Sunday, August 31, 2014

REPOST---There are Four Lights

Although I'm a classic Star Trek kind of gal, I  was usually content to watch Star Trek New Generation. The show's writers got heavy handed at times when pushing certain repugnant social views  and there are some episodes that I can't stomach to this day. I was very fond of Picard, Worf, and Data,  tolerated Riker, loathed Deanna Troi and was delighted when that horrible Wesley Crusher left the show. I think one of the greatest performances Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard ever gave--and there were many---was  in the two part "Chain of Command" episode. Picard has been taken prisoner and tortured. He is told that the pain will stop and he can live in comfortable captivity for the rest of his life if he says he sees five lights flashing when there are obviously only four. Picard refuses to lie to please his torturer and says there are four lights.

In a meeting with some members of the Franciscans of the Immaculate the pope may have  paraphrased a quote from St. Ignatius Loyola indicating that if the pope says something black is really white then we must believe it is white. What did the Holy Father mean by this? It is impossible to say and I won't speculate as so many people have done. I'll only say that the Holy Father appears to have gotten the quote wrong. St. Ignatius Loyola said or wrote:

We should always be disposed to believe that that which appears(emphasis mine) white is really black, if the hierarchy of the church so decides. 

Saint Ignatius was not telling his order that they had to believe that an actual black object was white if the pope said so. That would have been ludicrous and a rejection of the logic that Jesuits became famous for. The saint was saying that if you think something is true, good etc. based on your own knowledge or experience, be docile and wise enough to realize that you don't know everything and in fact, you know practically nothing compared to the dogma of the Church. You may think it's okay to marry for the third or fourth time but the Church says it is not so. You may think it's okay to miss Mass a few times in a month but the Church says it is not so. You may think that your concubine is the same as a wife but the Church says it is not so. Really, the saint was NOT saying go be a simpleton.

If your priest, a nun, a bishop or even the pope says it's raining when you can clearly see that it is not you are not bound to believe that or parrot it back. If you are told there are five lights when you see darn well that there are only four you are free to have the courage to say like Picard, beaten, exhausted, terrorized that no dammit,"There...are..FOUR...lights!"  

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Passion of St. John

Herod by James Tissot

The House of Herod was an astonishingly sick one even by the standards of the day. Herod the Great, was a monstrous individual and the first of a long line of anti-Christs. A Roman contemporary famously quipped that it was better to be Herod's pig than his son and that was true. Herod did not eat pork--in public anyway but his paranoia drove him to kill not only his wife, her mother and her still teen-aged brother but two of his sons as well.When Herod wasn't killing his family, he was killing enemies, real and imagined and making his subjects miserable. His viciousness was such that his courtiers probably weren't shocked when he ordered the Slaughter of the Innocents.

Herodias  who was a key figure in the Passion of St. John, was the granddaughter of Herod the Great by one of his murdered sons. She was married to her half uncle, Herod II, (also called Herod Phillip) a son by King Herod's third wife.  At some point she dumped  her husband and taking her daughter, Salome went off to Gallilee  in order to be with his half brother Herod Antipas, another son of Herod the Great by his fourth wife.  Her new husband, Herod Antipas was both her brother-in-law and her uncle.

St. John the Baptist, the last of the prophets, of whom Our Lord said there was none greater born of woman, looked at the adulterous, incestuous couple and saw that they were crooked people sprung from a crooked house. Most people would've turned away, repulsed and given the situation up as hopeless  but John did not. The Gospels tell us the rest of the story. His passion is commemorated on August 29.

St. John the Baptist by Mattia Pretti

St. John, precursor of the Lamb of God, pray for us. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Thank you Monsignor Ricci

Monsignor Giullio Ricci was Vatican archivist and sindonologist in the 60s. He created this painting based on his observations of the Holy Shroud which shows a Man who wore a cap of thorns rather than the circlet we are all used to seeing in art. There is a crucifix in St. Peter Church in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia that is modeled after one created by the monsignor. The first time I saw it I dropped to my knees and cried.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

My thorn crowned Captain

"Woe to me if I should prove to be a half hearted soldier in the service of my thorn crowed Captain"

St. Fidelis pray for us

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Random thoughts on a Saturday afternoon

  • The Assumption Mass at St. Rita's was awesome, not in the teenage sense of the word but awe inspiring. The line for confession was so long that Fr. wasn't able to leave the confessional until Mass was almost over and the crowd was large and young. 
  • 1964 Blog very interesting and useful for statistics.
  • One Peter Five is a newly launched project of Steve Skojec and so far it's excellent. Except for Hilary White at Orwell's picnic, I don't think any Catholic media outlet or blogger has mentioned it at all.
  • I've  been reading Regina Magazine and just noticed that they have a blog 
  • I really had no intention of writing anything about Robin Williams but the tweet from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences is really disturbing. The genie isn't free. He's dead and it was not a gauzy movie death like Gary Cooper in  Beau Geste or Bette Davis in Dark Victory. This was slow and painful and ugly. My mother was a housekeeping supervisor for nearly 30 years. She's told me the story of how a guest hung herself one night back in the 70s. The maid and the houseman who found her were horrified and the houseman just moaned and fell back out of the room when he saw her. I don't know who cleaned up the bodily fluids and solids but someone had to in order for the room to be usable again. Unlike that woman who hung herself from a closet door and jumped, Robin Williams's death  was probably slow and painful. The Academy sugar coated poison and I hope no person suffering from depression decides that killing themselves will set them "free". 

