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.

Jul 182008

Dr. Paul Camarata of the SaintCast podcast has outdid himself in the 100th episode of the SaintCast.

Part Pirates of Penzance with what I think of as a touch of Groucho Marx.

alt="Dr Paul and the Curt Jester"

Here is a picture of me with Dr. Paul Camarata taken by Fr. Bill Kessler (the Technopriest). Dr. Paul is the left. This was taken at the Catholic New Media Celebration where I was on a blogging panel with Amy Welborn and Mark Shea that was moderated by Lisa Hendley.