Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A reminder of Christ's presence in man's suffering

I took this photo last week of the tabernacle of the St. Maximilian Kolbe parish church. It is near Auschwitz, where the saint gave his life to save a fellow prisoner.

The tabernacle is designed to resemble one of the crematoriums at Auschwitz where St. Maximilian's body and those of hundreds of thousands of other victims of the Nazis were burned.

It is a visible reminder of the "God of the gallows" whom Auschwitz survivor Elie Wiesel described in Night, the God he thought was dead, who is so much alive.

Skinny ties and all

The Singapore-based rock magazine BigO plunders its archives and finds my 1999 interview with Blondie. It's interesting to me for what it shows about my state of mind just prior to my conversion to Christianity that October, but it also has some insightful observations from Chris Stein about the danger of celebrity.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Let's face the music and Gdansk

One of the interviews I did in Poland is available online now—in Polish, of course, but with a fun photo.

If English is more your style, check out Southern Baptist Seminary Prof. Mary Kassian's recent review of my book The Thrill of the Chaste.

P.S. If you are unable to get the above-referenced Irving Berlin song out of your head, here's Fred Astaire's version.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Verse things first

Up late finishing an exegesis of Luke 13:1-9 for my Synoptic Gospels class. The assignment required me to refrain from consulting any sources outside the Bible itself. A sample appears below for those who enjoy such things. I certainly enjoy the experience of learning how to do exegesis.

Unfortunately, having to catch up with schoolwork after my Poland tour means I have less time to devote to job-hunting—which is bad, because, as I wrote earlier, I need summer work to keep me going until grad school resumes in the fall. If you know of anyone who might need an experienced editor and writer, please write to me. If not, I am grateful for your prayers. Many thanks!

 13:1There were some present at that very time who told him of the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.

Those present who tell Jesus of Pilate's cruelty are part of the "so many thousands of the multitude" who have gathered to hear him (12:1). The manner of death Pilate inflicted, turning Galileans' sacrifices into human sacrifices, would have been unthinkably horrible to the Jews, showing immeasurable contempt for their nation and their God. Because the temple priests, through their sacrifices, made atonement for the guilt of the people, the prefect's forcing them to include human blood in their sacrifices effectively laid the victims' blood upon their hands and those of the entire nation.

Luke's audience, having an idea of how his gospel would end, would have been struck by the intimation of the death of another Galilean whose fate would be decided by Pilate. From the moment the baby Jesus, being circumcised, received His Holy Name (2:21), He began the sacrifice of His own blood that would frame His earthly mission. Through Pilate, the responsibility for Jesus' bloody death would be laid upon all the people ("Jesus he delivered up to their will"—23:25). The bloodguilt for Jesus would become, in effect, mingled with the guilt represented by the Jews' own sacrifices—through the priests first (who urged Pilate to condemn Jesus—23:5), and, through them, the entire People of God (which shouted "Crucify, crucify him"—23:21).

It is significant in this regard that Luke emphasizes two occurrences of Jesus' bloodshed that are missing from the other gospels: circumcision and His sweating drops of blood during His agony (22:43-44). As a physician, Luke was well acquainted with the effects of physical pain and suffering, having witnessed patients endure the loss of blood. How awestruck he must have been to learn the myriad ways in which Jesus poured Himself out in love for each human being.

During His passion, Jesus' identity as a Galilean will spark the interest of Pilate ("he asked whether the man was a Galilean"—23:6). That the prefect reacts to this information by sending the Saviour to his enemy Herod (23:7-12), who was not known for leniency (cf. 13:31-32) implies that, in the wake of the crimes of the Galileans he punished, Pilate continues to bear special resentment toward people of that region. Seen in that light, a link truly exists between the deaths of the Galileans and that of Jesus, as Pilate's condemnation of the Saviour is in some sense a continuation of his punishment of His countrymen.

At the same time, Luke's audience would have been aware of the essential differences between Pilate's punishment of the Galileans and his condemnation of Jesus. The Galileans were not without sin; Jesus is. Even one of the robbers crucified at His side recognizes this, in a passage unique to Luke (23:41). Moreover, as Luke stresses throughout his gospel, Jesus' suffering, unlike that of His fellow Galileans, is by choice; it flows from His consciously willing to obey the will of His Heavenly Father (22:42).

Mary Ann Glendon's principled decision
A guest post by MICHAEL J. NEW

When I first heard the news that Mary Ann Glendon declined the Laetare medal this morning, I must admit that I was a little disappointed. For selfish reasons, I wanted Glendon to make a strong speech at Notre Dame supporting the sanctity of human life. I wanted to hear the crowd respond in a very favorable manner. I wanted to see the stunned or confused look on President Obama's face at the conclusion of her remarks.

However, after giving it some thought, I have concluded that Glendon made the right decision. Though a chance to rebuke a sitting President is a once in a lifetime opportunity, other considerations are more important. First and foremost, it became increasingly obvious that Notre Dame was essentially using Glendon's receipt of the Laetare medal to justify their decision to invite President Obama to give the commencement address. Many Notre Dame officials felt that honoring her would at least give them a figleaf of respectability among traditionalist and conservative Catholics.

As of this morning, that figleaf is gone. Notre Dame officials will be forced to justify the decision to honor President Obama on its own merits.

Furthermore, Glendon's refusal to receive the Laetare Medal sends a message that is more powerful than any petition, letter, or statement by a Bishop. The message is clear. Believing Catholics are not a cheap date. We are not going to allow Catholic universities to openly defy church teachings in exchange for some recognition, applause, or even a chance to respond to a sitting President. We insist that our colleges and universities must be held to a higher standard and must remain true to their Catholic identity. When they act in ways that are contrary to their Catholic identity, there will be consequences. Many Ann Glendon's decision has succeeded in imposing real tangible costs on Notre Dame—this sends a powerful signal to other Catholic colleges and universities.

It should be noted that the conduct of Notre Dame president Father John Jenkins throughout this ordeal has left much to be desired. Father Jenkins has rescinded his invitation to dialogue with student leaders who disagreed with Notre Dame's decision to invite President Obama. In his response to Glendon, he makes no effort to engage her arguments. He simply expresses disappointment and states that Notre Dame will simply select another individual to receive the Laetare Medal. One would expect a similar press release if one of Notre Dame's deans or administrators had decided to step down or take a job at another school.

Father Jenkins clearly does not deserve to have Mary Ann Glendon attend this spring’s commencement.

Michael J. New is an assistant professor at the University of Alabama and a visiting fellow at the Witherspoon Institute.

Quote of the day

"First, as a longtime consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, I could not help but be dismayed by the news that Notre Dame also planned to award the president an honorary degree. This, as you must know, was in disregard of the U.S. bishops' express request of 2004 that Catholic institutions 'should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles' and that such persons 'should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.' That request, which in no way seeks to control or interfere with an institution’s freedom to invite and engage in serious debate with whomever it wishes, seems to me so reasonable that I am at a loss to understand why a Catholic university should disrespect it.

"Then I learned that 'talking points' issued by Notre Dame in response to widespread criticism of its decision included two statements implying that my acceptance speech would somehow balance the event ...

"A commencement, however, is supposed to be a joyous day for the graduates and their families. It is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame's decision—in disregard of the settled position of the U.S. bishops—to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church’s position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice."

Mary Ann Glendon, from her letter to Notre Dame president Rev. John Jenkins CSC, declining the university's Laetare Medal

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Here comes the scribe
Summer job wanted

As I wrap up my first year of graduate studies in theology, my concerns move from the Summa to the summer—specifically, the need to find work between mid-May and the start of class in late August. If you or anyone you know can use an experienced editor and writer, please write to me. I am grateful for any and all leads. Many thanks!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Holy Name and a university's shame

Saint John was the only Apostle to remain with the Blessed Mother at the Crucifixion, and seared into his mind was the name of Jesus at the top of the cross. The Apostle was always reluctant to mention his own name. In his humility all that mattered was that he was loved by the Lord. When we receive our names in baptism, they radiate the Holy Name, for every Christian is a spark of the Saviour. We should say the Holy Name with reverence, and make reparation when we hear thoughtless people use it as a curse. They do not know its power, but Satan does, and that is why he wants us to twist it if he cannot blot it out.

In the fifteenth century St. Bernardine of Siena went from town to town preaching, holding a banner emblazoned with the letters IHS, which are the first Greek letters of "Jesus." It was most effective in getting people’s attention and Bernardine now is the patron saint of advertisers. In response to humbugs who accused the saint of making the acronym a kind of magical device, Pope Martin V told him to put a small cross over the letters, to make clear that this was the name of the Crucified One.

Young John survived all the Apostles and, grown old and still remembering how the Master had called them “teknia”—“little children”—the night before the Crucifixion, he used the same word: “Little children, I write to you because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake” (1 John 2:12). After Pentecost, with John standing next to him, Peter healed a crippled man by invoking the name of Jesus, which was better than "silver and gold" of which he had none. John and Peter were put on trial for this and Peter boldly declared, "There is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

In the spiritual combat of our generation, Satan would tempt timorous Christians to esteem other names as greater than Jesus. Recently a Catholic university covered the letters IHS at the request of politicians, so that the Holy Name would not be seen by the cameras at a public event. When the powers that be were finished, and the letters uncovered again, so also was the weakness of the university exposed. “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in Heaven” (Matt. 10:33). St. Peter had no money, but he had the name of Jesus. Any institution ashamed of that name, will find that its golden endowment is tarnished and its silver adds up to just thirty pieces.

Ashamed of Jesus! That dear Friend
On whom my hopes of Heaven depend!
No; when I blush, be this my shame
That I no more revere His Name.
* * *

The above is the "From the Pastor" column of the April 26 bulletin of the Church of Our Saviour, reprinted by permission of the author. If you enjoy it, please consider making a donation of any amount to the Church of Our Saviour.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Quote of the day

"When he sees the luxurious residence or the charming country house of a wealthy person, a poor workingman often asks himself: 'Why is there such inequality in the world?'

"How many volumes have been written about equality among men! How much blood has been spilled for this idea! And yet, in spite of all, we still have the rich and the poor …

"Let us imagine that one day all the inhabitants of the world would assemble to put into effect this sharing of all goods; and that in fact each person, granted that the world is very big, received an exactly equal portion of the wealth existing on earth.

"Then what? That very evening one man might say, 'Today I worked hard: now I am going to take rest.' Another might state, 'I understand this sharing of goods well; so let’s drink and celebrate such an extraordinary happening.' On the other hand, another might say, 'Now I am going to set to work with a will so as to reap the greatest benefit I can from what I have received.' And so, starting on the next day, the first man would have only the amount given him; the second would have less, and the third would have increased his.

"Then what do we do? Start redistributing the wealth all over again?

"Even if everybody began to work right away with all his might and at the same time, the results would not be identical at all. There are, in fact, different kinds of work which are unequally productive; nor do all workers enjoy the same identical capacities. This leads to a diversity of results achieved, and consequently to differences in people’s profits.

"What would have to be imposed so that, once the division of goods was accomplished, people could continue to live on a basis of equality understood in this sense? All workers would have to perform the same tasks, all possess equal intelligence and ability, have similar professional training, the same degree of health and strength, and especially the same ability and desire to put forth the necessary efforts. All of this is quite utopian.

"To continue the argument, even if there were only two persons in the world, they would not succeed in maintaining absolute equality; for in the whole universe there are no two things completely identical in every respect …

"In spite of this, the human mind still desires to bring about certain equality among men. Is there any possibility that this can happen? Yes, no doubt. Every man, whoever he is, whatever he possesses and whatever he is capable of doing, owes all this to God the Creator of the universe. Of himself man is nothing. From this point of view all of us are absolutely equal.

"Furthermore we all possess free will, which makes us masters of all our actions. This too constitutes the basic equality of all men on earth. But the use made of our free will is not the same in all cases; it depends in fact on each man’s own determination, on the extent to which he makes use of this precious gift; for not all do so to the same degree. It follows that not even after death will perfect equality be achieved; it will not in fact exist, because every man will receive a just reward or punishment according to his deeds, good or evil."

— St. Maximilian Kolbe, from The Kolbe Reader (highly recommended)

Thanks to reader Mary for the tip.

A tale of two candidates

Miss California was demonized; Mr. Washington was elected.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Vested interest

St. Maximilian Kolbe's priestly vestments, Niepokalanow, Poland, photographed on my cell phone last Friday. I recall that the inscriptions at the bottom of the one depicting the Assumption of Mary are "Regina Polonia" and "Ora pro nobis."

I am recovering from jet lag, so will post about my Poland trip, with many more photos, over the weekend.

Media picks up on Obama's 'initial' trepidation

While I was on my speaking tour in Poland, the mainstream media picked up on the story I broke about how Georgetown covered up the IHS symbol, which represents Jesus' name, for President Obama's speech there.

The first mainstream-media reporter to cover the story, the Washington Times' Julia Duin, very kindly credited me for calling attention to the removal of Christ's monogram from the public square, which was done at the request of the White House. I am glad to see that the story was then picked up by hundreds more media outlets.

As Father Arthur Olsen, who supported Georgetown's decision to host Obama, wrote in a letter to the university's newspaper, "Georgetown slid, perhaps by small, unnoticeable steps, into such a self-abasement at the altar of secularism. It probably seemed like a small concession at the time — really just a matter of being hospitable — to respect the request of such an honored guest.

"But the Holy Name of Jesus is a symbol: a powerful, important and even central symbol, of the greatest good that ever entered the world, not to mention the society that founded this institution.

