a typical standing room only Mass in his parish, along with other news. His newsletters are not online so I cannot share a link.

A Conversion Moment:

Fr. Ron’s original plans were to bring me slowly into the parish with all its history and plans and then to retire. When God retired Fr. Ron early, I found myself with plans for a primary school, grades 1-6 and an upper grade technical school. Unrealistically the people expect this to be built since the plans have been drawn, the figures worked.

Originally the local Caritas was to get money form a Spanish organization, but this has not panned out. I keep getting leads which dead end when it comes to financing. The city gave the parish a year to begin construction. We are beyond the year, but so far they have not revoked the land use.

My comfort areas are rebuilding and organizing a parish, not fundraising or construction from the ground up. That was Fr. Ron’s specialty. To do it in a foreign country without contacts is not easy either. I keep plugging away, praying that someone will fund us so the kids in our neighborhood won’t only have a Catholic school, but will have a school period. At this point they need to go outside the neighborhood to take classes.

Our parish festival of St. James the Apostle was over an octave beginning Sunday the 18th of July and culminating with Mass and lunch on the 25th, the actual feast which fell on Sunday this year. Both our bishops were occupied, so I celebrated the Mass, with incense and sprinkling rite of course. Our catechists have been involved with the public schools and public institutions to teach values through a diocesan wide program called Campaña Infantil.

Can you imagine a Catholic institution trying to instill values in the United States? The valueless are doing all they can to strike God and traditional values from the U.S. landscape. Anyway, as a result of one of their visits, I was invited to come to a home for girls which happens to be in my parish.

When I walked into the director’s office, one mentally retarded girl of about 16 was seated in the corner naked from the waist up, crying about something. I saw another girl who was pregnant — by incest said the director. Some were mentally ill like the girl who asked for a knife to cut out the evil out of her throat. Others had abusive family situations.

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August 25, 2004

Romero Trial in California


A man in Modesto, California, is being sued for allegedly having helped assasinate Archbishop Romero of El Salvador in 1980.

One of Romero's relatives in El Salvador -- represented by the Center for Justice and Accountability and attorney Nicholas van Aelstyn of Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe, both in San Francisco -- sued Alvaro Rafael Saravia last September.

"This lawsuit demonstrates that the courts of the United States can play an important role in the world-wide struggle against impunity," said University of California, Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law Professor Emeritus Patty Blum, who has advised the legal team. ...

The lawsuit claims Saravia -- who disappeared from Modesto after the lawsuit was served upon him and has mounted no legal defense -- was a Salvadoran military captain and a close aide to reputed death-squad leader Roberto D'Aubuisson. It claims Saravia obtained weapons, vehicles and other materials for the crime; ordered his personal driver to take the assassin to and from the chapel where Romero was shot; and paid the assassin after the slaying was done.

August 10, 2004

St. Lawrence, Martyr

st. Law

Lawrence was a deacon who died 4 days after Pope St. Sixtus II in the year 258. St. Ambrose, as well as the poet Prudentius and others tells us about this important martyr.

According to one tradition, when Pope Sixtus was being led away to execution, Lawrence followed behind asking, "Where are you going without your deacon?" The story goes on to say that Pope St. Sixtus assured him that he was not leaving him because he too would follow him in martyrdom in 4 days.

Another tradition tells us that the local prefect demanded that Lawrence collect all the treasures of the Church and give them to him. Lawrence proceeded to gather all the sick, the lame and the poor who were supported by the church and brought them to the prefect saying, "These are the treasures of the Church." The prefect became so angered that he order the immediate death of Lawrence.

When he was dying, Lawrence prayed for the conversion of his persecutors and for the spread of the Word of God throughout Rome and all the world. He has been one of the most venerated of the martyrs of the early Roman Church and the 5th Patriarchal Basilica was built over his tomb, called St. Laurence-outside-the-walls.

While we don't know very much about St. Laurence, what little we do know shows us a man of great courage, who was single-mindedly focused on God, and in the midst of persecution and suffering he retained his sense of humor.

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July 15, 2004

St. Bonaventure


Good morning. Today is the 15th day of July and the day we remember St. Bonaventure, sometimes called the Second Founder of the Order of Friars Minor (the Franciscans) and named a Doctor of the Church. This is from his Journey to the Mind of God:

Christ is both the way and the door. Christ is the staircase and the vehicle, like the throne of mercy over the Ark of the Covenant, and the mystery hidden from the ages. A man should turn his full attention to this throne of mercy, and should gaze at him hanging on the cross, full of faith, hope and charity, devoted, full of wonder and joy, marked by gratitude, and open to praise and jubilation. Then such a man will make with Christ a pasch, that is, a passing-over. Through the branches of the cross he will pass over the Red Sea, leaving Egypt and entering the desert. There he will taste the hidden manna, and rest with Christ in the sepulchre, as if he were dead to things outside. He will experience, as much as is possible for one who is still living, what was promised to the thief who hung beside Christ: Today you will be with me in paradise. For this passover to be perfect, we must suspend all the operations of the mind and we must transform the peak of our affections, directing them to God alone. This is a sacred mystical experience. It cannot be comprehended by anyone unless he surrenders himself to it; nor can he surrender himself to it unless he longs for it; nor can he long for it unless the Holy Spirit, whom Christ sent into the world, should come and inflame his innermost soul. Hence the Apostle says that this mystical wisdom is revealed by the Holy Spirit.

If you ask how such things can occur, seek the answer in God’s grace, not in doctrine; in the longing of the will, not in the understanding; in the sighs of prayer, not in research; seek the bridegroom not the teacher; God and not man; darkness not daylight; and look not to the light but rather to the raging fire that carries the soul to God with intense fervour and glowing love. The fir is God, and the furnace is in Jerusalem, fired by Christ in the ardour of his loving passion. Only he understood this who said: My soul chose hanging and my bones death. Anyone who cherishes this kind of death can see God, for it is certainly true that: No man can look upon me and live.

