No Sweaters

The Caps had a great season. Let’s not dwell on the playoff curse…

…Five years ago this month, the Lord gave us Pope Benedict XVI.

Habemus Papam!

I remember the moment with enormous fondness. When the new pope stepped out onto the St. Peter’s loggia, I wept with delight.

I was deliriously happy. I kissed the then-80-year-old parish secretary on the lips (may she rest in peace).

But my joy was not completely unalloyed.

There was a fly in the ointment. There was a sticky wicket. There was something just plain wrong.

One word: cuffs.

Compare the papal cuffs of April 19, 2005, with the same scene in 1978.

Moral of the story: Cardinals absolutely, positively must bring at least one pair of decent cufflinks to a conclave.

Doorman

I enjoyed reading this little essay about New York City doormen.

–Not just because I would have been perfectly happy to live out my earthly life as a doorman, if God willed.

–Not just because the essay’s line of argument recalls King Lear’s ‘reason not the need’ speech, my favorite speech of all time.

But also because my humble little lot as parish priest at 11th and K Streets, N.E., is not too far removed from the social niche the doormen of New York occupy. I am proud to be their confrere.

“It is better for you that I go.”

(John 16:7)

From Article 1 of Question 57 of Part III of the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas:

Objection: The Son of God took human flesh for our salvation. But it would have been more beneficial for men if He had tarried always with us upon earth; thus He said to His disciples (Luke 17:22): “The days will come when you shall desire to see one day of the Son of man; and you shall not see it.” Therefore it seems unfitting for Christ to have ascended into heaven.

Reply to Objection: Although Christ’s bodily presence was withdrawn from the faithful by the Ascension, still the presence of His Godhead is ever with the faithful, as He Himself says (Matthew 28:20): “Behold, I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.” For, “by ascending into heaven He did not abandon those whom He adopted,” as Pope Leo says. But Christ’s Ascension into heaven, whereby He withdrew His bodily presence from us, was more profitable for us than His bodily presence would have been.

First of all, in order to increase our faith, which is of things unseen…For ‘blessed are they that see not, yet believe.’

Secondly, to uplift our hope: hence He says (John 14:3): “If I shall go, and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will take you to Myself; that where I am, you also may be.” For by placing in heaven the human nature which He assumed, Christ gave us the hope of going thither; since “wheresoever the body shall be, there shall the eagles also be gathered together,” as is written in Matthew 24:28. Hence it is written likewise (Micah 2:13): “He shall go up that shall open the way before them.”

Thirdly, in order to direct the fervor of our charity to heavenly things. Hence the Apostle says (Colossians 3:1-2): “Seek the things that are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth”: for as is said (Matthew 6:21): “Where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also.” And since the Holy Ghost is love drawing us up to heavenly things, therefore our Lord said to His disciples (John 16:7): “It is expedient to you that I go; for if I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.”

Looking for a Cheerful Thought?

…If so, you have come to the wrong place.

Do we live on “in memory” after we die?

When I visit my dear father’s grave, I also visit the graves of my great-great grandparents. They are buried next to my father. Their graves are well over a century old.

They were dead before my father was even born. I never knew them. I can say without the slightest doubt that there is not a soul on earth who remembers anything about my great-great grandparents. I may be the only one who ever gives them a thought, which I do when I see their grave markers, and I pray that they will rest in peace.

Someday, a century or two from now, no one on earth will remember any of us.

A century or two after that, our graves themselves will be forgotten, their markers destroyed by some force of man or nature. All memory of us will be wiped off the face of the earth.

Shall we not, therefore, hope in Christ?

What other hope do we have?

Either we hope to live forever in Him, or we accept the inevitable darkness of utter oblivion.

I choose Christ.

Also–I root for the Caps!

Hopkins Kind of Afternoon

If you are with me, you know that this is the time for a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem:

Morning, Midday, and Evening Sacrifice
The dappled die-away
Cheek and wimpled lip,
The gold-wisp, the airy-grey
Eye, all in fellowship—
This, all this beauty blooming,
This, all this freshness fuming,
Give God while worth consuming.

Both thought and thew now bolder
And told by Nature: Tower;
Head, heart, hand, heel, and shoulder
That beat and breathe in power—
This pride of prime’s enjoyment
Take as for tool, not toy meant
And hold at Christ’s employment.

The vault and scope and schooling
And mastery in the mind,
In silk-ash kept from cooling,
And ripest under rind—
What death half lifts the latch of,
What hell stalks towards the snatch of,
Your offering, with despatch, of!

Say It Ain’t So, Greg Monroe

Leaving Georgetown after just two seasons?

Two seasons full of potential, full of excitement about the future.

Two seasons that were ultimately–dare we say it?–disappointing.

This makes DaJuan leaving last year look like good news by comparison. He mailed it in his last year anyway. But Monroe? Gosh.