"Covering it up, blotting it out, is a symbol, too."

Lord's day

Today is the 121st anniversary of the birth of one of my favorite authors, Father Daniel A. Lord S.J. You can join me in celebrating by listening to the only known recording of him, from an LP with the memorable title So I'm Dying of Cancer! (right-click link to download MP3 audio file).

The recording begins with radio interview with Father Lord circa May 1954, a few months after his diagnosis with terminal lung cancer (he would die the following January). Following the interview is a wonderful talk he gave that same year, focusing on the Love Commandment. To learn more about him, click the "Daniel A. Lord" tag below.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Poles rising

Just got back from my Polish tour, which was absolutely wonderful. Many thanks to anyone who prayed for me during the trip.

I will write about the experience in the coming days. For now, while I recover from jet lag, I have one story for you from when a Wrocław resident gave me a tour of that beautiful city's cathedral (visible in the background in this photo). Her English was overall very good, but she gave me pause as she talked about Poland's history.

She said, "In the 19th century, there were two resurrections."

I was silent for a few seconds. What a country! Then the gears started turning:

"You mean, insurrections."

She did.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Warsaw packed? Find out when I return from my Polish tour next week

Leaving now for my first-ever tour of Poland, where I will be promoting Dreszcz czystości (left), the Polish-language translation of my book The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On. Will be back April 22. I will not be bringing my computer with me, so will not be blogging 'til my return.

Here's my itinerary once more:

April 17

6-8 a.m. (approx.): Interview for live national morning TV show “Tea or Coffee.”

11 a.m. : Interview for Warsaw Radio.

7 p.m.: Speak at Warsaw's Master Academy of Love.

April 18

11 a.m.: Speak to the student club "Soli Deo" at the Warsaw School of Economics. The talk is billed under the title "Sex in a Big City."

3 p.m.: Interview for Polish TV network TVN.

4 p.m.: Speak at the Warsaw Catholic Book Fair. The talk is billed under the title "Chaste Sex."

5:15 p.m.: Interview for the Catholic weekly Gościa Niedzielnego, circulation 180,000.

April 19 (Divine Mercy Sunday)

5 p.m.: Speak at the old refectory of the Dominican priory in Wroclaw. The talk is billed under the title "Chaste Sex."

8:15 p.m.: Speak to the students at Maciejówka, the main Catholic student center at Wroclaw.

April 20

5:30 p.m.: (In Krakow:) Interview with the Catholic weekly Tygodnik Powszechny, circulation 42,000. Interviewers will be Artur Sporniak and Father Jacek Prusak S.J.

7 p.m.: Speak to college students at the capitulary of the Dominican priory in Kraków. The talk is billed under the title "Chaste Sex."

April 21

Sightsee in and around Kraków. Depending on time and transportation, I am hoping to visit Auschwitz and the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy. Back to Warsaw in the evening, and return home the following day.

Comments closed.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

UPDATED—Obama's messianic jargon hits 'rock' bottom ...
and G'town removes the Holy Name to accommodate The One

At Georgetown University today, while sitting in the press section at Gaston Hall awaiting the arrival of President Obama for a "major address" on economics, I overheard a reporter discussing the advance text of the speech.

The reporter said that senior presidential adviser David Axelrod had compared Obama during his European trip to one planting seeds for a harvest. Along the same lines, he noted, in today's speech, Obama was set to use another Gospel analogy: that of the "house built upon a rock."

And so it came to pass, beneath Gaston Hall's beautiful painting of Morality, Faith, and Patriotism, with gold letters on the wall behind him spelling the Jesuit motto "Ad majorem Dei gloriam"—"To the greater glory of God"—Obama shared his prosperity gospel at the nation's oldest Catholic university.

But there was one thing missing: Jesus' name.

I'm not just talking about Obama's failing to mention Jesus—though he did pointedly fail to mention the name of the One—that is, for him, the other "One"—who first told the "parable" he shared.

No, Jesus' very name, in the form of the ancient monogram IHS, which had been in gold lettering on the wooden archway above Gaston Hall's dais, was painted over (or otherwise expertly camouflaged) prior to Obama's arrival. Apparently, the Name that is above every other name is not permitted to be above Obama.

The photo above shows the archway "before." You can see the "after" clearly in C-SPAN's video, as Georgetown President John DeGioia emerges to give his fawning introduction.

(I became aware of the cover-up after the speech, when it was pointed out by pro-life advocate Larry Cirignano in an e-mail forwarded to me. Whether Georgetown University initiated it or did it at the request of the White House is unknown at this time.)

As for Obama's address, here is how the most pro-abortion, pro-infanticide elected official in history appropriated the words of Our Saviour:

There is a parable at the end of the Sermon on the Mount that tells the story of two men. The first built his house on a pile of sand, and it was destroyed as soon as the storm hit. But the second is known as the wise man, for when "…the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house…it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock."

We cannot rebuild this economy on the same pile of sand. We must build our house upon a rock. We must lay a new foundation for growth and prosperity – a foundation that will move us from an era of borrow and spend to one where we save and invest; where we consume less at home and send more exports abroad.

No mention of Jesus. It's just a parable about a house built upon a rock.

In Obama's hands, the words of Our Lord become just another way to tell the story of the Three Little Pigs.

He resumed the analogy as he capped off his speech:
There is no doubt that times are still tough. By no means are we out of the woods just yet. But from where we stand, for the very first time, we are beginning to see glimmers of hope. And beyond that, way off in the distance, we can see a vision of an America’s future that is far different than our troubled economic past. It’s an America teeming with new industry and commerce; humming with new energy and discoveries that light the world once more. A place where anyone from anywhere with a good idea or the will to work can live the dream they’ve heard so much about.

It is that house upon the rock. Proud, sturdy, and unwavering in the face of the greatest storm. We will not finish it in one year or even many, but if we use this moment to lay that new foundation; if we come together and begin the hard work of rebuilding; if we persist and persevere against the disappointments and setbacks that will surely lie ahead, then I have no doubt that this house will stand and the dream of our founders will live on in our time
[Full text here.]

When he had finished these words, the Georgetown crowd was astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

Kyrie eleison.

* * *

Gaston Hall photo found here.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Obama, Georgetown ... and me

UPDATE: See my post on the President's address.

Original post:

How badly is the White House trying to court Catholic bloggers? Well, I'll tell you ...

First, they put me on their "Faith" media mailing list. Then, they sent me the press release for the President's "major address" on economics at Georgetown University tomorrow morning, which included an RSVP e-mail address for those seeking media credentials.

I wrote back saying, "Dawn Eden of The Dawn Patrol would like credentials," and the word came back—I'm in.

The White House press office says Obama "will discuss how each step his administration has taken to confront this economic crisis fits within his broader vision of how we move this economy from recession to recovery and ultimately to prosperity. He’ll also talk about the significant work that remains to be done to get the economy moving forward once again."