Let us die, then, and enter into the darkness, silencing our anxieties, our passions and all the fantasies of our imagination. Let us pass over with the crucified Christ from this world to the Father, so that, when the Father has shown himself to us, we can say with Philip: It is enough. We may hear with Paul: My grace is sufficient for you; and we can rejoice with David, saying: My flesh and my heart fail me, but God is the strength of my heart and my heritage for ever. Blessed be the Lord for ever, and let all the people say: Amen. Amen!

More on St. Bonaventure here.

March 19, 2004

A Saint In The Making?


This is a story about a truly remarkable woman, Sister Lourdes, who apparently played a key role in helping to keep the predominently Catholic East Timor alive during the worst days of its liberation from Indonesia.

Sister Lourdes, founder of the Institute of Brothers and Sisters in Christ, is now focused on empowering the poor to become truly "independent" by developing cottage industries, handicrafts, and agriculture, as well as spiritual growth. Her mission is to reach the areas other groups do not reach, and to demonstrate Christ's love. She tells of miracles that occur on an almost daily basis.

During the worst violence immediately following the referendum, an estimated 15,000 people fled Dili and sought refuge in the forest around her house in the mountains above the city. She told me that she and the members of her Institute looked after the people. "All 15,000?" I asked. Yes, she said. "God worked a miracle. We did not have enough food for even 15 people, let alone 15,000. But each day I got up, I prayed, and then I started cooking rice - and the barrel of rice never ran out for three weeks. The day it ran out was the day the international peacekeepers came."

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Today is the feast of St. Joseph


Today is the Feast of St. Joseph. First, for any readers unclear about who Joseph is, let's have the mini-hagiography from the monks over at Christ in The Desert:

All of the factual knowledge we have of Joseph is from the first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew and the 2nd chapter of Luke. Joseph was descended from the royal line of King David of the Old Testament. He was betrothed to Mary and was hesitant to continue the engagement when he learned of Mary's pregnancy. However, in a dream, he learned of the Divine mystery of her virginal conception and accepted the angel's encouragement, "do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife..." (Matt. 1:20).

Because of a Roman census, Joseph had to take Mary four days journey to Bethlehem, and while there Mary gave birth to "Jesus, the Christ". (Luke 2:1-7) While in Bethlehem, Joseph and Mary took Jesus to be presented to God in the temple, as was required by Jewish law (Lk 2:22-38). Later, after the visit of the Magi, Joseph was warned of Herod's intention to kill Jesus, so he took Mary and Jesus to Egypt for safety (Matt 2"13-15) and verse 19-23 tells of his returning and making his home in Nazareth after the death of Herod.

It is in Luke 2:41-51 that we learn of Jesus, at the age of twelve, accompanying his parents to Jerusalem and staying behind listening and talking with the teachers. Joseph and Mary are very concerned when they at last locate him in the temple. They express their concern, but do not understand Jesus response that He must be about His Father's business, so Jesus returns to Nazareth with them. Matt 13:55, tells us that Joseph was a "craftsman," which tradition has understood as a carpenter.

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March 18, 2004

St Cyril of Jerusalem


Today is the Feast of St. Cyril of Jerusalem:

It is believed that Cyril's family may have come from the area of Caesarea in Asia Minor. One tradition believes that he was born of Christian parents about the year 315, in Jerusalem. It seems likely that he was at least raised there. He received an excellent education and acquired an extensive knowledge of the Scriptures.

About the year 342, Bishop Maximus, known as the confessor, ordained Cyril a priest. He was given the responsibility of instructing the catechumens, and his "Catecheses" have come down to us today. These are 19 discourses, giving an exposition of the teachings and rituals of the Church in the fourth century. They are believed to be the earliest example of a formal system of Theology, still in existence.

Bishop Maximus died in 348, and in late 350, Cyril was consecrated bishop. One of his great supporters, Acacius, an Arian bishop, expected Cyril to do his bidding, but Cyril had the strength and courage to remain faithful to orthodox teachings. The conflict, which was partly doctrinal and partly jurisdictional, developed into open confrontation and Cyril was deposed by an Arian dominated synod in 357.

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March 01, 2004

The White Rose


Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor in Germany during Hitler's rise and World War II is perhaps the most famous of the Christians who opposed the dictator and paid for his opposition with his life. But he is not the only one.

At the end of February 1943, three students from the White Rose, a resistance group in Munich, were arrested, sentenced to death and summarily beheaded. Their names were Hans Scholl, 24; his sister Sophie, 21; and Christoph Probst, 23. The executions were announced in a city paper, which opined that the condemned were “typical outsiders” whose criticism of the Volk made them despicable criminals. “They deserve a speedy and dishonorable death,” it concluded.

In April, two more students and a professor, all three of them involved in the White Rose, were sentenced to death as well, and following the discovery of other participants, there were several more arrests, convictions, and executions.

Largely forgotten today, the White Rose deserves rediscovery. It was only a tiny group, and it flared haphazardly before being ruthlessly extinguished. But it still stands out as a rare and radiant page in the fading annals of the 20th century. Here was courage to swim against the stream of public opinion, even when doing so was equated with treason; here was the conviction that death is not too great a price for following the whisperings of the conscience.

You can read more about The White Rose here.

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February 21, 2004

St. Polycarp's Martyrdom


The following is drawn from The Early Christians In Their Own Words by Eberhard Arnold and available, for free in an e-book version from here.