You sure know how to hurt a guy.

What happened to loyalty? What happened to chasing glory instead of cash? Who doesn’t know that there is a million times more glory in the college game than the pros? There is more glory in the Big East than there is in the NBA.

This is sad.

Coach and four-year Hoya

Resurrection Lists

After the Lord Jesus rose from the dead, He remained on earth for forty days. His friends got to see Him again.

We can only begin to imagine what it was like for the disciples to see Christ after He rose from the dead. When we get to heaven, please God, we will see Him, too.

Nationals' Stadium, two years ago today!

In the meantime, we can consider some of the things that ran through the minds and hearts of the disciples when they saw their Master risen from the dead…

When they saw the Lord, the disciples became perfectly clear on some important invisible facts.

One: The death of the body does not mean that the soul is destroyed. The soul lives on. When we die, we meet the justice of God, and He vindicates all truth.

Two: The separation of the soul from the body which occurs at death is not permanent. The power of God united our souls and bodies in the first place. He can re-unite soul and body after death.

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Enough

Pope’s 83rd birthday! May he live to be 100!!

…As I lit the Easter candle this morning for the fourteenth time this Easter season, I thought to myself:

What if the Lord had given His Church only one ceremony to manifest Her faith?

What if the only Catholic observance were the procession with the Paschal Candle and the chanting of the Easter proclamation on Holy Saturday night?

What if that were the entire Sacred Liturgy, and there was nothing else–just a gathering of the faithful once a year on Holy Saturday night to light the candle and hear the Exultet?

Would that be enough to get us through life? Would it be enough to keep us hoping for heaven, doing good and avoiding evil?

Yes. Yes, it would be. All the rest is beautiful, wonderful gravy.

Another Banner Day

Beautiful pro-life billboard–right here in my humble ‘hood! Thank you Prolife Across America! (On display at 9th and G Streets, N.E.)

…How fired-up are we for the Caps?

…Call me obtuse, but I have always found this parable difficult to understand:

No one pours new wine into old wineskins.

Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be spilled, and the skins will be ruined. Rather, new wine must be poured into fresh wineskins.

And no one who has been drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’ (Luke 5:37-39)

The parable seems clear enough:

Christ has inaugurated the New Covenant. The New Covenant requires a complete renovation of religion. The ancient observances of the Old Covenant had to be changed. Those who were accustomed to the old way had a hard time accepting the Christian way of life, even though it is sweeter and better than Judaism.

Fair enough.

BUT:

The fact is that the taste of wine improves with time, up to the point when it reaches its peak. The ancient Palestinians used inside-out animal skins as wine bottles (until the Prohibition of Mohammed deprived them of the joy of the vine).

Skins were used for transporting wine on camel-back. The wine would ferment a second time in the skins, under the hot sun.

So, while it is true that pouring wine into old, dried-out skins would never be wise, neither would it be wise to drink wine that you had just poured into a wineskin. Better to take your journey, then drink it later.

So the “newness” interpretation doesn’t do full justice to the parable.

Today I finally found the perfect explanation. In order fully to grasp the parable, we have to understand it as applying to the Holy Mass:

The wine of Christ’s blood, drawn from the many grapes of the vineyard that He had planted, is extracted in the winepress of the cross. When men receive it with believing hearts, like capacious wineskins, it ferments within them by its own power. (St. Gaudentius of Brescia)

Me, God’s Priest, and God

His mercy endures forever. (Psalm 118)

The Solemnity of Easter lasts for eight days–a week and a day, from Sunday to Sunday. It is the biggest feastday of all, too big for just twenty-four hours.

On the eighth day of Easter in the year 2000, Pope John Paul II declared that this day is ‘Divine Mercy Sunday.’ He declared this while he was canonizing St. Faustina Kowalska, the nun who had seen the vision of Jesus with rays of merciful love pouring out from His Heart.

When the Pope declared that the eighth day of Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday, he noted that none of the prayers or readings of the Mass needed to be changed. From the beginning, from the first eight days after our Lord rose from the dead, the Solemnity of Easter has been the feast of divine mercy.

When the Lord Jesus spoke to the Apostles after He rose from the dead, He commissioned them to preach His message. The message is: Repent of your sins, and be forgiven!

The Apostles obeyed. When St. Peter preached to the citizens of Jerusalem, he addressed the very people who had stood in front of Pontius Pilate’s praetorium and clamored for Christ’s crucifixion. St. Peter spoke to these enemies of Christ and said, “You denied the holy and righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. The author of life you put to death…Repent, therefore!”

Dear brothers and sisters: If we want to keep this holy feast, the feast that lasts for a week and a day, the feast of the Lord’s Resurrection, the feast of Divine Mercy—if we want to keep this feast in sincerity and truth, then we must acknowledge that we are the very citizens to whom St. Peter spoke.

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