Given his disinclination to take questions, it is unlikely I will have the opportunity to query the President. If such an opportunity does arise, any suggestions as to a good question on the topic of economics?

What I think of a Catholic university's hosting Obama goes without saying.

Monday update

Happy Easter! Do check out my recent posts about my Polish tour, for which I leave on Wednesday, and my decision to sell my record collection to help pay for my graduate studies in theology.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sweeping the Poles

Just found this on YouTube: a promo video made by Soli Deo, an organization of Catholic college students in Warsaw, for their upcoming series of talks, including the one I will be giving this Saturday during my tour to promote the Polish edition of my book The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On. (That link will take you to an order page for the English-language edition, which is currently nearly sold out from Amazon; more copies are on order.)

Interesting to see that they chose a clip of a talk I gave in Cleveland two years ago. There are more recent clips of me on YouTube, but this one apparenty raised a point they wanted to accentuate. It helps me get a better idea of what to discuss in my talk to Soli Deo, which they are billing under the title "Sex in the City."

'Eternal life begins now'

"If you feel burdened today, I ask you to think about these words of Pope John Paul the Great: 'We are not the sum of our failures. We are the sum of the Father's love for us - and our real capacity is to become the image of his Son Jesus.' What a difference it would make if we defined ourselves by God's love - not by our failures!

"No matter where you are right now, God has a plan for you. Someone who embodied that sense of purpose was the great German pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was one of hundreds of ministers and priests that the Nazis imprisoned. While in that horrible prison, Bonhoeffer wrote, 'As I see it, I am here for some purpose and I only hope I may fulfill it. In light of the great purpose, all our privations and disappointments are trivial.' He was only 39 years old - and he could have imagined many more years of ministry, but he knew that God had a deeper purpose for him. Facing a horrible death at the hands of the Nazis, he embraced the cross. As he had consistently taught, only through the cross do we come to the resurrection.

"Brothers and sisters, Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. By prayer and the sacraments, he wants us to have his life now. Do not let your failings define who you are. God has a plan, a purpose for you. It may involve some privations and disappointments, but whatever the cost, it will be worth it. Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. Where he is, he wants you to be. Eternal life begins now. 'I am the Resurrection and the Life.' No one comes to the Father except through Jesus."

— Father Phil Bloom"Homily for Easter Sunday 2009"

Source of photo here.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Vinyl call

I have decided to sell my entire pop, rock, and comedy record and CD collection, if I can, to help pay for my graduate studies in theology.

While I have yet to make an exact count, the collection consists of about 500 45s, 250 LPs, and 400 CDs, skewing heavily towards obscure sunshine pop, bubblegum, beat music, psych, power pop and garage (in that order). About 90% of the music is from 1965-1968. The condition varies but is mostly VG. I did play my records, but I kept them in good shape. Much of the music is by cult artists and producers such as Curt Boettcher, Graham Gouldman, Jonathan King, and John Carter. Better-known artists represented include the Zombies, the Left Banke, the Cyrkle, Herman's Hermits, the Critters, and the Cowsills.

I am looking for someone willing to take the whole collection off my hands for a four-figure sum (this is grad-school tuition we're talking about, after all), but would be willing to sell it in individual lots for three-figure sums if need be. Interested collectors, please contact me via my feedback form. Everyone else, please pray that I find a buyer so I can clean out this music from my home and make room for the books I will need to buy as I continue my studies.

Why am I doing this? I have found a pearl of great price—about $7,000 per semester, to be exact. As I explained to a friend, this decision is in fact a good thing—good for me, and good for music lovers. Happy Easter!

P.S. I realized it was time for me to sell off my collection after, having ordered from Amazon a brand new turntable that transfers records to CDs, I let the package sit unopened for six months ... and counting. If you would like to purchase it, make me an offer.

Limbo rocked

"Imagine yourself in the dark. The gloom impenetrable, the helplessness complete, the despair infinite. If you chance upon others, you avoid eye contact, the fear and (self) loathing such that none wants to reach out, because all know that each is an aching sack of vulnerability, a wail waiting to happen (again and again and again).

"How did this happen? you ask yourself. But you know the answer: a pleroma of decisions born of ignorance, pride, reluctance, meanness, cruelty, hard-heartedness, fear, want, and entitlement; every one of them justifiable; every one of them without justification – you just did each one for the hell of it.

"A crack appears, a light so bright it hurts – a good hurt, like a foot asleep waking up or an abscess being lanced – and a cracking so loud it startles everyone and everything within earshot. It is like boulders being smote and splintered; like planets being knocked together like billiard balls; galaxies sent spinning and sailing as lightly as Frisbees on a sunny day in the park."

— Jeff "Athos" Hendrix"Harrowing of Hell" (read the whole thing).

Friday, April 10, 2009

Seeing the difference between divine power & human power
An Easter Vigil homily by Msgr. ROBERT J. BATULE

Monsignor Batule sends the following homily that he is to deliver this evening at St. Francis Roman Catholic Church in Greenlawn, N.Y.:

World’s Strongest Man is a real competition every year. In 2008, the competition was held in Charleston, South Carolina, and it included events like the keg toss, the truck pull and the airplane pull. It did not include an event challenging competitors to move a huge rock or boulder.

Next to the keg toss, the truck pull and the airplane pull, moving a huge rock or boulder may not even seem like a tall order; it certainly doesn’t pique interest the way throwing a keg and pulling a truck and plane do. The followers of Jesus in first-century Palestine, though, were not looking for someone to throw a keg, or pull a truck or airplane; they needed someone to move a rock or boulder.

In tonight’s gospel, the women go to the tomb where Jesus is buried. They bring with them spices to anoint the body in accord with Jewish burial custom. On the way, they wonder to themselves, “Who will roll back the stone for us?” (Mk 16:3)

Their concern is for physical strength. Is there someone around, like themselves but physically stronger, who can help? If they find this man, the women might then be able to complete what they piously set out to do.

The women, we must concede, have set their sights too low. They have not taken into account the power of God.

The Psalmist writes that “[b]y the Lord this has been done; it is wonderful in our eyes.” (Ps 118:23) The Resurrection is the Lord’s achievement. Were the women able to find the world’s strongest man at the time, it would not have made a bit of difference. God has raised His Son with a strength which is His, and no human show of force can ever match the Lord’s accomplishment.

Seeing the difference between divine power and human power is not as easy as it would seem. In Saint John’s Gospel, for example, Jesus says, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” (Jn 2:19) Those listening to Him protest, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?” (Jn 2:20) The evangelist then advises that Jesus was speaking about the temple of His body. (cf. Jn 2:21)

The angel in tonight’s gospel testifies that the body of the Lord has indeed been raised. (cf. Mk 16:5-7) Doctors may be able to resuscitate bodies, but they cannot raise them up in glory and make them new again. The Lord alone does this. His power, far exceeding any skill or talent of ours, then makes possible the glorification of our own bodies. (cf. Phil 3:21)

Consider for a moment all of the products we use to preserve and keep our bodies and all of the hours we spend in gymnasiums to tone our bodies and keep them fit and trim. At a certain point, we are all going to lose this battle. Our bodies are eventually going to fail us. Our solace, though, is in knowing that we will receive from the Lord a body far more magnificent than any cream or treadmill could make it.

