The Mind of God

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways My ways—says the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are My ways higher than your ways,
My thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
-Is 55:8-9

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– by Br Thomas Davenport, OP, (Br Thomas graduated with a PhD in Physics from Stanford University before joining the Order.)

“When most people think of Albert Einstein’s contribution to physics, the theory of relativity is what comes to mind, and rightly so. What most don’t realize is that his Nobel Prize was actually awarded for explaining the photoelectric effect, a result which contradicted the classical understanding of light and helped lead to the development of Quantum Mechanics. Despite his major contributions to its development, Einstein was famously uncomfortable with the way randomness and uncertainty became so integral to the understanding of that new theory, often summed up in his quote, “God does not throw dice.”

This objection, however offhand it may seem, resonated with many physicists of the time. The glory of classical physics was how neat and tidy everything was. It offered the promise of determinism: if we could know perfectly the state of the universe at one moment and the laws that govern it, we could extrapolate forwards and backwards perfectly as far as we like. Despite the recognition that this ideal was well nigh impossible, there was comfort in the promise, and each step we took at least brought us closer to that perfection. The claim was that perfect knowledge of the natural world, the sort that is attributed to God, would ultimately be expressed in a deterministic mathematical formula.

The difficulty that Quantum Mechanics presented for Einstein and many others, physicists and non-physicists alike, is that the best picture of the physical world that it allows seems partial and incomplete. It implied that it is not just practically difficult but theoretically impossible to completely describe the current state of the world, let alone extrapolate forwards or backwards as we please. As bad as the loss of “perfect” knowledge of the world was for physicists, it further called into question the nature of God’s knowledge of the world. If some aspect of the natural order was inherently uncertain and unknowable what does this imply for God? Is God’s knowledge subject to this randomness, is he simply reacting to the whims of nature?

The image of God awaiting the results of a chance outcome is rightly viewed as absurd, but the solution was not a recovery of classical determinism. Even independent of the results of Quantum Mechanics, that view was philosophically flawed, and the attempt to understand God’s knowledge using it was even more so.

If physics could actually give us a complete description of the now and from that extrapolate forwards and backwards, then the past, present and future are logically the same and all equally “present.” In a sense, nothing “new” ever happens because everything is subject to absolute necessity. Every effect is completely defined by its cause, a picture of the world that is arguably static rather than dynamic, detracting from the very notion of time. There are a host of subtle problems this raises about necessity and contingency and what it even means to be a cause, but the most obvious difficulty with this view is that it leaves no room at all for free human activity.

Additionally, thinking of God’s knowledge in this way cripples the idea of His providence. If everything in nature simply happened necessarily based on what came before, it would seem reasonable to say that God’s knowledge is just the perfect working out of the complicated physics problem of the universe. As creator He knows how all things will work together and His providence simply becomes this human kind of foresight and His governance simply becomes setting things up to run perfectly. The danger inherent in this is to see God as the external Architect who only works on and understands the world on a natural level, more powerfully and perfectly than we ever could perhaps, but still on a natural level.

It took many years and much experimentation and calculation before the reality of the quantum world sunk in. Physicists eventually became comfortable with the success of Quantum Mechanics and settled into a new status quo that accepted a randomness and indeterminism underlying physics. Even those who sought alternative interpretations of Quantum Mechanics that might save determinism recognized that they had to bring in other phenomena that destroyed the crisp, clean classical worldview. Unfortunately, the damage done to the understanding of causality and of God’s providence by classical determinism remains.

Even if the natural world “throws dice” in its most fundamental interaction, this may simply be a physical manifestation of the inherent contingency of all material things. This idea would not have been so foreign to Aristotle and St. Thomas, who saw both necessary and contingent causes in the world around them. More importantly, this loss of absolute necessity does not threaten God’s absolute knowledge of the created order, for his knowledge is not limited to the particular mathematical and formal descriptions that we are able to develop in the sciences. God’s providence, His wise ordering of everything to its proper end, is above every natural cause. The certainty of God’s knowledge does not limit his power to create natural objects that can act in a truly contingent way. Einstein was right that “God does not throw dice,” but He knows perfectly the natural order that He created to do just that.”

