Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Holy Family Compass

Saint Joseph is the compass of the Holy Family. The angel of the Lord appears to him in a dream and directs him to fly with his family to Egypt, and again later, revealing to him the time of the return from Egypt. And, on the return, Saint Joseph weighs the new political situation and decides where to settle the family: Nazareth.

God did all of that through the head of the Holy Family: Saint Joseph. His adoptive Son was perfect as was his wife (the Immaculate Conception and ever Virgin Mary) and yet both needed to obediently follow Saint Joseph for, as the husband and putative father, he was chosen to lead them. (cf. Matthew 2:13-23 [the Gospel for today's Mass: The Feast of the Holy Family])

Every husband and every father is called by God to lead his family under God; and his wife and children should follow him in everything except sin; for God himself has placed him as the family compass, as is so clear in the Holy Family.

God Offers Us Freedom From Whatever Weighs Us Down


On the morning of Christmas Eve the BBC of London transmitted a radio message, recorded last Wednesday, by the Holy Father Benedict XVI for the "Thought of the Day" program, in which, recalling his September visit, the Pope sends Christmas greetings to the citizens of the United Kingdom and to all listeners. Here is the transcript of the message.


Recalling with great fondness my four-day visit to the United Kingdom last September, I am glad to have the opportunity to greet you once again, and indeed to greet listeners everywhere as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ. Our thoughts turn back to a moment in history when God's chosen people, the children of Israel, were living in intense expectation. They were waiting for the Messiah that God had promised to send, and they pictured him as a great leader who would rescue them from foreign domination and restore their freedom.

God is always faithful to his promises, but he often surprises us in the way he fulfils them. The child that was born in Bethlehem did indeed bring liberation, but not only for the people of that time and place - he was to be the Saviour of all people throughout the world and throughout history. And it was not a political liberation that he brought, achieved through military means: rather, Christ destroyed death for ever and restored life by means of his shameful death on the Cross. And while he was born in poverty and obscurity, far from the centres of earthly power, he was none other than the Son of God. Out of love for us he took upon himself our human condition, our fragility, our vulnerability, and he opened up for us the path that leads to the fullness of life, to a share in the life of God himself. As we ponder this great mystery in our hearts this Christmas, let us give thanks to God for his goodness to us, and let us joyfully proclaim to those around us the good news that God offers us freedom from whatever weighs us down: he gives us hope, he brings us life.

Dear Friends from Scotland, England, Wales, and indeed every part of the English-speaking world, I want you to know that I keep all of you very much in my prayers during this Holy Season. I pray for your families, for your children, for those who are sick, and for those who are going through any form of hardship at this time. I pray especially for the elderly and for those who are approaching the end of their days. I ask Christ, the light of the nations, to dispel whatever darkness there may be in your lives and to grant to every one of you the grace of a peaceful and joyful Christmas. May God bless all of you!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Fight Banal Sex (No al Sexo Banal)

That would make a great bumper sticker to summarize the in-context meaning of the Holy Father's recent statement on the harmful trivialization of sexuality, which recently brought so much publicity.

"...[T]he sheer fixation on the condom implies a banalization of sexuality, which, after all, is precisely the dangerous source of the attitude of no longer seeing sexuality as the expression of love, but only a sort of drug that people administer to themselves. This is why the fight against the banalization of sexuality is also a part of the struggle to ensure that sexuality is treated as a positive value and to enable it to have a positive effect on the whole of man's being..." (Light of the World, p. 119)

Immediately after comes the distorted message.

"Merry Christmas" Apostolate

Just say it!

Say it loud and clear, with cheer, and for all to hear!

Don't be defensive. Take the initiative! Beat them to the punch line! Greet them before they greet you. See how many times you can say it in a day! Say it especially after the 25th of December (at least until the day of the Circumcision [octave day of Christmas: 1 January; and after until the feast of the Three Kings--6 January)! And, actually, 2 February is the final feast of Christmas (the Presentation of the first born in the temple on the 4oth day!). Christmas is 40 days!

