Two Saints: Doctor and True Devotion

April 29, 2010

Today is St. Catherine of Siena, one of three women Doctors of the Church out of thirty some odd Doctors of the Church.  EWTN Live yesterday had Fr. Thomas McDermott, who’s written a book on Catherine of Siena.   It’s worth finding the archive and listening to it.

Yesterday was the memorial of St. Louis de Montfort. (I missed being born on his memorial day by 30 minutes, a piece of trivia you probably didn’t want to know.)  De Montfort’s book True Devotion to Mary and included consecration to Jesus through Mary basically changed my life.  The translation I read was Eddie Doherty’s translation of True Devotion to Mary available from Madonna House Publications.

Here are the words of the act of consecration:

I, N, a faithless sinner – renew and ratify today in your hands, O Immaculate Mother, the vows of my Baptism; I renounce forever Satan, his pomps and works, and I give myself entirely to Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Wisdom, to carry my cross after Him all the days of my life, and to be more faithful to Him than I have ever been before.

In the presence of all the heavenly court I choose you this day for my Mother and Queen. I deliver and consecrate to you, as your slave, my body and soul, my goods, both interior and exterior, and even the value of all my good actions, past, present, and future, leaving to you the entire and full right of disposing of me, and all that belongs to me, without exception, according to your good pleasure, for the greater glory of God, in time and in eternity. Amen.


Yes, Virginia, there IS Liturgical Dance, er, Movement

April 27, 2010

Not the leotard clad people seen in some places. No, the example of liturgical dance movement is a vestment-clad priest. Just watch Fr. Frank Pavone give a homily. Now that’s liturgical dance movement.

(You can see Fr. Pavone as the celebrant of today’s EWTN Mass as he and Priests for Life initiate the pro-life Freedom Rides today.)

Good Shepherd Sunday

April 25, 2010

References to the Lord as shepherd are abundant.  Today I’m writing about a book by a non-Catholic Christian: A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Philip Keller. Some people tell me they only read books by Catholic authors and I understand their reason for doing so.  There are a few non-Catholic Christian authors who have much to offer all Christians, or at least some of their books do,  and I filter out any sections that are contrary to Catholic teaching.

A Shepherd Looks at the Psalm 23 could perhaps be called a “recent classic,” still in print forty years after its initial printing.  In the introduction, the author states that he grew up in East Africa (now Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda) among “simple native herders whose customs closely resembled those of their counterparts in the Middle East.”  For eight years, Keller worked as a sheep owner and sheep rancher and later, as a lay pastor, shared his insights into psalm 23.

It is not by co-incidence that God calls us sheep.  Keller lists the characteristics of sheep that are so like those of people: mass mind (or mob instincts), fears and timidity, stubborness and stupidity.   He describes how the sheep owner “puts his mark” on his sheep by using a knife to cut an identifying mark on the ear.  That sounds very much like the seal of baptism and Holy Orders, a non-reversible permanent mark that sets a person apart. 

Throughout the book, Keller describes the hard and constant work involved in being a shepherd.

He says  sheep won’t “lie down in green pastures” until they are free from fear in general, free of hunger, of pesty flies and parasites, and free from friction with others of their own kind.  Keller describes the vigilance of the shepherd to keep the flock from predators, the hard work of clearing rough land to provide pasturage, and the diligent care of applying insect repellent.

In regard to tension among the sheep, here is a selected excerpt from this chapter:

… (the shepherd must deliver his sheep from) tension, rivalry, and cruel competition within the flock itself.  In every animal society there is an established an order of dominance or status within the group. In  a penful of chickens it is referred to as the “pecking order.”  With cattle, it is called the “horning order.” Among sheep we speak of the “butting order.”  

Two caveats come to mind. One, Keller is not speaking of a hierarchical organization with legitimate authority. Two, earlier in the book he mentions groups of ewes and it is in that context that he mentions an old ewe. But those wanting to be boss come in both genders and all ages. It is in that larger context that the excerpt is continued:

Generally an arrogant, cunning and domineering old ewe will be boss of any group of sheep (who)  maintains … position of prestige by butting and driving other ewes or lambs away from … favorite grounds….Because of this rivalr, tension, and competition for status and self assertion, there is friction in a flock. … Always they must stand up and defend their rights and contest the challenge of the intruder. … (In any human group), the struggle for self-assertionand self-recognition go on. Most of us fight to be “top sheep.”  We butt and quarrel and compete to “get ahead.”  And in the process people are hurt.

I was delighted, after my recent post,  to see another reference to a “land flowing with milk and honey.”  Some topics just keep reoccurring 🙂 

Walking through a valley has also been easier after reading Keller’s description of herding sheep to high country. He says that often the easiest way to go higher is through a valley.  That’s been a huge consolation in the valleys of my own life. A related thought is the rotation of pastures so that the sheep will not eat down to the roots of the grass, thereby destroying the pasturage. I think of that whenever my life takes a major turn. 

