Emitte Spiritum + non-Shakespeare

St. Thomas Aquinas gave an excellent Pentecost homily. Click here.

Here is a less worthy attempt… (But shorter at least!)

Come, Holy Spirit! On our dryness pour your dew.

We live by holding fast to the doctrines of our Catholic faith. At the same time, we also see visible signs of the mysteries we believe in. Let us try to understand how the mystery of Pentecost fits into the annual rites of spring.

First, the basic facts: The Lord Jesus died on the cross. On the third day, He rose again. He remained on earth for forty days. Then He ascended into heaven. The Apostles prayed. Then Christ poured out the Holy Spirit.

Continue reading Emitte Spiritum + non-Shakespeare”

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Scewtape Lives

Imagine trying to write a paperback made up solely of letters. They are letters from an experienced demon to a “junior tempter” containing advice about how to lure the “patient” away from the snares of the Enemy (God).

It would take a master of both the spiritual life and English style to produce an entertaining book like this. C.S. Lewis was a master of both, and he did it: The Screwtape Letters.

Now imagine trying to set this paperback on the stage. This is one of the most formidable theatrical challenges of all time.

There is only one speaking part.

The only “plot”–the twisting fortunes of the ‘patient’–is completely invisible to the audience.

It would take a madman to attempt to stage The Screwtape Letters.

C. S. Lewis

It would take a true thespian genius to pull it off–to make it fun, exciting, and edifying.

Max McLean is the genius who has managed to do it.

He transforms the clever book into a 90-minute dramatic production that moves–moves itself and moves you.

I almost never say this: This play is better than the book–more delightful, a great deal more exciting.

Tickets are available in Washington for one more weekend–this coming weekend.

Personal with the Popes

Dear reader, perhaps you remember St. Polycarp Day, February 23.

Maybe you recall our little discussion about the difference between choosing death and embracing martyrdom.

Today is the Commemoration of the “troublesome priest” who did not seek death, but embraced martyrdom when it came.

We cannot recommend too highly LRS Hall-of-Famer T.S. Eliot’s play about St. Thomas Becket, “Murder in the Cathedral“…

…Speaking of embracing martyrdom: Pope Benedict is often contrasted with the Venerable Pope John Paul II. Their personalities are very different.

One common idea is that, while Pope John Paul spoke freely about himself, Pope Benedict is so intensely private that his personality is all but invisible.

I cannot agree with this.

Pope John Paul did indeed speak and write beautifully about his own personal experiences. A perfect example would be this section of his encyclical on the Holy Eucharist:

When I think of the Eucharist, and look at my life as a priest, as a Bishop, and as the Successor of Peter, I naturally recall the many times and places in which I was able to celebrate it.

I remember the parish church of Niegowić, where I had my first pastoral assignment, the collegiate church of Saint Florian in Krakow, Wawel Cathedral, Saint Peter’s Basilica and so many basilicas and churches in Rome and throughout the world.

I have been able to celebrate Holy Mass in chapels built along mountain paths, on lakeshores and seacoasts; I have celebrated it on altars built in stadiums and in city squares…

This varied scenario of celebrations of the Eucharist has given me a powerful experience of its universal and, so to speak, cosmic character. Yes, cosmic! Because even when it is celebrated on the humble altar of a country church, the Eucharist is always in some way celebrated on the altar of the world.(paragraph 8).

Pope Benedict also writes about himself. But he is subtle. He writes about himself by writing about others. For example, this section from his encyclical on hope:

The connection between love of God and responsibility for others can be seen in a striking way in the life of Saint Augustine.

After his conversion to the Christian faith, he decided, together with some like-minded friends, to lead a life totally dedicated to the word of God and to things eternal. His intention was to practice…the contemplative life…

Things turned out differently, however. While attending the Sunday liturgy at the port city of Hippo, he was called out from the assembly by the Bishop and constrained to receive ordination for the exercise of the priestly ministry in that city.

Looking back on that moment, he writes in his Confessions: “Terrified by my sins and the weight of my misery, I had resolved in my heart, and meditated flight into the wilderness; but you forbade me and gave me strength, by saying: ‘Christ died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died.'” (paragraph 28)

Now, perhaps you are saying, ‘Father, this is not the Pope writing about himself. He is writing about St. Augustine. Can’t you read?’

But, dear friends, this is the way the Pope writes about himself. What happened to St. Augustine in 391 happened to Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in 2005.

He was going to retire, write his books, have a happy quiet life, and play the piano whenever he wanted. But He for Whom we live had other plans.