Say it even after people think it's gone in the hopes to perplex and elicit questions to instruct about the octave day (his naming and Circumcision according to the Jewish law--New Year's is Christmas!) or about the Three Kings' feast (which is the day for presents in many national traditions.

Merry Christmas!

If someone says "Happy Holidays" look him intently and lovingly in the eye and serenely respond with a less cliche Christmas greeting. Say, for example:

"Jesus Christ is born."

"Emmanuel: God is with us."

"The Virgin conceived and bore the Son of God."

"Glory to God in the highest and peace to his people on earth."

"Praised be Jesus Christ."

"Long live Christmas and the Christ child!" (My personal favorite.)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Regina Prophetarum

Luke 1:46-56

Mary, giving God to the world, is the Queen of the Prophets. They brought the Word to the world, she brings the Word made Flesh through her virginal womb. She gives us God! just like the Church.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pedophilia's Ideological Foundations

In his 20 December annual Christmas review of the year address to the Roman Curia the Holy Father indicated the perverse theory which provides the basis for widespread abuse: viz. relativism.

"In the 1970s, paedophilia was theorized as something fully in conformity with man and even with children. This, however, was part of a fundamental perversion of the concept of ethos. It was maintained – even within the realm of Catholic theology – that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself. There is only a "better than" and a "worse than". Nothing is good or bad in itself. Everything depends on the circumstances and on the end in view. Anything can be good or also bad, depending upon purposes and circumstances. Morality is replaced by a calculus of consequences, and in the process it ceases to exist. The effects of such theories are evident today. Against them, Pope John Paul II, in his 1993 Encyclical Letter Veritatis Splendor, indicated with prophetic force in the great rational tradition of Christian ethos the essential and permanent foundations of moral action. Today, attention must be focused anew on this text as a path in the formation of conscience. It is our responsibility to make these criteria audible and intelligible once more for people today as paths of true humanity, in the context of our paramount concern for mankind."

Monday, December 20, 2010

Be Constant in Prayer

"Real prayer begins when you pray when you don't want to."

I think the point is that great habits (virtues) are formed by overcoming one's whims. is expressed in fidelity.

Make your vows to the Lord and keep them! Then you will prove that you believe in Him.

Homosexuality: Worse than Rape and Incest

Homo-sex is entirely repugnant to God, even more than the rape of virgins ("I have two daughters..." Gen. 19:8) and incest ("So the two daughters of Lot were with child by their father" Gen. 19:36).

"And the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrha brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven." (Gen. 19:24) He destroyed them all, while saving Lot: the incestuous ravisher of virgins!

What a statement on the immeasurable evil of homosexuality! (See also Romans 1 for Saint Paul's assessment of homo-sex).

Thought for the day (based on the Mass reading)

The unique and prophetically specific sign of Christmas is that the Virgin is with Child. (cf. Is. 7:14) [That is why the preferred icon of Christmas is the Virgin and Child: i.e. Virgo ante, in et post partum.]

Saint Joseph the Chaste's role is to guarantee it! (cf. Matt. 1:18-24: yesterday's Gospel)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Celibacy and Homosexuality

Four quotes from Light of the World.

"Homosexuality is incompatible with the priestly vocation. Otherwise, celibacy itself would lose its meaning as a renunciation." p. 152

"Respect for man (including men with homosexual inclination) is absolutely fundamental and decisive. At the same time, though, sexuality has an instrinsic meaning and direction, which is not homosexual." p. 151

"I believe that celibacy becomes a very meaningful sign, and above all becomes possible to live, when priests begin to form communities. It is important for priests not to live off on their own somewhere, in isolation, but to accompany one another in small communities, to support one another, and so to experience, and constantly realize afresh, their communion in service to Christ and in renunciation for the sake of the Kingdom." p. 149

"Celibacy is always, shall we say, an affront to what man normally thinks. It is something that can only be done, and is only credible, if there is a God and if celibacy is my doorway into the Kingdom of God. In this sense, celibacy is a special kind of sign. The scandal that it provokes consists precisely in the fact that there are people who believe these things..." p. 149

Perhaps one safeguard against the present isolation of priests might be stricter adherence to (and enforcement by the competent ecclesial authority of) the present norms on priestly attire. Priestly fraternity would be greatly increased if priests publicly--socially--dressed always as priests. They would have a visible and strong bond with each other.

