Sunday, February 25, 2018

Thomas Merton on Spiritual Union

Thomas Merton on Spiritual Union

Prayer of Thomas Merton 

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.

I do not see the road ahead of me.

I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself,

and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that my desire to please you does in fact please you. 

And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road
though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore I will trust you always,though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for you will never leave me to face my perils alone. 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Celebrating the Chair of St. Peter

Pope Benedict XVI on celebrating the Chair of St. Peter

It may seem a bit unusual that the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter.  The feast which has been marked since the Fourth Century is more than , however, is more than a celebration about an ornamented seat  in the apse of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican.  It also represents the spiritual authority of the Church.  

The Church used to celebrate the Chair of St. Peter on January 18th and February 22nd. But in 1960, Pope St. John XXIII removed the January 18th feast, but the February 22nd date became a second class feast. 

Original Chair of St. Peter Woodcarving
Chair of St. Peter woodcarving, from Wood Carvings in English Churches (1910)

The wooden throne was a gift from Holy Roman Emperor Charles the Bald to Pope John VIII in 875. The original portion of Cathedra Petri is a plain oaken arm chair made of worm eaten wood. This chair has been cut in various spots, presumably for relics. During the Middle Ages, the Chair of St. Peter was displayed once a year as well  the sedi gestoria as when a newly elected Pope was enthroned. 

To preserve the precious relic for posterity, Pope Alexander VII encased the Chair of St. Peter into a bronze throne designed by Bernini, who augmented the Throne of Peter from 1647-1653.  The Chair of Peter is supported by statues of four doctors of the Church-- St. John Chrysostom and St. Athanasius from the East and St. Augustine and St. Ambrose from the West. Bernini's design seems to have the cathedra hover over the apse altar lit by a window with a dove (representing the Holy Spirit) and is surrounded with gilded glory sunrays and sculpted clouds.  On the frieze above the altar is the inscription "O pastor of the Church, you feed all Christ's lambs and sheep" in Latin and Greek.

In the first year of his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI noted:

Celebrating the "Chair" of Peter, therefore, as we are doing today, means attributing a strong spiritual significance to it and recognizing it as a privileged sign of the love of God, the eternal Good Shepherd, who wanted to gather his whole Church and lead her on the path of salvation.

H/t: National Catholic Register 

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Commemorating the Sacrifice of the Smallest Cristero Soldier: St. Jose Sanchez del Rio

St. Jose Sanchez del Rio on the Will of God

St. Jose,Littlest soldier of Christ,who's last bloody stepsbrought you to the arms of Our Lady and Our Lord,keep healthy and strongthe steps of Our Lord's soldierswho remain here on Earth,so that they may have your strength to endure and preserve to the end.Via Cristo Rey!Amen

Friday, February 9, 2018

Being At Peace With Different Measures of Glory

Athletes from Unified North & South Korean Team at Winter Olympics
The 23rd Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea are themed to be the games of peace.  This was accentuated by athletes of the Republic of Korea (South Korea) marching with their Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (North Korea) counterparts under a unified flag.

Olympic Athletes from Russia for 2018 Winter Olympics 
Due the doping ban on Russian Federation, the 169 clean Russian athletes marched as neutrals in red and grey uniforms as neutrals.  Any gold medal winning "Olympic Athletes of Russia"  will be feted with the raising of the Olympic flag and anthem. 

While the  2,952 athletes participating in the Pyeongchang games are the best winter sport athletes in the world, but only a few make it up to the medal stand to receive their glory. For most, marching in the Winter Olympics opening ceremony is the highlight of their careers. 

This makes Eric Liddell's admonition about glory all the more poignant. 

Eric Liddell on Glory

What is particularly noteworthy of Eric Liddell is not that he was the the Flying Scotsman was the first  British Gold Medal winner in track from 1924, or that he was the basis of the film Chariots of Fire (1981), or his steadfast Sabbath keeping, but for dying as a missionary in a Japanese internment camp in China in 1945. 

We should all be inspired to run a good race in life and doing our best.

Thoughts on Faith and American Life from the National Prayer Breakfast

President Donald Trump on Faith and American Life at National Prayer Breakfast

President Donald Trump spoke at the 66th annual National Prayer Breakfast, during which he bolstered lofty rhetoric about faith and American life by pairing it with contemporary examples of how we can be heroes to everybody. 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Archbishop Chaput Speaks the Catholic Truth in Defending Traditional Marriage

Since the Synods of the Family of 2014 and 2015, Munich Archbishop Reinhard Cardinal Marx, the Chairman of the German Bishops Conference, has been associated with the theology of gradualism, proffered by Cardinal Walter Kasper (said to be Pope Francis' favorite theologian).

That is why Cardinal Marx interview with Bavarian State Broadcasting that "there can be no rules" about Catholic priests blessing Same-Sex Marriages is so alarming.  The attitude which embraces the ambiguity coupled with the supposed pastoral discretion implements the progressive theological gradualism which is being implemented in some diocese regarding Amoris Laetitia.

To preclude the faithful from getting the wrong idea that Catholic doctrine on the sanctity of traditional marriage is gradually changing, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput wrote a column in the Archdiocese newspaper to set things straight.

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput on Defending Traditional Marriage
Moreover, Archbishop Chaput affirmatively issued a directive explicitly forbids clergy from blessing any same-sex union, mindful that this does not constitute a rejection of persons but is a defense of the truth of marriage.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

St. Paul Miki on the Christian Way

St. Paul Miki on the Christian Way

St. Paul Miki's wisdom about the Christian Way was all the more remarkable as he said this as the Japanese Jesuit  was being martyred with a score of Jesuit and Franciscan companions by being pierced with spears on crosses by a Japanese shogun's soldiers. 

Friday, February 2, 2018

Connecting Candlemas to Groundhog Day

An old English rhyme celebrating Candlemas, the Presentation at the Temple of Jesus, the light of the world

February 2nd marks 40 days after Christmas.  On the liturgical calendar we celebrate the Presentation of Our Lord at the Temple, the traditional close of the Christmas season. It is also known as Candlemas, as the faithful traditionally processed into the church sanctuary with Candles. This ceremony re-presenting how the Mary and Joseph brought Jesus, the Light of the World, into the Temple.

On the secular calendar, we celebrate Groundhog Day, awaiting the predictions of Punxsutawney Phil from western Pennsylvania on whether there will be six more weeks of winter (not Black History Month as some wags have wondered).  This makes sense as it roughly is midwinter (especially prior to the Gregorian calendar adjustment of 1752).  Unbeknowst to most, Groudhog Day has a direct connection to Candlemas.

In eastern Europe, which focused on light and candles, there was a folk association between how much light was in the sky on Candlemas and God's providence in the months to come. Thus they believed that if there was a lot of light in the sky on February 2nd, there would be 40 more days of winter.  Germanic peoples used an animal as their light detector, typically a hedgehog or a badger.  When they immigrated to America, they adapted their instrument and used the plentiful groundhog.