When he was led forward, the proconsul asked him if he was Polycarp. This he affirmed. The proconsul wanted to persuade him to deny his faith, urging him, “Consider your great age,” and all the other things they usually say in such cases. “Swear by the genius of Caesar; change your mind. Say, ‘Away with the atheists.’” Polycarp, however, looked with a serious expression upon the whole mob assembled in the arena. He waved his hand over them, sighed deeply, looked up to heaven, and said, “Away with the atheists.” But the proconsul pressed him further, and said to him, “Swear and I will release you! Curse Christ!”

And Polycarp answered, “Eighty-six years have I served him, and he has never done me any harm. How could I blaspheme my King and Savior?”

When the proconsul still pressed him saying, “Swear by the genius ofCaesar,” he replied, “If you desire the empty triumph of making meswear by the genius of Caesar according to your intention, and if you pretend that you do not know who I am, hear my frank confession: I am a Christian. If you are willing to learn what Christianity is, set a time at which you can hear me.”

The proconsul replied, “Try to persuade the people.”Polycarp answered him, “You I consider worthy that I should give an explanation, for we have been taught to pay respect to governments and authorities appointed by God as long as it does us no harm. But as to that crowd, I do not consider them worthy of my defense.”

Thereupon the proconsul declared, “I have wild beasts. I shall have you thrown before them if you do not change your mind.” “Let them come,” he replied. “It is out of question for us to change from the better to the worse, but the opposite is worthy of honor: to turn round from evil to justice.”

The proconsul continued, “If you belittle the beasts and do not change your mind, I shall have you thrown into the fire.” Polycarp answered him, “You threaten me with a fire that burns but for an hour and goes out after a short time, for you do not know the fire of the coming judgment and of eternal punishment for the godless. Why do you wait? Bring on whatever you will.”

In such cases? Just that line says so much! Apparently this happened a lot and there was a sort of... procedure to it.

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Dorothy Day On Love


From Dorothy Day: Selected Writings edited by Robert Ellsberg, courtesy of The Daily Dig.

Whenever I groan within myself and think how hard it is to keep writing about love in these times of tension and strife which may, at any moment, become for us all a time of terror, I think to myself: What else is the world interested in? What else do we all want, each one of us, except to love and be loved, in our families, in our work, in all our relationships? God is Love. Love casts out fear. Even the most ardent revolutionist, seeking to change the world, to overturn the tables of the money changers, is trying to make a world where it is easier for people to love, to stand in that relationship to each other.

It is when we love the most intensely and most humanly that we can recognize how tepid is our love for others. The keenness and intensity of love brings with it suffering, of course, but joy too because it is a foretaste of heaven. When you love people, you see all the good in them, all the Christ in them. God sees Christ, His Son, in us. And so we should see Christ in others, and nothing else, and love them. There can never be enough of it.

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January 22, 2004

St. Vincent of Spain


Today is the feast day of Saint Vincent of Spain and we again travel to the 4th century to meet Vincent who lived in Saragossa, Spain. As we have often seen in the past, nothing is known of Vincent's birth or parentage. As a young man, he was instructed by St. Valerius, bishop of Saragossa. He was ordained a deacon by Valerius and given the responsibility of preaching and instructing the people about the Christian way of life.

During this time, Dacian was the governor of Spain. He was a cruel persecutor of the Christians and when the Emperor Diocletian published his edict against the Christian clergy, Dacian had Valerius and Vincent arrested. They were sent to a prison in Valencia and left to suffer famine and the cruelties of their guards. After a long period they were again brought before Dacian. The governor was amazed by their cheerfulness and continued steadfastness in their belief in Jesus Christ.

Threats of torture and promises of wealth and power had no effect on them. They refused to renounce their faith in order to escape death or gain power. Valerius was sent into exile, but Vincent was returned to prison and suffered greatly under the cruel treatments of his guards. When this failed to induce his renunciation of Christianity, he was left to starve in a dungeon.

He died about the year 304. What is perhaps most noteworthy of the life of Vincent was his joy and cheerfulness in the face of all that he suffered. This particular trait of joyfulness is common to all saints. As has often been said, "A sad saint is no saint at all."

The website where this and other icons may be found is:


January 19, 2004

The Dream Still Lives


Clouded by dissension, sullied by opportunism, diminished by posing and in too many places almost forgotten, the dream still lives.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Reread the whole speech, here.

January 16, 2004

Pray For Father Groeschel Today


Father Groeschel is getting better but will have to have some delicate procedures today. Everyone is asked to pray. Details can be found here.

January 12, 2004

Father Groeschel Injured!


Father Benedict Groeschel was struck by a car in Orlando last night and is in the hospital in critical but stable condition, according to this item. Please everyone remember Father in your prayers.

January 10, 2004

St. Peter Orseolo


Ok, imagine this news story:

BERRYVILLE, Va. - For the last month the Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomburg, has been living as the newest potential member of the monastary of the Holy Cross, a small Trappist community located nearby this small Virginia town. "About a month ago he showed up at our guesthouse asking to live and pray with us so we are considering him for the novitiate," said the community's abbot.

Bloomburg, who has not generally made religious faith an issue in his administration, has been the subject of a nationwide manhunt ever since he failed to return from what he had said was a vacation to see some friends....

If that seems improbable and extraordinary you probably have a hint of the impact the story of St. Peter Orseolo, whose birth into heaven we celebrate today, had on the people of his time.

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January 03, 2004

At Least 29 Catholic Missionaries Killed In 2003


At least 29 Catholics were killed in 2003 while carrying out their missionary work, including lay people and an archbishop, says the Vatican missionary agency Fides.

The most recent deaths were those of German Father Anton Probst, a religious of the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, killed on Dec. 24 in Akono, Cameroon, and Irish Archbishop Michael Courtney, apostolic nuncio in Burundi, victim of an ambush Monday.

There were four more missionaries killed in 2003 than in 2002, and four fewer than in 2001. Fides, the organ of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, explained that the list is incomplete, since it is only a fraction of the number of Catholics who died because of their faith.