For example: just imagine if all of the priests in New York City began today to religiously wear their public clerical attire! How it would transform the dignity of the priesthood and of Catholicism and of New York, the nation and the world. It would greatly strengthen each priest in his commitment to God. Just that simple habitual act of priestly obedience and solidarity. It would also more effectively keep priests out of places they should not go ==> thereby buttressing their celibate commitment on the practical level. By never being "off", priests would strengthen each other and the world beyond measure.

Something else that would help is getting rid of the ubiquitous confessional rooms and bring back the traditional confessional with a wall between priest and penitent. You have heard of the "protecting God's children" campaign. We need a parallel "protecting God's priests" campaign by not putting priests in the most precarious situation of being repeatedly and regularly behind closed doors in the most intimate confessional conversations with people. How is it that the bishops, who are supposedly so concerned with eliminating priest sexual misconduct have not addressed the very dangerous situation of the closed confessional room. Previous to the 1960's it was forbidden for a priest to hear to confessions of women, for instance, in a closed room! The confessional is the proper place for priestly counsel of women and children according to the age old wisdom of the Church.

The adage coined by Saint Teresa of Avila regarding the distance and necessary precautions in spiritual direction and confession is: entre santa y santo paredes de cal y canto. Which means that for nothing to happen (even between saints!) you need a very deep stone wall between them!!! Why are our bishops so out of touch with the real pastoral dangers for priests in their daily ministry. In the present climate it is foolish and presumptuous for a priest to habitually use a confessional room! It is a problem waiting to happen. No one seems to really care about our priests in this regard. Something needs to be done to safeguard priests against unchastity in that setting and against any possible accusations.

The bishops (or perhaps the pope) need to outlaw confessional rooms and insist on traditional confessionals in every parish as the habitual place for hearing confessions and spiritual direction of women and children.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

De Lectione Sanctarum Scripturarum

1. Truth is to be sought for in Holy Scripture, not eloquence.
All Holy Scripture ought to be read with that spirit with which it was made.
We must rather seek for profit in the Scriptures than for subtlety of speech.
We ought as willingly to read devout and simple books, as those that are high and profound.
Let not the authority of the writer offend thee, whether he was of little or of great learning; but let the love of pure truth lead thee to read.
Inquire not who said this; but attend to what is said.

2. Men pass away; "but the truth of the Lord remaineth forever." (Ps. 116:2)
God speaks many ways to us, without respect of persons.
Our curiosity often hinders us in reading the Scriptures, when we attempt to understand and discuss that which should be simply passed over.
If thou wilt receive profit, read with humility, simplicity and faith; and seek not at any time the fame of being learned.
Willingly inquire after, and hear with silence the words of the saints; and be pleased with the parables of the ancients, for they are not spoken without cause. (Ecclus. 32:9)

Of Reading the Holy Scriptures (From the Imitation of Christ, Thomas A Kempis Book I, Chapter 5)

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Professor Pope

"[A] peculiar feature of a German cultural history is thoughtfulness...I think that God, if he was going to make a professor Pope in the first place, wanted this element of thoughtfulness and precisely the struggle for the unity of faith and reason to come to the fore."

That was Pope Benedict's answer in Light of the World (p. 78) to Mr. Seewald's question regarding a special charism a German Pope might bring to the Papacy.

This Holy Father's particular charism is his primary concern that the modern mind (including that of the theologian) should seek and find God and that men of faith should also embrace, promote and employ the greatest intellectual rigor in their service of God and man. Faith in God is and must be both relevant and reasonable especially today. Human reason rejecting God is not truly human nor is it reasonable! Our beloved German Scholar Pope highlights these truths. By his life and teaching he shows the true dignity of scholarship and, above all, of true religion.
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