May 312018

Love this statue. It seems the only statues of Mary I ever see are the sorrowful ones. Certainly there is a place for this and to contemplate the sword that pierced her heart. Still I loved the imagery of the playful Mary in The Passion of the Christ and would like to see more such imagery.

An article about the Church of England using Alexa to spread “Christianity”.

  • Alexa, when did Anglican Orders become null and void?

Maureen at “Aliens in This World” post another of her interesting articles St. Leonides, the Father of Origen. Did not know his father was a martyr.

And in other saintly news. While I knew that there was an investigation into the life of G.K. Chesterton, apparently it could be moving forward. GK Chesterton’s sainthood cause may soon be opened.

I’ll leave you with a couple of my bad jokes.

  • My Mother’s sisters want me to go to Mass with them on Saturday evening. I declined since I want nothing to do with Vigil aunties.
  • I would see the new Star Wars movie, except for the fact that I know that the Council of Trent rejected Solo Script.
Jun 292017

Whatever Rod Dreher has done, he has seemed to have spawned a cottage industry of articles and books by people suggesting a saint to emulate over St. Benedict of Nursia. So I have seen so many articles doing exactly this.

Part of this is a natural reaction to his book since whoever he had set to mention as a pattern would be critiqued by others. Plus of course I have read much criticism saying that Dreher is suggesting retreating from society. This happened despite all the caveats in his book that this is not his intention or that St. Benedict’s model was the only model to follow. It is just the nature of the format of the title that provides a theme to build one, while also limiting the points he makes.

Having read the book, like so many others have mentioned, there is much to like along with things to have differing opinions on. All of which is to be expected. The first part of the book deals with a very pessimistic view of the current state of society and the last part deals with how we live our lives in this situation.

There are lots of areas where I share his pessimism about the culture at large and to a large part the prescriptions he notes. I can very well believe things will be quite dire culturally in the near to long term. Although I have read enough of Church history to not accept an idea of of a progressive slope to the bad or to the good. The heartbeat of history is all over the place with revivals, declines, and everything in between..

This did get me thinking generally about his advice. Much of which I think is practicable irregardless of the times you live in. In America and elsewhere where faith can be highly individualistic the “Me and Jesus” quickly become “Me” when other structures aren’t in place. Personal holiness must be job one in loving God and neighbor. Family life has to build on this and beyond this in community life. We need to both strengthen others and to be strengthened by them. The interconnectedness of all of this is so important. When a culture is on the decline so much more work has to be put into this. Easy to complain about structures not being there to support your faith. Yet we see the trails blazed by saints who lived in difficult times when these structures were torn down. Right now it is all so so easy to be a cultural critic while skipping being an inner critic.

Regardless of the times we live in we can become saints.

Ultimately all the saints followed “The Jesus Option”, they modeled Jesus in ways that reflected their personality and experience. Reading the lives of the saints is not the experience of reading a cookie cutter factory of holiness. We are able to relate to saints who have some of the same dispositions or experience as us, or sometimes because their virtues shine a spotlight on our vices we want eliminated.

There is no carbon copy path of sanctity where one path applies to all, other than that we must all trod the narrow path.

Each individual must discern based on their own strengths and weaknesses how to achieve this. The Body of Christ is exactly as St. Paul taught where we don’t need a plethora of just one part.

  • Good times or bad: We must become saints.
  • Good times or bad: We must build family and community life.
Mar 132016

Such a headline:

“Pope imposes financial oversight for saints after abuses”

You would think those saints in Heaven wouldn’t be such spendthrifts. I guess they get giddy with their mansions in our Father’s house.

Still I got to love phrases like:

Vatican’s multimillion-dollar saint-making machine

Although there was very good reason for reform as bureaucracies tend towards corruption. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints is not necessarily staffed by saints to say the least.

The books estimated the average cost for each beatification at around 500,000 euros ($550,000), with much of the proceeds going to a few lucky people with contracts to do the often time-consuming investigations into the candidates’ lives. The family of one well-known investigator, for example, also had the Vatican monopoly on printing the documentation for each saintly cause, studies that often amount to dozens of volumes.

While candidates who inspire wealthy donors would sprint ahead, those with less wealthy fans would languish. American saints often cost the most precisely because the most money was donated, and the postulator could spend it on the best researchers to get the cause through, according to the book “Avarice” by journalist Emiliano Fittipaldi.