Even now, the risen life of Christ is ours – such that Saint Paul can say to the Romans that we who were baptized into Christ live in newness of life. (cf. Rom 6:4) Later on in this liturgy, we will renew our baptismal promises and profess our faith in the resurrection of the body. This will be made concrete for all of us tonight when [parishioner J.] is baptized. The cleansing waters of the sacrament hold out to him the prospect of a glorified body after his body now goes the way of all flesh. It also offers to [J.] and all of the baptized a share right now in the life of grace.

Baptism signals the acceptance of faith and the growth of Christ’s Body, the Church. As the Second Vatican Council teaches, the Church is the edifice of God. (Lumen Gentium, 6) She is built out of stones as the temple was in Jerusalem. We who belong to Christ’s Body are like living stones. (cf. 1 Pt 2:5)

“In vain do the builders build,” says the Psalmist, “unless the Lord builds it.” (Ps 127:1) We who work in the Church must build on the cornerstone who is Christ. (1 Pt 2:7) Our building must always respect the Lord’s design for His Church. He is, after all, the stone rejected (cf. Matt 21:42), and thus what is suitable for other projects is not always going to be acceptable for ecclesial building. Christ established the Church with a foundation upon the apostles (Lumen Gentium, 6), and we cannot build floors which are separated from the foundation. Our building will collapse under the slashing of cultural storms if the foundation is forsaken in favor of opinion polls and what is popular at any given moment. The Church is to last until the end of time – not just forty-six years. (Jn 2:20) The Lord builds a durable edifice with faith, hope and love, not with efficiency, pragmatism and social conformity.

Tonight, we rejoice in the Lord’s victory over sin and death. God’s strength has not only moved a boulder, it has raised up the Son bodily in glory. We are strengthened ourselves by a grace which cannot be calculated according to a human scale. This grace bids us to build up the Church now in anticipation of the heavenly Jerusalem.

Paraphrasing the Exultet, we pray this night: Let this house of God made of living stones resound with joy, echoing the mighty song of God’s people: He is risen! He is risen! Alleluia, alleluia!

Monsignor Robert J. Batule is a priest of the diocese of Rockville Centre.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Quote of the day

"I don't believe in reincarnation because I cannot believe a God of love would make us go through puberty more than one time!!!"

— Jean, commenting on "Connecting to ultimate realities"

Urgent: Contact the feds by midnight to protect health-care providers' conscience rights

President Obama has stated his desire to rescind conscience rights for health-care providers, forcing providers to perform abortions or other "medical services" against their will or lose their jobs. The government has allowed a public-comment period before the decision is made, and the deadline for comments is midnight tonight. Go to to make your voice heard.

Comments closed. Make your comment to the feds at the link above.

Has any pro-abort pol ever changed his mind after being honored by Catholics?
Priest's open letter to Notre Dame prez

Sent by Father Peter Pilsner of the Archdiocese of New York:

Dear Fr. Jenkins,

I am writing to express my objection to the invitation of President Barack Obama to give the commencement address at Notre Dame and to receive an honorary doctorate. Yes, I have read the quotes by you and Charles Lennon, saying that this is an opportunity for "engagement" with the President, or for starting a national conversation on the subject of abortion. I find this explanation thoroughly unconvincing and, indeed, out of date.

There was perhaps a time, in the mid-seventies and early eighties, when the implications of Roe v. Wade were not fully understood, and one might make the case that one could separate the politician from his views, and honor the politician for his worthy accomplishments, while at the same time showing tolerance for his pro-choice stance, in the hopes of a constructive engagement in dialogue. If such a time ever existed, or such a defense could be made, the time is long past.

In the thirty-six years of abortion since Roe, much has come to light about the nature of abortion and the harm it has caused to our country. Consider, for starters, these three developments: First, we know far more about the life and humanity of the unborn child than we ever did. Back in the seventies, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, the one-time abortionist and atheist, could say that the new science of fetology forced him to change his view of abortion and eventually become pro-life. If such was true in the seventies, how much more so today, with 3-D sonograms and surgical procedures performed on unborn children. Nor is knowledge of the humanity of the unborn child limited to medical professionals. Who has not seen a sonogram of a child in utero proudly displayed by expectant parents? The status of the fetus as a human being is now so commonly accepted, that pro-choice arguments have shifted from the attempt to deny the humanity of the fetus to the consideration of reasons why, in the case of an unwanted pregnancy, it might be necessary to cause the death of an innocent person. Thus when a politician identifies himself as pro-choice, he is not expressing uncertainty about the human status of the fetus, or the role of law in view of that uncertainty. Such uncertainty is no longer tenable. Rather, he is embracing the idea that in some cases, human life is not inviolable. This is a frightening step forward for the culture of death.

Second, today we can understand the harm abortion does to women in ways we could never have conceived immediately after Roe. The claim that abortion is a simple and safe surgical procedure, generally beneficial to women, is a gross lie. The sense of grief, loss, spiritual alienation, guilt, and trauma experienced by post-abortive women is profound, and has become manifest to us thanks to the public testimony of hundreds of women proclaiming the same
message: abortion hurt them far more than it might have helped them. Any political leader who calls himself pro-choice today can do so only by failing to listen to these women, or by listening but failing to extend compassion.

Third, there is ample evidence that in spite of the demand for "safe and legal" abortion, the actual practice of abortion in our country is not safe. With respect to this particular procedure, and especially in clinics that do this procedure exclusively, women are routinely subjected to unprofessional treatment and low standards of care. The reason is that pro-choice politicians, in the name of the right to choose, have protected abortion clinics from professional oversight, resulting (after thirty-six years) in systemic malpractice.

To me these three developments are not abstractions. Over the last twenty years of my priesthood, I have worked with women who have needed healing after abortion, and have heard countless stories detailing the depth of their pain and sorrow, the ever-present sense of loss and guilt, and the many years they have spent weighed down by the knowledge of what they have done. And as if this were not enough, I have also ministered to numerous teenagers who suffer from abortion in other ways - girls forced into abortions they did not want, boys tormented by the loss of a son or daughter by abortion, and both boys and girls struggling with self-worth, because they learned that their father wanted them to be aborted, or because their own mother told them she wished she had aborted them. And I could go even further and write about young people who feel great loss, because they know of brothers, sisters, or cousins who were aborted, or about parents who experience deep regret, because they see the harm suffered by their daughter following upon the abortion they forced her into. The destruction wrought upon our nation by thirty-six years of abortion goes far beyond the lives lost. It has corrupted consciences, devastated the spiritual and psychological health of millions, and eroded respect for life as a foundational cultural value.