The list includes the names of four lay people, 20 priests, one religious, and three seminarians.

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St. Genevieve


Today is the feast of Saint Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris, France. Among the actions credited to her are the saving of Paris from being sacked by Attilla The Hun:

Shortly after this both of her parents died and Geneviève went to Paris with her Godmother. In 451 Paris was threatened by the invasion of Atilla's troops. Geneviève convinced the city's inhabitants to fast and pray for God's protection upon them. Atilla for some unknown reason suddenly decided to change direction just outside Paris and moved on toward Orléans.

When I first read that I thought hmmmmm, good for Paris but what about poor Orleans? Actually, Attilla was stopped from sacking that city according to an condensed world history site I found:

Attila moves through Gaul, destroying the countryside and the city of Metz. Attila lays seige to Orleans, but the city is saved by the arrival of the Roman general Aetius, accompanied by Theodoric, King of the Goths. Attila retires to the plain of Moirey, where he is defeated at Maurica, the Battle of Chalon. Attila flees but Aetius does not give chase.

Read more about St. Genevieve here. Also any of my readers who are fans of Paris, what things to Parisians do, if any, to remember or venerate Saint Genevieve?

December 29, 2003

Choosing God Over King


The figure of Thomas Becket surrounded with scenes from his life and death.

On December 29, 1170, knights loyal to King Henry II murdered Archbishop Thomas Becket, once the king's good friend and one whom Henry has hoped to control. In doing so the murderers cut short a life of remarkable conversion and transformation as Becket moved from living a life of relative wealth and luxury to one in which he dedicated him himself to seeking the one thing necessary.

Thomas, a merchant's clerk in London, lost both parents as a young man. He obtained a position with Theobald, archbishop of Canterbury and was made archdeacon of Canterbury. In 1154 King Henry II, a good friend, appointed him Chancellor. Thomas showed his flair for administration and efficiency. His discernment and understanding helped him to bring wise and simple solutions to difficult and taxing situations. Thomas had encouraged Henry to make several prudent reforms. His energy, charm and initiative earned him wealth and honor. He led a generous but lavish social life which had been cause for rebuke by the prior of Leicester and others, yet he remained devout and chaste.

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December 04, 2003

Gertrude Eberle, RIP

First Woman To Swim The English Channel


From the Telegraph.

Only five men had swum the Channel when Gertrude Ederle set off from Cap Gris-Nez on August 6 1926. All the men had used breaststroke, as had Gertrude Ederle during her failed attempt the previous year. This time, aged 19, she decided that she would try a new stroke, the crawl.

At 7.09 am she plunged into the water wearing a brassiere, shorts, goggles, a rubber cap, and a coating of sheep's grease. Her father, a German-born butcher, her sister, her trainer and newspapermen followed in a tug.

Shortly after setting off, strong south-westerly winds and heavy rain drove her wildly off course (by the time she finished she had been forced to swim 35 miles to complete the 21-mile crossing). At noon and again at 6 pm, as the sea grew rough with white-capped waves, her trainer yelled at her to give up; her sister shouted at her to keep on. Those on the tug (which was fitted with a wireless) read her cables from her mother, some of them genuine, others invented. She later said that she had kept going "for the United States and for mother".

At around noon they managed to feed her a little chicken broth and chocolate; at 7.30 pm she had two slices of pineapple. Her tongue had swollen from the salt water and become very sore; every hour or so she took a block of sugar into her mouth, which seemed to help.

For three hours in the late evening she was caught in the treacherous currents that beat round the English shore. Even at so close a distance, a superhuman effort was required to clear the tide and gain the beach. Her time of 14-and-a-half hours was nearly two hours faster than the fastest man, despite her considerable diversion. Bonfires guided her on to the beach near the lifeboat station at Kingsdown, where a crowd of thousands cheered.

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St. John Of Damascus


St. John of Damascus, or St. John Damascene, started life in a Muslim world and worked in the court of a Caliph, until hostility of the Caliph toward Christians led him to resign his post and enter religious life. He is probably best known for his writings in support of icons and of the practice of using images as aids to worship while reserving true worship for God alone. I found it interesting that he has icons in Arabic, Greek Russian and Georgian here.

More information about the saint can be found here.

December 03, 2003

St. Francis Xavier


In 1549 Xavier set out for Japan with three companions and labored for about two years with moderate success. In 1551 he returned to Malacca and shortly after was appointed provincial of the Indian province of the the Jesuit community. After settling domestic and administrative difficulties he set forth to preach the Word of God in China.

Read much more about the Saint here.

On a related note. One of the most remarkable women I have ever met was named Babbett Francis. Babbett was an Australian but had been born in India, into a family which had been converted to Catholicism by St. Francis Xavier over 400 years ago. Have never thought about the Saint in the same way ever since.

The Power of Blogdom


Last July when I read Mirror of Charity and Spiritual Friendship and posted up quotes from those works, I did so foolishly imagining I toiled alone in defending Aelred from the slur that he approved or engaged in gay sex. Well, in this latest round of apologia I find I am not alone. Thanks to Gerard for the post of this letter which I include below, and to Father Jim for his post as well. Great to have more voices.

Here is the letter, from a well respected scholar of Aelred's life and work.

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I am proud he is my friend


Ok, I am not into name dropping for the sake of name dropping, but sometimes I am proud enough to shout out. A long time ago, like a decade I think, I had just become a Catholic and was in the process of watching many of my oldest acquaintences from my formerly homosexually active life drift away. No one left with slamming doors or curses, but they left just the same. Actually I guess I left our friendships as much as they did. We just had less and less in the way of common interests that help pull friendships together.