This shows one reason why I am thinking ahead for my own canonization. I was thinking about running a GoFundMe campaign to make sure I have the necessary bucks to sustain the costs involved. Plus I just can’t rely on large crowds of people chanting “Santo Subito” after I die, especially the people that knew me.

Another phrase I liked in the article was “science-defying miracles” – take that science. That might be a common view of miracles, but an incorrect one. I like this explanation from Catholic Answers

A miracle may be defined as an event that occurs in nature but that has a cause lying outside nature, that is, a supernatural cause. Miracles are not violations of the laws of nature. The way we know if an event is a miracle is by seeing if it could have been caused by natural forces.

The language in this article cracks me up.

Martyrs, or people who were killed for their faith, get a free pass and can be beatified without a miracle.

Martyrs are encourage by that “free pass”, dying for their faith is such a shortcut.

Still it does remind me of that wonderful line in Flannery O’Connor’s “A Temple of the Holy Ghost”:

“She could never be a saint, but she thought she could be a martyr if they killed her quick.”

Still as awkward as this article was at times in how it was worded, it is at least one that tried to do the subject some justice. However clumsily that was.

Sep 212015

Via my email a family business called Dolls from Heaven.

Dolls from heaven are 18 inch Saint Dolls. They come with an outfit based on what the Saint wore during their life. They also come with a book that will inspire children to become saints. Our first Doll is Saint Therese of Lisieux. Saint Therese is one of our favorite saints. She has not only inspired our family but millions of people with “her little way”. We hope that our Therese doll will encourage young children to make Jesus the focus of their lives.

We also made an additional outfit , her second dress is Therese’s Sunday best; this outfit was inspired by her childhood and her love for going to church. Our hope is to have her debut before Christmas 2015.

Jul 072015

Yes that was a totally link bait headline. Yet their is truth to it. Specifically the Vatican has lent the Diocese of St. Augustine a relic of one of his fingers. So for a Diocese patron saint that counts as “the finger”.

A relic dating back to 430 A.D. isn’t something that’s easy to acquire.

So when the Diocese of St. Augustine was loaned a first-class relic of St. Augustine of Hippo late last month, it was considered a blessing and the culmination of many years of effort.

“One of my dreams was to find a way to get the relics of Saint Augustine here for the 450th to finally say the man for whom this city is named, his relics came here,” said the Rev. Tom Willis of Cathedral Basilica.

The relic is the finger of St. Augustine of Hippo – and it’s never before left Italy where it is part of the Vatican Treasury.

Kathleen Bagg, director of communications for the diocese, has done extensive research on the relic.

“This is a first-class relic because it is an actual piece – body part – of the saint,” she said. “It’s just taken a really long time because [officials in Italy and at the Vatican] didn’t want to let go of it.”

Encased in what is known as a reliquary – a container for holy relics – it is on loan to the diocese in celebration of St. Augustine’s 450th anniversary and the founding of America’s first Catholic parish. (Source)

Dec 242012

Act of Veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the occasion of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception

…There is something else, something even more important which Mary Immaculate tells us when we come here, and it is that the world’s salvation is not the work of human beings — of science, of technology, of an ideology — but it comes from Grace. What does this word mean? Grace means Love in its purity and beauty, it is God himself as he revealed himself in salvation history, recounted in the Bible and in its fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Mary is called “full of grace” (Lk 1:28) and with her specific identity she reminds us of God’s primacy in our life and in the history of the world, she reminds us that the power of God’s love is stronger than evil, that it can fill the void that selfishness creates in the history of individuals, families, nations and the world.

These forms of emptiness can become hells where human life is drawn downwards and towards nothingness, losing its meaning and its light. The world suggests filling this emptiness with false remedies — drugs are emblematic — that in reality only broaden the abyss. Only love can prevent this fall, but not just any kind of love: a love that contains the purity of Grace — of God who transforms and renews — and can thus fill the intoxicated lungs with fresh oxygen, clean air, new energy for life. Mary tells us that however low man may fall it is never too low for God, who descended even into hell; however far astray our heart may have gone, God is always “greater than our hearts” (1 Jn 3:20). The gentle breath of Grace can dispel the darkest cloud and can make life beautiful and rich in meaning even in the most inhuman situations.

