31 December 2010

Pope Benedict and St. Hildegard's Vision: Turning to the Mystics for Understanding

The following video is interesting to me because it shows just how much the tide has turned and the mystic vision is at the centre of the Pope's thinking.  Before all of the sins and scandals and the smoke of satan began to be seen in the light of day, references to visions of St. Hildegard von Bingen would not be what one would have expected because all the Curia and the modern Cardinals wanted for the most part was to get as far away from mystics, visions, and Fatima as possible.

My own experience of such conversations led me to conclude that the Church was in for a greater disaster than the initial sex abuse cases in Boston.  When one refuses to listen to the voice of the Holy Ghost or automatically rules as out of bounds anything said by the Holy Virgin Mother of God to a mystic, then one is treading on the thinnest of ice.  God sets the bounds and the rules, and should someone with a bit of authority forget that then whatever nightmare follows should surprise no one.  Here is a youtube video of Fr. Barron commenting on the Holy Father's Christmas Message to his 'family' in the Vatican and in Rome:

+  +  +

As this very challenging year draws to a close, I pray God will protect all those who love His Son Jesus Christ and who honour and call Blessed the Virgin Mother of God Mary Most Holy now and as the New Year A.D. 2011 begins to dawn.  Stay close to the Lord Jesus Christ, His Holy Virgin Mother, His Church, His Sacraments and Mysteries each and every day of the New Year and it shall be a Happy New Year!

+Laus Deo!

26 December 2010

Pope Benedict XVI + The Christmas Eve Homily

 J+M+J Stephenmas A.D. 2010 Holy Family Sunday

A Blessed Christmastide to All !!!  I rejoice in God that I am here another year to celebrate the anniversary of the Nativity of Jesus Christ According to the Flesh!  My Christmas has been filled with such love from family and friends and with with joy of Angels and Saints and the Holy Family and all Heaven!  Oh, I pray this is true for all who hold Jesus dear.  And though I am not able to travel from home, I thought even for those Christians in Iraq who suffer so very much and those in Pakistan and in Orissa State in India -- may they all have miracles from Our Father in Heaven with abundant love in their homes, visits from Angels within their midst and warrior Angels outside their homes and churches.  And may the Christ Child draw them, each one, one by one, near to his Crib to take His infant hand and so touch the Maker of all things who came, is come, and soon will come to save them all.  Yes, the Angels tell me with greatest joy, Jesus Is Coming Soon!

The Christmas Eve Sermon of Pope Benedect XVI was like the bracing gale of the North Wind for me filled with the power of Truth in the Holy Spirit, and I wondered how many actually hear the words -- the very teaching of the Holy Father, and are these words intelligible any more?  People are given packaging loaded with neurolinguistic programming and sex/death overstimulation, but here is a little Bavarian man following in the steps of a fisherman telling the world what is at stake, what is happening, and what is to come in the name of the Living God who loves us.  Try to make time and read the entire Christmas Eve homily.  The following is my marked up colour highlighted copy.  Clean copies are available through Inside the Vatican, Zenit, and Vatican.va.


Saint Peter's Basilica
Friday, 24 December 2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

“You are my son, this day I have begotten you” – with this passage from Psalm 2 the Church begins the liturgy of this holy night.
She knows that this passage originally formed part of the coronation rite of the kings of Israel. The king, who in himself is a man like others, becomes the “Son of God” through being called and installed in his office.
It is a kind of adoption by God, a decisive act by which he grants a new existence to this man, drawing him into his own being.
The reading from the prophet Isaiah that we have just heard presents the same process even more clearly in a situation of hardship and danger for Israel: “To us a child is born, to us a son is given. The government will be upon his shoulder” (Is 9:6).
Installation in the office of king is like a second birth. As one newly born through God’s personal choice, as a child born of God, the king embodies hope. On his shoulders the future rests. He is the bearer of the promise of peace.
On that night in Bethlehem this prophetic saying came true in a way that would still have been unimaginable at the time of Isaiah. Yes indeed, now it really is a child on whose shoulders government is laid. In him the new kingship appears that God establishes in the world. This child is truly born of God. It is God’s eternal Word that unites humanity with divinity. To this child belong those titles of honour which Isaiah’s coronation song attributes to him: Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Is 9:6). Yes, this king does not need counsellors drawn from the wise of this world. He bears in himself God’s wisdom and God’s counsel. In the weakness of infancy, he is the mighty God and he shows us God’s own might in contrast to the self-asserting powers of this world.

