Friday
Oct042013

Our Lady of the Rosary

Windthorst, a German, was invited one time by certain friends not practicing the Faith, to show them his beads; it was a joke; they had previously taken them from his left pocket. Windthorst, not having found them in his left pocket, put his hand in his right pocket and came out the victor. He always had an extra rosary! Cristofero Gluck, a great musician, during court receptions in Vienna, used to go apart a few minutes to recite his rosary....

Why do I give these examples of people reciting the rosary? Because the rosary is contested by some. They say: it is a prayer that is infantile, superstitious, and not worthy of a Christian adult. Or else, it is a prayer that is automatic, reduced to a hasty repetition of Ave Marias, monotonous and boring.

The crisis of the rosary is in second place. Before that, it is the crisis in prayer in general today. People are all taken up in material interests. One thinks little about the soul.... Donoso Cortes said, "The world is in a bad way because there are more battles than prayers...."

To be, for a half hour at least, before God as I am in reality, with all my misery and with the best of myself; to let rise to the surface from the depths of my being the child I once was, who wants to laugh, to chatter, to love the Lord, and who sometimes feels the need to cry so that he may be shown mercy, helps me to pray. The rosary, a simple and easy prayer, helps me to be a child and I am not ashamed at all.

I come to another objection. The rosary is a prayer of repetition? Father de Foucauld said, "Love is expressed with few words, always the same and always repeated."

- Taken from Pope John Paul I, Humilitas, English Edition, Vol. XXIII, No. 4, Dec., 2012, Ray and Lauretta Seabeck, Ed., Mother Teresa, O.C.D., Lori Pieper, Trs. (Beverton, OR: Missionary Servants of Pope John Paul I).

Saturday
Sep142013

Stephen Colbert Defends Transubstantiation

Television personality and comedian Stephen Colbert continues to fascinate me. With a razor keen wit, he periodically and quite cogently defends Catholic orthodoxy on his television show. I know that he is a Catholic and is, apparently, a catechism teacher, but how he can get away with defending Catholicism, priesthood, and the Real Presence on Comedy Central is a true miracle. Click here to watch the brief episode in which Colbert outsmarts the heresies of Gary Wills.

 

Saturday
Sep142013

The Eucharistic Host: The Perfect Model of Abandonment

His (Jesus') greatest suffering - as He confided to St. Margaret Mary - was the ingratitude of men, especially their ingratitude toward the Sacrament of His love.

He saw in advance the long days, the long nights when He would be alone, forgotten, in thousands of tabernacles in solitary churches, the thousands of indifferent people who would pass each day before the churches without even thinking for an instant that He is there, those who would enter the churches to admire the windows, the architecture, yet not make even a little genuflection before the tabernacle. He saw the multitude of the baptized, whom He was to make His adopted children in His Blood, who would neglect even Sunday Mass, who would fail to receive Easter Communion. After delivering Himself up in the Host, as He did, what does He ask of us? An hour a week, on Sunday; one Communion each year. Could He have required less? He gives without counting the cost, asking a tiny return, and He is refused.

He saw in advance the sacrilegious Communions, the hatred with which He was to be pursued, especially in the Eucharist, by the impious members of diabolical sects. He saw all that in advance. He foresaw everything in Gethsemane, and He accepted it all, that He might descend into a single soul who loves Him. "For you alone I would have instituted the Sacrament of my love."

The model of abandonment I have preached to you at such length is the Host. The priest puts it on the left; it remains on the left. He places it on the right; it remains on the right. Those who profane it come, take Him from His tabernacle, and throw Him into the gutter; He lets Himself be thrown into the gutter. This is our lesson in perfect abandonment. He is not only the model, but also the source of it.

- Taken from Fr. Jean C. J. d'elBee, I Believe in Love (Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press, 2001), p. 249-251. 

Saturday
Aug312013

"He Must Increase; I Must Decrease"

"He must increase; I must decrease," observed John the Baptist (Jn 3:30). What does that mean? What does "decreasing" look like in daily life?

To decrease doesn't mean being a doormat, but it does mean that we stop fighting anybody and anything, even evil. "Resist not evil," said Christ: in other words, let's not waste our energy fighting. Let's use our energy to learn how to love. Let's use our energy reflecting on the strangeness, the astonishment, the upending nature of Christ.

