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Roman Catholic cleric-scientists/engineers


-Nicolaus Copernicus

A
José de Acosta (1539–1600) – Jesuit missionary and naturalist who wrote one of the first detailed and realistic descriptions of the new world
François d’Aguilon (1567–1617) – Belgian Jesuit mathematician, architect, and physicist, who worked on optics
Lorenzo Albacete (1941–2014) – priest, physicist, and theologian
Albert of Castile (c. 1460-1522) – Dominican priest and historian.
Albert of Saxony (philosopher) (c. 1320–1390) – German bishop known for his contributions to logic and physics; with Buridan he helped develop the theory that was a precursor to the modern theory of inertia
Albertus Magnus (c. 1206–1280) – Dominican friar and Bishop of Regensburg who has been described as “one of the most famous precursors of modern science in the High Middle Ages.”Patron saint of natural sciences; Works in physics, logic, metaphysics, biology, and psychology.
Giulio Alenio (1582–1649) – Jesuit theologian, astronomer and mathematician; was sent to the Far East as a missionary and adopted a Chinese name and customs; wrote 25 books, including a cosmography and a Life of Jesus in Chinese.
José María Algué (1856–1930) – priest and meteorologist who invented the barocyclonometer
José Antonio de Alzate y Ramírez (1737–1799) – priest, scientist, historian, cartographer, and meteorologist who wrote more than thirty treatises on a variety of scientific subjects
Francesco Castracane degli Antelminelli (1817–1899) – priest and botanist who was one of the first to introduce microphotography into the study of biology
Giovanni Antonelli (1818–1872) – priest and astronomer who served as director of the Ximenian Observatory of Florence
Luís Archer (1926-2011) – Portuguese molecular biologist and editor of the journal Brotéria from 1962 to 2002
Nicolò Arrighetti (1709–1767) – Jesuit who wrote treatises on light, heat, and electricity
Mariano Artigas (1938–2006) – Spanish physicist, philosopher and theologian
Giuseppe Asclepi (1706–1776) – Jesuit astronomer and physician who served as director of the Collegio Romano observatory; the lunar crater Asclepi is named after him
B
Roger Bacon (c. 1214–1294) – Franciscan friar who made significant contributions to mathematics and optics and has been described as a forerunner of modern scientific method
Bernardino Baldi (1533–1617) – abbot, mathematician, and writer
Eugenio Barsanti (1821–1864) – Piarist, possible inventor of the internal combustion engine
Bartholomeus Amicus (1562–1649) – Jesuit, wrote on philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, and the concept of vacuum and its relationship with God
Daniello Bartoli (1608–1685) – Bartoli and fellow Jesuit astronomer Niccolò Zucchi are credited as probably having been the first to see the equatorial belts on the planet Jupiter
Joseph Bayma (1816–1892) – Jesuit known for work in stereochemistry and mathematics
Giacopo Belgrado (1704–1789) – Jesuit professor of mathematics and physics and court mathematician who did experimental work in electricity
Michel Benoist (1715–1774) – missionary to China and scientist
Mario Bettinus (1582–1657) – Jesuit philosopher, mathematician and astronomer; lunar crater Bettinus named after him
Giuseppe Biancani (1566–1624) – Jesuit astronomer, mathematician, and selenographer, after whom the crater Blancanus on the Moon is named
Jacques de Billy (1602–1679) – Jesuit who has produced a number of results in number theory which have been named after him; published several astronomical tables; the crater Billy on the Moon is named after him
Paolo Boccone (1633–1704) – Cistercian botanist who contributed to the fields of medicine and toxicology
Bernard Bolzano (1781–1848) – priest, mathematician, and logician whose other interests included metaphysics, ideas, sensation, and truth
Anselmus de Boodt (1550–1632) – Canon who was one of the founders of mineralogy
Theodoric Borgognoni (1205–1298) – Dominican friar, Bishop of Cervia, and medieval Surgeon who made important contributions to antiseptic practice and anaesthetics
Christopher Borrus (1583–1632) – Jesuit mathematician and astronomy who made observations on the magnetic variation of the compass
Roger Joseph Boscovich (1711–1787) – Jesuit polymath known for his contributions to modern atomic theory and astronomy and for devising perhaps the first geometric procedure for determining the equator of a rotating planet from three observations of a surface feature and for computing the orbit of a planet from three observations of its position
Joachim Bouvet (1656–1730) – Jesuit sinologist and cartographer who did his work in China
Michał Boym (c. 1612–1659) – Jesuit who was one of the first westerners to travel within the Chinese mainland, and the author of numerous works on Asian fauna, flora and geography
Thomas Bradwardine (c. 1290–1349) – Archbishop of Canterbury and mathematician who helped develop the mean speed theorem; one of the Oxford Calculators
Martin Stanislaus Brennan (1845–1927) – priest and astronomer who wrote several books about science
Henri Breuil (1877–1961) – priest, archaeologist, anthropologist, ethnologist and geologist
Jan Brożek (1585–1652) – Polish canon, polymath, mathematician, astronomer, and physician; the most prominent Polish mathematician of the 17th century
Louis-Ovide Brunet (1826–1876) – priest, one of the founding fathers of Canadian botany
Ismaël Bullialdus (1605–1694) – priest, astronomer, and member of the Royal Society; the Bullialdus crater is named in his honor
Jean Buridan (c. 1300 – after 1358) – priest who formulated early ideas of momentum and inertial motion and sowed the seeds of the Copernican revolution in Europe
Roberto Busa (1913–2011) – Jesuit, wrote a lemmatization of the complete works of St. Thomas Aquinas (Index Thomisticus) which was later digitalized by IBM

