Friday, October 28, 2005

Great quote from Benedict

He told a group of German pilgrims shortly after he was elected Pope, in relation to the struggle he felt about accepting:

"The ways of the Lord are not comfortable, but we are not created for comfort but for great things, for the sake of the good. So, in the end, I could do nothing other than say yes...."

Pope Benedict speaks to the Pauline Family

On October 1 Pope Benedict met with some Paulines in Rome. Part of what he said:

"Gospel proclamation through the modern media...primarily requires, in addition to the necssary and proper professional training, a firm attachment to the divine Teacher. Ever aware of the importance of this ascetical and spiritual requirement, it was your Founder [Fr. Alberione] who, for this very reason, placed the Eucharist, with listening to the Word and a deeply prayerful spirit, at the very heart of every institution and house of your Institute. In love with God as he was, Fr Alberione asked his disciples, priests and lay people to cultivate a vigorous inner life, rich in balance and discernment."

What really struck me here was his emphasis on listening to the Word. Fr. Alberione saw the Visit before the Blessed Sacrament as a special time to converse with the Lord, to hear what he is saying and take it to heart.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Is she right?

The above link is to a somber column by Peggy Noonan reflecting on the state of our society. Her main point is that many signs are out there that the country is heading into serious times.

How do you feel about this? What she say resonates with me. I've felt this way since 9/11. Then after that the Church scandal broke. We've been living in very serious times. I don't want to be pessimistic because there are always reasons for hope. But some times are more difficult than others. There's also economic uncertainty, serious problems in the American economy like the ever-increasing trade deficit that requires an infusion of 2 billion dollars every day from foreigners to support our spending habits. When will they finally stop lending us the money? How long can the government spend money it doesn't have? Then there are the natural disasters like Katrina and the tsunami. Even the world's weather seems to be headed for tumultuous times.

Before the French Revolution, the nobility carried on their lives oblivious of the coming storm. But the signs were there for those could read them. I can't predict the future. But some of these indications make me think that we just might be living in the calm before the storm. Katrina has shown how things can change overnight. In all of this, though, God is the only real source of security. "Blessed be the Lord, my rock!"

More travels around the pond

Here's another story about someone I met walking around the pond a couple weeks ago.
I noticed a short distance ahead of me a man walking his toddler in a stroller. He had stopped for a moment to give her a drink of water from a bottle, and he also had a little fluffy dog on a leash. There was something about the gentle way he was taking care of his little girl, along with the dog looking at them, patiently waiting, that was very touching.
As I walked closer and was going past I smiled at them, and he said, "Sister, will you bless my baby?" So I stopped and said a spontaneous prayer asking God to bless her and her family. I think he was Catholic because he mentioned something about Pope John Paul, but he may have been from the Eastern rite. He had an accent but spoke very good English, in a slow and deliberate way. Then he asked me if I knew this particular prayer before a crucifix written by St. Francis. It was a beautiful prayer that he then recited, asking for the three virtues of faith, hope and charity. Then he also prayed the more familiar prayer of St. Francis, "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace."
His faith was so evident that I felt very blessed to have met him, even if only for a few brief moments. It was like meeting Christ along the way. God puts different people along our path, some to encourage us, some because they may need our help, and some just as a gift.

Congratulations, Chicago!

Congratulations to all the White Sox fans--great going!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Travels around the pond

I like to take walks and often do so around nearby Jamaica Pond. I've met some interesting people there.
When I first started blogging I wrote about a man who called me a child molester (because I wear a habit so it's obvious I'm Catholic.) That was about 6 months ago and I haven't seen him since, until I took a walk there recently. He walked past me and as I passed, still within earshot, he said "Child molester!" I realized it was the same guy. Because we were walking in opposite directions, I figured I would probably pass him again. So I debated about what, if anything, I should do when I saw him.

He could be mentally ill, he could be a victim of abuse, or he could just be another run-of-the mill anti-Catholic bigot. He could also be dangerous so I didn't think it was safe to confront him. But something inside me didn't just want to ignore it all if I saw him again. So it came to me: pray!
I said the prayer to St. Michael as I was walking, in case he was involved in some kind of Satanic activity (not unusual today, unfortunately). I had a rosary ring with me (I had left my rosary at home) so when I saw him coming I held up the rosary ring with its image of Mary, and as soon as I was close enough for him to hear I started praying the Hail Mary out loud, very loud. I think it took him by surprise. This time he just kept repeating, "shame, shame, shame." Who knows, but if he's a fallen-away Catholic he may not have heard the words "Hail, Mary" for a very long time. So I'm glad he heard them from me.