Truly, the words of Israel’s coronation rite were only ever rites of hope which looked ahead to a distant future that God would bestow.
None of the kings who were greeted in this way lived up to the sublime content of these words.
In all of them, those words about divine sonship, about installation into the heritage of the peoples, about making the ends of the earth their possession (Ps 2:8) were only pointers towards what was to come – as it were signposts of hope indicating a future that at that moment was still beyond comprehension.
Thus the fulfilment of the prophecy, which began that night in Bethlehem, is both infinitely greater and in worldly terms smaller than the prophecy itself might lead one to imagine.
It is greater in the sense that this child is truly the Son of God, truly “God from God, light from light, begotten not made, of one being with the Father.”
The infinite distance between God and man is overcome. God has not only bent down, as we read in the Psalms; he has truly “come down”, he has come into the world, he has become one of us, in order to draw all of us to himself. This child is truly Emmanuel – God-with-us.
His kingdom truly stretches to the ends of the earth. He has truly built islands of peace in the world-encompassing breadth of the holy Eucharist. Wherever it is celebrated, an island of peace arises, of God’s own peace.
This child has ignited the light of goodness in men and has given them strength to overcome the tyranny of might.
This child builds his kingdom in every generation from within, from the heart.
But at the same time it is true that the “rod of his oppressor” is not yet broken, the boots of warriors continue to tramp and the “garment rolled in blood” (Is 9:4f) still remains.
So part of this night is simply joy at God’s closeness. We are grateful that God gives himself into our hands as a child, begging as it were for our love, implanting his peace in our hearts.
But this joy is also a prayer: "Lord, make your promise come fully true. Break the rods of the oppressors. Burn the tramping boots. Let the time of the garments rolled in blood come to an end. Fulfil the prophecy that 'of peace there will be no end' (Is 9:7). We thank you for your goodness, but we also ask you to show forth your power. Establish the dominion of your truth and your love in the world – the 'kingdom of righteousness, love and peace.'"
“Mary gave birth to her first-born son” (Lk 2:7). In this sentence Saint Luke recounts quite soberly the great event to which the prophecies from Israel’s history had pointed.
Luke calls the child the “first-born.” In the language which developed within the sacred Scripture of the Old Covenant, “first-born” does not mean the first of a series of children. The word “first-born” is a title of honour, quite independently of whether other brothers and sisters follow or not.
So Israel is designated by God in the Book of Exodus (4:22) as “my first-born Son”, and this expresses Israel’s election, its singular dignity, the particular love of God the Father.
The early Church knew that in Jesus this saying had acquired a new depth, that the promises made to Israel were summed up in him. Thus the Letter to the Hebrews calls Jesus “the first-born”, simply in order to designate him as the Son sent into the world by God (cf. 1:5-7) after the ground had been prepared by Old Testament prophecy.
The first-born belongs to God in a special way – and therefore he had to be handed over to God in a special way – as in many religions – and he had to be ransomed through a vicarious sacrifice, as Saint Luke recounts in the episode of the Presentation in the Temple.
The first-born belongs to God in a special way, and is as it were destined for sacrifice. In Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross this destiny of the first-born is fulfilled in a unique way. In his person he brings humanity before God and unites man with God in such a way that God becomes all in all.
Saint Paul amplified and deepened the idea of Jesus as first-born in the Letters to the Colossians and to the Ephesians: Jesus, we read in these letters, is the first-born of all creation – the true prototype of man, according to which God formed the human creature.
Man can be the image of God because Jesus is both God and man, the true image of God and of man. Furthermore, as these letters tell us, he is the first-born from the dead. In the resurrection he has broken down the wall of death for all of us. He has opened up to man the dimension of eternal life in fellowship with God. Finally, it is said to us that he is the first-born of many brothers.
Yes indeed, now he really is the first of a series of brothers and sisters: the first, that is, who opens up for us the possibility of communing with God. He creates true brotherhood – not the kind defiled by sin as in the case of Cain and Abel, or Romulus and Remus, but the new brotherhood in which we are God’s own family.
This new family of God begins at the moment when Mary wraps her first-born in swaddling clothes and lays him in a manger. Let us pray to him: "Lord Jesus, who wanted to be born as the first of many brothers and sisters, grant us the grace of true brotherhood. Help us to become like you. Help us to recognize your face in others who need our assistance, in those who are suffering or forsaken, in all people, and help us to live together with you as brothers and sisters, so as to become one family, your family."

At the end of the Christmas Gospel, we are told that a great heavenly host of angels praised God and said: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!” (Lk 2:14).  The Church, in the Gloria, has extended this song of praise, which the angels sang in response to the event of the holy night, into a hymn of joy at God’s glory – “we praise you for your glory.”
We praise you for the beauty, for the greatness, for your goodness, which becomes visible to us this night. The appearing of beauty, of the beautiful, makes us happy without our having to ask what use it can serve. God’s glory, from which all beauty derives, causes us to break out in astonishment and joy. Anyone who catches a glimpse of God experiences joy, and on this night we see something of his light.
But the angels’ message on that holy night also spoke of men: “Peace among men with whom he is pleased”. The Latin translation of the angels’ song that we use in the liturgy, taken from Saint Jerome, is slightly different: “peace to men of good will.” The expression “men of good will” has become an important part of the Church’s vocabulary in recent decades. But which is the correct translation? We must read both texts together; only in this way do we truly understand the angels’ song.
It would be a false interpretation to see this exclusively as the action of God, as if he had not called man to a free response of love. But it would be equally mistaken to adopt a moralizing interpretation as if man were so to speak able to redeem himself by his good will.
Both elements belong together: grace and freedom, God’s prior love for us, without which we could not love him, and the response that he awaits from us, the response that he asks for so palpably through the birth of his son. We cannot divide up into independent entities the interplay of grace and freedom, or the interplay of call and response. The two are inseparably woven together.
So this part of the angels’ message is both promise and call at the same time. God has anticipated us with the gift of his Son. God anticipates us again and again in unexpected ways. He does not cease to search for us, to raise us up as often as we might need. He does not abandon the lost sheep in the wilderness into which it had strayed. God does not allow himself to be confounded by our sin. Again and again he begins afresh with us. But he is still waiting for us to join him in love. He loves us, so that we too may become people who love, so that there may be peace on earth.