C
Niccolò Cabeo (1586–1650) – Jesuit mathematician; the crater Cabeus is named in his honor
Nicholas Callan (1799–1846) – priest and Irish scientist best known for his work on the induction coil
John Cantius (1390–1473) – priest and Buridanist mathematical physicist who further developed the theory of impetus
Jean Baptiste Carnoy (1836–1899) – priest, has been called the founder of the science of cytology[16]
Giovanni di Casali (died c. 1375) – Franciscan friar who provided a graphical analysis of the motion of accelerated bodies
Paolo Casati (1617–1707) – Jesuit mathematician who wrote on astronomy, meteorology, and vacuums; the crater Casatus on the Moon is named after him; published Terra machinis mota (1658), a dialogue between Galileo, Paul Guldin and father Marin Mersenne on cosmology, geography, astronomy and geodesy, giving a positive image of Galileo 25 years after his conviction.
Laurent Cassegrain (1629–1693) – priest who was the probable namesake of the Cassegrain telescope; the crater Cassegrain on the Moon is named after him
Louis Bertrand Castel (1688-1757) – French Jesuit physicist who worked on gravity and optics in a Cartesian context
Benedetto Castelli (1578–1643) – Benedictine mathematician; long-time friend and supporter of Galileo Galilei, who was his teacher; wrote an important work on fluids in motion
Bonaventura Cavalieri (1598–1647) – Jesuate (not to be confused with Jesuit) known for his work on the problems of optics and motion, work on the precursors of infinitesimal calculus, and the introduction of logarithms to Italy; his principle in geometry partially anticipated integral calculus; the lunar crater Cavalerius is named in his honor
Antonio José Cavanilles (1745–1804) – priest and leading Spanish taxonomic botanist of the 18th century
Francesco Cetti (1726–1778) – Jesuit zoologist and mathematician
Tommaso Ceva (1648–1737) – Jesuit mathematician, poet, and professor who wrote treatises on geometry, gravity, and arithmetic
Christopher Clavius (1538–1612) – German mathematician and astronomer, most noted in connection with the Gregorian calendar, his arithmetic books were used by many mathematicians including Leibniz and Descartes
Guy Consolmagno (1952–) – Jesuit astronomer and planetary scientist, serving as Director of the Vatican Observatory
Nicolaus Copernicus (1473–1543) – Renaissance astronomer and canon famous for his heliocentric cosmology that set in motion the Copernican Revolution
Vincenzo Coronelli (1650–1718) – Franciscan cosmographer, cartographer, encyclopedist, and globe-maker
Bonaventura Corti (1729-1813) – Italian biologist and physicist who made microscopic observations on Tremels, Rotifers and seaweeds
George Coyne (1933–) – Jesuit astronomer and former director of the Vatican Observatory whose research interests have been in polarimetric studies of various subjects, including Seyfert galaxies
James Cullen (mathematician) (1867–1933) – Jesuit mathematician who published what is now known as Cullen numbers in number theory
James Curley (astronomer) (1796–1889) – Jesuit, first director of Georgetown Observatory and determined the latitude and longitude of Washington, D.C.
Albert Curtz (1600–1671) – Jesuit astronomer who expanded on the works of Tycho Brahe and contributed to early understanding of the moon; the crater Curtius on the Moon is named after him
Johann Baptist Cysat (1587–1657) – Jesuit mathematician and astronomer, after whom the lunar crater Cysatus is named; published the first printed European book concerning Japan; one of the first to make use of the newly developed telescope; did important research on comets and the Orion nebula
Jean-Baptiste Chappe d’Auteroche (1722–1769) – priest and astronomer best known for his observations of the transits of Venus
D
Ignazio Danti (1536–1586) – Dominican mathematician, astronomer, cosmographer, and cartographer
Armand David (1826–1900) – Lazarist priest, zoologist, and botanist who did important work in these fields in China
Francesco Denza (1834–1894) – Barnabite meteorologist, astronomer, and director of Vatican Observatory
Václav Prokop Diviš (1698–1765) – Czech priest who studied electrical phenomenons and constructed, among other inventions, the first electrified musical instrument in history
Alberto Dou Mas de Xaxàs (1915–2009) – Spanish Jesuit priest who was president of the Royal Society of Mathematics, member of the Royal Academy of Natural, Physical, and Exact Sciences, and one of the foremost mathematicians of his country
Johann Dzierzon (1811–1906) – priest and pioneering apiarist who discovered the phenomenon of parthenogenesis among bees, and designed the first successful movable-frame beehive; has been described as the “father of modern apiculture”
F
Francesco Faà di Bruno (c. 1825–1888) – priest and mathematician beatified by Pope John Paul II
Honoré Fabri (1607–1688) – Jesuit mathematician and physicist
Jean-Charles de la Faille (1597–1652) – Jesuit mathematician who determined the center of gravity of the sector of a circle for the first time
Gabriele Falloppio (1523–1562) – Canon and one of the most important anatomists and physicians of the sixteenth century; the Fallopian tubes, which extend from the uterus to the ovaries, are named for him
Gyula Fényi (1845–1927) – Jesuit astronomer and director of the Haynald Observatory; noted for his observations of the sun; the crater Fényi on the Moon is named after him
Louis Feuillée (1660–1732) – Minim explorer, astronomer, geographer, and botanist
Kevin T. FitzGerald (1955-) – American molecular biologist and holds the Dr. David Lauler chair in Catholic Health Care Ethics at Georgetown University
Placidus Fixlmillner (1721–1791) – Benedictine priest and one of the first astronomers to compute the orbit of Uranus
Paolo Frisi (1728–1784) – priest, mathematician, and astronomer who did significant work in hydraulics
José Gabriel Funes (1963– ) – Jesuit astronomer and former director of the Vatican Observatory
Lorenzo Fazzini (1787–1837) – priest and physicist born in Vieste and worked in Naples, Italy

G
Joseph Galien (1699 – c. 1762) – Dominican professor who wrote on aeronautics, hailstorms, and airships
Jean Gallois (1632–1707) – French scholar, abbot, and member of Académie des Sciences
Pierre Gassendi (1592–1655) – French priest, astronomer, and mathematician who published the first data on the transit of Mercury; best known intellectual project attempted to reconcile Epicurean atomism with Christianity
Antoine Gaubil (1689-1759) – French astronomer who was the director general of the College of Interpreters at the court of China between 1741 and 1759 and centralized information provided by the Jesuit observatories throughout the world
Agostino Gemelli (1878–1959) – Franciscan physician and psychologist; founded Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan
Johannes von Gmunden (c. 1380–1442) – Canon, mathematician, and astronomer who compiled astronomical tables; Asteroid 15955 Johannesgmunden named in his honor
Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora (1645–1700) – priest, polymath, mathematician, astronomer, and cartographer; drew the first map of all of New Spain
Andrew Gordon (1712–1751) – Benedictine monk, physicist, and inventor who made the first electric motor
Christoph Grienberger (1561–1636) – Jesuit astronomer after whom the crater Gruemberger on the Moon is named; verified Galileo’s discovery of Jupiter’s moons.
Francesco Maria Grimaldi (1618–1663) – Jesuit who discovered the diffraction of light (indeed coined the term “diffraction”), investigated the free fall of objects, and built and used instruments to measure geological features on the moon
Robert Grosseteste (c. 1175 – 1253) – bishop who was one of the most knowledgeable men of the Middle Ages; has been called “the first man ever to write down a complete set of steps for performing a scientific experiment”[17]
Paul Guldin (1577–1643) – Jesuit mathematician and astronomer who discovered the Guldinus theorem to determine the surface and the volume of a solid of revolution
Bartolomeu de Gusmão (1685–1724) – Jesuit known for his early work on lighter-than-air airship design
H
Johann Georg Hagen (1847–1930) – Jesuit director of the Georgetown and Vatican Observatories; the crater Hagen on the Moon is named after him
Frank Haig (1928-) – American physics professor
Nicholas Halma (1755–1828) – French abbot, mathematician, and translator
Jean-Baptiste du Hamel (1624–1706) – French priest, natural philosopher, and secretary of the Academie Royale des Sciences
René Just Haüy (1743–1822) – priest known as the father of crystallography
Maximilian Hell (1720–1792) – Jesuit astronomer and director of the Vienna Observatory who wrote astronomy tables and observed the Transit of Venus; the crater Hell on the Moon is named after him
Michał Heller (1936– ) – Polish priest, Templeton Prize winner, and prolific writer on numerous scientific topics
Lorenz Hengler (1806–1858) – priest often credited as the inventor of the horizontal pendulum
Hermann of Reichenau (1013–1054) – Benedictine historian, music theorist, astronomer, and mathematician
Pierre Marie Heude (1836–1902) – Jesuit missionary and zoologist who studied the natural history of Eastern Asia
Franz von Paula Hladnik (1773–1844) – priest and botanist who discovered several new kinds of plants, and certain genera have been named after him
Giovanni Battista Hodierna (1597–1660) – priest and astronomer who catalogued nebulous objects and developed an early microscope
Johann Baptiste Horvath (1732-1799) – Hungarian physicist who taught physics and philosophy at the University of Tyrnau, later of Buda, and wrote many Newtonian textbooks
Victor-Alphonse Huard (1853–1929) – priest, naturalist, educator, writer, and promoter of the natural sciences
I
Maximus von Imhof (1758–1817) – German Augustinian physicist and director of the Munich Academy of Sciences
Giovanni Inghirami (1779–1851) – Italian Piarist astronomer who has a valley on the moon named after him as well as a crater
J
François Jacquier (1711–1788) – Franciscan mathematician and physicist; at his death he was connected with nearly all the great scientific and literary societies of Europe
Stanley Jaki (1924–2009) – Benedictine priest and prolific writer who wrote on the relationship between science and theology
Ányos Jedlik (1800–1895) – Benedictine engineer, physicist, and inventor; considered by Hungarians and Slovaks to be the unsung father of the dynamo and electric motor