Love,
Matthew

Aug 9 – Bl Franz Jagerstatter, (1906-1943) – Husband, Father, Martyr

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Called to serve his country as a Nazi solider, Franz eventually refused, and this husband and father of three daughters (Rosalie, Marie and Aloisia) was executed because of it.

Born in St. Radegund in Upper Austria, Franz lost his father during World War I and was adopted after Heinrich Jaegerstaetter married Rosalia Huber.

As a young man, he loved to ride his motorcycle and was the natural leader of a gang whose members were arrested in 1934 for brawling.

For three years he worked in the mines in another city and then returned to St. Radegund, where he became a farmer, married Franziska and lived his faith with quiet but intense conviction.

In 1938 he publicly opposed the German Anschluss (annexation) of Austria. The next year he was drafted into the Austrian army, trained for seven months and then received a deferment. In 1940 he was called up again but allowed to return home at the request of the town’s mayor.

He was in active service between October 1940 and April 1941 but was again deferred. His pastor, other priests and the bishop of Linz urged him not to refuse to serve if drafted. In February 1943 he was called up again and reported to army officials in Enns, Austria.

When he refused to take the oath of loyalty to Hitler, he was imprisoned in Linz. Later he volunteered to serve in the medical corps but was not assigned there.

During Holy Week he wrote to his wife: “Easter is coming and, if it should be God’s will that we can never again in this world celebrate Easter together in our intimate family circle, we can still look ahead in the happy confidence that, when the eternal Easter morning dawns, no one in our family circle shall be missing–so we can then be permitted to rejoice together forever.”

In May he was transferred to a prison in Berlin. Challenged by his attorney that other Catholics were serving in the army, Franz responded, “I can only act on my own conscience. I do not judge anyone. I can only judge myself.” He continued, “I have considered my family. I have prayed and put myself and my family in God’s hands. I know that, if I do what I think God wants me to do, he will take care of my family.”

On August 8, 1943, he wrote to Fransizka: “Dear wife and mother, I thank you once more from my heart for everything that you have done for me in my lifetime, for all the sacrifices that you have borne for me. I beg you to forgive me if I have hurt or offended you, just as I have forgiven everything…My heartfelt greetings for my dear children. I will surely beg the dear God, if I am permitted to enter Heaven soon, that he will set aside a little place in Heaven for all of you.”

The prison chaplain was struck by the man’s tranquil character.  On being offered a New Testament he replied, “I am completely bound in inner union  with the Lord, and any reading would only interrupt my communication with my God.”

Franz was beheaded and cremated the following day. In 1946 his ashes were reburied in St. Radegund near a memorial inscribed with his name and the names of almost 60 village men who died during their military service. He was beatified in Linz on Occtober 26, 2007.  His “spiritual testament” is now in Rome’s St. Bartholomew Church as part of a shrine to 20th-century martyrs for their faith.

Franz Jaegerstaetter followed his conscience and paid the highest price possible. In December 2008 his widow and three daughters were introduced to Pope Benedict XVI in connection with the presentation of a new biography, Christ or Hitler? The Life of Blessed Franz Jaegerstaetter. Many people first learned about him from Gordon Zahn’s book In Solitary Witness: The Life and Death of Franz Jaegerstaetter.

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“I can say from my own experience how painful life often is when one lives as a halfway Christian; it is more like vegetating than living.” – Blessed Franz in a letter to a god-child

“Since the death of Christ, almost every century has seen the persecution of Christians; there have always been heroes and martyrs who gave their lives – often in horrible ways – for Christ and their faith. If we hope to reach our goal some day, then we, too, must became heroes of the faith.” – Blessed Franz in a letter to a god-child

“Everyone tells me, of course, that I should not do what I am doing because of the danger of death. I believe it is better to sacrifice one’s life right away than to place oneself in the grave danger of committing sin and then dying.” – Blessed Franz in a letter describing his moral dilemma over being drafted