A friend of mine whom I had met as an Anglican called me one day, after I had been moaning about being with fewer friends in common, to say "you know, you ought to call Rod Dreher." Rod reviewed movies, savagely when they deserved it, for the Washington Times and lived on Capitol Hill, close to where I had grown up and where my mother still lived (then). Rod was from Lousiana, where my family is also from, and had actually gone to high school at an institution in my father's home town. And he had recently come into the Church from having been an Anglican, as I had.

So, I called him. We got together one afternoon, and we have been friends to a greater and lesser degree ever since. I didn't just decide to start singing his praises today, but Mark Shea posted up a link to this interview with Rod and I wanted to post it, because I agree with everything in the parts that I am quoting and they remind me of the man whose friendship I came to enjoy so much so long ago.

Continue reading "I am proud he is my friend" »

Rescuing Aelred


Andrew Sullivan has quoted St. Aelred of Rielvaux, a 12 century Saint who had and has some pretty profound things to say about love and friendship. But like so many in his camp, Andrew cannot seem to recognize that Aelred's writings draw a pretty firm line at sexual activity in friendship. Here is Andrew's post:

One of the sad aspects of the current Catholic hierarchy's obsession with sex is that they give short shrift to friendship. I noted David Hume's more balanced view of marriage over the weekend, but Hume isn't the only thinker who sees how important friendship is in marital or non-marital life. One of my favorite authors is the twelfth century Northumbrian monk, Aelred of Rievaulx. His little book on friendship is a classic and plays a central role in my own essay on the subject, "If Love Were All" in "Love Undetectable." What Aelred also understood was how passionate deep friendship can be. Here he is writing about friendship. Tell me if you can find anything in here that wouldn't also apply to a deep and beautiful marriage:

"It is in fact a great consolation in this life to have someone to whom you can be united in the intimate embrace of the most sacred love; in whom your spirit can rest;to whom you can pour out your soul; in whose delightful company, as in a sweet consoling song, you can take comfort in the midst of sadness; in whose most welcome, friendly bosom you can find peace in so many worldly setbacks; to whose loving heart you can open, as freely as you would to yourself, your innermost thoughts; through whose spiritual kisses – as by some medicine – you are cured of the sickness of care and worry; who weeps with you in sorrow, rejoices with you in joy, and wonders with you in doubt; whom you draw by the fetters of love into that inner room of your soul, so that though the body is absent, the spirit is there, and you can confer all alone, the two of you, in the sleep of peace away from the noise of the world, in the embrace of love, in the kiss of unity, with the Holy Spirit flowing over you; to whom you so join and unite yourself that you mix soul with soul, and two become one."

All of that applies to gay couples as well as straight ones. Aelred did not share the vicious homophobia that entered the church in the twelfth century. Maybe soon Catholicism will recover some of its lost appreciation of same-sex love.

Continue reading "Rescuing Aelred" »

November 30, 2003

Dorothy Day On Death and Heaven

As already noted over at Dappled Things, and the Blog for Lovers, November 29 was the 23rd anniversary of Dorothy Day's passing into, I hope, eternal life. Here is some of what she wrote about death and heaven from 1973:

Continue reading "Dorothy Day On Death and Heaven" »

November 20, 2003

St. Edmund


St. Edmund was one of the most well known and venerated native saints of England. His was a life of courage, integrity and prudence. He chose to forfeit his life rather than to sell his people into paganism and subjugation, which is why we continue to honor him today. Read more about him here.

November 19, 2003

140 Years Ago Today At Gettysburg, Pennsylvania



These modern prints showing the crowd around the platform at Gettysburg and a detail from that picture of President Lincoln on the platform were made from the original glass plate negative at the National Archives. The plate lay unidentified in the Archives for some fifty-five years until in 1952, Josephine Cobb, Chief of the Still Pictures Branch, recognized Lincoln in the center of the detail, head bared and probably seated. To the immediate left (Lincoln's right) is Lincoln's bodyguard, Ward Hill Lamon, and to the far right (beyond the limits of the detail) is Governor Andrew G. Curtin of Pennsylvania. Cobb estimated that the photograph was taken about noontime, just after Lincoln arrived at the site and before Edward Everett's arrival, and some three hours before Lincoln gave his now famous address.

Continue reading "140 Years Ago Today At Gettysburg, Pennsylvania" »

November 14, 2003

St Gertrude The Great


This particular icon, more contemporary to our time I guess, changes her iconography a bit, but here is a thumbnail:

She was considered an attractive girl with great intellectual ability. She became a Latin scholar and was eventually professed a nun. It is doubtful that she ever left the monastery since childhood. At the age of 26 she had her first mystical experience. This experience of the Lord calling her to conversion of heart changed her whole life. Prior to this she had been rather mediocre in her prayers. She had busied herself with the pursuit of secular studies and carried out her duties in the monastery in an indifferent manner.

Now Gertrude applied herself diligently to the study of Scripture and the Church Fathers. Her mystical experiences continued and profoundly affected her prayer life. For her the chanting of Psalms in the Divine Office were a very real experience of God's love, and a deepening desire to love Him.

Gertrude's exterior life was the same as the other nun's. She chanted the Divine Office daily, made copies of Scripture as was common in her day, she also wrote treatises on Scripture for her sisters. She was so immersed in living a life of "union" with God that everything she thought, said and did was in reference to Him. Her writings are a legacy which have made a profound impression over the centuries. She is perhaps best known for her deep devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and in iconography is usually depicted holding the Heart of Jesus.

More about her, here.

November 08, 2003

St. Willehad of Bremen


The monastary that that the Saint helped found, albeit different buildings over the 1,300 years, still stands. I appreciated today's Saint because his life reminds us that being a Saint does not mean that we live lives of perfection in every place. It's very possible, in many ways, to live lives of heroic virtue and still make mistakes and misjudgements and still, as one grows closer to God, to see one's own mistakes and misjudgements all the more clearly in His amazing light.