Then there are the flies. Anyone who has been in the Adirondacks during May and June can tell you how irritating black flies.  Add in deer flies, gnats, and mosquitoes and there is frantic movement trying to avoid these pests. The only antidote is to cover with oil: linseed or olive oil mixed with sulphur, tar, and/or spices.  “You anoint my head with oil” is a very accurate description. For Catholics, anointed with oil is associated with baptism, ordination, and anointing of the sick.

Phillip Keller’s book has many examples of which I’ve only mentioned a few.  He certainly has deepend my understanding of the Lord as the Good Shepherd.

The Strawberry Fields presidency

April 17, 2010

Catching up on this week’s news, not a lot of energy to link even to interesting stories. What finally hit “gotta link that” button was the Anchoress’ bon mot desciption.  It’s a keeper.

Flowing with Milk and Honey

April 15, 2010

Exodus 3:8 is the famous verse the Lord says, “I will lead them to a land flowing with milk and honey.”  I thought of it as I had tea with milk and bread with honey tonight, the first time I’ve been able to catch my breath since the first Sunday in Lent.

The past few weeks have been an expecially wild rollercoaster ride of my faith pushed right to the limit and God providing solutions beyond what I’d imagined. 

Tomorrow I’ll jump back into the fray but tonight it’s wonderful to simply reflect on the truth of familar Scripture verses.  God’s ways are certainly far above our ways.  He does bring good out of all circumstances. This is so insufficient – perhaps tomorrow I’ll try to better express God’s goodness.

Some progress, some maybe

April 13, 2010


The catalyst for this post was going to be a comment on a local blog. Before this blogging experience, I had encountered the hardball tactics employed by some local bloggers of portraying those who disagree in a negative way.  It’s not a question of if the tactics are effective – they usually are. It’s a question of whether  there is a willingness to work towards genuine Christian unity in the orthodox Catholic community and so far, that hasn’t happened.

That was how I had intended to start this post.  Then I saw that the catalyst comment and most of the others – there’s still one comment accusatory towards me but lacking my comment for others to see for themselves – had been removed.  The removal of those comments is an acknowledgment they were inappropriate, which is good – as far as it goes.  However, there’s no assurance that a re-occurrence will not happen.  

First, there’s the promising post was Dr. K’s comments about the importance of supporting young priests.  It needed to be said and he said it well. I’m glad he and I agree on the need to be careful about “friendly fire.”  Recognizing and then clarifying an issue is how the Church – and community – both grow.

At this time, there is a rift between Gen and me. No matter what I say, it will be criticized.  In addition, Gen is under the impression that his or her making a statement in effect closes the topic. I hope there will be some movement towards attempting to hear what the other person is saying. That’s not diversity, that’s basic Christian action.  So I will speak my mind, offer my responses to a recent post, and raise the protective armor while trusting that God will work it out so that may be genuinely mutual exchanges.
Do not post a comment unless it thoughtfully adds to the perpetual discussion we are having. (Good.  I hope that is applied even-handedly across the board, to all those who comment.  That should end the name calling.)

when you push, I’ll push back (Excellent! Gen will understand that I feel the same way and will reciprocate: When you push, I’ll push back.)

if your tone is rude, angry, bitter, hateful, or argumentative, do not expect to see it up for long. (Again, this is a welcome change and would have prevented the over-the-top name-calling and sliming I endured.)

 How would you like it if your guests started arguing with you when you invited them into your home? (I hope CF’s friends keep that in mind when they leave comments on others’ blogs also.)

These few commenters hide themselves behind anonymity (Gen is obviously referring to other commenters as I’ve always used my name.  I haven’t read the blog closely enough to notice the others.) 

cowards who are unable actually to discuss things civilly (Again, I’m very glad this has been mentioned since both the discussion – as in no one yet has rebutted the points I’ve made – and civility – I’ll leave out the examples unless memories need to be refreshed – have been missing in responses to my comments.)  

Really folks, enough is enough. (Exactly my sentiments – that was the title of my 11/29/2009 entry.) 

Lofty thoughts are expressed in that post. Let’s hope that everyone can keep to them.

Commentss are closed for this post.

Divine Mercy Sunday

April 10, 2010

Tomorrow is Divine Mercy Sunday. Below are a few links to basic information:

Zenit has Pope Benedict XVI’s 2008 On John Paul II and Divine Mercy. Also at Zenit, Fr. McNamara has a good explanation of Divine Mercy Sunday.  Here is Pope John Paul II’s homily at the canonization Mass of St. Faustina.