The scandal of Christianity - that the antidote to violence is not more violence, but love - is so extreme, so radical, that in two thousand years we have not begun to accept it. Our egos can't bear such meager results, such plodding slowness, such invisibility.

Then, as now, people were butchered for a trifle: an obscene dance; the whim of a call girl. Then, as now, the voice calling us to come awake was demeaned, devalued, snuffed out. "Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you," Christ taught (Mt 5:44). The world, then as now, plots to kill Christ.

John, a voice crying in the wilderness, proclaimed: "Repent and believe the Good News." And the Good News, almost unbelievably - the antidote to the mindless brutality that would kill first him, then Christ - is to love one another as Christ loved us. Wishing people well in our hearts, especially people who have hurt us. Letting people off the hook. Saying, "I'm sorry"; when appropriate, saying, "No," saying, "Come higher, friend." Transforming our anger, rather than transmitting it. Praying to e relieved of the desire to be the favorite, to be consulted. Refusing to respond to violence, whether physical, psychological, or spiritual, with more violence. Therese of Lisieux, Francis of Assisi, and Maximilian Kolbe understood this Good News well. They died for it. That is why we made them saints.

That the Savior of the world should be proclaimed by a man viewed by the world as a crackpot, who died alone and in ignominy, tells us much about what we can expect for ourselves. The disciples couldn't sit for an hour with Christ in the garden at Gethsemane, but John, in his prison cell, had no one even to ask.

Then, as now, the voice saying, "Look at the violence and dishonesty in your own heart" is the most dangerous voice of all. The most rare. The one we least want to hear. How dare someone tell us we shouldn't sleep with our brother's wife, or cede our sexuality to a pharmaceutical company, or clone a human being.

"The Kingdom of God is at hand." Let us sit for an hour with John. Let us stoop to untie Christ's sandal.

- Taken from Heather King, Magnificat, Vol. 15, No. 6 (August, 2013), p. 385-386.

Thursday
Aug222013

Lamb of God

On the roof of a Catholic Church in Werden, Germany, one can see the stone carving of a lamb. There is a story behind that stone. A man was working on the roof of this church when his safety rope broke and he pitched headlong into the churchyard below. The yard was cluttered with huge stones. But the man was not hurt seriously. Between two of the blocks a lamb was nibbling grass. The man fell on the lamb, crushing it to death, and breaking what would have been a fatal fall.

In gratitude that workman carved a lamb out of a stone and placed it on the roof. It was a gracious way of expressing his thanks to the dumb animal that had unknowingly saved his life.

Much deeper and more meaningful is our gratitude to Jesus, the Lamb of God, for saving us from the eternally fatal fall from grace. Willingly and lovingly Christ gave His life that we might live. That is what St. John is talking about when he calls out in today's Good News: "Behold, the Lamb of god, who takes away the sin of the world."

His hearers could understand, because in the Old Testament lambs were frequently used in sacrifice. They were figures of Jesus Christ who was to take away all the sins of all the world. Calling Christ a Lamb expresses the fact that He is the One to be sacrificed, the One who would reconcile God with man, a theme of this Holy Year.

These figures of the Old Law were fulfilled in the New. Not only in today's Good News is Christ called a Lamb. St. Peter also speaks of Christ as a Lamb (1 Peter 1:19). In the Apocalypse St. John calls the Son of God a Lamb at least twenty-seven times. He points Christ out as the Lamb that was slain for all the sins of men of all tribes and nations. He also emphasized the truth that this Lamb is the true Son of God, that He strengthens His followers, that He conquers Satan.

Ever since Scripture times the Catholic Church has pictured Christ as a Lamb, especially in the catacombs and the great basilicas of Rome. A lamb is also noted for its innocence, its meekness, its patience, its purity, precious qualities of Christ, the Lamb without stain.

No wonder we followers of Christ constantly call upon Him under the sweet and simple title - Lamb of God. In a few moments, just before Communion, we will sing out: "Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us." Sing to Him with all your heart.

That workman in Werden, Germany, carved a grateful memorial to the lamb that had unwittingly saved his life. How much more grateful we should be as we offer Mass, the living memorial to the Lamb who willingly and lovingly gave His all for you and me. God bless you.

- Taken from Msgr. Arthur Tonne, p. 11.

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