K
Georg Joseph Kamel (1661–1706) – Jesuit missionary and botanist who established the first pharmacy in the Philippines; the genus Camellia is named for him
Karl Kehrle (1898–1996) – Benedictine Monk of Buckfast Abbey, England; beekeeper; world authority on bee breeding, developer of the Buckfast bee
Eusebio Kino (1645–1711) – Jesuit missionary, mathematician, astronomer and cartographer; drew maps based on his explorations first showing that California was not an island, as then believed; published an astronomical treatise in Mexico City of his observations of the Kirsch comet
Otto Kippes (1905–1994) – priest acknowledged for his work in asteroid orbit calculations; the main belt asteroid 1780 Kippes was named in his honour
Athanasius Kircher (1602–1680) – Jesuit who has been called the father of Egyptology and “Master of a hundred arts”; wrote an encyclopedia of China; one of the first people to observe microbes through a microscope; in his Scrutinium Pestis of 1658 he noted the presence of “little worms” or “animalcules” in the blood, and concluded that the disease was caused by micro-organisms; this is antecedent to germ theory
Wenceslas Pantaleon Kirwitzer (1588–1626) – Jesuit astronomer and missionary to China who published observations of comets
Jan Krzysztof Kluk (1739–1796) – priest, naturalist agronomist, and entomologist who wrote a multi-volume work on Polish animal life
Marian Wolfgang Koller (1792–1866) – Benedictine professor who wrote on astronomy, physics, and meteorology
Franz Xaver Kugler (1862–1929) – Jesuit chemist, mathematician, and Assyriologist who is most noted for his studies of cuneiform tablets and Babylonian astronomy
L
Ramon Llull (ca. 1232 – ca. 1315) – Majorcan writer and philosopher, logician and a Franciscan tertiary considered a pioneer of computation theory
Nicolas Louis de Lacaille (1713–1762) – French deacon and astronomer noted for cataloguing stars, nebulous objects, and constellations
Eugene Lafont (1837–1908) – Jesuit physicist, astronomer, and founder of the first Scientific Society in India
Antoine de Laloubère (1600–1664) – Jesuit and first mathematician to study the properties of the helix
Bernard Lamy (1640–1715) – Oratorian philosopher and mathematician who wrote on the parallelogram of forces
Roberto Landell de Moura (1861–1928) – priest and inventor who was the first to accomplish the transmission of the human voice by a wireless machine
Pierre André Latreille (1762–1833) – priest and entomologist whose works describing insects assigned many of the insect taxa still in use today
Georges Lemaître (1894–1966) – Belgian priest and father of the Big Bang theory
Émile Licent (1876–1952) – French Jesuit trained as a natural historian; spent more than 25 years researching in Tianjin, China
Joseph Xaver Liesganig (1719-1799) – Austrian astronomer and geodesist who managed the Jesuit observatory in Vienna between 1756 and 1773
Thomas Linacre (c. 1460–1524) – English priest, humanist, translator, and physician
Francis Line (1595–1675) – Jesuit magnetic clock and sundial maker who disagreed with some of the findings of Newton and Boyle
Juan Caramuel y Lobkowitz (1606–1682) – Cistercian who wrote on a variety of scientific subjects, including probability theory
João de Loureiro (1717–1791) – Portuguese mathematician and botanist active in Cochinchina

M
Jean Mabillon (1632–1707) – Benedictine monk and scholar, considered the founder of palaeography and diplomatics
James B. Macelwane (1883–1956) – Jesuit seismologist who contributed a volume to the first textbook on seismology in America
John MacEnery (1797–1841) – archaeologist who investigated the Palaeolithic remains at Kents Cavern
Manuel Magri (1851–1907) – Jesuit ethnographer, archaeologist and writer; one of Malta’s pioneers in archaeology
Emmanuel Maignan (1601–1676) – Minim physicist and professor of medicine who published works on gnomonics and perspective
Pal Mako (1724-1793) – Hungarian mathematician and physicist who taught mathematics, experimental physics and mechanics at the Vienna Theresianum and had a part in the preparation of the Ratio educationis (1777), which reformed the imperial teaching system in the spirit of Enlightenment
Charles Malapert (1581–1630) – Jesuit writer, astronomer, and proponent of Aristotelian cosmology; also known for observations of sunpots, the lunar surface, and the southern sky; the crater Malapert on the Moon is named after him
Nicolas Malebranche (1638–1715) – Oratorian philosopher who studied physics, optics, and the laws of motion and disseminated the ideas of Descartes and Leibniz
Marcin of Urzędów (c. 1500–1573) – priest, physician, pharmacist, and botanist
Joseph Maréchal (1878–1944) – Jesuit philosopher and psychologist
Marie-Victorin (1885–1944) – Christian Brother and botanist best known as the father of the Jardin botanique de Montréal
Edme Mariotte (c. 1620–1684) – priest and physicist who recognized Boyle’s Law and wrote about the nature of color
Francesco Maurolico (1494–1575) – Benedictine who made contributions to the fields of geometry, optics, conics, mechanics, music, and astronomy, and gave the first known proof by mathematical induction
Christian Mayer (astronomer) (1719–1783) – Jesuit astronomer most noted for pioneering the study of binary stars
James Robert McConnell (1915–1999) – Irish theoretical physicist, pontifical academician, Monsignor
Michael C. McFarland (1948-) – American computer scientist and president of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts
Paul McNally (1890–1955) – Jesuit astronomer and director of Georgetown Observatory; the crater McNally on the Moon is named after him
Gregor Mendel (1822–1884) – Augustinian monk and father of genetics
Pietro Mengoli (1626–1686) – priest and mathematician who first posed the famous Basel Problem
Giuseppe Mercalli (1850–1914) – priest, volcanologist, and director of the Vesuvius Observatory who is best remembered today for his Mercalli scale for measuring earthquakes which is still in use
Marin Mersenne (1588–1648) – Minim philosopher, mathematician, and music theorist, so-called “father of acoustics”
Paul of Middelburg (1446–1534) – Bishop who wrote on the reform of the calendar
Maciej Miechowita (1457–1523) – Canon who wrote the first accurate geographical and ethnographical description of Eastern Europe, as well as two medical treatises
François-Napoléon-Marie Moigno (1804–1884) – Jesuit physicist and mathematician; was an expositor of science and translator rather than an original investigator
Juan Ignacio Molina (1740–1829) – Jesuit naturalist, historian, botanist, ornithologist and geographer
Louis Moréri (1643–1680) – 17th-century priest and encyclopaedist
Theodorus Moretus (1602–1667) – Jesuit mathematician and author of the first mathematical dissertations ever defended in Prague; the lunar crater Moretus is named after him
Gabriel Mouton (1618–1694) – abbot, mathematician, astronomer, and early proponent of the metric system
Jozef Murgaš (1864–1929) – priest who contributed to wireless telegraphy and helped develop mobile communications and wireless transmission of information and human voice
José Celestino Mutis (1732–1808) – Canon, botanist, and mathematician who led the Royal Botanical Expedition of the New World
N
Bienvenido Nebres (1940-) – Filipino mathematician, president of Ateneo de Manila University, and an honoree of the National Scientist of the Philippines award
Jean François Niceron (1613–1646) – Minim mathematician who studied geometrical optics
Nicholas of Cusa (1401–1464) – Cardinal, philosopher, jurist, mathematician, astronomer, and one of the great geniuses and polymaths of the 15th century
Julius Nieuwland (1878–1936) – Holy Cross priest, known for his contributions to acetylene research and its use as the basis for one type of synthetic rubber, which eventually led to the invention of neoprene by DuPont
Jean-Antoine Nollet (1700–1770) – abbot and physicist who discovered the phenomenon of osmosis in natural membranes