Saint Luke does not say that the angels sang. He states quite soberly: the heavenly host praised God and said: “Glory to God in the highest” (Lk 2:13f.). But men have always known that the speech of angels is different from human speech, and that above all on this night of joyful proclamation it was in song that they extolled God’s heavenly glory.
So this angelic song has been recognized from the earliest days as music proceeding from God, indeed, as an invitation to join in the singing with hearts filled with joy at the fact that we are loved by God.
Cantare amantis est, says Saint Augustine: singing belongs to one who loves. Thus, down the centuries, the angels’ song has again and again become a song of love and joy, a song of those who love.
At this hour, full of thankfulness, we join in the singing of all the centuries, singing that unites heaven and earth, angels and men.
Yes, indeed, we praise you for your glory. We praise you for your love. Grant that we may join with you in love more and more and thus become people of peace. Amen.

 +Laus Deo!

23 October 2010

Recommendations, Personal News

A recommendation:  zmirak.blogspot.com/

Recommendations of some favourite recordings:
Recommendations of some favourite recordings:

I am recovering from a second surgery in as many weeks.  I know it is hard to keep praying for a chronically ill person, but please do try to pray for me.  I am fighting with all that I am to remain among the human family on Mother Earth, and so far my faith in Christ to see me through has been met by an outpouring of prayer on my behalf and the pouring forth of a waterfall of God's grace for my great need. 

A  friend has suggested I close this blog, but I will leave it up as an archive. 

17 September 2010

What we see is as a screen

This last week I read again Dr. Margaret Barker's The Hidden Tradition of the Kingdom of God -- another of her works deserving three cheers for the scholar.  She concludes her work with a quote from Ven. John Henry Cardinal Newman from the Fourth Volume of his Parochial and Plain Sermons.  I was very taken with Dr. Barker's entire thesis, so this extended quote from Cardinal Newman seemed at first a bit of icing for the cake so to speak.  But reading through I realised how well it grounded and summarised Dr. Barker's approach.  Here is the quotation as used by Dr. Margaret Barker:
Once only in the year, yet once, does the world which we see show forth its hidden powers, and in a manner manifest itself. Then the leaves come out, and the blossoms on the fruit trees, and flowers; and the grass and corn spring up. There is a sudden rush and burst outwardly of that hidden life which God has lodged in the material world. Well, that shows you, as by a sample, what it can do at God's command, when He gives the word. This earth, which now buds forth in leaves and blossoms, will one day burst forth into a new world of light and glory, in which, we shall see Saints and Angels dwelling. 

Who would think, except from his experience of former springs all through his life, who could conceive two or three months before, that it was possible that the face of nature, which then seemed so lifeless, should become so splendid and varied? How different is a tree, how different is a prospect, when leaves are on it and off it! How unlikely it would seem, before the event, that the dry and naked branches should suddenly be clothed with what is so bright and so refreshing! Yet in God's good time leaves come on the trees. The season may delay, but come it will at last. So it is with the coming of that Eternal Spring, for which all Christians are waiting. Come it will, though it delay; yet though it tarry, let us wait for it, 'because it will surely come, it will not tarry.' Therefore we say day by day, 'Thy kingdom come;' which means,—O Lord, show Thyself; manifest Thyself; Thou that sittest between the cherubim, show Thyself; stir up Thy strength and come and help us. (Dr. Barker's emphasis)

The earth that we see does not satisfy us; it is but a beginning; it is but a promise of something beyond it; even when it is gayest, with all its blossoms on, and shows most touchingly what lies hid in it, yet it is not enough. We know much more lies hid in it than we see. A world of Saints and Angels, a glorious world, the palace of God, the mountain of the Lord of Hosts, the heavenly Jerusalem, the throne of God and Christ, all these wonders, everlasting, all-precious, mysterious, and incomprehensible, lie hid in what we see. 

What we see is the outward shell of an eternal kingdom; and on that kingdom we fix the eyes of our faith. Shine forth, O Lord, as when on Thy nativity Thine Angels visited the shepherds; let Thy glory blossom forth as bloom and foliage on the trees; change with Thy mighty power this visible world into that diviner world, which as yet we see not; destroy what we see, that it may pass and be transformed into what we believe. 

Bright as is the sun, and the sky, and the clouds; green as are the leaves and the fields; sweet as is the singing of the birds; we know that they are not all, and we will not take up with a part for the whole. They proceed from a centre of love and goodness, which is God Himself; but they are not His fulness; they speak of heaven, but they are not heaven; they are but as stray beams and dim reflections of His Image; they are but crumbs from the table . . . .

We know that what we see is as a screen hiding from us God and Christ, and His Saints and Angels. 

John Henry Newman
'The Invisible World'
Parochial and Plain Sermons
Vol.4, no. 13

+Laus Deo!

16 September 2010

The Pope's Remarks in the Presence of the Queen

United Kingdom: Meeting with Queen Elizabeth II, 
and Members of the Royal Family plus State Authorities 

Pope Benedict XVI:
Your Majesty,

Thank you for your gracious invitation to make an official visit to the United Kingdom and for your warm words of greeting on behalf of the British people. In thanking Your Majesty, allow me to extend my own greetings to all the people of the United Kingdom and to hold out a hand of friendship to each one.

It is a great pleasure for me to start my journey by saluting the members of the Royal Family, thanking in particular His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh for his kind welcome to me at Edinburgh Airport. I express my gratitude to Your Majesty’s present and previous Governments and to all those who worked with them to make this occasion possible, including Lord Patten and former Secretary of State Murphy. I would also like to acknowledge with deep appreciation the work of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Holy See, which has contributed greatly to strengthening the friendly relations existing between the Holy See and the United Kingdom.

As I begin my visit to the United Kingdom in Scotland’s historic capital city, I greet in a special way First Minister Salmond and the representatives of the Scottish Parliament. Just like the Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies, may the Scottish Parliament grow to be an expression of the fine traditions and distinct culture of the Scots and strive to serve their best interests in a spirit of solidarity and concern for the common good.