Considering these effects of abortion on our country, I am pressed to ask: by what logic does Notre Dame bestow honors upon a man like Barack Obama, who has made common cause with this evil? To state his position thus is no exaggeration. He is not a person with moderate or evolving opinions on this matter. He is a true believer, so fully committed to protecting the availability of abortion, that for him, the death of children born alive after an attempted abortion is not too high a price to pay. Nor is Barack Obama passive in his support for abortion or content with the status quo. He is an active, aggressive advocate for the pro-choice cause. Already he has paved the way for U.S. tax dollars to fund abortions in foreign countries by overturning the Mexico City policy. He has pledged to sign the most extreme pro-choice legislation ever proposed (FOCA) and thus establish abortion without restriction as the law of the land. Add to this his efforts to remove conscience protection for doctors who refuse to perform abortions, and his flippant dismissal of serious moral concerns regarding embryonic stem cell research, and it becomes clear that Barack Obama is ready to place at the service of the culture of death the power of the highest office in the land.

Again, by what logic does Notre Dame bestow academic honors upon him? Does he deserve this simply because he is the president of the United States, as if simply being elected makes him worthy of honor, regardless of what he does or promises to do? How much injustice must he be responsible for before Notre Dame decides not to invite him? How much evil must happen with his active cooperation before Notre Dame decides not to honor him?

It is said that the invitation and the honorary doctorate serve the purpose of engaging Barack Obama in dialogue. This too is beyond credibility. Is there some special power in the halls of Notre Dame that will warm his heart toward respect for human life, when he has given no genuine indication of openness to this in any of his statements or speeches? Has giving honors and awards to pro-choice politicians ever resulted in changing their hearts and minds? Can we even imagine a politician saying, "I was once adamantly pro-choice, but after receiving honors and awards from the Catholic Church, I was forced to re-think my position"? Such is hardly possible. But it is very possible, and indeed quite common, for politicians to receive recognition from Catholic institutions, to flaunt their status as loyal Catholics in their election campaigns, and to give nothing in return, in terms of support for the Church's efforts to defend human life.

Finally, please consider what this invitation is doing to the church in the United States in terms of scandal. As I understand it, the concept of scandal, going back to the New Testament controversy of eating meat sacrificed to idols, is that sometimes a Christian must refrain from doing something innocent, if many in the Christian community will regard it as wrongful. A Christian should give up his right to something legitimate, rather than offend the consciences of one's fellow Christians, even if they are incorrect in taking offense. By this standard, even if one could argue that there is nothing objectionable about inviting Barack Obama to Notre Dame, does not the resulting division within the church and firestorm of opposition tell you that Catholics are scandalized? When a political leader's advocacy for abortion fails to disqualify him for receiving an honorary doctorate, does that not (at the very least) create the appearance that at Notre Dame, respect for human life is a matter of little significance? How many bishops and thoughtful Catholics will need to express opposition to this invitation, before it becomes clear that scandal is present?

It seems to me that Notre Dame has created for itself a crisis and a turning point. Either it will reclaim its Catholic identity at the price of disinviting President Obama, or it will continue its present course and compromise its Catholic identity beyond repair. I pray for the former. But if it turns out to be the latter, I will quite openly tell any senior at our high school who is considering Notre Dame, that he or she should not regard it as a genuinely Catholic institution of higher learning.


Fr. Peter R. Pilsner
Religion Department Co-Chairman
Cardinal Spellman High School
Bronx, New York

Connecting to ultimate realities

Bill Saunders on how the Catholic faith answers the deepest longings of the human heart:

Two weeks ago, I visited the grave of my mother for the first time since her funeral. A friend and I prayed aloud a rosary for my lady and for the repose of her soul.

Standing in the dirt and grass over the grave, with the rosary in my hand, praying as Our Lady taught us, seemed truer to reality than any prayer had before. I felt consoled, yes, but more importantly, I felt connected to the ultimate realities – to God, to His mother, to mine, to the life beyond the grave, and to the incarnate life to come in the resurrection of the just.

I thank the Catholic Church for giving us a faith that touches – and transforms – physical reality. I thank the Church for a faith that, during Lent, leads us to deny our physical selves so we can more deeply connect to God, but a faith that then leads us, in the Triduum, to the very messy and unpleasant physical reality of pain and suffering and death, a reality that would be a horror but for the One Who redeemed it by dying for us, and for our beloved dead.
Saunders' encapsulation of the Catholic understanding of the resurrection of the dead reminds me I cannot understand why the Oprah crowd—or anyone not raised Buddhist or Hindu—can be so attached to the concept of reincarnation.

The idea of "coming back" until one "gets it right" sounds like a living hell. The promise of the resurrection gives life meaning and purpose, especially as it invites me to enlarge my heart in this life so that God may fill it in heaven. Instead of being doomed to an amnesia-plagued repetition of "lives," this single earthly life becomes the beginning of a continuum of love, as my personal identity—memory, intellect, and will—extends across time and, Lord willing, eventually finds its rest in God.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Bringing The Thrill to Poland:
Updated tour dates

Following is the latest itinerary for my first-ever tour of Poland, where I will be promoting Dreszcz czystości (left), the Polish-language translation of my book The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On. It sounds like it will be exhausting and absolutely wonderful:

April 17

6-8 a.m. (approx.): Interview for live national morning TV show “Tea or Coffee.”

11 a.m. : Interview for Warsaw Radio.

7 p.m.: Speak at Warsaw's Master Academy of Love.

April 18

11 a.m.: Speak to the student club "Soli Deo" at the Warsaw School of Economics. The talk is billed under the title "Sex in a Big City."

3 p.m.: Interview for Polish TV network TVN.

4 p.m.: Speak at the Warsaw Catholic Book Fair. The talk is billed under the title "Chaste Sex."

5:15 p.m.: Interview for the Catholic weekly Gościa Niedzielnego, circulation 180,000.

April 19 (Divine Mercy Sunday)

5 p.m.: Speak at the old refectory of the Dominican priory in Wroclaw. The talk is billed under the title "Chaste Sex."

8:15 p.m.: Speak to the students at Maciejówka, the main Catholic student center at Wroclaw.

April 20

5:30 p.m.: (In Krakow:) Interview with the Catholic weekly Tygodnik Powszechny, circulation 42,000. Interviewers will be Artur Sporniak and Father Jacek Prusak S.J.

7 p.m.: Speak to college students at the capitulary of the Dominican priory in Kraków. The talk is billed under the title "Chaste Sex."

April 21

Sightsee in and around Kraków. Depending on time and transportation, I am hoping to visit Auschwitz and the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy. Back to Warsaw in the evening, and return home the following day.