O
Hugo Obermaier (1877–1946) – priest, prehistorian, and anthropologist who is known for his work on the diffusion of mankind in Europe during the Ice Age, as well as his work with north Spanish cave art
William of Ockham (c. 1288 – c. 1348) – Franciscan Scholastic who wrote significant works on logic, physics, and theology; known for Occam’s razor-principle
Nicole Oresme (c. 1323–1382) – one of the most famous and influential philosophers of the later Middle Ages; economist, mathematician, physicist, astronomer, philosopher, theologian and Bishop of Lisieux, and competent translator; one of the most original thinkers of the 14th century
Barnaba Oriani (1752–1832) – Barnabite geodesist, astronomer and scientist whose greatest achievement was his detailed research of the planet Uranus; also known for Oriani’s theorem
P
Tadeusz Pacholczyk (1965–) – priest, neuroscientist and writer
Luca Pacioli (c. 1446–1517) – Franciscan friar who published several works on mathematics; often regarded as the “father of accounting”
Ignace-Gaston Pardies (1636–1673) – Jesuit physicist known for his correspondence with Newton and Descartes
Franciscus Patricius (1529–1597) – priest, cosmic theorist, philosopher, and Renaissance scholar
John Peckham (1230–1292) – Archbishop of Canterbury and early practitioner of experimental science
Nicolas Claude Fabri de Peiresc (1580–1637) – abbot and astromer who discovered the Orion Nebula; lunar crater Peirescius named in his honor
Stephen Joseph Perry (1833–1889) – Jesuit astronomer and Fellow of the Royal Society; made frequent observations of Jupiter’s satellites, of stellar occultations, of comets, of meteorites, of sun spots, and faculae
Giambattista Pianciani (1784–1862) – Jesuit mathematician and physicist who established the electric nature of aurora borealis
Giuseppe Piazzi (1746–1826) – Theatine mathematician and astronomer who discovered Ceres, today known as the largest member of the asteroid belt; also did important work cataloguing stars
Jean Picard (1620–1682) – priest and first person to measure the size of the Earth to a reasonable degree of accuracy; also developed what became the standard method for measuring the right ascension of a celestial object; the PICARD mission, an orbiting solar observatory, is named in his honor
Edward Pigot (1858–1929) – Jesuit seismologist and astronomer
Alexandre Guy Pingré (1711–1796) – French priest astronomer and naval geographer; the crater Pingré on the Moon is named after him, as is the asteroid 12719 Pingré
Andrew Pinsent (1966–) – priest whose current research includes the application of insights from autism and social cognition to ‘second-person’ accounts of moral perception and character formation; his previous scientific research contributed to the DELPHI experiment at CERN
Jean Baptiste François Pitra (1812–1889) – Benedictine cardinal, archaeologist and theologian who noteworthy for his great archaeological discoveries
Charles Plumier (1646–1704) – Minim friar who is considered one of the most important botanical explorers of his time
Marcin Odlanicki Poczobutt (1728–1810) – Jesuit astronomer and mathematician; granted the title of the King’s Astronomer; the crater Poczobutt on the Moon is named after him; taught astronomy at Vilna University (1764-1808), managed its observatory and was the rector of Vilna University between 1777 and 1808
Léon Abel Provancher (1820–1892) – priest and naturalist devoted to the study and description of the fauna and flora of Canada; his pioneer work won for him the appellation of the “father of natural history in Canada”

Astronomer Georges Lemaitre (right) speaks with Albert Einstein after a talk in Pasadena, Calif., in 1932. Lemaitre first published a paper on the expansion of the universe in 1927, but it ran in a minor French scientific journal. The study was republished in 1931, but with key sections missing; a recently found letter indicates it was Lemaitre himself who made the edits.

R
Claude Rabuel (1669–1729) – Jesuit mathematician who analyzed Descartes’s Géométrie
Louis Receveur (1757–1788) – Franciscan naturalist and astronomer; described as being as close as one could get to being an ecologist in the 18th century
Franz Reinzer (1661–1708) – Jesuit who wrote an in-depth meteorological, astrological, and political compendium covering topics such as comets, meteors, lightning, winds, fossils, metals, bodies of water, and subterranean treasures and secrets of the earth
Louis Rendu (1789–1859) – bishop who wrote an important book on the mechanisms of glacial motion; the Rendu Glacier, Alaska, US and Mount Rendu, Antarctica are named for him
Vincenzo Riccati (1707–1775) – Italian Jesuit mathematician and physicist
Matteo Ricci (1552–1610) – one of the founding fathers of the Jesuit China Mission and co-author of the first European-Chinese dictionary
Giovanni Battista Riccioli (1598–1671) – Jesuit astronomer who authored Almagestum novum, an influential encyclopedia of astronomy; the first person to measure the rate of acceleration of a freely falling body; created a selenograph with Father Grimaldi that now adorns the entrance at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.; first to note that Mizar was a “double star”
Richard of Wallingford (1292–1336) – abbot, renowned clockmaker, and one of the initiators of western trigonometry
Lluis Rodés (1881-1939) – Spanish astronomer and director of Observatorio del Ebro, wrote El Frmamento
Johannes Ruysch (c. 1460–1533) – priest, explorer, cartographer, and astronomer who created the second oldest known printed representation of the New World
S
Giovanni Girolamo Saccheri (1667–1733) – Jesuit mathematician and geometer who was perhaps the first European to write about Non-Euclidean geometry
Johannes de Sacrobosco (c. 1195 – c. 1256) – Irish monk and astronomer who wrote the authoritative medieval astronomy text Tractatus de Sphaera; his Algorismus was the first text to introduce Hindu-Arabic numerals and procedures into the European university curriculum; the lunar crater Sacrobosco is named after him
Gregoire de Saint-Vincent (1584–1667) – Jesuit mathematician who made important contributions to the study of the hyperbola
Alphonse Antonio de Sarasa (1618–1667) – Jesuit mathematician who contributed to the understanding of logarithms
Christoph Scheiner (c. 1573–1650) – Jesuit physicist, astronomer, and inventor of the pantograph; wrote on a wide range of scientific subjects, including sunspots, leading to a dispute with Galileo Galilei
Wilhelm Schmidt (linguist) (1868–1954) – Austrian priest, linguist, anthropologist, and ethnologist
George Schoener (1864–1941) – priest who became known in the United States as the “Padre of the Roses” for his experiments in rose breeding
Gaspar Schott (1608–1666) – Jesuit physicist, astronomer, and natural philosopher who is most widely known for his works on hydraulic and mechanical instruments
Franz Paula von Schrank (1747–1835) – priest, botanist, entomologist, and prolific writer
Berthold Schwarz (c. 14th century) – Franciscan friar and reputed inventor of gunpowder and firearms
Anton Maria Schyrleus of Rheita (1604–1660) – Capuchin astronomer and optician who built Kepler’s telescope
George Mary Searle (1839–1918) – Paulist astronomer and professor who discovered six galaxies
Angelo Secchi (1818–1878) – Jesuit pioneer in astronomical spectroscopy and one of the first scientists to state authoritatively that the sun is a star; discovered the existence of solar spicules and drew an early map of Mars
Alessandro Serpieri (1823–1885) – priest, astronomer, and seismologist who studied shooting stars, and was the first to introduce the concept of the seismic radiant
Gerolamo Sersale (1584–1654) – Jesuit astronomer and selenographer; his map of the moon can be seen in the Naval Observatory of San Fernando; the lunar crater Sirsalis is named after him
Benedict Sestini (1816–1890) – Jesuit astronomer, mathematician and architect; studied sunspots and eclipses; wrote textbooks on a variety of mathematical subjects
René François Walter de Sluse (1622–1685) – Canon and mathematician with a family of curves named after him
Domingo de Soto (1494–1560) – Spanish Dominican priest and professor at the University of Salamanca; in his commentaries to Aristotle he proposed that free falling bodies undergo constant acceleration
Lazzaro Spallanzani (1729–1799) – priest, biologist, and physiologist who made important contributions to the experimental study of bodily functions, animal reproduction, and essentially discovered echolocation; his research of biogenesis paved the way for the investigations of Louis Pasteur
Valentin Stansel (1621–1705) – Jesuit astronomer in Brazil, who discovered a comet, which, after accurate positions were made via F. de Gottignies in Goa, became known as the Estancel-Gottignies comet
Johan Stein (1871–1951) – Jesuit astronomer and director of the Vatican Observatory, which he modernized and relocated to Castel Gandolfo; the crater Stein on the far side of the Moon is named after him
Nicolas Steno (1638–1686) – Bishop beatified by Pope John Paul II who is often called the father of geology[18] and stratigraphy,[8] and is known for Steno’s principles
Joseph Stepling (1716-1778) – Bohemian astronomer, physicist and mathematician who managed the Jesuit observatory in Prague between 1751 and 1778
Pope Sylvester II (c. 946–1003) – Prolific scholar who endorsed and promoted Arabic knowledge of arithmetic, mathematics, and astronomy in Europe, reintroducing the abacus and armillary sphere which had been lost to Europe since the end of the Greco-Roman era
Alexius Sylvius Polonus (1593 – c. 1653) – Jesuit astronomer who studied sunspots and published a work on calendariography
Ignacije Szentmartony (1718–1793) – Jesuit cartographer and royal mathematician and astronomer, who became a member of the expedition that worked on the rearrangement of the frontiers among colonies in South America, especially Brazil