“Just as the man who thinks only of this world does everything possible to make life here easier and better, so must we, too, who believe in the eternal Kingdom, risk everything in order to receive a great reward there. Just as those who believe in National Socialism tell themselves that their struggle is for survival, so must we, too, convince ourselves that our struggle is for the eternal Kingdom. But with this difference: we need no rifles or pistols for our battle, but instead, spiritual weapons – and the foremost among these is prayer. Through prayer, we continually implore new grace from God, since without God’s help and grace it would be impossible for us to preserve the Faith and be true to His commandments. Let us love our enemies, bless those who curse us, pray for Those who persecute us. For love will conquer and will endure for all eternity. And happy are they who live and die in God’s love.” – Blessed Franz, writing from prison

“I can say with certainty that this simple man is the only saint I have ever met in my lifetime.” –Father Jochmann, who ministered to Venerable Franz in prison

 Love,
Matthew

Love & Suffering

Being pope has two basic components: agendo et loquendo — acting and teaching; and orando et patendo — praying and suffering.

God & the World

During his years as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, well-known Vatican prelate Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger has given three in-depth interviews. The first two interviews have become best selling books: The Ratzinger Report and Salt of the Earth. Because of the tremendous reception those books received, the Cardinal agreed to do another interview with journalist Peter Seewald, who had done the very popular Salt of the Earth interview. This third in-depth interview addresses deep questions of faith and the living of that faith in the modern world.

The interview took place over three full days spent at the Benedictine Abbey of Monte Cassino in a setting of the silence, prayer, and hospitality of the monks. For this meeting with the highly regarded Churchman, theologian, and author, the seasoned journalist, who had fallen away from the faith but eventually returned to the Church, once again provided a very stimulating, well-prepared series of wide-ranging questions on profound issues. The Cardinal responds with candor, frankness and deep insight, giving answers that are sometimes surprising and always thought provoking.

“Pain is part of being human. Anyone who really wanted to get rid of suffering would have to get rid of love before anything else, because there can be no love without suffering, because it always demands an element of self-sacrifice, because, given temperamental differences and the drama of situations, it will always bring with it renunciation and pain.

When we know that the way of love — this exodus, this going out of oneself — is the true way by which man becomes human, then we also understand that suffering is the process through which we mature. Anyone who has inwardly accepted suffering becomes more mature and more understanding of others, becomes more human. Anyone who has consistently avoided suffering does not understand other people; he becomes hard and selfish.

Love itself is a passion, something we endure. In love I experience first a happiness, a general feeling of happiness. Yet, on the other hand, I am taken out of my comfortable tranquility and have to let myself be reshaped. If we say that suffering is the inner side of love, we then also understand why it is so important to learn how to suffer — and why, conversely, the avoidance of suffering renders someone unfit to cope with life. He would be left with an existential emptiness, which could then only be combined with bitterness, with rejection, and no longer with any inner acceptance or progress toward maturity.” –Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Love,
Matthew

Jun 2 – The Courage of Martyrs

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-“Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand”, Albrecht Durer, 1508, oil on panel transferred to canvas, 99 cm × 87 cm (39 in × 34 in), Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

“In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” (Jn 16:33)

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-by Br Joachim Kenney, OP

“One might wonder just how comforting these words from the Lord in today’s Holy Gospel might be if one were faced with the prospect of impending execution. Apparently, they were enough to sustain Sts. Marcellinus and Peter in their hour of trial, for today we celebrate them as martyrs. If you have ever listened to the Roman Canon at Mass you may recognize these names. They are included in the second of the two lists of saints in that Eucharistic Prayer. The Church knows very little about them other than that St. Marcellinus was a priest, St. Peter an exorcist, and that both were executed in the persecutions under Emperor Diocletian in the fourth century. They were much honored by the early Church, even to the point that Constantine built a basilica in their honor.

Catholic historian Dr. Warren Carroll describes Diocletian as a “clear-headed and reflective man” at the time of his accession to the throne of the Roman Empire. Diocletian was not initially interested in persecuting Christians. He rather set his sights on restoring the then decrepit Roman Empire to its former stability and greatness. To this end, he began by overhauling and remodeling the government and much of the economic system. It was his second-in-command in the eastern half of the empire, Galerius, who is believed to have insisted on the need to get rid of Christianity. Historian Henry Chadwick reports that Diocletian was finally convinced when he attended a pagan sacrifice at which the pagan priests blamed their inability to read the signs on the entrails of the animals on the presence of some Christians there who had made the Sign of the Cross. What came to be called the “Great Persecution” soon followed. It began in the year AD 303 and varied in intensity in different parts of the empire. Throughout its duration in the east, Galerius remained its chief driving force. Diocletian tried to refrain from bloodshed as much as he could, but for various reasons was gradually led to increase the severity of the penalties for those refusing to sacrifice to the gods. Perhaps not coincidentally as Carroll notes, Diocletian had a mental collapse early in 304. He became withdrawn from public affairs, leaving their direction largely in the hands of Galerius. In 305, Galerius forced Diocletian to abdicate and took complete control of the government. It was then that the persecution became acute.

In contrast to Diocletian, who succumbed to the world and consequently died bereft of even the worldly goods he once had and is remembered most for the slaughter associated with his name, Sts. Marcellinus and Peter took courage in Christ and conquered through Him. Though they lost their lives, they saved them for eternal life. It was not mere words that gave them strength and courage, however. As John tells us earlier in the sixteenth chapter of his Gospel, Christ promised to send His disciples the Holy Spirit, the Counselor, who would guide them “into all truth” (Jn 16:13). It was by the power of the Holy Spirit alive within them that the martyrs remained true to Christ. The same Holy Spirit is still present and working in the Church today in each of the baptized. He continues to give the courage to overcome present-day troubles.”

I am always keen for new martyrs, starting w/myself.  “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church” (Apologeticus, Chapter 50, 197 AD), Quintus Septimus Florens Tertullian.  Sometime after his conversion to the Christian faith, Tertullian left the Catholic Church in favor of Montanism.

Love,
Matthew

Photographing the Ascension

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-by Br Gabriel Torretta, OP

“There’s an interesting feature about many artistic representations of the Ascension of Jesus into heaven, common to the works of both run-of-the-mill painters and masters like Rembrandt: namely, they are very boring.

Now I don’t want to blame the great masters and their lesser counterparts for phoning in their treatment of the subject; it’s just almost impossible to represent the Ascension in an artistically meaningful way. After all, at the Ascension the disciples witness Jesus pass from the visibility of his life on earth to the invisibility of his life in heaven, which is not really an event that tangible arts can represent easily.

Nor, to be honest, is the Ascension an event that we can easily wrap our minds around, even forgetting the question of art. After all, if the thirty-three years of Jesus’ earthly life and the forty days after his resurrection were able to plant the seeds of the Church and win the redemption of mankind, doesn’t it seem reasonable to expect that Jesus’ best move would have been to stick around visibly on earth, letting everyone see him resurrected, not aging as the ages pass, thus forcing all reasonable people to conclude that this immortal man must in fact be the Son of God? Wouldn’t a Jesus who reigned in his resurrected body on earth have won more souls to heaven, simply by the undeniability of his presence? To put it simply: isn’t the spiritual character of Christ’s Ascension the very obstacle that we physical beings stumble over and thus fall into unbelief?

Happily, there’s a very strange artistic representation of the Ascension that solves the difficulties of the preceding paragraphs, by being both compositionally fascinating and theologically illuminating. It’s the image that appears as the featured image for this post: titled simply Ascension, it is a photograph produced by an unknown German in 1890, currently held by the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Everything about this image is odd. First, it’s a photograph, which is fairly strange unless we accept that Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure was actually a documentary all along. Second, the actual composition of the scene is unusual: although the scriptural accounts specify that the only witnesses to the Ascension were the eleven disciples (Mt 28:16, cf. Acts 1:1-11), here we have Mary Magdalene and Mary the Mother of Jesus thrown in as well. So what’s going on here?