'Seks' and the city

Just received an updated itinerary for my Polish tour, which I will post later tonight. In the meantime, thought I would share this beautifully designed poster for my Krakow talk, which I found online. It includes the cover of the Polish edition of my book The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Quote of the day

"Christ’s figures of speech are always both charming and consoling. But never was any other figure of His more consoling than that by which He spoke of the burden of the cross as a yoke. Joy shared is doubled; sorrow shared is halved. That is the ancient phrase. And the yoke is uniquely a thing that must be borne by two. 'My yoke is sweet,' cried the Saviour. And with a blind faith the Christian thrusts his neck into the yoke that is Christ’s. He accepts the burden of sorrow and pain that is, he knows, inescapable. The weight of the rough yoke presses down upon him. Then in a sudden miracle it seems to grow light. For, bent as he is, he looks to the side and makes his great discovery: A yoke is for two; a yoke is not meant to be borne alone. Carrying the burden that has been placed upon him, the Christian sees the head of the Saviour near to his own. The other half of the yoke is borne by Jesus Christ."

— Daniel A. Lord S.J. (1888-1955), "Life's Many Joys and Crosses"

RELATED: Last month, I posted the only known recording of Father Lord as a free download.

Time to send some knee-mail

A priest writes:

I came across this story this afternoon: "Palm Sunday Surprise in Argentina." This is proof that there is a devil and that he's at work, especially during Holy Week. If you decide to post or comment on this story for your blog, please remind your readers to pray for priests during Holy Week, especially those who are struggling with their vocations, as it's the perfect time for an attack. Imagine what the Triduum will be like at the parishes where Fr. Casas ministered. Lord have mercy. (And note that the author only mentions the congregation's initial reaction.)
I agree that priests need prayer especially during this holiest week of the year.

Pope Benedict has said that entering Lent means "starting a time of particular commitment to spiritual combat against evil in the world, in each of us and around us.

"It means looking evil in the face and prepare ourselves to fight its effects, but especially its causes, up to its ultimate cause, Satan."

Here is a prayer for priests, from a page of such prayers provided by Women for Faith and Family:

O Jesus, our great High Priest,
Hear my humble prayers on behalf of your priest, Father [N].
Give him a deep faith
a bright and firm hope
and a burning love
which will ever increase
in the course of his priestly life.

In his loneliness, comfort him
In his sorrows, strengthen him
In his frustrations, point out to him
that it is through suffering that the soul is purified,
and show him that he is needed by the Church,
he is needed by souls,
he is needed for the work of redemption.

O loving Mother Mary, Mother of Priests,
take to your heart your son who is close to you
because of his priestly ordination,
and because of the power which he has received
to carry on the work of Christ
in a world which needs him so much.

Be his comfort, be his joy, be his strength,
and especially help him
to live and to defend the ideals of consecrated celibacy. Amen.

—John Joseph, Cardinal Carberry (+1998)
Archbishop of St. Louis, 1968-1979

Have mercy

Good reading for this Holy Week, or indeed any week: David Mill's article in Our Sunday Visitor on putting the prescribed works of mercy into action.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Et cum spiritu tu-wow!

Found on CultureWarNotes, it's SoulWow!

The line "Get that almost baptized feeling" is dazzling in its theological accuracy (accent on "almost"—there's that temporal punishment left over). St. Thomas Aquinas would be proud.*

Those of you who own a TV set (not me) may recognize this as a parody of ShamWow. It was created by Forza Migliozzi, an L.A. ad agency that clearly drinks deep at the well of Freberg Ltd..

Crain's reports that the ads were refused by local sola scriptura station WAWZ, which sniffed, "“We cannot air spots that speak about a sacrament." So, confession is now a sacrament for Protestants? Score one for ecumenism, I guess.
*Summa Theologiae III, Q. 86, A. 4, reply to objection 3: "Christ's Passion is of itself sufficient to remove all debt of punishment, not only eternal, but also temporal; and man is released from the debt of punishment according to the measure of his share in the power of Christ's Passion. Now in Baptism man shares the Power of Christ's Passion fully, since by water and the Spirit of Christ, he dies with Him to sin, and is born again in Him to a new life, so that, in Baptism, man receives the remission of all debt of punishment. In Penance, on the other hand, man shares in the power of Christ's Passion according to the measure of his own acts, which are the matter of Penance, as water is of Baptism, as stated above (84, 1,3). Wherefore the entire debt of punishment is not remitted at once after the first act of Penance, by which act the guilt is remitted, but only when all the acts of Penance have been completed."

Prof. Freddoso addresses rally:
Notre Dame protest is about President Obama's actions & intentions, not merely his beliefs

Following is the talk delivered at today's Palm Sunday Prayer Rally at the University of Notre Dame by Alfred J. Freddoso, Professor of Philosophy and Oesterle Professor of Thomistic Studies:

I stand here today as a representative of that small group of faculty that supports NDResponse and stands behind the exemplary students who have organized it in reaction to the university administration's announcement that it will honor President Obama at the graduation ceremony in May. Their faithful witness is an inspiration and a shining example even if it is not clear what good, if any, will come of it. For as the Holy Week liturgies reminds us, Christian witness is not about power or tangible results. It's about the life-giving truth of the Gospel and about the Father who passionately loves each individual human being.

I also stand here as the parent of four Notre Dame graduates, including a 2009 graduate, a parent who cannot in good conscience--or, in my particular case, without giving scandal--attend my own son's graduation ceremony.

Make no mistake. This protest has to do with President Obama's actions and with his intentions regarding future actions, and not merely with his beliefs.

Now, of course, the administrators of the university do not “condone or endorse his positions”--or, presumably, his actions--“on specific issues regarding the protection of human life.” And, to be sure, it is permissible to honor someone despite the bad things he's done, as long as those bad things are “not all THAT bad.” So let's look at a few of the actions that the administrators of the university consider to be “not all THAT bad.”

President Obama has overturned the Mexico City Policy that had prohibited taxpayer money from going to groups that promote or perform abortions in other nations. “This is bad,” the administrators of the university admit, “but it's not all THAT bad.”

President Obama has, in Michael Gerson's words, “signalled that he will overturn [the previous president's] executive order protecting health workers from firing and discrimination if they refuse to perform actions they consider morally objectionable.” “This is bad,” the administrators of the university admit, “but it's not all THAT bad.”

President Obama has lifted the previous president's already weak-kneed restrictions on the use of taxpayer money for embryo-destructive stem cell research--which research, by the way, unlike non-destructive stem cell research, has yet to result in curing anyone of any disease. “This is bad,” the administrators of the university admit, “but it's not all THAT bad.”

President Obama has nominated an enthusiastically pro-abortion Catholic to become Secretary of Health and Human Services, the department that oversees the medical profession along with other human services. “This is bad,” the administrators of the university admit, “but it's not all THAT bad.”