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André Tacquet (1612–1660) – Jesuit mathematician whose work laid the groundwork for the eventual discovery of calculus
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955) – Jesuit paleontologist and geologist who took part in the discovery of Peking Man
Francesco Lana de Terzi (c. 1631–1687) – Jesuit referred to as the Father of Aviation[19] for his pioneering efforts; he also developed a blind writing alphabet prior to Braille.
Theodoric of Freiberg (c. 1250 – c. 1310) – Dominican theologian and physicist who gave the first correct geometrical analysis of the rainbow
Joseph Tiefenthaler (1710–1785) – Jesuit who was one of the earliest European geographers to write about India
Giuseppe Toaldo (1719–1797) – priest and physicist who studied atmospheric electricity and did important work with lightning rods; the asteroid 23685 Toaldo is named for him
José Torrubia (c. 1700–1768) – Franciscan linguist, scientist, collector of fossils and books, and writer on historical, political and religious subjects
Franz de Paula Triesnecker (1745–1817) – Jesuit astronomer and director of the Vienna Observatory; published a number of treatises on astronomy and geography; the crater Triesnecker on the Moon is named after him
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Luca Valerio (1552–1618) – Jesuit mathematician who developed ways to find volumes and centers of gravity of solid bodies
Pierre Varignon (1654–1722) – priest and mathematician whose principle contributions were to statics and mechanics; created a mechanical explanation of gravitation
Jacques de Vaucanson (1709–1782) – French Minim friar inventor and artist who was responsible for the creation of impressive and innovative automata and machines such as the first completely automated loom
Giovanni Battista Venturi (1746–1822) – priest who discovered the Venturi effect
Fausto Veranzio (c. 1551–1617) – Bishop, polymath, inventor, and lexicographer
Ferdinand Verbiest (1623–1688) – Jesuit astronomer and mathematician; designed what some claim to be the first ever self-propelled vehicle, which many claim this as the world’s first automobile
Francesco de Vico (1805–1848) – Jesuit astronomer who discovered or co-discovered a number of comets; also made observations of Saturn and the gaps in its rings; the lunar crater De Vico and the asteroid 20103 de Vico are named after him
Vincent of Beauvais (c.1190–c.1264) – Dominican who wrote the most influential encyclopedia of the Middle Ages
Benito Vines (1837–1893) – Jesuit meteorologist known as “Father Hurricane” who made the first weather model to predict the trajectory of a hurricane[20][21][dead link][22]
János Vitéz (archbishop) (c.1405–1472) – Cardinal Archbishop of Esztergom, astronomer, and mathematician
Giovanni Serafino Volta (1764-1842) – Priest and paleontologist who wrote the first treatise on fossil ichthyology in Italy
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Martin Waldseemüller (c. 1470–1520) – German priest and cartographer who, along with Matthias Ringmann, is credited with the first recorded usage of the word America
Erich Wasmann (1859–1931) – Austrian entomologist known for Wasmannian mimicry
Godefroy Wendelin (1580–1667) – priest and astronomer who recognized that Kepler’s third law applied to the satellites of Jupiter; the lunar crater Vendelinus is named in his honor
Johannes Werner (1468–1522) – priest, mathematician, astronomer, and geographer
Witelo (c. 1230 – after 1280, before 1314) – Friar, physicist, natural philosopher, and mathematician; lunar crater Vitello named in his honor; his Perspectiva powerfully influenced later scientists, in particular Johannes Kepler
Julian Tenison Woods (1832–1889) – Passionist geologist and mineralogist
Theodor Wulf (1868–1946) – Jesuit physicist who was one of the first experimenters to detect excess atmospheric radiation
Franz Xaver von Wulfen (1728–1805) – Jesuit botanist, mineralogist, and alpinist
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Leonardo Ximenes (1711-1786) – Italian physicist and astronomer, specialist of hydraulics, creator and director of the Observatory San Giovanino in Florence
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John Zahm (1851–1921) – Holy Cross priest and South American explorer
Giuseppe Zamboni (1776–1846) – priest and physicist who invented the Zamboni pile, an early electric battery similar to the Voltaic pile
Francesco Zantedeschi (1797–1873) – priest who was among the first to recognize the marked absorption by the atmosphere of red, yellow, and green light; published papers on the production of electric currents in closed circuits by the approach and withdrawal of a magnet, thereby anticipating Michael Faraday’s classical experiments of 1831[23]
Niccolò Zucchi (1586–1670) – claimed to have tried to build a reflecting telescope in 1616 but abandoned the idea (maybe due to the poor quality of the mirror);[24] may have been the first to see the belts on the planet Jupiter (1630)[25]
Giovanni Battista Zupi (c. 1590–1650) – Jesuit astronomer, mathematician, and first person to discover that the planet Mercury had orbital phases; the crater Zupus on the Moon is named after him

May 3 – Sts Timothy & Maura of Antinoe, (d. 286), Husband & Wife, Martyrs

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I love the story of Sts Timothy & Maura.  I hold a special devotion to them for Kelly & I.  Mara’s name is inspired by the story of Sts Timothy & Maura. They provide an example, firstly, of the devotion to duty, despite the circumstances, a love of Scripture, and the ability to love when we would be justified by human reason in anything but.  They provide an example for all Christians and especially those vowed in the heroic vocation of marriage, that love and forgiveness is possible no matter what, with God’s grace.  I hope and trust you will concur.  (If you’re squeamish, take my word.)

Coming from the Eastern Christian tradition, and so not usually included on the American Roman liturgical calendar, Timothy was a deacon, a lector, and a catechist of the Church in Egypt (then called Kemet) in 286 AD, during the persecutions of the Emperor Diocletian.

As a deacon, it was traditional that each deacon serve some particular practical function, and Timothy’s was to safeguard the scrolls on which the Scriptures were written.  He was betrayed by an enemy to the local Roman authorities as a Christian, and when the Romans learned of his unique function they demanded the Scriptures from Timothy so they could defile them.  Timothy refused saying it would be like giving up one of his children to them.  Timothy had only recently been married to Maura, a fellow Christian, and a fellow catechist in the community at Penapais.  They had only been married twenty days.

The Roman governor said to Timothy: “You see, don’t you, the instruments prepared for torture?” Timothy replied: “But don’t you see the angels of God, which are strengthening me?”

Because of Timothy’s refusal to hand over the scrolls containing the Scriptures, the Romans tortured him by inserting white hot irons into his ears, which also blinded him.  They then hung him upside down and tied a very heavy stone to his head. The cut off his eyelids.  The Romans then brought Maura in.  The Romans had put a piece of wood in Timothy’s mouth so he could not speak.  At Maura’s request, they removed the wood and Timothy incited her to give witness by her suffering.

The Romans believed any harm done to Maura on Timothy’s behalf, and for his refusal, would be far less bearable to Timothy than any pain inflicted on him directly.  Maura never encouraged Timothy to submit, rather, she encouraged him to be strong.

This enraged the Romans and they pulled all the hair from her head.  They chopped off her fingers.  And they lowered her into boiling water, making Timothy aware all the time of what was going on despite his injuries.

Finally, Timothy and Maura were each crucified at Antinoe on opposite walls facing each other.  They both lingered for nine more days, during which they encouraged one another.  They died of shock, blood loss, and dehydration.

It is reported the Roman governor, Arian, who ordered and oversaw the torture of Timothy & Maura later repented, became a Christian, and suffered martyrdom for Christ, as well.  His feast day is December 14.

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Troparion (liturgical hymn) of Sts Timothy & Maura – Tone 4

Your holy martyrs Timothy and Maura, O Lord,
Through their sufferings have received incorruptible crowns from You, our God.
For having Your strength, they laid low their adversaries,
And shattered the powerless boldness of demons.
Through their intercessions, save our souls!

Kontakion (Tone 4)

You accepted many humiliations,
And deserved to be crowned by God.
Great and praiseworthy Timothy and Maura,
Intercede with the Lord for us
That we may celebrate your most pure memory;
That He may grant peace to our land and people,
For He is a powerful stronghold for the faithful!

Love,
Matthew

Jun 3 – St Charles Lwanga, Kizito, & companions, (d. 1886), Martyrs

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-Excerpts from “My Life with the Saints”, Rev. James Martin, SJ, pp 319-323, Loyola Press, © 2006.