The name of Holyroodhouse, Your Majesty’s official residence in Scotland, recalls the "Holy Cross" and points to the deep Christian roots that are still present in every layer of British life. The monarchs of England and Scotland have been Christians from very early times and include outstanding saints like Edward the Confessor and Margaret of Scotland. As you know, many of them consciously exercised their sovereign duty in the light of the Gospel, and in this way shaped the nation for good at the deepest level. As a result, the Christian message has been an integral part of the language, thought and culture of the peoples of these islands for more than a thousand years. Your forefathers’ respect for truth and justice, for mercy and charity come to you from a faith that remains a mighty force for good in your kingdom, to the great benefit of Christians and non-Christians alike.

We find many examples of this force for good throughout Britain’s long history. Even in comparatively recent times, due to figures like William Wilberforce and David Livingstone, Britain intervened directly to stop the international slave trade. Inspired by faith, women like Florence Nightingale served the poor and the sick and set new standards in healthcare that were subsequently copied everywhere. John Henry Newman, whose beatification I will celebrate shortly, was one of many British Christians of his age whose goodness, eloquence and action were a credit to their countrymen and women. These, and many people like them, were inspired by a deep faith born and nurtured in these islands.

Even in our own lifetime, we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live. I also recall the regime’s attitude to Christian pastors and religious who spoke the truth in love, opposed the Nazis and paid for that opposition with their lives. As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the twentieth century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus to a "reductive vision of the person and his destiny" (Caritas in Veritate, 29).

Sixty-five years ago, Britain played an essential role in forging the post-war international consensus which favoured the establishment of the United Nations and ushered in a hitherto unknown period of peace and prosperity in Europe. In more recent years, the international community has followed closely events in Northern Ireland which have led to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement and the devolution of powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly. Your Majesty’s Government and the Government of Ireland, together with the political, religious and civil leaders of Northern Ireland, have helped give birth to a peaceful resolution of the conflict there. I encourage everyone involved to continue to walk courageously together on the path marked out for them towards a just and lasting peace.

Looking abroad, the United Kingdom remains a key figure politically and economically on the international stage. Your Government and people are the shapers of ideas that still have an impact far beyond the British Isles. This places upon them a particular duty to act wisely for the common good. Similarly, because their opinions reach such a wide audience, the British media have a graver responsibility than most and a greater opportunity to promote the peace of nations, the integral development of peoples and the spread of authentic human rights. May all Britons continue to live by the values of honesty, respect and fair-mindedness that have won them the esteem and admiration of many.

Today, the United Kingdom strives to be a modern and multicultural society. In this challenging enterprise, may it always maintain its respect for those traditional values and cultural expressions that more aggressive forms of secularism no longer value or even tolerate. Let it not obscure the Christian foundation that underpins its freedoms; and may that patrimony, which has always served the nation well, constantly inform the example your Government and people set before the two billion members of the Commonwealth and the great family of English-speaking nations throughout the world.

May God bless Your Majesty and all the people of your realm. Thank you.
+Laus Deo!

23 August 2010

Tuesday MRI

On Tuesday the 24th of August I will have another MRI of my thoracic spinal cord to mark how much the syrinx has grown.  For people who suffer from syringomyelia, it is usually found that the syrinx is in the cervical spine.  My case is a bit unusual since the syrinx is in the mid to lower thoracic spinal cord and apparently has been with me since birth like the spina bifida in my lumbar vertebra.  When one reads up on it -- either from the Mayo Clinic or Wikipedia -- you get part of the story.  I found the ASAP website to be the most helpful in many ways as one who suffers from syringomyelia.
St. Gemma Galgani, pray for me.

Surgery may be in my future but up till now no recommended neurosurgeon has thought that wise given the risks involved.  I would be very grateful for your prayers for me (inside the little MRI tube) and prayers for wisdom for all of us as we decide what to do with the new information on the syrinx and its growth.

St. Gemma Galgani is the patron saint of those with back pain, spinal injuries, and related problems.  I ask St. Gemma, my dear sister in Christ, to intercede for me during this time of my great need.

+Kyrie eleison!

22 August 2010

Feast of the Queenship of Mary

Ave Maria!

Mary, Queen, pray for us.

Although a fairly recent feast day instituted by Pope Pius XII, the Queenship of Mary is very important for those devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary as well as those devoted to her Rosary which recalls in the Glorious Mysteries her Coronation as Queen of Heaven and Earth.  

Ad caeli Reginam

Encyclical of Pope Pius XII on proclaiming 
the Queenship Of Mary, 11 October 1954.

An excerpt

From the earliest ages of the Catholic Church a Christian people, whether in time of triumph or more especially in time of crisis, has addressed prayers of petition and hymns of praise and veneration to the Queen of Heaven. And never has that hope wavered which they placed in the Mother of the Divine King, Jesus Christ; nor has that faith ever failed by which we are taught that Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, reigns with a mother's solicitude over the entire world, just as she is crowned in heavenly blessedness with the glory of a Queen.

+Laus Deo!

Sunday Morning in East Texas

Wherein the old preacher preaches to himself

[How grateful I am for my family and friends who through their prayers and sacrifices lower me through the roof into the Presence of Jesus.]

For me this Sunday is not very different from those before Hurricane Ike in Galveston.  The sun pours down bright and hot.  The wind blows and stops and blows again.  And I arise and seek to worship the Lord knowing that today I cannot make my way to Mass.  No, the body barely consents to sitting in a chair in our Library and watching (and praying) the Holy Mass from Irondale, Alabama broadcast on EWTN.  Without EWTN I would feel so cut off from the Church and the world in some ways.