And from this derives the third thing that Mary Immaculate tells us. She speaks of joy, that authentic joy which spreads in hearts freed from sin. Sin brings with it a negative sadness that leads to withdrawal into self. Grace brings true joy that does not depend on possessions but is rooted in the innermost self, in the depths of the person, and nothing and no one can remove it. Christianity is essentially an “evangelo”, “Good News”, whereas some think of it as an obstacle to joy because they see it as a collection of prohibitions and rules.

Christianity is actually the proclamation of the victory of Grace over sin, of life over death. And if it entails self-denial and discipline of the mind, of the heart and of behaviour, it is precisely because in the human being there is a poisonous root of selfishness which does evil to oneself and to others. It is thus necessary to learn to say “no” to the voice of selfishness and “yes” to that of genuine love. Mary’s joy is complete, for in her heart there is not a shadow of sin. This joy coincides with the presence of Jesus in her life: Jesus conceived and carried in her womb, then as a child entrusted to her motherly care, as an adolescent, a young man and an adult; Jesus seen leaving home, followed at a distance with faith even to the Cross and to the Resurrection; Jesus is Mary’s joy and is the joy of the Church, of us all.

In this Season of Advent Mary Immaculate teaches us to listen to the voice of God who speaks in silence; to welcome his Grace that sets us free from sin and from all selfishness in order thereby to taste true joy. Mary, full of grace, pray for us!

Oct 072012

I was thinking about this aspect today, but Michael Flynn puts it perfect.

1. What does the Catholic Church call a medieval woman

who was a herbalist and wrote books about it?

A Doctor of the Church: 

TOF mentions this because of the persistent delusion that herb women were persecuted for some reason or other in the Middle Ages.  She was not only into medicine, but also music.  And could write in admonition to a king.

Though I am sure those who look for a cloud in every silver lining will gripe that there are more declared male Doctors of the Church. Considering St. Catherine, St. Teresa of Avila, and St. Hildegard the Catholic Church only elevate tame women as Doctors of the Church – oh wait.

Today St. John of Avila was also made a Doctor of the Church.  I previously made an ebook of some of his writings.

Letters of Blessed John of Avila Source  ePub,  Kindle
Oct 032012

One of the problems with the amazing lives of the saints is that it is easy to put them into another category. Beyond just dubious hagiography there are many stories of the saints right up to modern day full of the miraculous. The stories related to St. Pio certainly come to mind in this regard.

It is easy to start to think of them as a form of Super Heroes or Supernatural Heroes. You might dream of being a Super Hero, but you know you can never really be one. When we place the saints into a kind of “saint box” and category outside of ourselves we can forget that we are all also called to holiness. The canonized saints are recognized as heroic and the presence of heroic virtue is a determination made before someone is declared Venerable.

The performance of extraordinary virtuous actions with readiness and over a period of time. The moral virtues are exercised with ease, while faith, hope, and charity are practiced to an eminent degree. The presence of such virtues is required by the Church as the first step toward canonization. –Fr. John Hardon’s Modern Catholic Dictionary

The comic book Super Heroes receive their superpowers from being born under an alien sun, a power ring and power lantern, mutant adaptations, lab accidents, and even the fully human super heroes had things like access to tons of money to be able to imitate such powers — Batman and Ironman. So again as much as we would like to be super heroes, it is just a day dream.

We make a major mistake when we treat the saints this way. We distance ourselves as just sinners who muddle along as best we can. There is humility involved in this attitude, but also a lack of trust in God. The Church gives us countless examples of the saints who came from every background and culture. These examples of sanctity in action are meant not to be just admired but to help us to imitate Christ. These varied ways of the imitation of Christ are meant to help use not to put saints in some other category, but to join in with them in cooperating with grace. Stories of stigmata, levitating and even flying saints, etc are evidences of God’s power working through his friends but these outwards magnifications of super(natural) powers are not what we are called to imitate.

St. Therese recent feast day reminds us of all of our vocations.

“At last I have found my vocation. In the heart of the Church, I will be Love.”

We won’t be leaping tall buildings in a single bound, but we can love and we can grow in love. Looking at St. Therese and her “Little Way” is a necessary corrective to what heroic virtue really means. Though it isn’t as easy as just waiting around for some radioactive spider to bite us and then having to juggle are private and superhero life. We have to actively cooperate with God’s grace and increasing in the virtues. For myself it is the difficulty of moving from the theoretical understanding of this to the practical application. Moving the “With God all things are possible” from intellectual knowledge into a deeper real knowledge of it. Avoiding the green Kryptonite of vice and pulling our powers from the Son.