“Christian missionaries…arrived in the interior of Africa during the late nineteenth century…The largest and most powerful of the local ethnic groups was the Baganda…(accounts of) the Baganda were that they were among the richest and most advanced tribes in Central Africa…Yet the civilization also had a cruel side…with both rulers and subjects having the reputation of being ‘unnaturally cruel’.

Mutesa, the ruler of the Baganda, exemplified this cruel streak.  When he took the throne in 1860, to ensure his own political survival, he buried his brothers alive – all sixty of them.

Conversion to Christianity among the Baganda meant a rejection of the traditional religions…(but was tolerated under Mutesa).

With the accession of Mutesa’s son, Mwanga, to the throne, the situation altered dramatically.  Mwanga was also a practicing pedophile, and upon discovering the the young men who converted to Christianity were beginning to reject his sexual advances, he grew enraged.

In January of 1885, Mwanga had three Christians, whom he referred to as “those who pray”, dismembered and their bodies burned.  In October of the same year, the newly arrived Anglican bishop…was murdered.  Mukasa, a senior advisor to the king, reproached Mwanga for not allowing the bishop the customary opportunity to defend himself.  In response, Mwanga had Mukasa beheaded.

Mukasa’s successor, Charles Lwanga, now was in danger.  Upon witnessing Mukasa’s death, Charles, went to the Catholic mission and immediately had himself baptized along with the other catechumens.  Among those baptized was Kizito, age fourteen.

The next day Charles, Kizito, and their companions were summoned into the royal court.  Mwanga demanded all the young men confess their allegiance.  All but four of them, including Charles and Kizito, did.  Baffled by this refusal, Mwanga put off their executions until the next day.

A fire forced the royal court to relocate to a lodge on the banks of Lake Victoria. During this time, Charles protected several of the young men from Mwanga’s violent sexual advances.  Mwanga finally sentenced twenty-six Christians to be burned alive.

On June 3, Charles was wrapped tightly in a reed mat and was throne into a pyre.  Eventually, a total of forty-five Christians were burned alive.”

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-photo of Charles Lwanga, #13, please click on the image greater detail.

Prayer in Honor of Sts Charles Lwanga, Kizito, and companions

Father, you have made the blood of the martyrs the seed of Christians. May the witness of Saint Charles Lwanga and his companions and their loyalty to Christ in the face of torture, mistreatment, and cruelty inspire countless men and women to live sincerely and faithfully the Christian life.

“If I have all the eloquence of men or of angels, but speak without love,…if I let them take my body and burn it, but have not love, it will do me no good whatever.”  -1 Cor 13: 1,3

“Perfect love casts out fear.”
-cf 1 John 4:18

Love,
Matthew

Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus #2

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This unique iconographic presentation of a beloved theme combines the classic pose of “Christ the Teacher” with devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Heart of Christ is burning with love for mankind, most vividly manifest in His suffering and sacrifice on the Cross.

Devotion to the loving heart of Christ first appeared in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and has been credited to several saints, including Saints Margaret Mary Alacoque, Bonaventure, Gertrude and Bernard. The devotion became popularized in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, especially through the Society of Jesus and the Visitation Order, and widespread devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus continues to this day.

One of my favorite prayers of devotion to the Sacred Heart…

“O Most Sacred Heart of Jesus,
I adore You,
I love You,
I praise You,
I cry to You for mercy,
I return You thanks,
I invoke You,
And confide myself entirely to You.

O most holy Heart of my Lord and Savior,
Who for the salvation of us all
Accepted a birth into poverty,
Endured sorrow and contempt here on earth,
Lived a life of labor and contradictions,
Suffered a shameful death,
But Who remain
In the most Blessed Sacrament of the altar
Until the end of time;
Accomplish, O Most Sacred Heart,
Your will in my heart,
Which I now dedicate and consecrate to You forever.
Amen.”

“O Sacred Heart of Jesus, we place our trust in Thee.”
-Robert L. & Mary D. McCormick

“The family, just like the Church, must always be regarded as a center to which the Gospel must be brought and from which it must be proclaimed.  Therefore in a family which is conscious of this role all the members of the family are evangelists and are themselves evangelized.”
-Evangelii Nuntiandi, (Evangelization in the Modern World), #71, Pope Paul VI, 1975, as cited in the US Catholic Catechism for Adults, p. 404, July, 2006, USCCB.

“To fall in love with God is the greatest of all romances; to seek Him, the greatest adventure, to find Him, the greatest human achievement.”
-St. Augustine

Love,
Matthew

Ego te baptizo…

“Ego te baptizo in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.”  I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Priest:  “What name do you give your child?”
Parents:  “Mara Constance”
Priest:  “What do you ask of the Church of God?”
Parents:  “Faith”   

Priest:  “What does Faith offer?”
Parents:  “Life everlasting”  


Priest:  “If then you desire her to enter into life, teach this child to keep the commandments. ‘You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind; and your neighbor as yourself.’ “

Priest:  “Go forth from her, unclean spirit, and give place to the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.”   

The priest now makes the Sign of the Cross with his thumb on the child’s forehead and breast.

Priest:  “Mara Constance, receive the Sign of the Cross both upon your forehead + and also upon your heart +; take to you the faith of the heavenly precepts; and so order your life as to be, from henceforth, the temple of God.”

Priest:  “Let us pray: mercifully hear our prayers, we beseech You, O Lord; and by Your perpetual assistance keep this Your elect, Mara Constance, signed with the sign of the Lord’s cross, so that, preserving this first experience of the greatness of Your glory, she may deserve, by keeping Your commandments, to attain to the glory of life everlasting. Through Christ our Lord….”

Priest:  “Do you reject Satan?”
Parents (answering for child):  “I do reject him.”
Priest:  “And all his works?”
Parents:  “I do reject them.”
Priest:  “And all his pomps?”
Parents:  “I do reject them.”
Priest:  “Do you believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth?”
Parents:  “I do believe.”
Priest:  Do you believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord, Who was born and Who suffered?”
Parents:  “I do believe.”
Priest: “Do you believe in the Holy Ghost, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting?”
Parents:  “I do believe.”

Priest:  “Receive this white garment, Mara Constance.  Never let it become stained, so that when you stand before the judgment seat of our Lord Jesus Christ, you may enter into life everlasting. Amen.”

Priest:  “Receive this burning light, Mara Constance, and keep the grace of your Baptism throughout a blameless life.  Observe the commandments of God.  Then, when the Lord comes to His heavenly wedding feast, you will be able to meet Him with all the Saints in the halls of heaven, and live for ever and ever. Amen.”

The Pope & condoms

OK.  Where angels fear to tread, and always attempting to seek reason and clarity in the midst of every argument, as a certified catechist in the Archdiocese, and in training to be a catechetical leader, I certainly am no expert on Humanae Vitae, Theology of the Body, or the biology/pathology of HIV/AIDS.  Is that enough of a disclaimer, or does that convince you of the uselessness of reading any further.

Please do not crucify me for this vain attempt at clarification.  A debate amongst friends prompting my amateurish attempt at it.  I am, however, by general inclination, the devil’s advocate, much to the woe and chagrin of those who know, and yes, perhaps even love me.  Had I found as simple or certainly simpler explanation online as I am attempting here from a certainly more authoritative source, I would have immediately referred you to it and saved myself the time and trouble.  However, I am still seeking such a resource.

This question is one of those many Catholic answers which do not lend themselves to sound bites.  Most Catholic answers do not lend themselves to sound bites.  The modern world operates on sound bites and cannot tolerate any explanation longer than fifteen seconds with lots of pictures, music, and fun, pleasing imagery.  If the Church is guilty of anything, it is guilty of brilliant theology, and lousy reduction of that brilliant theology into sound bites, as if that were even possible.  Hence, the joie de catechesis.  Seriously, can you think of a more thrilling challenge in the 21st century?  I can’t.  Hence, here I am, amateur though I may be.

This particular instance regarding the pope’s latest comments in Africa, in my amateur opinion, is one of those many exquisite and regular moments.  It really does depend on what your definition of “is” is, and understanding the milieu of either side to understand how either side could sincerely be saying what they are saying, and not merely being ideological.  Please let me attempt to explain.  