Unfortunately the excessive zeal of some of his companions proved almost disastrous. They attempted to demolish some of the pagan shrines and so angered the people that Willehad and all of his companions were threatened with massacre. God's providence was with them again and they escaped.

Willehad went to the court of Charlemagne and was sent in 780 to evangelize the Saxons. All went well until 782 when the Saxons revolted against the Franks and killed all the missionaries they could capture. Willehad escaped, went to Rome briefly and then spent the next two years at the monastery at Echternach.

More about St. Willehad here.

November 07, 2003

St. Willibrord


St. Willibrord is called the "Apostle of the Friesians". To understand why we honor him as a saint to day we might listen to Alcuin's description of him. He says that Willibrord was graceful and always cheerful in his speech and countenance. He advised wisely and was tireless in his preaching and all manner of apostolic work. He was also careful to nourish his soul with prayer, meditation and sacred reading. In this day of political, spiritual and psychological chaos, his life can certainly teach us ways of bringing peace and harmony to ourselves and those around us.

More about St. Willibrord here.

November 01, 2003

Dorothy Day on All Souls


More writings from Dorothy Day here:

From November 1953:

Some 26 years ago, the son of a friend of mine, a young lad eighteen years old, committed suicide by turning on the gas. His mother stayed with me afterwards and I was a witness to the profound and hopeless grief of one who did not believe in another life past the grave where life "was changed, not taken away." In my sorrow I approached Fr. Zachary, my confessor at the little church on Fourteenth Street, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and asked him how could one pray for a suicide, if suicide was a mortal sin and one was damned into hell by this act.

This dear and kindly priest, who is dead himself now, God rest his soul, told me this. "There is no time with God. All the prayers you will say in the future for this soul will count. God has said. 'ask and ye shall receive.' He has promised this. If you keep on asking for God's mercy for that soul, you can be sure your prayers are answered. At the moment of death, when the soul is released from the down drag of the body, there is given a choice--'do you prefer darkness to light, evil to good, denial rather than assent?" Assurance from this holy priest has been a comfort to me ever since. So always when I make my lists of "dear departed" to keep in my missal so that I remember each day, at the commemoration for the dead, to hold their names before God, I include his--Wally's.

This is a custom blessed by the Church too, since we are given envelopes and slips to contain our lists, so that these names may be remembered at the altar of God.

Heading my list, of course, are parents and relatives, then Peter Maurin, Charlie O'Rourke, Larry Heaney, John Curran and all other associates of the Catholic Worker movement. I'm going to list all the names I have right now in my missal so that those who read this column will say with me, "May God have mercy on his or her soul. May he dwell in a place of refreshment, light and peace."


There is Bill Duffy. I never wrote his biography, but he is another I sigh over. He drank plenty and he helped both us and the Chinese Communist weekly down the street impartially and when he could get drink no other way, he'd find what he could steal and sell it. I remember hearing of his wheeling a spare tire down the street during the war when tires were rationed, and bystanders around the Catholic Worker, gazing reproachfully after him and clucking with their tongues as they said, "Look at that Bill Duffy, stealing CW property and drinking it up!" And then standing by and watching him do it! How I could have belabored them all, pacifist that I am!

* * *

We tried putting him out, but old Bill slept on the sidewalk in front of the place all summer, edging into the hall as the weather got cooler, so that by September we had to take him in again. We found him dead one morning, lying by the bed, and we called the priest and knelt down and said the rosary for him and then called the morgue. He had a nice funeral at Transfiguration Church.

There was Bill Evans who dug a well at Easton farm which is giving water to this day, and he wrote too one of the Ben Toe Lanray articles about sleeping in an old tomb in the Jewish cemetery on Chatham Square. He stole plenty but he helped us plenty too and he tried over and over again to pull himself out of the gutter. Far worse were the pharisees who used to cluck also. "Look at that Bill saying the rosary tonight when he was drunk as a lord last night." Thank God he prayed. The Blessed Mother is remembering him now since he remembered her then.

The whole column is too long to blog but its worth reading here:

All Saints and All Souls


Today is the feast of All Saints. Today we remember the men and women whose lives, both those recognized by the Church or by ourselves alone, best reflected the love and face of Christ in their worlds or in our lives. The group of Saints that we honor can be a pretty mixed bunch, especially for those of us who came to Christ as adults and look back on a life whose roots did not begin in the Faith.

Usually I post something up about the saint of the day from the Martyrology provided by the good monks over at the Monastary of Christ in the Desert. And there entry for today can be found here.

But this feast is also tied up for me in the feast of All Souls, which we officially mark on November 2, when we remember all the men and women in our lives who maybe did not live as moral a life as they might have lived but who we hope and pray, with fervor, nonetheless found a home in the infinite mercy of the God who loves us all so very much.

I had a fantasy about trying to put into words more of a totatlity about what these two feasts, All Saints and All Souls, mean to me. But now that I try to do it I find myself even less articulate than usual, so I will restrict myself to writing a bit about some aspect of each rememberance and what they mean to me.

First, what I love about the celebration of All Saints is its implicit universality. The message, the task, the call to be Saints is not restricted to merely a few or to folks who have some secret information. The road following Christ is hard, but its open to everybody, regardless of background, temptation, history, past sins or even current sins. It's completely fitting and just that the Gospel reading from today's celebration comes from St. Matthew's retelling of the Beattitudes:

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven. (RSV)

Reading between the lines there is good news and bad news. The good news is blessedness, joy, the Beatific vision. The bad news are the things like mourning, poverty both in spirit and, sometimes, in fact, meekness, hunger and thirst, mercy, that come along the road to blessedness. None of these things, neither blessedness nor the ability to withstand the trials leading to blessedness, come naturally to any of us, but in the Feast of All Saints the Church reminds us of all the people who have come before who have been able to both withstand the trials of life and, by cooperating with God's grace, make those trials into the stepping stones over which they walked to Christ. All Saints is meant to be a challenging feast, but an encouraging one as well.