But it is also true that last evening when I could watch no spiritually uplifting programme on television, when I could not hold up a book in my hands for spiritual reading, I prayed with all my heart to the Lord and had a sense of all heaven present with me in my little room as I prayed both the Rosary and from the heart.  I knew I was not alone.

Sometimes when you are closest to your goal -- whatever it might be -- you feel yourself a thousand million miles away from achieving it.  But I tell myself, 'Don't you stop, Vince.  You keep going until God Himself tells you to stop!'  

And it is this truth I declare from the pulpit of this blog this bright Sunday morning in East Texas:  You are never alone when you pray.  You are never alone when you talk to the Blessed Trinity, the saints and the angels.  All heaven is open to you and is with you no matter what you see in the physical world about you.  So now is not the time to give up!  Now is not the time to give up on God, on His Church, on your friends or yourself... Now is the time to raise up your hands to Jesus and offer Him everything, absolutely everything in what your life has been, in what your life is, and what your holiest desires intend it to become.

So don't you stop dreaming your heart's most holy desire.  Keep on advancing toward the goal you and God both know is before you, and do not stop till God says 'Stop.'  Actually God will say something far more wonderful to you:  Well done, my good and faithful servant.  Enter into the rest and the joy of the Lord.

You and I will hear these words some day, God willing and the creek don't rise (I told you I'm living in East Texas now, didn't I?) We ... We will hear these words spoken by the beautiful mouth of the Holy Face of Christ who longs to kiss us and  welcome us home to Heaven far more than we can desire to be with him.

Now to the King of the Ages, immortal, invisible, the only God 
be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen. 
1 Timothy 1: 17

+Laus Deo!

20 August 2010

Needing a Helping Hand

As readers know I am fully disabled and have enormous medical bills to pay.  The debts seem overwhelming to me though for most it would simply mean a budgetary strategy to retire the debt.  Since I cannot work, I have had to creatively rely on what little I have and borrow large amounts (large to me that is) from those I love.  As I continue to decline I find I need to humbly beg for your assistance.  No amount is too small, and I will be eternally grateful to those who shall have helped me.

My heart's desire is to retire these debts and then pursue religious consecration as an anchorite/hermit under Canon 603 in the Code of Canon Law for the Latin Church.  I have found a means to fulfil my vocation in my disabled state, but I need some help with these medical debts that have mounted over the last ten years, exceeding my capacity to pay.

Donations may be made by clicking on the PayPal 'Donate' button below or at the top of the blog.  Thank you for your consideration, and please keep me in your prayers.

+Christe eleison.

13 August 2010

Eastern Nuns in Rome

Russian Byzantine-Rite Catholic Nuns

Thanks to Shawn Tribe of the New Liturgical Movement blog for pointing out to us this most interesting little video segment.

+Laus Deo!

07 August 2010

Pentecost Pilgrimage


Read the article with splendid images at AndrewCusack.com

06 August 2010

My Hymn for Transfiguration

Hymn useful  for Transfiguration, Lent 2 (RC) &  Last Epiphany (Anglican)

O Christ the King, the royal banners rise.
Thy Cross, thy standard we raise to the skies,
And hail thee, “Lord!” and bow before thine eyes.
Praise to Jesus! All praise and glory!

Transfigured thou upon the mountain’s height
Revealed the glory of the Bridegroom’s face
And showed to them thy purpose and thy Light.
Praise to Jesus! All praise and glory!

The Cross, thy throne where thou wast lifted high
Embracing all the broken world’s dark heart
Till blood & water gushed when pierced was thine.
Praise to Jesus! All praise and glory!

Death could not hold thee, nor a tomb contain,
O Love and Life, who now from heav’n dost reign,
The King of kings, the Lord who healeth pain.
Praise to Jesus! All praise and glory!

Copyright © 2007 by Vincent Uher
Noel Jones' beautiful new tune 'GALVESTON ISLAND' was written for this hymn text: PDF CLICK HERE.
The tune and text are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License, text by Vincent Uher, tune by Noel Jones.  This permits copying and sharing except for commercial purposes. Text originally ©2007 Vincent Uher.

Also, this text may be sung to the tune Sine Nomine

+Laus Deo!

04 August 2010

Pater Noster: John August Pamintuan

The University of the Philippines Madrigal Singers directed by Mark Anthony Carpio:

+Laus Deo!

03 August 2010

Gulf of Mexico Children's Illnesses


REMEMBER not Lord our iniquities, nor the iniquities of our forefathers. Spare us good Lord, spare thy people, whom thou hast redeemed with thy most precious blood, and be not angry with us forever. 
The 1637 Book of Common Prayer

 From an online New York Times article:

“More than a third report children with new rashes or breathing problems, or who are nervous, fearful or “very sad” since the spill began. And even though the gusher of oil has been stanched, almost a quarter of residents still fear that they will have to move.

“Those are some of the findings of the first major survey of Gulf Coast residents conducted since the BP well was capped. The survey, conducted from July 19 to 25 by the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, suggests that the spill’s effects have not been contained along with the oil itself.

" “There’s been a very overt effort by BP and the Coast Guard to project a sense that the crisis is over, but this is far from the case,” said Dr. Irwin Redlener, the director of the center and president of the Children’s Health Fund, a sponsor of the survey. “Our survey shows a persistent and overwhelming level of anxiety among families living near the coast, driven by both medical symptoms in their children as well as a substantial level of psychological stress.”
 Read the full article here.