The list goes on, and the point is absolutely clear. When it comes to issues that bear upon the protection of innocent human live at its earliest stages, issues which, as one administrator put it, “we care so much about,” there just is no bad action on the part of President Obama that was going to count as “all THAT bad.” No wonder Cardinal George was driven to say, “Whatever else is clear, it is clear that Notre Dame didn't understand what it means to be Catholic when they issued this invitation.”

And, in fairness to President Obama, it is not as if he had not made it perfectly clear before the election what he intended to do. So no one can pretend that the administrators of Our Lady's university, who undoubtedly issued their invitation to the President long before Inauguration Day, were ignorant of his intentions. (In fact, I hear that there was a pre-election New York Times bestseller, written by a Notre Dame graduate, that spelled out those intentions in great detail and with impeccable documentation.) Yes, the administrators knew all this full well, and they nonetheless chose “prestige over truth,” to use Bishop D'Arcy's apt words. In fact, choosing prestige over truth seems to have become something of a way of life around here.

And despite their protestations to the contrary, the administrators of the university have made themselves complicit in the culture of comfort and convenience over against the culture of sacrifice and self-giving; they have made themselves complicit in the culture of fearfulness and quiet despair over against the culture of gratitude to and hope in the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ; they have made themselves complicit in the culture of individual autonomy and individual self-creation over against the culture of faithful and enduring commitment and of shared dependency within a rich communal life--and, sad to say, they have done it under the mantle of the Catholic Faith which they profess with their lips. This would be sobering even if we didn't find ourselves at the beginning of Holy Week.

Today we have prayed to Our Lady and her Son in atonement for this betrayal, as well as in atonement for our own individual failures to bring the life-giving and liberating message of the Gospel to those around us. Mary is the patroness not only of this university, but also of the Congregation of Holy Cross, under the title of Our Lady of Sorrows. Think of the Fourth and Thirteenth Stations of the Cross. Think of Mary standing under the cross, joining her unspeakable suffering to the suffering of her Son. Think of the hardships--the crosses, if you will--joyfully embraced by that hardy group of immigrants, Father Sorin and his companions, in order to found this school.

May these examples inspire us all to re-dedicate ourselves to the proposition that Catholic universities have the most to offer our culture when they are not afraid to be distinctive, when they do not accept the facile assumption that intellectual excellence and fidelity to Christ need to be balanced off against one another, when they do not value worldly glory and prestige more than the truth that sets us free.

Mary, Mother of Sorrows, pray for us.

Thanks to Ruth Lasseter for forwarding Dr. Freddoso's talk.

Pray for Cardinal Egan

He has been hospitalized for stomach pain and has a heart problem as well.

Comments closed. Pray.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

'To lay down one's life for one's friends'

The seminarians at Kenrick-Glennon in St. Louis have produced a beautiful new video for those discerning a vocation to the priesthood: "Man of Christ." Click the icon second from right at the bottom of the video box to watch it full screen.

Thanks to The Curt Jester for the tip.

Archbishop O'Brien on the Legion: 'So many have been devastated and misled'

From John Allen's interview with Baltimore Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien on the upcoming apostolic visitation of the Legion of Christ:

Do you believe that abolition of the Legionaries should be on the table?

I think everything should be on the table. Of course, the ultimate hope is that what is good [in the Legion] can be preserved, so that it grows into a stronger movement. That's what everyone would like to see. I have said before, however, that there may be something endemic in the whole thing that will not allow that to happen.

... You've been very public in your criticisms of the order. Why have you chosen to speak out?

I saw a lot of the Legion when I was in Rome, and I heard a lot about them back here in the States. When I came to Baltimore, I learned that [Cardinal William Keeler]had been dealing with them on a local basis for three or four years, asking for greater transparency, and basically got nowhere. Our priests were frustrated. When I told them that I would demand accountability and share the results with the priests' council, it got a very positive reception.

When word got out of what I was doing, I was surprised by the response. I've received some harshly negative reactions, but I've also had letters from all over the country saying 'Thank you, here's my story.' I got one just last week, from somebody who had been in the organization for seven years and left last week, saying how guilty they felt and that they're having nightmares. It seems to have such a hold on people, and we need to find out why. I don't know of any other organization that has created this atmosphere of suspicion. For their good, and for the good of the church, the full picture should be laid out.

I had no idea when this started that it would draw such a reception. I don't regret it, but it certainly wasn't planned. In the long run, I believe it will be helpful.

Apart from the details about Maciel, are their broader lessons for the church in what's happened with the Legionaries?

I think it begins with Maciel, with the cult of personality around him, the secrecy. The saints don't need that. We have many saints who are respected and looked up to in ways similar to how so many looked up to Maciel, but the saints don't have that fence around them, that mysterious following.

We can learn from this. So many have been devastated and misled, and it will be good to see how it all came about. It's a lesson about holiness in the church. There's also something to learn about transparency. Of course, there are some areas where the church has to conduct itself in the internal forum, to protect people's rights and consciences, but I do think that at the core of the Legionaries there's been an unnecessary and unhealthy secrecy.
RELATED: If you or someone you know is hurting in the wake of the Legion of Christ/Regnum Christi crisis, help is available from within the Church. Several diocesan priests and members of other religious orders have made themselves available to provide pastoral care. See the list of pastoral-care resources on ReGAIN's Web site.

Comments closed. Please pray for Holy Father, the healing of Christ's Mystical Body, and for the apostolic visitators.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Latest on the Legion of Christ/Regnum Christi crisis

In the wake of the announcement of the Vatican's initiating an investigation (officially known as an "apostolic visitation") of the Legion of Christ, canon lawer Pete Vere offers pertinent pastoral advice for Legionaries and members of Regnum Christi. Highly recommended.

On a related note, I am helping ReGAIN, the support network for ex-LC/RC members, to find Catholic diocesan priests and religious who are available to provide pastoral care to those who are hurting in the wake of the order's crisis. If you are a priest or religious and would like to be included on ReGAIN's list of pastoral-care resources, please contact me or contact REGAIN directly.

Comments closed. Please pray for the healing of Christ's Mystical Body and for the apostolic visitators.

Quote of the day

"But like I said, we persist in overlooking God's humor, even when it's right in front of us. It's like the guy who's late for a wedding and looking for a parking space. And he prays frantically, 'Oh God, please open up a spot. Please! I'll go to church every Sunday.' Suddenly a spot opens up right in front of him. And the guy says, 'Oh, never mind, God. I found one.'"

—  James Martin S.J."God to Man: Get Over Yourself"

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sparrow falls—in love

"We miss each other, and the distance can be a challenge, but I also see that there is a blessing in this: the time we do spend together is all the more precious. Our geographical distance has allowed me to see that this relationship, and by extension, all of my relationships, are Gift, signs of God's love for me.

"There was a time when all I wanted was to be alone, and then, to my surprise, I met someone who showed me that I wanted more all along, that God loves me more than I could ever have imagined."

— My friend Fallen Sparrow. I am so happy for him and D.