Freedom Requires Hard Penance

Today we bring the Fortnight for Freedom to a close—our two weeks of prayer and fasting for the cause of religious freedom in America.

We have benefited greatly from Kyle’s insightful talks here in our parish cluster. But, indeed, embracing two weeks of penance can be difficult. It gets easier when we meditate on what our forefathers and foremothers endured.

koc action religious freedomAs the Church in America sings today at Mass, our Lord Jesus Christ’s message of peace and fraternity took form in the vision of the founding fathers of our nation. They kept many fortnights for freedom, risking life and limb, putting everything on the line, in order to establish a nation where we could be free to live our holy Catholic faith.

But, as the Church in America also prays today, much more work still remains. Our nation has always held the ideal of religious freedom. But, in practice, we have often found ourselves shackled in one way or another as a Church. We know that suspicion of Catholicism has run deep in these lands, ever since the first Fourth of July. The contempt we face is nothing new.

Therefore, in every generation, we American Catholics must do penance and purify ourselves. We claim freedom to operate as a Church according to our own norms; we claim this as our due, since we are Americans. But this claim of ours will only resonate when we ourselves turn to God and live fully in the truth.

american-flagIf we claim immunity from subsidizing immoral contraceptive practices, then we ourselves must strive always to live chaste lives. If we claim freedom to consecrate only those marriages which we can recognize, and no others, then our own marriages must be faithful, fruitful, and altogether Christian. If we assert our prerogative to welcome the immigrant into our midst, no matter how the civil law classifies him, then we must in fact help him best by showing him our example of obedience to law.

Now, to be honest with you, the Lord has been pleased to give me a very penitential fortnight. I have neither eaten nor slept much these two weeks, owing to local pastoral problems. These unexpected problems have consumed my heart and mind. They have weighed me down with some of the bitterest sorrow I have known in a long time. I have repeatedly found myself joking with Kyle about running away to the Trappists.

But, of course—as I said—it is nothing compared to what our forefathers have suffered for our sakes. Today we can eat hamburgers together in peace because of the blood spilled in this land for the noble cause of freedom.

May God guide us always. May He turn the freedoms we enjoy into opportunities for us to spend ourselves in His service.

Our Longing Lady

The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council proposed for us the Catholic doctrine regarding the Church. Christ, the light of the nations, gathers His flock into a single People of God.

Vatican II bas reliefIf we want to understand this perfectly visible, and yet profoundly mysterious, Church of Christ, we must focus our gaze on one human individual. We must contemplate the…

pre-eminent and singular member of the Church…its excellent exemplar…whom the whole People of God honors with child-like love. (Lumen Gentium 53)

Namely: _________________________________

Continue reading “Our Longing Lady”

The Baptist’s Song

As we approach Christmas, we pray in the preface to the Eucharistic Prayer about St. John the Baptist.

Perhaps you have noticed a small but notable change in the translation. The old Sacramentary had it that John the Baptist was “Christ’s herald.”

True enough; beautiful enough. But now, with the new translation, we pray that St. John “sang of Christ’s coming.”

The Christ appeared on earth, and the holy prophet sang. Locusts in his belly, camel hair around his waist, the Jordan River rushing by, and the desert wind blowing: he sang.

Can we not imagine that the Baptist sang with everything Johnnie Cash, Roy Orbison, Placido Domingo, Ray Charles, and Eddie Vedder all have to offer in their voices—rolled into one masculine melody on the wind?

The coming of Christ moves those who recognize Him to break out into song. Could be a Tallis Scholars song, or a Pogues song, a hymn, a chant, a warble. Joy and love sing.

Many beauties of the earth touch the undying, simple perfection of heaven—but to sing does so in a uniquely immediate way.

God rest ye merry. Baby Jesus comes tomorrow night. It will be time to sing.

Heaven is Real

The place in Jerusalem from which the Blessed Mother was assumed into heaven
The place in Jerusalem from which the Blessed Mother was assumed into heaven
Today the Virgin Mother of God was assumed into heaven as the beginning and pattern of your Church’s perfection and a sign of sure hope and comfort to your pilgrim people.

Justly you would not allow her to see the corruption of the tomb,
because from her own flesh she brought forth ineffably your incarnate Son, the author of all life.

–from the Preface to the Eucharistic Prayer in today’s Mass

Our little study of Bertrand Russell’s erroneous philosophy is now catalogued the among the Compendia.

madonna1We undertook our consideration of the Bertrand Russell Case as a penitential preparation for today’s Solemnity.

It is not reasonable to think that there is no life after death. The argument that the soul is immortal is more probable: No observable force of nature can annihilate a soul.

Moreover, we have it on divine authority that our Lord Jesus rose from the dead in His human body, and He took His mother with Him to heaven.

Happy Assumption Day!

Os Meum Annuntiabit Laudam Tuam

Annie Dillard
Annie Dillard
This morning during Mass, as I listened to toddlers chirping and singing out while I read the prayers from the Missal, I thought of this excellent little paragraph from Annie Dillard’s For the Time Being:

A hole in the earth’s crust releases clear water into the St. John’s River of central Florida at the rate of one hundred million gallons a day. Salt water issues from deep-sea mouths as very hot water and minerals. There iron and sulfur erupt into the sea from under the planet’s crust, and there clays form black towers. In Safad, Isaac Luria began prayers by saying, “Open thou my lips, O Lord, and my mouth shall show forth thy praise.”

…Speaking of the Roman Missal, you can find my favorite prayer to God in it. It is in the seventh Preface to the Canon of the Mass used during the Season of the Year:

missale-romanum-white-bgSanctae Pater,…mitteres Redemptorem, quem absque peccato in nostra voluisti similitudine conversari, ut amares in nobis quod diligebas in Filio.

“Father, …You sent [our Redeemer] as one like ourselves, though free from sin, that you might see and love in us what you see and love in Christ.”

We are not allowed to use this Preface during special seasons, but during “Ordinary Time,” I use it pretty much every Sunday.

…Happy Easter, dear P&BD readers! Here is something to which the married men might be able to relate:

On a sunny morning, after a few sleep-deprived nights, we men can become emotional like women.

heartsA man can see his wife first thing in the morning–and this after years of marriage–and think to himself, “What a beauty! I married the most beautiful woman in the world. I am the luckiest man alive!”

Well, I have not slept a lot lately. I got up this morning, unlocked the church, the sun came up, and then people starting coming in. I was overcome. The Church is my Bride, and there is none more beautiful, none more wonderful. I am rapturously in love. I love you, dear Church. Be mine forever. Love, Preacher.