By contrast, All Souls has sometimes suffers an image problem. e018p In this image from the middle ages the souls in purgatory are depicted as being restricted in a sort of jail undergoing some sort of torment, and that has generally given the whole thing a negative spin. How different from All Saints which essentially celebrates the winners; the folks who have endured, the folks who kept faith and, in the case of canonized Saints, have shown some tangible sign of their intercession before the throne. What's not to celebrate?

But that's a pretty negative side to purgatory. The first thing we need to remember is that if we have made it to purgatory, we have had made it in the door. Purgatory is not the outer darkness where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth. In fact, I think the torment of purgatory has a lot to do with 1) being ever more certain that God exists and that He loves us while 2) still not being able to work out the things in our lives and characters and histories that keep us from Him. Since I have never been terribly good at math (and that is an understatement) I have long thought of purgatory as being like one of those particularly long and convuluted word problems; the ones that have the two trains travelling at different speeds with grades in their trailbeds of X percentage and carrying weights of Y amount and how long if its drizzling on one track and snowing on another will it take them to crash. Purgatory is like working those problems, and in particular those agonizing moments when the shape of the answer has been clear in my mind, the skeleton as it were...its right there, I can almost taste it, but I haven't yet had that blissful AHA moment, when the answer comes and all becomes clear.

But that moment comes - and we who might be in purgatory one day can cooperate with grace to get to a point where we attain the beatific vision and see Christ face to Face, and we can recieve comfort while making this last part of our trip. That shows up in the pictures as well. Notice that the jail cell in purgatory has no roof, and the picture depicts some folks leaving out fo the top e019p and that are recieving water and encouragement from the angels as well. e034p

This encourages me because there are a lot of folks in my life who have died who I could not honestly call saints but who I cannot help but hope have found mercy from God. There is such a tendency in today's world to make people into icons of whatever fears or anxieties or disputes or politics that are abroad in the land. A while back I used get mail from both self described Christian and gay groups and the days when fund raising letters from each would arrive at the same time I was suprised my little mailbox didn't explode from all the competing name calling and objectifying. But the reality is that no one I know has a life that can be boiled down to something that can be in a slogan or on a bumper sticker.

The fact is that all of us are so very complex, when it comes down to it, and so few lead perfectly stable and holy lives. There are goats and lambs penned up in each of our hearts, and weeds growing up with the wheat in our hearts as well. The feast of All Souls is my chance to plead in prayer for all the folks whom I have known who did not live perfectly good lives - but who did not live evil ones either.

The bottom line for both feasts is that they point us to the reality that our lives here are passing but that our passing from here needn't end our lives. The folks who have gone before, both saints and sinners, might be dead to us but they are not necessarily dead to God - in fact in the cases of the Saints we believe they are even closer to God now than they were when they walked among us, and in the cases of the souls in purgatory we hope that will eventually be the case as well.

October 31, 2003

St. Wolfgang


Wolfgang was ordained to the priesthood by St. Ulric and sent to evangelize the Magyars at Pannonia. In 972 he was consecrated bishop of Regensberg despite his strong request to be allowed to return to his monastery.

Wolfgang never lost his love for the monastic way of life, but he endeavored to fulfill his duties to his diocese and was instrumental in reforming the clergy, monasteries and convents under his jurisdiction. He expended all his energy in preaching and touched the hearts of many, bringing them to a conversion ol life.

He was known for his great compassion and care for the poor. His was a life of deep prayer and faithfulness, as well as obedience to his superiors despite his own desires for the solitude of a hermit life. It is this obedience and fidelity which brought him to holiness and is why we honor him today.

More about him here.

And he has apparently inspired at least one group of people who like to run around dressed up in Renaissance Costume.

Actually, it appears he might be a significant figure in Germany since a google search on his name brought up a good many sites, all of which were in German....

October 30, 2003

St Marcellus of Tingis

Sasdly, I couldn't find an icon of St. Marcellus of Tingus on the web. But there is more information about him here:

When brought to trial Marcellus made it clear that as a Christian in the service of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, he could not serve in a worldly army. Everyone thought he was mad, but he calmly and clearly maintained his position.

He was sent to Caesar and the praetorium deputy Aurelius Agricolan questioned his behavior and received the same replies and sentenced him to death. When he was being taken to the place of execution he asked God's blessing upon Aurelius Agricolan.

St. Marcellus might be called the patron of conscientious objectors, but there was much more to his statement. He refused to participate in pagan rituals which in essence worshipped food, drink and sensual pleasures as the only things of value in this earthly life. St. Marcellus calls us to seek greater value and virtue in our own lives.

And very significantly, there are records of Marcellus interrogation and sentencing:

7. When it had been read out, Agricolanus said, "Did you say those things which are recorded in the praeses' record ?"
8. Marcellus said, "I did."
9. Agricolanus said, "Were you serving as a centurio ordinarius ?"
10. Marcellus said, "I was."
11. Agricolanus said, "What madness possessed you to cast aside aside your oath and say such things ?"
12. Marcellus said, "No madness possesses him who fears God."
13. Agricolanus said, "Did you make these separate statements which are recorded in the praeses' record ?"
14. Marcellus said, "I did."
15. Agricolanus said, "Did you hurl down your weapons ?"
16. Marcellus said, "I did. It is not proper for a Christian man, one who fears the Lord Christ, to engage in earthly military service."
17. Agricolanus said, "Marcellus' actions are such that they ought to be disciplined." And so he stated, "It pleases (the court) that Marcellus, who defiled the office of centurion which he held by his public rejection of the oath and, furthermore, according to the praeses' records, gave in testimony words full of madness, should be executed by the sword."