Being an amateur student of the Theology of the Body and having trained myself using Ascencion Press’ “Theology of the Body for Teens”, and having some experience in amateur reduction of brilliant theology into teen speak, I sally forth to my own destruction below.

Let us begin with the facts, the simplest first.  Always a solid and reasonable place to begin in debate.  AIDS is a horrific, terrible disease of which I know nothing.  Deo Gratias.  Secular and Catholic thought wants to prevent AIDS.  Laudable and understandable and commendable.  Agreed.  See that wasn’t so bad.  We can agree.  Secular thought assumes human beings are devoid of the ability to control themselves and that that is even a laughable suggestion; therefore, the next best suggestion is some mechanical device which allows the sexual act, but may prevent the spread of the disease.  I get it.

Catholic thought has such a radically different approach to sexual union than the secular world.  For the secular world, sexual gratification is utilitarian.  The individual gets something for themselves out of it.  Catholic thought sees the sexual union as giving of oneself to the other.  It is not intended at all or whatsoever for self-gratification, that is a side benefit, although the joy of the moment is God’s gift, too.  

Catholic thought is so poetic in terms of this mutual self-giving, and ultimate union of God and mankind, in a very theological and beautiful, and not scatological way, it is difficult for most people, if not all, to wrap their minds around these ideas, and they only begin to illuminate in the depths of reflection and contemplation on the Theology of the Body.  Children are the fruit of this union.  The union is so sacred and so reflective of the Divine union, that placing anything that might interrupt or impede this union between two persons of the opposite sex expressing sincere love for one another is anathema, hence the Church’s opposition to same sex unions, contraception, or perversion of any kind.  Notice, please, I did not say Catholics always live this ideal consistently, sinners that we are, but this is the ideal.

Besides the theological objections, the Holy Father would appear to have had in mind, forgive my boldness in assuming I know his intentions, the practical reality that the great majority of human beings over-simplify, and if offered a false panacea such as a condom and infected with HIV/AIDS, and lacking, potentially, the love and concern of the other, as Catholic thought would require, the infected person because they believe a condom is a rock solid preventative may resume sexual activity indiscriminately, as if they were not infected with HIV/AIDS.  Catholic thought would call to that individual to consider morally and conscientiously the implications of their continuing sexual activity and exercise love of the other manifested in self control, with the aid of grace.  What if it breaks?

It is these considerations which I understand led the Holy Father to suggest condoms may not be the ultimate preventative against the spread of HIV/AIDS, but rather, may lead to more infection than abstinence.  Did that make any sense?  I would really appreciate a professional Catholic moral theologian correcting my many mistakes I know are extant from my ignorance.

In Christian love,
Matthew

Holy Spirit Gift #7 – The Holy Fear of the Lord

I recently (5/18/09) finished reading Dr. C. Colt Anderson’s book “The Great Catholic Reformers:  from Gregory the Great to Dorothy Day”.

As someone who has, in the past, prepared young Catholics for the sacrament of Confirmation, and who hopes to again, someday, I have been trained and know from experience the effective catechist preparing others for Confirmation constantly keeps in mind the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit which, by Catholic doctrine, the Confirmandi (those to be confirmed) will receive through the sacrament.

They are:

·     Wisdom

·     Understanding

·     Counsel

·     Fortitude

·     Knowledge

·     Piety

·     Fear of the Lord (traditionally)

In the last few decades, there has been a creeping, unhealthy, in my opinion, obsession with avoiding what some, especially the untrained and uninitiated, popularly motivated, or the merely timid, may perceive as “negative” language.  I refer to this heresy, if you will allow me the term, as the “Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy”, with apologies and/or royalties to Ren & Stimpy, syndrome.  As if, an institution, the saving act of which was carried out through a cruel and brutal execution on a shameful instrument of torture:  the cross; and which is the chief bulwark against a cosmic, spiritual battle of good vs. evil, could somehow only focus on the positive to the exclusion of reality, and keep on using the word Truth, without smirks both internal and external, and full body eye rolls teenagers are so fond of, cynics that they are or pretend to be.  How pleasant, how easy, how politically convenient, and how unrealistic, that is.  To that end, gift #7, the fear of the Lord, got a makeover.  The name “awe” is now, and has been for some time, in fashion.

I take exception. While not doomsayer, I do not feel, as an experienced and certified catechist, this term accurately conveys the meaning intended.  Receipt of this gift is never, was never defined as a sniveling, obsequious, groveling of the damned, deprived of human dignity type of fear, but rather in defining the only right, healthy relationship between beloved creature and loving Creator, in “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom.” (Prov 1:7)

When I look at the Sears (now Willis) Tower, I feel awe.  When I think about God, it is so much more than that, which is why I found the following excerpts from the Conclusion of Dr. Anderson’s book so poignant:

“They (the Great Catholic Reformers) believed the ultimate measure of accountability is found in the great commandment:  to love God with all your heart and soul and to love your neighbor as yourself…

The reformers’ commitment to the idea that we will be held accountable for truly loving God and our neighbors…The notion of accountability to God and neighbor was traditionally grounded in the spiritual gift of the fear of the Lord.  Unfortunately, the connection between fear of the Lord and accountability has largely been severed in current magisterial teaching.

Traditionally, the fear of the Lord did not simply mean that God was grand or awesome; instead, it was interpreted in light of the scriptural and creedal affirmations that Christ will return as judge.  Because they believed in the authority of scripture, they held that the measure of the final judgment will be whether we loved God with our heart and our neighbors as ourselves.  They accepted that those who fail to commit themselves to love and mercy will be punished, as Christ warned, even for the thoughtless words they use (Mt 13:36).  Fear of the Lord gave the reformers the courage to obey God rather than people, customs, laws, or institutions;…

For the victims (of clergy sexual abuse), the loss of the sense of accountability to God makes it more difficult to heal their wounds.  God’s justice is a mercy for those who have suffered real evil…

The imperfections of the church and of its members should not surprise or scandalize us.  Jesus Christ warned us to expect ongoing problems and wicked members of the church.  Even as we work to address sin in the church, the Messiah taught us to leave judgment to Him.  To console those who have been wronged and to urge people to convert, Christ vividly drew out the consequences of malice and complacency with His parables. Reformers should keep the Lord’s description of the church in mind to avoid presumption and discouragement:

‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind.  When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away.  Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’  -Mt 13:47-50

The fact that the pilgrim church contains both the bad and the ugly within her communal life is no reason to lose heart and to reject her ability to fulfill her mission, nor should the mixed nature of the church lead us to despair of ever experiencing the healing sweetness of justice.”

“What good fortune for those in power that people don’t think.”  – Adolf Hitler

“It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it’s the parts that I do understand.” -Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

Love,
Matthew

May 22 – St Rita of Cascia (1381 – 1457), Patroness of Abuse Victims & Impossible/Desperate Situations

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Whoever said life would be easy?  Plus, you know I have a special weakness for married saints, like Kelly.

Born late to Antonio & Amata Lotti in the village of Roccaparen, Umbria, Italy in 1386, from her early youth, Rita visited the Augustinian nuns at Cascia, Italy, and showed interest in a religious life. However, when she was twelve, her parents betrothed her to Paolo Mancini, an ill-tempered, abusive man who worked as town watchman, and who was dragged into the political disputes of the day.

She begged her parents to allow her enter the convent, but they would not relent.  If she married, her parents had the chance of being cared for in their later years by her and her husband’s family.  If she entered the convent, there would be no such support.  Disappointed but obedient, Rita married Mancini when she was 18, and was the mother of twin sons. She put up with Paolo’s physical and verbal abuses for eighteen years before he was ambushed and stabbed to death by his political enemies, although near the end of his life, Rita’s positive influence began to take hold on him. Her sons swore vengeance on the killers of their father, but through the prayers and interventions of Rita, they forgave the offenders.

Upon the deaths of her sons, Rita again felt the call to religious life. However, some of the sisters at the Augustinian monastery were relatives of her husband’s murderers, and she was denied entry for fear of causing dissension. As a condition of being allowed to enter the monastery, Rita was given the seemingly impossible task of reconciling the family of her husband’s murderers with her husband’s own.  Asking for the intervention of Saint John the Baptist, Saint Augustine of Hippo, and Saint Nicholas of Tolentino, she managed to bring the warring factions together, not completely, but sufficiently that there was peace, and she was admitted to the monastery of Saint Mary Magdalen at age 36.