Pray for him.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Mary, a Woman of Jubilee

On Saturday I went to the meeting of the Mariological Society of New England, held at Providence College. The main talk was very good, given by one of the Dominicans, a Fr. Wagner from Cincinnati. His topic was "Mary, Mirror of Justice." He related it to the new compendium of social teaching that was released recently. He talked about the idea of the covenant and connected with that, the jubilee year. Then he went through each of the joyful mysteries and tied those topics together. He said the Jubilee was designed to assure the salvific event of the Exodus. In Jesus' life there is a constant jubilee, lived through his whole life. Jesus continually lived on the Father's Providence. And Mary's whole life, too, was lived in jubilee.

In the Annunciation Mary inaugurated the new covenant. Her fiat was not simply a surrender but a full, human, free act. This reveals the covenant relationship God always sought with us. Mary responds to this by immediately going to help Elizabeth, thus sharing God's love.

In the Nativity we see the census, Rome numbering its subjects with an idea to exploit them. Instead, God takes note of Mary and her family in a loving way. Everyone involved is keeping Jubilee--the shepherds leave their flock to see what God has brought about. The Magi represent the jubilee of the Gentiles.

In the Presentation Jesus reveals the futility of human power before God. Mary gives her Son in the pattern of the Church who must present Jesus' teaching. Finally, in the Finding in the Temple, we see Mary pondering all this in her heart.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Jesuit martyrs

Today is the feast of the Jesuit martyrs of North America. These heroic missionaries came to the New World from France and gave their lives witnessing to Jesus Christ.
I've visited their shrines both at Auriesville and Midland, Ontario. A few miles from the Midland shrine is the site where Saints John de Brebeuf and Gabriel Lallemant were martyred. They suffered terrible tortures. Now the spot is one of the most peaceful, haunting places I've ever visited. A simple marble altar stands in a grassy clearing, surrounded by a forest of pine trees. The silence is punctuated only by the wind whistling through the trees.
The courage of these martyrs was incredible. After severe torture and more than a year of being held captive, St Isaac Jogues escaped and found his back to France. But all he wanted to do was go back and bring the Gospel to the Indians. He did, and that eventually led to his martyrdom.
If you ever go to Auriesville, don't miss the ravine, where Jogues looked for the body of St Rene Goupil.

Great book!

Last night I read about a third of the new book by George Wiegel. It's a great book! The first part of it is like a sequel to Witness to Hope, his biography of Pope John Paul. It covers the last part of John Paul's pontificate and especially his last days and final illness. It was truly extraordinary to live through that time. Many people, including myself, felt bereft, like we had lost a dearly beloved father. John Paul was so focused on the person that he was able to somehow forge a personal bond with millions of people, many of whom never met him. He was truly a charismatic leader.
One point that impressed me is that Pope John Paul wanted the church to fully be what Jesus meant it to be: an evangelical community of witnesses who proclaim the Gospel. That's what the Church is fundamentally all about. It's made me reflect on the way I attempt to do that in my own vocation, and ways to do it better.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

God's Choice

God's Choice is the title of a new book by George Wiegel on Pope Benedict. It just came in (one of the benefits of working in a publishing house is the availability of books!)
It looks good. After I read it I'll blog about it. It starts out with a summary of the last years of Pope John Paul and the state of the Church, goes into a biography of Benedict, and ends with reflections on the future of the Church.

So many books, so little time....

Friday, October 14, 2005

Cardinal Avery Dulles at Boston College

This past Wednesday evening I went with some other sisters to hear Cardinal Dulles speak at Boston College. His topic was about handing on the faith, and he had a lot of good things to say. He spoke about some reasons why it is harder today to hand on the faith, especially at Catholic universities. Among some of the reasons he listed are these:

1. Americans tend to be more pragmatic than theoretical, and aren't as interested in abstract theological reasoning. He quoted William James about the "cash value of theory," meaning that in general, Americans look more to the bottom line.

2. The flight from metaphysics. This has led weakened philosophical thinking.

3. A critical spirit, derived from the philosophies of skepticism. This view holds that we can't know objective truth anyway.