October 27, 2003

St Frumentius of Ethiopia


The details of the early life of Frumentius are uncertain. Tradition tells us that this 4th century child and another young boy, Aedesius, were taken on a voyage to the coasts of Arabia by their mentor and teacher, Meropius, a Greek philosopher from Tyre. On their way home they were captured in an African port of Ethiopia or Abyssinia as it is sometimes called. Everyone on the ship was killed except the two boys who were on land studying at the time of the attack.

The boys were taken to the king at Aksum who was impressed by the behavior of the young Christians and kept them in his service. On his death they were given their freedom, but agreed to stay to assist the queen until her son came of age to rule his people. They were instrumental in encouraging Christian merchants to settle in Aksum and through their example converted many to the Christian faith.

When the young prince and his brother came of age Aedesius return to Tyre. Frumentius however, in view of the Arian leanings of the bishop of Antioch, went to Alexandria begging that a pastor be sent to Aksum. Instead St. Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, ordained Frumentius bishop of Ethiopia and this was to be the beginnings of the association of the church of Alexandria with the Christians of Abyssinia.

Frumentius returned to Ethiopia and it is said that the royal brothers, Abreha and Asbeha, were baptized and are venerated as saints in Ethiopia. The Arian emperor Constantius tried unsuccessfully to bribe Frumentius to embrace the Arian way. He even wrote letters to the royal brothers against St. Athanasius and encouraging them to send Frumentius to the Arian, George, the impostor bishop of Alexandria. Of course all of this intrigue was unsuccessful and Frumentius lived out his life caring for the souls of his people at Aksuna.

October 21, 2003

A Palestinian Saint


Now I generally disagree with the whole practice of coming into history with modern definitions and rebaptizing historic figures according to those definitions, most often sexual ones. But Saint Hilarion was born in what was considered Palestine under the Romans and is considered the Father of a Monastacism in Palestine. He is also the patron of a orthodox monastary in Austin, Texas.

The story of the life of this saint comes to us through St. Jerome who freely combined fact with poetic license, so some of the details are uncertain. Hilarion was born of pagan parents about the year 291 in Tabatha in southern Palestine, south of Gaza. He was sent to Alexandria to study and while there converted to Christianity at the age of fifteen.

Hilarion learned about St. Antony of Egypt and went into the desert and stayed with him about two months learning Antony's way of life. However he found this life only a little less distracting than Alexandria because of all the visitors, so he decided to return to his own home and seek true solitude in which to serve God.

Read more about him here.

October 16, 2003

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Between 1673 and 1675 she received several mystical revelations of Jesus and developed a deep devotion to the Passion and Crucifixion of Christ. It was during these revelations that she was asked to spread devotion to the Sacred Heart in reparation for the sins of mankind. These devotions included frequent communion, especially on the First Friday of the month, a Holy Hour of prayer and meditation on the agony in the Garden of Gethsemani every Thursday, and the feast of the Sacred Heart on the octave of Corpus Christi.

St. Margaret Mary's life was one of total acceptance to the call of God. In the face of illness, insult and ridicule, even rejection by those she trusted, she remained failfull to God's call to holiness. She didn't react with anger and revenge. Instead she remained patient and prayerful. She had the temptations we all face; vanity, self-indulgence, anger, despair and others. She did not give into them but chose the courageous and heroic way of saying yes to God with all her heart which is why we honor her today.

Read the rest of it here, from faith the size of mustard seeds, huge trees grow and everyone shelters in their branches.

October 14, 2003

Convict Elected Pope!

Callistus was the son of Domitius. He was also known as Calixtus and was apparently a Roman slave in the imperial household in the late 2nd century. Unfortunately much of the information we have about him comes from an unfriendly source. Hippolytus of Rome portrays him as unfavorably as possible. However, he is responsible for giving us the greatest information on a pope of the early church.

Callistus' master, Carpophorus, was a Christian and placed him in charge of a bank. Money deposited was lost, possibly from speculation and Callistus fled to Rome but was found and imprisoned. He was subsequently released but was again arrested for brawling in a synagogue while trying to collect some of the debts.

Click on the link and read the whole thing, it's short and worth it. I love Saints like this. I love people who just seem to start out so much in the model, as St. Paul said, of Children of Wrath and who Christ still works with to bring about the people He had in mind from the beginning. Brawling in synagogues while chasing down deadbeats. Great! The guy started a bill collector - and still wound up a pope and martyr credited with being a strong defender of true doctrine and good discipline.

I know there are lots of folks who venerate The Little Flower and rightfully so. I don't detract from them or her in the slightest. But for my daily life in the trenches, for the days when there sometimes seems to be so much screwed up in my life and history that I must remain very far from the Kingdom, it is saints like this one whom I ask to remember me before the throne and whose example I treasure.

Father, whatever good you found in there hearts, please help us cultivate a bit of that as well so that we, too, may one day see you face to Face. Amen.

November 2006

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David Meets JPII

  • David_and_jpii_three
    In November 1996, through a series of truly unexpected events, I met John Paul II, at a audience in Vatican City. I have not generally told many people about this meeting; in part becuse I have been embarassed by how much I have been blessed and because I have regretted not having matured even more from the experience of grace the meeting represented. But now John Paul's days with us in the flesh may be numbered and I can feel more patience with and compassion for the man I was then. I have also come to recognize that letting more people know about this meeting is part of of accepting its importance in my life.

My Family In Christ

  • Admiretree
    Mike and Dian are among the key people in my life. They are among my best friends and their first born, Brinnaria, is my first Godchild. These are photos we took while on vacation together on the Outer Banks of North Carolina in May, 2003.