From the 1637 Book of Common Prayer - "Laud's Book":

O LORD, look down from heaven, behold, visit and relieve these thy servants. Look upon them with the eyes of thy mercy, give them comfort and sure confidence in thee, defend them from the danger of the enemie, and keep them in perpetuall peace and safety through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

+ Kyrie eleison!

02 August 2010

The Fashionable Concern of 'Self-fulfillment'

"Although in Liturgy and Personality von Hildebrand never uses the term self-fulfillment, the book's theme sheds light on this fashionable concern.  It shows that self-fulfillment is not something toward which one should strive.  It can only be attained indirectly as a consequence of striving for a worthy goal.  For (as he emphasizes repeatedly) the Liturgy develops our personality only when our attention is focused on God and on the proper worship of Him through the Liturgy.  As soon as our attention turns away from God and toward ourselves, that development ceases.

"Ironically, today's society generally measures the worthiness of a goal in terms of the self-fulfillment it promises.  This inverted standard leads husbands to leave wives, mothers to leave children, nuns and priests to leave religious life, and many others to search for self-fulfillment instead of for the service and due-response that alone brings self-fulfillment.  Because they have adopted a subjective standard (self-fulfillment), these persons have turned away from the objective world of values.  They find themselves spiritually impoverished and starving in a desert of their own choosing."

Alice von Hildebrand
Forward to the 1993 edition of
Liturgy and Personality
Dietrich von Hildebrand
Sophia Institute Press

+Laus Deo!

01 August 2010

O Magnum Mysterium

John August Pamintuan

Alex was kind enough to send the link to Madz singing at Yale University. Madz are The University of the Philippines Madrigal Singers under the direction of the brilliant Mark Anthony Carpio. This live performance may whet your teeth for the album mentioned in the post below:

+ Laus Deo!

30 July 2010

Maior Caritas Op. 5

John August Pamintuan, Composer

Ed: My apologies that the links have not worked.  Blogger has been difficult today.

I am delighted to see that the brilliant Filipino composer John August Pamintuan's Maior Caritas, Op. 5 as sung by the University of the Philippines Madrigal Singers -- known in the Philippines as "Madz" -- is now available as an MP3 download from Amazon.com.  A link is provided in the little box in this post.

Unless you live in the Philippines or in an enclave of ex-pat Filipinos elsewhere in the world, you would have had a terrible time locating this CD.   After the exercise of much patience I worked my way through Filipino websites to find one selling it, and I have loved every minute of listening to this CD over the last few years.  They are one of my favourite choirs in the world and we feature this recording of theirs (and others) on RADIO WALSINGHAM ONLINE.  What the listener gets with this recording is the Madrigal Singers almost doing sightreading of the material whilst recording.  In fact, this recording is in some ways a miracle that it took place at all.

Now that I have told you it was recorded almost as the choir sightsinging the music, several of the tracks are sheer perfection and are worth the cost of downloading the whole mp3 album.  "O Magnum Mysterium" by Pamintuan should become part of the standard repertoire of every choir.  I say the same is true with Pamintuan's imaginative, prayerful, and impassioned Pater Noster.  As those who journey to the great choral competitions in Italy and the rest of Europe know well, the University of Philippines Madrigal Singers have been one of the greatest choirs in the world.  

Mark Anthony Carpio, the choir director of Madz of this recording, is to be congratulated on the wisdom of recording this work and making it available to the world even if it did not at times let the polished perfection of Madz in performance shine through as clearly.  Of the recorded pieces of Maior Caritas, Op5,  "O Magnum Mysterium" has become almost an expectation of the discerning audience, and I commend the hearing of it to everyone.

I do not know much about the other compositions by John August Pamintuan, but the example of this CD tells me that there is great musical treasure to be found here for the choral director looking for great new music that stands proudly in the living tradition of the great sacred music of the Church.
+Laus Deo!


22 July 2010

Dietrich von Hildebrand, a new website & a great article

My sincere hope is that Dietrich von Hildebrand will one day be named a Doctor of the Church. On a personal note, his Liturgy and Personality had a significant influence upon me as an Anglican priest and was part of the intellectual basis of my conversion to a fuller understanding of Christianity as taught by Catholic Church. I recommend books by von Hildebrand with great frequency, but for those who do not read German only part of his work is translated into English.  Some of the translation work is due to John Henry Crosby's excellent Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy non-profit project.

This splendid website is well worth your visit -- Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy -- and  a good article about it by Zenit is posted this week entitled Dietrich von Hildebrand: Giving the Heart Its Due (Part One). The man responsible for this apostolate John Henry Crosby developed the project in association with Dr. Alice von Hildebrand. I am very interested in the project and making his teaching more widely read among all Christians.  I look forward to reading Part Two!

Below are a few paragraphs from one of Crosby's responses that I found very interesting:

Our mission statement says we are inspired by the need to recover and reinterpret and translate our intellectual patrimony, and at the same time we operate with a great spirit of gratitude toward contemporary thinkers. Phenomenology has classical roots, but it's also a modern movement within philosophy. We're often assumed that new insights can't be had; that sometimes happens with traditionalists who think that the last word on an issue has been said. I don't want to single them out, but you get that with Thomists sometimes because there is a system with Aquinas.

Von Hildebrand reminds that we can always move forward; it doesn’t mean that we are throwing everything else out but there are questions that are distinctive to a period in time, just as there are questions that arise in every generation. I don't think John Paul II built his papacy on the idea that nothing had changed since 1100. Sometimes we don't like to use the expression "the history of ethics," but there has been a slow-growing, and in some ways relentless, process of greater illumination. I think personalism is built around the idea that historically there is a new and deeper understanding and appreciation for what it means to be a person.

