Telling Beads

Click here for beautiful rosary beads.


It would seem that our Catholic friends are given to a great deal of repetition in prayer. Some of the poor creatures say, “Hail, Mary!” as often and as fast as they can.

None of us prays the Holy Rosary with the attention that it deserves.


Isn’t it better to say the Our Father, the Sacred Name of Jesus, and the holy name of Mary many times? I mean, as opposed to not doing that?

…The Rosary is a bottomless mystery that can only be understood from within. The Holy Father’s words at St. Patrick’s Cathedral are especially applicable to the recitation of the Rosary:

Stained glass windows flood the interior [of the church] with mystic light. From the outside, those windows are dark, heavy, even dreary. But once one enters the church, they suddenly come alive; reflecting the light passing through them, they reveal all their splendor.

Many writers – here in America we can think of Nathaniel Hawthorne – have used the image of stained glass to illustrate the mystery of the Church herself.

It is only from the inside, from the experience of faith and ecclesial life, that we see the Church as she truly is: flooded with grace, resplendent in beauty, adorned by the manifold gifts of the Spirit.

Yesterday was the 59th anniversary of the foundation of the Missionaries of Charity!


Truth (Easter Exegesis IV)

51784594Dear friends, truth is not an imposition…It is a discovery of the One Who never fails us, the One Whom we can always trust…truth is a Person: Jesus Christ.

This is what Pope Benedict said to seminarians and young people when he was here in the United States last spring.

While he was here in America, the Pope warned us about the dangers we face as a nation. One of them is: We are in danger of abandoning the quest for truth and falling into the trap of relativism.

Continue reading “Truth (Easter Exegesis IV)”

E Pluribus Unum (Easter Exegesis III)

pluribusIn Psalm 22, we sing: “I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.” “I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.”

This is our hymn. We sing it together. God made us to be together—to praise Him together, and to work together for His Kingdom.

The Lord Jesus told us: “I am the vine. You are the branches. You cannot bear fruit unless you remain on the vine.” (John 15:5) A vine has many branches, and the branches live and bear fruit together. Left alone, a branch detached from the vine withers and dies.

Continue reading E Pluribus Unum (Easter Exegesis III)”

Out in Public (Easter Exegesis, Pt. II)

“I am the Good Shepherd,” says the Lord Jesus. “I know mine and mine know me…I will lay down my life for the sheep…and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock and one shepherd.” John 10:11, 14, 16

private-propThe Lord Jesus shepherds His sheep. After He rose from the dead, He instructed the Apostles and prepared them for their mission. Then He ascended into heaven. Christ continues to shepherd His Church through the pastors He has chosen.

A year ago, Pope Benedict came to visit us here in the United States. He encouraged us in the faith. At his Mass at Nationals’ Park, he told us why he came:

In the exercise of my ministry as the Successor of Peter, I have come to America to confirm you, my brothers and sisters, in the faith of the Apostles. I have come to proclaim anew, as Peter proclaimed on the day of Pentecost, that Jesus Christ is Lord and Messiah, risen from the dead, seated in glory at the right hand of the Father.

When Pope Benedict was here with us, he did what a loving shepherd always does: He tried to protect us from the wolves by warning us about the temptations that beset us.

pope-nationalsThe Holy Father identified four distinctively American sins: materialism, “privatized religion,” false individualism, and relativism. Today, let’s focus on the temptation of privatized religion.

Now, before we expose the fallacy, let’s acknowledge this: Every individual person is indeed free before God. No one can compel anyone else to believe anything. Our friendship with God arises from the depths of our souls—the most intimate, interior part of who we are. There is, in fact, something, uniquely private about religion.

Nonetheless: This personal, private part of religion is not the whole story. Religion is fundamentally a matter of objective truth. There is one God, and none of us are Him.

The one true God of all creation sent His one Son into the world to be the Savior of the entire human race. Christ founded one Church. The Church of Christ has one supreme pastor. There is one true religion, which God Himself gave us to follow. And the true religion governs us in public, as well as in private.

The Council of Trent
Here is how the Pope put it:

Any tendency to treat religion as a private matter must be resisted. Only when their faith permeates every aspect of their lives do Christians become truly open to the transforming power of the Gospel…

God is preparing a new springtime for Christianity. What is needed above all, at this time in the history of the Church in America, is a renewal of apostolic zeal.