4. A widespread rejection of authority. Religious authority, especially in the Catholic Church, no longer has the same command it used to, in the sense that many people today freely reject it.

5. Cultural and moral relativism.

6. A diverse student body in many Catholic colleges, meaning that many students are not Catholic. This has led to a trend to substitute religious studies for theology. The difference is that religious studies looks at all religions from a neutral standpoint, whereas theology presupposes faith: faith seeking understanding.

He mentioned a couple more things but I didn't take notes, so this is just from my memory.

Lest this seem too negative, he also commented on positive things like the many excellent students who are studying Catholic theology and making contributions. All in all, it was a great talk and discussion afterward.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Dead zone in ocean

Someone recently told me about this phenomenon that's going on in the ocean. It involves a large "dead zone" where marine life is dying. There's a large area in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida.
I don't know what the cause is; some claim it's from pollution, but possibly it's part of the cycle of nature. Another possibility is warming of the ocean. Recently I was reading an interesting theory about that, namely, that underwater volcanic activity is responsible for warming the ocean. Well, last year's tsunami certainly showed that there's volcanic activity in the ocean.
Despite all our technological achievements, when it comes to nature, there are forces that we can't control. Ultimately God is in control.

Photos from Katrina

Here are some photos of the damage in New Orleans from hurricane Katrina. Sr Julia, one of our sisters down there now, took the photos. Even these pictures can't really convey the extent of the damage, which the sisters said is extremely impressive to see in person. As I mentioned in a previous post, luckily our convent escaped any major damage.

More on the synod

The page above has links to news about the synod and statements of the bishops. Here is an interesting thought from the patriarch of Jerusalem. He makes a great connection between Eucharistic adoration and the way we are to live:

Re-education in the Eucharist is necessary, to tell the Christian in the Holy Land that adoration, mass and communion, are not exercises in piety, but a way of communion with the parish and, beyond the parish, with the whole city or village and with the whole country. A re-education that helps Christians, who are in a minority, come out of their complex of smallness and of being minoritary, and to move from a piety of refuge to a piety that sends out on the mission. Adorers are needed, that re-enter the world to contribute to its construction, to become the builders, not remaining as weak people, full of only protests and complaints and miners asking for protection.By the Eucharist and adoration, Christians achieve the “measure of Christ” and in being true adorers they take a place no other can give them. By their adoration and their faith in the real presence, Christians make God present in his society and where there is conflict.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Why was this man ever ordained?

I don't know if you saw this sad story about a priest accused of murdering two people in Wisconsin. The priest committed suicide recently. From this story, however, it is very apparent that he had major problems. My question: Why was he ever ordained? Why wasn't he screened out? Certainly there had to have been indications that he had problems. Hopefully the seminary visitation process now going on will do something to help assure that candidates are chosen more carefully.

Monday, October 10, 2005

More "typical" events

Today our local superior came back, so I'm no longer the "contact person." That's a great relief! Over the weekend the fire alarm went off at 2:38 AM Sunday morning, due to heavy rains. Water leaked into one of the smoke detectors and set it off. Two fire trucks came very quickly, so I brought them to the panel and they found out the problem. When I called the alarm service company, I got a recorded message. That was strange because they are supposed to have a 24 /7 live answering service. So I left a message and went back to bed. About half an hour later it went off again. I got up and one of the sisters told me "there's a man outside with a flashlight trying to get in." Turned out that he was from the alarm company. The fire department had called them in the meantime. He detached the faulty alarm and by the time he left it was 4:33 AM.

Then this morning I got a call that one of the sisters got stuck with a car in Sullivan Square, right in the rotary. The car died, or at least it wouldn't start. Smoke was coming out of it! It was also raining. A couple of men tried to help her but they couldn't get it started so I had to call AAA and go out to pick her up. On my way there I got a beep that our phone operator was calling in sick again....

Well, now I can get back to editing.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Will the blessed in heaven be happier after resurrection?

I was thinking about this question: if the blessed in heaven are already perfectly happy because they are enjoying the vision of God, will the resurrection of their bodies make them happier?
It's a problem because it's like saying that God alone isn't enough to make them happier, but that happiness somehow depends on a created thing like a body. Isn't God enough?