I happen to also think that personalism is a very useful way to engage modern issues because personalists love notions such as freedom, which puts them in a strong position to talk to people who are perhaps confused about freedom, like with the gay rights movement. A personalist has a great language to use, you can understand their intuition, but you are also rooted in fundamental concepts like human nature, which they don’t have; the general liberal problem is the belief that the human is just an atomized individual who doesn’t want to accept any limitation. Human nature is a limitation so you don’t want it, you want everything to be subject to your freedom. Personalists understand that intuition but they also understand that our freedom is finite.

Coming to an understanding of von Hildebrand's oeuvre will of course be tremendously helpful in understanding the personalist principle or rather the 'personalism' of Pope John Paul II -- whose thought is so heavily influenced by von Hildebrand.
+Laus Deo!

18 July 2010

Ordinariate Bound

A Book for the Journey

In these days before the Anglican ordinariates are formed within the Catholic Church, there are a number of books that are "must reads". First among them is the Anglican Bishop Andrew Burnham's Heaven & Earth in a Little Space: The Re-Enchantment of Liturgy which I have linked in the wee box to the left, and it can easily be purchased from Amazon.com or from your local bookseller.

So why start there?  Simply because the good bishop outlines precisely what is at stake for the Anglican patrimony and the Latin rite of the Catholic Church.  This is not for Anglicans or ex-Anglicans only, but it should prove a salutary reading for all Catholics.

I believe the critique offered is the most cogent available at this time, so I commend it to you, gentle Reader, as a book worth its price in any currency. 

Those of us who spent most of our years on the fringe edge of the British Empire are sometimes more fiercely or perhaps more intentionally English than the English themselves.  I remember what enormous pride I felt carrying the British flag in procession when I was a boy acolyte.  How I enjoyed as a child celebrations led by the Daughters of the British Empire (Long Live Lemon Curd!)  And finally I was so very proud that our Anglican Church was headed by the Queen of England, whom we all admired,  And then there was Dr. Michael Ramsey as Archbishop of Canterbury and a genuine Saint we were certain.  Other Archbishops of the 20th century also occasioned great admiration from William Temple to Lord Runcie.  And then there was the martyrdom of His Grace the Archbishop of Uganda, Janani Luwum whose passion is recorded powerfully in Booty's The Church in History.

I shall always love the Anglican Communion for the education I received in the Catholic faith and within which I was able to minister as a layman, then deacon, and finally priest.  My parting from the Anglican Communion was filled with many tears, but to be honest I had to be certain that I was not moving toward another Church out of anger (because after my first stroke there was enough to drive one to rage).  I prayed over and poured over these matters, & with a final meeting with my Confessor (before his untimely death) he joyfully threw open the gateway to this new path in the Church

Then it was clear that I was being called by Jesus to express through my person the visible unity of His Church : the most honest way to do that was to be reconciled to the Catholic Church.  There by God's grace I was able to be a part of an Anglican Use parish in the Catholic Church in the USA.  Now among the numbers of the Roman Catholics of the Anglican Use I stand and I stand in awe of the witness to Jesus Christ and the apostolates engaged in for love of Him and for sharing the gift of our Anglican patrimony ... the chief among them Our Lady of Walsingham Institutes of Catholic Culture Studies, RADIO WALSINGHAM ONLINE, the Anglican Use Society and the liturgical apostolate of C. David Burt

Disabling illness has led me to discover my ministry as a hermit and am blessed to be connected to a new Benedictine monastery in Tulsa, Oklahoma founded by Fr.Mark Daniel Kirby for the adoration of the Eucharistic Face of Our Lord.  What an enormous blessing for me!  While I make new friends and connexions, I continue to enjoy my many friendships in the Anglican Church, and I pray for all Protestants to find a way in Christ to unite together.  Then may they be given the graces of humility and perseverance and find their way to the one Church of  Jesus Christ.  So many people I love remain in various parts of the fractured Anglican world, I can only hope and pray that their ultimate trajectory will take them deep within the Heart of Jesus to enjoy eternity with Him and the entire Body of Christ.

With my eyes functioning well, I am able to read all those books I have wanted to read in more depth, and with new medicine to fight against the mutilating psoriatic arthritis I have moments where I am able to type or write free from much of the pain that besets me.  I do not know entirely what this blog shall become in the future; for now, I am grateful for the help of the Holy Ghost in taking up the blog more regularly and entering into so many exhilirating areas of thought, prayer, and Catholic Action.

As a closing thought,  I would like to commend a CD to you I found a complete revelation.  I only knew of Nicholas Ludford as a footnote in English music history, but this fairly recent recording by the choir of New College, Oxford brings together Ludford's genius of composition in the Missa Benedicta together with Edward Higginbottom marvellous conducting.  This sort of recording represents the kind of mining of the patrimony of the Church in England that also cries out for attention and inclusion in the development of the liturgical and musical forms to be brought into the Catholic Church through the  Anglican ordinariates per Pope Benedict's Anglicanorum coetibus.

+Laus Deo!

16 July 2010

Soelle versus Skobtsova

Since my successful eye surgery, I have been reading all sorts of books that previously I had set to the side in order to focus on essential reading for my religious life and work.  Based on a challenge from a friend, I immersed myself in the theological writing of Dorothee Soelle, a German Protestant theologian.  Definitely not my normal cup of tea, but it was a profoundly useful exercise as I continue to contemplate the question of 'Authority' in the Christian Church.