Rita lived 40 years in the convent, spending her time in prayer and charity, and working for peace in the region. She was devoted to the Passion, and in response to a prayer to suffer as Christ did, she received a chronic head wound that appeared to have been caused by a crown of thorns, and which bled for 15 years.

Confined to her bed the last four years of her life, eating little more than the Eucharist, teaching and directing the younger sisters. Near the end, she had a visitor from her home town who asked if she’d like anything; Rita’s only request was a rose from her family’s estate. The visitor went to the home, but it being January, knew there was no hope of finding a flower; there, sprouted on an otherwise bare bush, was a single rose blossom.

Rita is well-known as a patron of desperate, seemingly impossible causes and situations. This is because she has been involved in so many stages of life – wife, mother, widow, and nun, she buried her family, helped bring peace to her city, saw her dreams denied and fulfilled – and never lost her faith in God, or her desire to be with Him.  Rita died of tuberculosis on May 22, 1457.

Recently, St. Rita has been referred to as the patron saint of baseball, due to the several references made to her in the Walt Disney movie The Rookie (2002), in which the chances of Dennis Quaid’s character of playing professional baseball is considered a lost cause. This has sparked a small movement in Roman Catholic baseball circles of considering St. Rita the patron saint of the sport: in support of the connection religious medals have been printed with an image of St. Rita on one side and a batter on the other.

santarita
-“St Rita of Cascia”, aka Santa Rita, window, 19th century, Austin, TX, Cathedral of St Mary.

Prayers to St Rita of Cascia

Dear Rita, model Wife and Widow, you yourself suffered in a long illness showing patience out of love for God. Teach us to pray as you did. Many invoke you for help, full of confidence in your intercession. Deign to come now to our aid for the relief and cure of {name of sufferer}. To God, all things are possible; may this healing give glory to the Lord. Amen.

Holy Patroness of those in need, Saint Rita, you were humble, pure and patient. Your pleadings with your divine Spouse are irresistible, so please obtain for me from our risen Jesus the request I make of you: {mention your petition}. Be kind to me for the greater glory of God, and I shall honor you and sing your praises forever. Glorious Saint Rita, you miraculously participated in the sorrowful passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Obtain for me now the grace to suffer with resignation the troubles of this life, and protect me in all my needs. Amen.

Hymn to Saint Rita of Cascia

Come, virgins chaste; pure brides, draw near
Let Earth exult and Heaven hear
The Hymn that grateful accents raise,
Our song of joy in Rita’s praise.

By fast her sinless frame is weak;
Her livid flesh the scourges streak.
In pity for her Savior’s woes,
Her days and even nights are closed.

The thorn-wound on her brow is shown,
The crimson rose in winter blown,
And full-ripe figs on frozen tree
At Rita’s wish the wonders see.

The widowed spouse and wedded wife
The way to heaven see in her life;
The way secure our Rita trod,
In life’s dim day, through paint o God.

Praise to the Father and the Son,
Praise to the Spirit, Three in One;
O grant us grace in heaven to reign
Through Rita’s prayer and life-long pain.

Thou hast signed thy servant Rita
With the sign of thy Love and Passion.

O God! who didst deign to confer on Saint Rita for imitating Thee in love of her enemies, the favor of bearing her heart and brow the marks of Thy Love and Passion, grant we beseech Thee, that through her intercession and merit, we may, pierced by the thorns of compunction, ever contemplate the sufferings of Thy Passion, who livest and reignest forever and ever. Amen.

-translation of the hymn of Lauds, office of Saint Rita of Cascia, approved by Decree of S.C.R. 24 November 1900

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Love,
Matthew

Mar 17 – The Children of Lir


The Children of Lir (1914) by John Duncan, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut. Please click on the image for greater detail.

If you ever come to visit Kelly and I, and you look closely…no, not at the dust and general disarray, but look closely and you may see a swan motif.  These are the Children of Lir.  Mara will soon be able to understand stories. We will tell her of the Children of Lir.

Long ago, in Ireland, there lived a king called Lir. He lived with his wife and four children: Fionnuala, Aodh, Fiachra and Conn. They lived in a castle in the middle of a forest. When Lir’s wife died they were all very sad. After a few years Lir got married again. He married a jealous wife called Aoife.  Aoife thought that Lir loved his children more than he loved her.  Aoife hated the children.  Soon she thought of a plan to get rid of the children.

One summer’s day Aoife took the children to swim in a lake near the castle. The children were really happy to be playing in the water.  Suddenly Aoife took out a magic wand.  There was a flash of light and the children were nowhere to be seen.  All there was to be seen was four beautiful swans, with their feathers as white as snow.

Aoife said, “I have put you under a spell. You will be swans for nine hundred years,” she cackled. “You will spend three hundred years in Lough Derravaragh, three hundred years in the Sea of Moyle, and three hundred years in the waters of Inish Glora,” Aoife said. She also said, “You will remain swans for nine hundred years until you hear the ring of a Christian bell.”

She went back to the castle and told Lir that his children had drowned. Lir was so sad he started crying. He rushed down to the lake and saw no children. He saw only four beautiful swans.

One of them spoke to him. It was Fionnuala who spoke to him. She told him what Aoife had done to them. Lir got very angry and turned Aoife into an ugly moth. When Lir died the children were very sad, but the curse of Aoife would not be lifted.  When the time came they moved to the Sea of Moyle.

Soon the time came for their final journey. When they reached Inish Glora they were very tired.  They were nine hundred years old. Early one morning they heard the sound of a Christian bell. They were so happy that they were human again. The monk (some even say it was St. Patrick himself) sprinkled holy water on them and then Fionnuala put her arms around her brothers and then the four of them fell on the ground. The monk buried them in one grave. That night he dreamed he saw four swans flying up through the clouds. He knew the children of Lir were with their mother and father.

(please click on the image for greater detail)

A statue of the Children of Lir resides in the Garden of Remembrance, Parnell Square in Dublin, Ireland. It symbolizes the rebirth of the Irish nation following 900 years of struggle for independence from Britain, much as the swans were “reborn” following 900 years of being cursed.

The Garden of Remembrance (An Gairdín Cuimhneacháin) is a memorial garden in Dublin dedicated to the memory of “all those who gave their lives in the cause of Irish Freedom”.

In 1976, a contest was held to find a poem which could express the appreciation and inspiration of this struggle for freedom.  The winner, “We Saw a Vision” by Liam Mac Uistin, is inscribed in the stone wall surrounding the Garden of Remembrance in Irish, English, and French.

In the darkness of despair we saw a vision,
We lit the light of hope,
And it was not extinguished,
In the desert of discouragement we saw a vision,
We planted the tree of valour,
And it blossomed
In the winter of bondage we saw a vision,
We melted the snow of lethargy,
And the river of resurrection flowed from it.
We sent our vision aswim like a swan on the river,
The vision became a reality,
Winter became summer,
Bondage became freedom,
And this we left to you as your inheritance.
O generation of freedom remember us,
The generation of the vision.

“Saoirse” is the Irish word for freedom.

Love,
Matthew

Beannachtaí na Féile Padraig oraibh!!!
Tha mo bhàta-foluaimein loma-làn easgannan = my hovercraft is full of eels (from a Monty Python’s Flying Circus skit).

The Saints


“Those who imagine that the lives of saints are simple and placid, untouched by the vulgar breath of controversy, are rudely shocked by history. Yet it should be no surprise that saints, indeed all Christians, will experience the same difficulties as their Master. 
The definition of truth is an endless, complex pursuit, and good men and women have suffered the pain of both controversy and error. Intellectual, emotional and political roadblocks may slow up people like the saints for a time. But their lives taken as a whole are monuments to honesty and courage.”
-commentary for March 18, Feast of St Cyril of Jerusalem (315?-386 AD), AmericanCatholic.org, Saint of the Day.
“My child…seek out day by day the faces of the saints, in order that you may rest upon their words.”. 
-Didache of the 12 Apostles, AD 70-100