February 25, 2017

On Judging Others (and God)

"Such is the lowliness of our condition in this life; for we think others are like ourselves and we judge others according to what we ourselves are, since our judgment arises from within us and not outside us. Thus the thief thinks others also steal; and the lustful think others are lustful too; and the malicious think others also bear malice, their judgment stemming from their own malice; and the good think well of others, for their judgment flows from the goodness of their own thoughts; and to those who are careless and asleep, it seems that others are too.

"Hence it is that when we are careless and asleep in God's presence, it seems to us it is God who is asleep and neglectful of us, as is seen in psalm 43 were David calls to him: Arise, Lord, why do you sleep? Arise (Ps. 44:23). He attributed to God what is characteristic of humans, for since they are the ones who are fallen and asleep, he tells God to arise and awaken; although he who watches over Israel never sleeps (Ps. 121:4)."

(John of the Cross, The Living Flame of Love, 4,8)

February 13, 2017

The Many Patron Saints of Europe

One of the things you notice living the liturgy here in Europe is that they have a lot of patron saints. Six, in fact. And so their feast days come around with some regularity:
  • Cyril, monk, and Methodius, bishop, February 14
  • Catherine of Siena, virgin and doctor, April 29
  • Benedict, abbot, July 11
  • Bridget of Sweden, founder (and mother of a saint, Catherine of Sweden), July 23
  • Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, virgin and martyr (Edith Stein), August 9
Seeing that tomorrow is one of these feast days, I did a little looking around and discovered that all of this heavenly patronage is of fairly recent articulation.

February 3, 2017

Friday Ramble

Recently I was in an email thread with some friars on the 'Lent of Benediction,' one the fasts described in the Rule. It begins after Epiphany. It's called 'of benediction' because it's optional according to the Rule and those who keep it are 'blessed.'

The conversation inspired me to reread, or perhaps read properly for the first time, Paul VI's Apostolic Constitution Paenitemini (1966) on fast and abstinence. This led me also to read, I'm sure for the first time (to my shame) the United States Bishops' Pastoral Statement on Penance and Abstinence, issued later the same year.

I admit that I was surprised and struck by this section in Paenitemini:
The time of Lent preserves its penitential character. The days of penitence to be observed under obligation throughout the Church are all Fridays and Ash Wednesday ... Their substantial observance binds gravely. (II. 1)
(my emphasis)

January 28, 2017

Dom Chautard on Losing Youth

Recently I read some alarming thing about how people are abandoning the faith younger and younger. I was reminded of one of the times some poor bird got into the church in Yonkers and everyone was discussing how to help it escape. 

"Give it the sacrament of Confirmation," offered one sardonic soul.

January 19, 2017

Macarius the Great

According the Roman Martyrology, today is the feast of Macarius the Great.
A brother came to see Abba Macarius the Egyptian, and said to him, 'Abba, give me a word, that I may be saved.' So the old man said, 'Go to the cemetery and abuse the dead.' The brother went there, abused them and threw stones at them; then he returned and told the old man about it. The latter said to him, 'Didn't they say anything to you?' He replied, 'No.' The old man said, 'Go back tomorrow and praise them.' So the brother went away and praised them, calling them, 'Apostles, saints and righteous men.' He returned to the old man and said to him, ‘ I have complimented them’. And the old man said to him, 'Did they not answer you?' The brother said no. The old man said to him, 'You know how you insulted them and they did not reply, and how you praised them and they did not speak; so you too if you wish to be saved must do the same and become a dead man. Like the dead, take no account of either the scorn of men or their praises, and you can be saved.'
(Sayings of the Desert Fathers)



All Things To All

"I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some" said St. Paul. (1 Cor 9:22) And so the saints who followed.

In that spirit, Mother Teresa now available in happy, pensive, disapproving, motherly, frozen in carbonite, and mermaid.

(click to enlarge)

December 16, 2016

Resting Like A Bundle of Myrrh

Back on the feast of All Franciscan Saints, long-time internet friend and sometime fellow American in Rome Fr. Daren J. Zehnle tweeted this lovely image of some of said saints from St. Francis of Assisi church in Teutopolis, Illinois:


(It looks like a nice parish by the way. See their website here.)

That's St. Bonaventure, of course, to Our Lady's left. You can tell because of his red cardinal's hat, which he has rightly doffed in such heavenly company and deposited on his little cloud. So right away I wanted to know what his book says. You couldn't quite make it out in the photo, though you can tell that it says something. So I asked Fr. Daren to find out, and now he has come back with a closer photo, in which you can see that it says crucifixus.


Now I was intrigued. Certainly St. Bonaventure speaks often enough of the crucified, but usually--at least in my memory--in a declined form. I couldn't remember any instance of it in the nominative, as in the book in the picture.

But sure enough a little searching surfaced what must be the page of the book Bonaventure is holding open. It's from chapter nine of the Major Legend of St. Francis, on Francis's "ardor of charity and desire for martyrdom."

Christus Iesus crucifixus intra suae mentis ubera ut myrrhae fasciculus iugiter morabatur in quem optabat per excessivi amoris incendium totaliter transformari.

"Jesus Christ crucified always rested like a bundle of myrrh in the bosom of [St. Francis's] soul, into Whom he longed to be totally transformed through an enkindling of ecstatic love."

(FA:ED II: 597, cf. Song of Songs 1:13)