The encounter with Soelle has led me to phrase the question of Authority a bit differently i.e., a question of Origins.  For Soelle, the mystics (especially the female mystics) of the Middle Ages become Soelle's "Authority" for her work of feminist and liberationist theologizing.  The normative Protestant answer on the question of Authority refers to the Bible -- an opinion on authority not that much different from the Sikhs and their sacred writings or the Muslims and the Koran and the Hadith.  So I find Soelle's leaning upon the mediaeval mystics very interesting indeed.  Her appropriation of the mystics gives her writing a unique quality of spiritual depth often lost in the feminist critique (rising from a hermeneutic of suspicion).  

I have offered my thanks to the friend who challenged me to read Soelle and returned the challenge with The Essential Writings of Mother Maria Skobtsova.  At first glance Mother Maria seems a bit of a paradox with her radical ideas and her firm Christian convictions and her absolute loyalty to the Russian Orthodox Church.  That she has not been glorified by the Russian Church tells us that Russian Church authorities are still uneasy perhaps even unnerved by Mother Maria's writings.  It came as a shock to learn that she was not yet "St. Maria of Paris" and I remain puzzled that a nun who was universally acclaimed as a living saint, who ministered the Gospel of Christ in the Ravensbrueck concentration camp, who died in a Nazi gas chamber, has not been seen as a saint or passion-bearer of the highest order by the hierarchy of the Russian Church.

From her writing one realises that Mother Maria was like a force of nature something like a tornado that would remove everything but Christ, His Church, and the souls of human beings.  Her insights often send out shockwaves that unsettle and reorder one's thinking.  There is a great deal in her writing on the Blessed Virgin Mary that speaks positively to those who are praying for a Fifth Marian dogma -- not that Mother Maria would have approved of such, but rather her writing points to an understanding of the Blessed Mother well beyond what current statements of the Church East and West have said.

Her theological insights have left me feeling as though I had been standing under a great waterfall.  Afterward, my mind and my heart still felt the great rush of the Holy Ghost through Mother Maria's radical devotion to Jesus and the Church, and it is all a bit like standing in that wonderful atmosphere around a waterfall, fresh and charged with life.  There is no question of "Authority" or of "Origins" in her writing for Mother Maria goes directly to the Source and there she bids us worship Christ and work to make present the Kingdom of God.

At the beginning of this post I have included a link to Essential Writings: Mother Maria Skobtsova on Amazon, and I heartily encourage you, gentle Reader, to take it up and read.  You will be amazed by the life and thought of this sainted servant of the Holy Trinity.

14 July 2010

Magnificent Video

CMAA Colloquium XX 2010
from Corpus Christi Watershed on Vimeo.

The Wreck of the H.M.S. Anglicana

Watching the General Synod of the Church of England this time round has been quite an education for me. I was well aware that the Episcopal Church in the USA in a few short years no longer bears any resemblance to the Church in which I laboured for a time. Now it is clear that the C of E has mutated into something altogether Protestant in creed and bitter in tone. I sometimes wonder, Who are these people who control what was once 'my Church'? I no longer recognise the lot, and it has left me very grateful for that enclave of Anglican Heritage we have in Houston with Our Lady of Walsingham Roman Catholic Church (Anglican Use).

Those who know me know that the issue of female ordination is not an issue of importance to me. I regard this sort of thing as a symptom of a larger spiritual illness wherein an association of Christians mistakes itself for Christ's poor Church and sets about legislating things for which it has no competency, and the Anglican Communion has never been a competent authority to alter doctrine, dogma, or discipline. I strode across the Tiber with the conviction that the total lack of authority and the ongoing doctrinal drift from faith in Jesus Christ to faith in a generic sort of 'God the blob' (who flits about blessing everyone and everything like a fairy grandmother who has had too much sherry) was simply incompatible with what I (and my anglo-catholic forebears) believed.

Now did I find Paradise in Rome? No. I found some things that made me retrace my steps back into the Tiber, but in the end I found myself at home in the Catholic Church among a vast number of people for whom Truth as revealed in Christ is everything. I am so thankful to Pope Benedict for continuing and expanding the work of welcoming the catholic-minded Anglicans home and for affording us a place of grace where we may share with the Universal Church those good things begun, continued, and accomplished among us by the Holy Ghost ... the Holy Father speaks of it as our patrimony, and our patrimony is a vast treasure resonant with what is most beautiful and true about the Church both Eastern and Western.

I have told my family wherever we may be scattered about the English-speaking world that the HMS Anglicana has run aground (or perhaps been torpedoed by an Enemy), and it is now time to escape to safety and to run into the open arms of Our Lord Jesus as He says to us all, "Welcome to Rome. Welcome home."

+Laus Deo!

12 July 2010

Things the Holy Father Never Taught Me

I am delighted to recommend an excellent column by Dawn Eden concerning the Theology of the Body of Pope John Paul II. Many of you will be familiar with Dawn Eden's The Thrill of the Chaste which I reckon as one of the most remarkable and important books I have read in the last few years.

I will quote a short portion from the beginning but encourage you to read the column in full:

Things the Holy Father Never Taught Me:
Unraveling a Common Myth About the Theology of the Body

by Dawn Eden

Pope John Paul II’s addresses on the theology of the body launched a new era in Catholic catechesis on sexuality and married love. Yet these teachings, popularly known as the TOB, have become subject to interpretations that their author could hardly have envisioned, as some well-intentioned authors and speakers attempt to adapt the late Holy Father’s highly philosophical verbiage into everyday language.
Perhaps no area of the TOB is subject to as much misinterpretation as its teachings on modesty. One common confusion in particular deserves a closer look. ...

Continue reading the column HERE

+Laus Deo