The Church teaches, of course, that on the last day our bodies will be resurrected. It's also true that the human being is a very close union of body and soul. Catholics don't think that the body is unimportant because it's made of lowly matter. Through the ages there has always been a current of thought that would look down on matter as being less important that spirit. But that's not the Catholic way.

St. Thomas takes up this question in his Summa, and he says that in heaven the soul already posseses the highest good, in the vision of God. But it doesn't possess it in every possible way until body and soul are united. He's basically turning the question around and looking at it from another angle. God is our absolute source of happiness. But on our part, we're not fully complete until the body and soul will be reunited in the resurrection. So it's not that anything is lacking in God, but we're lacking something until the final resurrection. In the meantime the saints in heaven are happy, but they'll be more completely able to enjoy that happiness after the resurrection.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Pope Benedict to the Pauline Family

In a recent address, the Pope spoke to some members of the Pauline Family. He said in part,

"Enamored of God as Don Alberione was, he asked his disciples, priests and lay people to cultivate a robust interior life, rich in balance and discernment," the Pope recalled."To all he presented the Apostle Paul as model, who in the Areopagus of Athens, led by the Holy Spirit, was able to adapt his proclamation to the cultural context in which he found himself, but at the same time he did not cease to present with courageous frankness the absolute novelty that is Christ," added the Holy Father."May each one of you make his own the spirit and style that characterized the Apostle of the Gentiles, updating the missionary endeavor in our postmodern age, […] sharing with the Successor of Peter and the pastors of the particular Churches the incessant yearning to make the Redeemer's salvific message reach the hearts of so many of our contemporaries," Benedict XVI concluded.

Friday, October 07, 2005

More on the synod

This is a very moving testimony by a bishop from Romania:

ARCHBISHOP LUCIAN MURESAN OF FAGARAS AND ALBA IULIA OF THE ROMANIANS, ROMANIA. "In Romania the communists tried to give man material bread alone, and sought to expel 'the bread of God' from society and from the human heart. ... Priests were imprisoned simply for being Catholic, so they could not celebrate or speak about God. Even lay people who participated in clandestine Masses suffered the same fate. In the famous period of 're-education' and 'brainwashing' in the Romanian prisons, to compromise priests, to ridicule the Eucharist and to destroy human dignity, the persecutors made them celebrate with excrement, but they never succeeded in destroying their faith. ... How many humiliations, when during winters at minus 30 degrees they were undressed for body searches; how many days spent in the famous 'black room' as a punishment for having been caught in prayer? No one will ever know, ever. These modern martyrs of the 20th Century offered all their suffering to the Lord for dignity and human freedom. ... There is no lack of hope, and I think first of all of the deep religious sense of our people, the deep devotion with which they approach liturgical celebrations and the Eucharist."

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Synod on Eucharist

I haven't been able to blog much this week because of my other duties.

But one of the sisters told me she was reading about some of the things coming out of the Synod on the Eucharist. It sounds almost like the Vatican Council must have been, with bishops feeling very free to discuss ideas. It doesn't mean that every suggestion will be adopted, of course. Zenit has had some links to some of the ideas if you would like to follow some of the discussion.

Monday, October 03, 2005

A few typical days in the convent

Our local superior left for her vacation until next Sunday, and while she's gone I'm the "contact person." It hasn't been that bad, but if strange things happen, it's always when the superior's gone. The first thing was the power outage on Thursday afternoon. We had a very bad windstorm, and around 2 PM the electricity went out. Of course, one of the sisters was stuck in the elevator. Luckily, our maintenance man was still here so he got her out.
Friday wasn't bad--just an ordinary day, thankfully. Saturday was pretty good too. I kept getting beeped for little things, but nothing major. In the afternoon I was working in the garden a little. I got beeped that the relatives of one of the sisters had arrived--I didn't know they were coming! She was at the hospital for dialysis so they just had to wait until she got home. In the evening one of the older sisters told me she didn't have her medication---in the end she really did.
The phone operator called to say she couldn't come in Monday or Tuesday, so I had to find replacements. Then on Monday morning I got a call from one of the sisters that the battery had died in one of the cars. A typical Monday morning...

word verification comments

Lately I've been getting spam comments, so I decided to turn on the word verification option for comments. In a way I'm sorry to do this because it's an extra step for those who would like to leave comments. But the spam comments are annoying and this is the only way I can stop them.