In our country, we have fallen into the trap of thinking that it is not “nice” to assert that one religion is true and that the truth makes demands on us in every sphere of life. Instead of standing up for truth, we have a collection of meaningless bromides that we use to avoid debating theology, like:

“It doesn’t matter. We all worship the same God.”

May is our Lady's month
May is our Lady's month
Or: So-and-so joined the church “that works for him” or “that meets his needs,” or “where he feels comfortable.”

Or: “In religion the important thing is to be true to yourself.”

All of these are nonsense, because there isn’t a god for every individual person. There is only One. Our duty is to seek the truth about Him, and to cling to it once we have found it.

The American fallacy of privatized religion is what has given rise to the idea of religious ‘denominations.’

Don’t get me wrong: we love and respect our Protestant and Orthodox brethren. We acknowledge all baptized people as Christians.

But there is only one Church. Christ founded one Church. He shepherds one Church.

The disagreements which produced the various denominations are important. It is not ‘ecumenical’ to pretend that the disputed points—for which our ancestors were willing to die—don’t matter. Religious ignorance is not ecumenical. What is truly ecumenical is to make the effort to study and understand the important questions so that educated discussion is possible.

Of course, any baptized person can sin against the unity of the Church. We Catholics sin against the unity of the Church all the time—by failing to live in the truth.

So let us repent of our sins and dedicate ourselves to the cause of truth. God has a plan to gather everyone into His Church. Let us each do our part to see that this plan is fulfilled. Catholics, let’s go public.

Easter Season Exegesis, Part I

fourthhorsemanWhen he broke open the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature cry out, “Come forward.” I looked, and there was a pale green horse. Its rider was named Death, and Hades accompanied him. –Revelation 6:7-8

If you have not given a listen to this Johnny Cash song, I heartily recommend it. (Click the link and the audio play button. The video is a Johnny Cash look-alike, who does not do the song as much justice as this guy.)

…All kinds of strange things in the water bottles these days. Sometimes it is hard to keep your cool.

Here is the first in a four-part series of homilies on Pope Benedict’s message to the United States when he visited a year ago…

Continue reading “Easter Season Exegesis, Part I”

Pope Benedict’s Teachings, et al

51767896I prepared an eight-page thematic synthesis of the homilies and talks our Holy Father gave during his visit to the United States last year.

If you would like to read the synthesis, click here.

…At his funeral, Fr. Bill Finch–known to many as a gruff, intimidating man–was called a “peep.” This reminded me that:

You know your pretensions to being an art connoisseur are phony when your favorite 20th-century American painting is reduced to this:


Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett
…Meanwhile, I just heard that my man K.G. may not play in the NBA post-season. A knee injury has plagued him all year.

This is a bitter disappointment for Preacher.

Garnett was my hero last June, when he and the Celtics put the then-hated Kobe Bryant in his place.

(Since then, Kobe became my man when he went to China.)

No Garnett means a tough May and June for Preacher.

…Though perhaps Dwight Howard could be this year’s hero.

If the Magic meet the Cavaliers, Howard could clean LeBron’s clock. Which would be sweet! We shall see…


The Pope Brought the Springtime

I have come to proclaim anew, as Peter proclaimed on the day of Pentecost, that Jesus Christ is Lord and Messiah, risen from the dead, seated in glory at the right hand of the Father, and established as judge of the living and the dead. –Pope Benedict XVI, Nationals’ Park, April 17, 2008

slapshot…I saw Slapshot, the Caps’ mascot, yesterday evening–just moments before the beginning of the first playoff game against the Rangers.

Slapshot was fired up.

The mascot was ready to fight and take no prisoners.

But the actual hockey players were not. And

…Today our Holy Father turns 82.

One year ago, they sang Happy Birthday to him at the White House.

Bush Pope USThe Pope brought the springtime last April. And it has arrived on cue again, on his birthday.

Please allow me to point out that–when the Successor of St. Peter visited the United States–he landed at Andrews Air Force Base, in Prince George’s County.

The Vicar of Christ set foot in P.G.

He also, of course, visited the District.

Not that I want to stir up rivalry among the local jurisdictions. But the Pope never went to Montgomery County or Northern Virginia.

maries…Helen Alvare makes an excellent point in her essay about Notre Dame’s invitation to President Obama.

Her point is: Notre Dame’s explanations make no sense, and the Catholic Church is supposed to make sense.

…If you want to see some beautiful manuscript illuminations, click here.

To see them in person, go to the National Gallery of Art on the Mall before the end of July. You can also see beautiful paintings of Dutch cities in happier days, like this: