Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Saturday, March 28, 2009
"Take the strait and narrow path and if you start to slide, give a little whistle, give a little whistle! And always let your conscience be your guide!" -Jiminy Cricket
Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa has a big job. Since his appointment in 1980 by Pope John Paul II he has been the Church's Apostolic Preacher, or Preacher to the Papal Household. In this position he is the ONLY man allowed to preach to the Pope. During Advent and Lent his homilies and meditations are presented to inform, inspire, remind the Holy Father of his role and duties, and to assist him on his journey of faith. I know a lot of people that would LOVE to be in that position, most of them women and most of them angry, but that is another story.
The Lenten homilies presented by Fr. Raniero this year have focused on the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives and the life of the Church. If you are interested here is a link to the homilies:
His most recent homily pertains to the twofold manner in which the Holy Spirit communicates with the faithful: through the conscience and through the Magisterium of the Church. He writes, as reported on Zenit.org:
Father Cantalamessa stressed that the Holy Spirit is not only the one who guides
us "to the fullness of truth," according to the words of John the Evangelist,
but is also the "interior teacher," as St. Paul describes him. "He does not just
say what should be done, rather he also gives the capacity to do what he
commands."The Capuchin explained that conscience is the ambit where the Holy
Spirit exercises his function."Through this 'organ,' the guidance of the Holy
Spirit goes beyond the Church, to all people," specified the preacher.
He goes on, though, to explain the danger of the individual not informing and discerning his or her conscience through the teachings of the Magisterium of the Church, through which the Holy Spirit, on a more "macro" level, guides us all. There is a balancing act to be recognized in this situation; there are inherent dangers in forgoing the Magisterial teaching for the conscience and vice versa:
"It is just as deadly to try to forego either of the two guides of the
Spirit," warned the preacher. "When the interior testimony is neglected, we
easily fall into legalism and authoritarianism; when the exterior, apostolic
testimony is neglected, we fall into subjectivism and fanaticism."When
everything is reduced to just the personal, private listening to the Spirit, the
path is opened to an unstoppable process of division and subdivision, because
everyone believe they are right."
"It is the ideal of a healthy harmony between listening to what the Spirit
says to me, as an individual, and what he says to the Church as a whole and
through the Church to individuals," said Father Cantalamessa.
This "balancing act" between conscience and the teaching of the Holy Spirit through the Magisterium of the Church has been a problem through the centuries. One needs not look any further than the 30,000 Protestant denominations that have sprung up like weeds in the wheat field. Each one was created by a man who was certain that his particular interpretation of Christianity was inspired by the Holy Spirit. Somewhere, somehow, someone seems to have gotten it wrong. Yet year after year that number grows as the latest preacher pushes his or her latest revelation on a society whose collective conscience suffers. Juxtapose that with the Catholic who ignores the prompting of the Spirit in his conscience: Fr. Raniero describes that person as legalistic and authoritarian: the consummate "church lady", judgmental and cold. We all know people like that, and occasionally I can fall into that trap myself. Hence the balancing act.
Jesus asked us to love God and our neighbor. On Pentecost Sunday, the Church He formed was born through the fire of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit that appeared "as tongues of fire" over the apostles that day is the same Spirit that guides our Church today. It is also the same Holy Spirit that calls us to live in the love of Jesus, for as He has said, "As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you." We need to live in that love fully, reaching out to one another, living our lives informed by a conscience and our Church, that all things may be restored to Christ.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
This afternoon I looked at my fifteen-year-old son's feet. They are huge. I asked sweet baboo what size shoe he wears; "10 and a half", she said as she strained the tortellini. Wow. Them's big feet. I wondered if his socks had holes like mine. When I asked him he looked at me funny, like he does sometimes when he thinks that I must have fallen on my head from a significant distance as a child. "Yeah, they do, Dad." He kicked off his sneakers that sweet baboo had refranined from reporting the cost of when he was sure he had a future as a cross country runner and needed JUST THE RIGHT SHOE.
He was wearing my socks.
That explains alot. My children, despite groundations lasting several weeks if not years, still have the nasty habit of running about outside in their socks. Honorable son number one is the worst offender. It is no wonder one get's holes in ones socks when the fruit of one's loins insist on running around the neighborhood in one's socks.
Oh well. I have determined this a battle I cannot win. There are others, and their feet are growing. I might as well accept the fate doled out on my socks. Man, when did his feet get so BIG?? He is growing so fast. It really makes me feel proud. Not that he's wearing my socks; that just irritates me. What makes me proud is that he is growing into a man. I have prayed for so many years that my kids would grow into good, holy adults. It's happening right before my eyes, and it took holes in my socks to see it.
Now why is my new "Fusion" shaver sitting on the side of the tub (you know, the one with the razor cartridges that cost six gazillion bucks for four?)? Maybe I'll ask the sixteen year old daughter...
Monday, March 23, 2009
Okay, well, that's not quite true. Any time we walked on a beach we were too busy making sure our young Mark Spitz wannabees weren't drifting happily in the Gulf Stream toward Ireland. Candle-lit dinners were usually the result of power outages. Pina Coladas really gross me out. If I'm thirsty the last thing I want is coconut cream. And by midnight we're usually comatose and drooling, attracting passing tankers with our snoring.
We'll be celebrating together in the Big Apple this June, living it up in the City that Never Sleeps, because heaven knows we haven't slept much either.
As we look back over the last twenty years there has been a theme to our marriage that has defined our love affair succinctly: DIAPERS. One after another. To the dismay of our environmentally conscious friends we have single-handedly filled several landfills with disposable Huggies. The way we bought and carried them has changed over the years (our first had a Gucci bag with several diapers, twelve full changes of clothes, cashmere blankets - two, just in case, bottles, creams, lotions, perfumes, and lavendar-scented hypo-allergenic disposable comfort cloths. Our last? Mostly I carried one to the car in my teeth while i buckled the chocolate-smeared imp in the car seat with belts crusted with stuff that fell out of her mouth over the last several months). Finally, three weeks ago our little Teresa, age 3, graduated to Big Girl Undies. It was a moment of importance that I would not let go unnoticed: for nineteen years I have been looking at the unsavory end of many a sweet little cherub, smelling things that Fabreeze has not invented solutions for, and hoping against hope that my fingers wouldn't touch something gooshie. Now, praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost, it is over.
Enough reflection. It's time to make the sloppy joes before the children engorge themselves on string cheese while I blog.,. Teresa just came to my room to inform me that her sister has given her bubble gum. She opened her mouth and showed it to me. Yes, it was indeed bubble gum. What amazing intelligence displayed by the sixteen-year-old bubble gum giver. I will pull it out of the berber later. Hopefully today, as we gather to thank God for the food we are about to receive, ready to dig in to the family grub, Teresa will refrain from repeating those magical words we have heard so often the last three weeks: "Daddy, I pooped my pants."
Sunday, March 22, 2009
This is a picture of two of my sons, John Paul and Joseph, SOMEWHERE in the U.S.! If you can identify WHERE this picture was taken you win A NEW CAR!
Hang on...my wife is checking our bank balance...
Okay, skip the car. A SPIRITUAL BOUQUET! A week of Rosaries and Divine Mercy Chaplets for your intentions! That'll get you farther than a car, anyway.
Here are three hints: A Capital Idea, Rebuild My Church, and the Resting Place of the Lord.
The answer: Mt. Sepulchre Monestary, Washington D.C.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Friday, March 20, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
"We Must Have at Heart the Unity of All Believers"
Pope Benedict XVI wrote and released a letter to his “Dear Brothers in the Episcopal Ministry” regarding the remission of the excommunication of four Bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1988. Paul Thomann from Divine Mercy Radio in Raleigh, NC asked me to post my thoughts on the Pope’s letter. As Paul is well aware, I am rarely at a loss for words…
This letter is HUGE (to borrow Billy Fucillo’s famous line)! My first impression, as a dad, was that I was reading a personal letter from a father to his sons. My second impression was, HEY! The Church CAN move quickly sometimes! I guess I expected this subject to die on the vine like it seems so many other issues do. Don’t get me wrong – I believe that if the church responded to every issue in real time there would be no time to serve Christ – and most issues don’t stand the test of time anyway, so patiently waiting for them to fade is wise. Nonetheless, this one needed a pastoral, loving and challenging response, and we got one. Finally, this letter challenges each and every one of us to put aside the pettiness “ministry” can sometimes breed and get to the task at hand – Proclaiming the Gospel and restoring all things to Christ!