  • Have you noticed that the cries of support for the Iraqi Christians from American Christian (I'm including Catholics in this)  leaders have been pretty weak? Have you ever noticed how  Protestants seem to find the Catholics and Orthodox of the Holy Land particularly embarrassing and never mention them when they talk about Israel? A young Protestant blogger wrote something that I could dismiss as the folly of youth except for the fact that it tracks perfectly with the thought of Evangelicals that I have known. She thinks the Christians of Iraq aren't really Christian because they are Catholic. I doubt that she even knows these people's ancestors were practicing the Faith 1000 years before her sect was even invented.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

First Communion memory

My first Communion dress was not white. It was navy blue with Swiss dots and a crinoline. My mother was way too thrifty to buy a new dress when I already had four perfectly nice ones, none of which was white. No matter, it was my favorite dress and I have to admit it gave me a secret thrill to stand out from the other girls. Looking at the expression on the face of the girl on the left brought that memory back to me.  

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Random thoughts on diocese doings......

* I'm not a big fan of Bishop Loverde but I'm intrigued by an event he is going to attend in September. He's going to be talking about conversion at Hylton Chapel in Woodbrige, Virginia and that's rather mind blowing.  Imagine a hound dog walking up to a coyote den and telling the inhabitants that there's another way to live that doesn't involve eating the farmer's livestock.  Rocky's parents lived in Woodgbridge and we've driven past Hylton many a time. The chapel is Evangelical/Pentecostal/hard core Protestant central.   Anne Barnhardt refers to to places like Hylton as super fun rock band church. TD Jakes,  Kenneth Copeland, and  Rick Warren have all spoken there. You can have your big Protestant of-all-kinds graduation, wedding, a funeral, concert or conference there.  I am amazed they are allowing Catholics on the premises.  Among the other speakers will be the Conversion Diary blogger who is a former atheist and Fr. Longenecker. I think the former atheist will do fine, Taking  Fr. Longenecker's online persona into consideration, I think he'll do well  with the people from the surrounding counties of Fairfax and parts of Stafford but I don't think he'll mesh with the local Woodbridge and Dale City guys. Still, I applaud the effort and I hope it brings some souls to the Faith.

*Rocky and I had a remarkable experience last week. We went to a Tridentine Latin Mass and a Novus Ordo Mass in the same day.  We were struck by how much adlibbing the priest did in the NO Mass even though he was completely reverent and sober in his manner and by how much of the Mass was dominated by the cantor/ lector  who I'm sure is a nice lady but also couldn't help adding her personal touch to the Mass. Even though we attend both forms every week it was really startling seeing both forms in one day.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

First and Last Communion

This powerful painting by Cristobal Rojas shows a dying little girl who can not make it to church for her First Communion so the priest has brought Jesus to her. The viewers sees that the little one probably will not recover and this is not only her very first Communion but it is Food for her journey to Heaven as well.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Three visits to the chapel

 I was feeling so low about work (I may write about that later) that Rocky stopped at the St. Charles Borromeo  chapel in Arlington  so I could pray but  this visit was not in the least bit uplifting. The carpet in the Blessed Sacrament chapel was dirty and smelled moldy. The flowers in front of the Blessed Sacrament were dying and a strong odor of wet decay came from the befouled, slimy water. The chairs could've used freshening up as well. I knelt down in front Our Lord and felt  a wave of sadness at seeing  Him treated so poorly in his own house.  I wasn't expecting much to begin with. St. Charles is one of the ugliest churches in the diocese and I think the architect must have been an A-plus student of the brutalist school,  but ugly style or not there is no excuse for the lack of tenderness and  attention to the chapel.  St. Charles is not a poor parish, far from it but it's not even a matter of finances.

How much would it cost to throw out the dead flowers? Heck, how much time would it have really taken to change the water so the flowers would last longer than a day? Would it be so hard to get the janitor steam clean the carpet?  I got up and listened to the staff laughing in the office and then I went back to the chapel. Rocky came in and we prayed together. A young Filipina lady came knelt down to pray so we felt that it was okay to leave. I thought about that chapel and the prison floor and ceiling scene from The Passion of the Christ all the way home.

A few days later we took a mini break for Rocky's 50th birthday and went to Mass at St. Alphonsus in Baltimore. St. Alphonsus looks like my childhood idea of Heaven. The architecture soars straight up and there are saints or angels everywhere you look. After Mass we went to the Adoration chapel. It was totally different than St. Charles. The flowers were not dead and dying, the stone floor was clean, the pews were hard wood but not so dirty that it felt unnerving to sit there and there was palpable tenderness and love filling the room. Someone did their best to make a resting place for our King. The next day we went to Colonial Beach in Virginia and visited St. Elizabeth of Hungary. It's a darling little church with friendly people. We prayed in the company of four ladies and again, with not a lot of money they made something really beautiful for God.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Eternal rest grant unto her O Lord.....

I've never met Sarah Harkins, known for her Clay Rosary Girl blog, but I've seen her lovely hand made rosaries. She was a Virginia wife and mother in my diocese and a real Proverbs 31 woman. Mrs. Harkins was stung by yellow-jackets on her property. She was rushed to the hospital but died of an aneurysm brought on by the allergic reaction to the yellow-jacket venom. Her unborn baby, Cecilia died with her.  Please pray for the repose of their souls and for her husband  four surviving children. A charity fund has been set up and if you can send anything please do.