Some themes of this letter are refreshing: The Pope calling us to recognize the difference between a discipline and doctrine; the challenge to look beyond controversy and ministerial conflict and see the person, loved by God; the pastoral mission of the Successor of Peter to call ALL men to Christ and reconciliation to the Church; the recognition that the world is connected, informed, and influenced by the Internet (yes, the POPE realized, as he wrote in his letter, that he needs to access it more often when looking for information!!!); and lastly, our filial responsibility to call our brothers home. The letter was short, but it was chock full of forgiveness, admonition, apology, and most of all, love.
These lines really illustrated our Holy Father’s love and the heart of the pastor:
Should we casually let them drift farther from the Church? I think for example of the 491 priests. We cannot know how mixed their motives may be. All the same, I do not think that they would have chosen the priesthood if, alongside various distorted and unhealthy elements, they did not have a love for Christ and a desire to proclaim him and, with him, the living God. Can we simply exclude them, as representatives of a radical fringe, from our pursuit of reconciliation and unity? What would then become of them?
When I read his words, “What then would become of them?”, tears came to my eyes. He really loves them with the heart of Jesus. He WANTS them to come HOME. He worries about their SOULS, but not in a conceptual way; he loves them as brothers. He continues:
Dear Brothers, during the days when I first had the idea of writing this letter, by chance, during a visit to the Roman Seminary, I had to interpret and comment on Galatians 5:13-15. I was surprised at the directness with which that passage speaks to us about the present moment: "Do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’. But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you are not consumed by one another." I am always tempted to see these words as another of the rhetorical excesses which we occasionally find in Saint Paul. To some extent that may also be the case. But sad to say, this "biting and devouring" also exists in the Church today, as expression of a poorly understood freedom. Should we be surprised that we too are no better than the Galatians? That at the very least we are threatened by the same temptations? That we must always learn anew the proper use of freedom? And that we must always learn anew the supreme priority, which is love?
These words reiterate the message of 1Corinthians chapter 13 I spoke of at the Ignited by Truth Conference in Raleigh, NC. Who we are, how we call others, how we behave, how we interact, how we live the gospel can be brought back to the most basic and yet, seemingly, most difficult call of every Christian: to LOVE. It doesn't get any more fundamental than that. Yet we still screw it up. Thank God for His mercy. We need it!
Our Holy Father is amazing. This letter was personal, revealing, and loving. It has already born fruit – Jewish leadership have embraced it and declared the situation resolved. I pray the rest of us will respond as quickly and put it into action.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
The pastor's homily really struck me, though. He read the "non-RCIA" reading (I guess they have no converts for the Easter Vigil) about Jesus casting out the money-changers from the temple. He talked about the need for us to be "aggressive" (in a non-violent way) when we perceive injustice in the world. It was a good backdrop for the push to fight FOCA (see my last post). But one thing he said really opened my eyes to something new: the image of Jesus as the "aggressor" on the day He was crucified. Huh?
I always envisioned Jesus as the helpless victim on that day. Let to the slaughter, meek and powerless, and hung on a cross like a common criminal. There didn't seem to me to be anything aggressive on His part at all. I always meditated on Jesus the Victim, Jesus the unjustly punished, Jesus the afflicted. All those are true, I know, but an aggressor? But that is just what he was; by dying on the cross he conquered sin, and by rising again he conquered death! He is a conqueror, and could't be a conqueror UNLESS He allowed all that led to His death on a cross. God really did plan it that way, and those participating in what appeared to all intents and purposes to be the laying low and humiliating end of Jesus, were really participating in His triumph over sin and death. Awesome! All things work for good...
Our bishops have stated in the past and continue to state that the day our government requires abortions in all hospitals is the day Catholic hospitals in the U.S. cease to exist. Can you imagine the chaos? In a system that is already overloaded, losing about half the hospitals in the U.S. would be devastating. I don't think that our president, though, is concerned.
No, I will not make a comment regarding Octomom. I promise.