The image can reasonably be put into the pictorialist school of photography, which sought to compose photographs in the manner of a painting, rather than merely recording events that passed a camera’s lens. That is, the pictorialists sometimes—as in this photograph—sought to capture the uncapturable, to photograph the unphotographable, making visible what is invisible either by its nature or because it has passed in time. As a result, this idiosyncratic and short-lived art form was perhaps uniquely well-suited to represent the simultaneously fleshly and spiritual character of the Ascension, when Jesus’ resurrected humanity really went to heaven in his physical body, where he still reigns in perfect equality with the Father and the Spirit.

In this image, the spiritual reality of the Ascension is revealed in its full splendor precisely as visible; Jesus’ bristling, bushy beard won’t be denied, and neither will the bony leg that juts out from underneath his tunic, nearly making contact with Mary’s outstretched arm. Jesus’ humanity will not be denied here, even as it is being taken up into the ethereal realm of the painted whorl of cherubim on the backdrop wall. Moreover, the visible composition of the scene itself reveals the inner spiritual reality of the event, by the particular imposition of Mary Magdalene and Mary the Mother of Jesus. That is, with the insertion of those two figures, the artist creates a perfect echo with the crucifixion, where John (to Mary Magdalene’s left here) and the two Marys are often depicted in precisely these positions and poses. The additional presence of the remaining ten disciples from the Ascension scene conflates the two, signaling both the unity of Christ’s redemptive sacrifice on the Cross and the Ascension, as well as the particular instantiation of redemption in the lives of the apostles who had fled the earlier event. The visible, then, is the key to the invisible, just as the invisible is the key to the visible; neither makes sense without the other.

This is the inner dynamic of the Ascension, and of the very redemption of Christ. Jesus did not want to remain in his visible, risen humanity on earth forever, lest men and women forget that something more remains for us; he came not to make a permanent base out of the waystation of earth, but to lead us to the more perfect homeland of heaven, drawing us through his Incarnation to share in his divinity. With the incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, the visible is now shot through with the glorious reality of heaven—where we will be in the closest spiritual presence to the invisible God—and we in turn are only drawn to that spiritual perfection in and through our bodily existence. We go to God not as angels, severed from our bodiliness, but as redeemed men and women, living a share in the life of heaven already on earth by grace. Christ’s ascension into heaven makes this reality known to us, as his reign in heaven makes his grace accessible to us.

So next time you find yourself in a muddle about the meaning of the Ascension, take a trip back in time with our nineteenth-century German friend, and let your eyes behold in faith the visibility of the invisible God.”

Love,
Matthew

May 26 – St Philip Neri, CO, Apostle of Joy & Holy Fools, 1 Cor 1:25

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-“St Philip Neri & the Virgin”, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, between 1739-1740

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-by Br Philip Neri Reese, OP

“The doorbell rang. (anachronism)

Most of the guests had already arrived. Rome’s elite filled a bustling main hall. Very powerful cardinals struggled to hear the very rich men to whom they spoke. The din died down, however, as a very pale butler (anachronism) announced the party’s very newest arrival: A man missing half his beard. “Fr. Philip Neri,” the pallid butler proclaimed.

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According to the people of Rome, the man was a living saint. According to the cultured, cultivated eyes of his onlookers, he was a lunatic. Moreover, there was no mistaking it for an accident. The famed priest had neatly trimmed his beard on one side of his face, and meticulously removed it on the other.

The rest of the night passed awkwardly, especially for the party’s host, to whom the preposterous priest assiduously attached himself until party’s-close. Upon leaving, most of the guests made two resolutions: (1) avoid that priest at all costs, and (2) never attend another party thrown by the host again. At this point you might ask yourself: Why the beard-shaving?

It would be true for me to say that God gave St. Philip Neri the gift to read souls (to see someone’s virtues and vices), and that, when the party’s host had extended him the invitation to come, St. Philip had seen immediately that the man only wanted him there so that the Roman elite would see their host standing beside a reputed saint.

But that would not be the answer.

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St. Philip Neri did not shave off half his beard and attend an A-list party simply to teach a prideful and vain man a lesson (though that it certainly did). He did it to look like a fool.

I imagine for most of us that’s an unsettling answer, but there it is. And St. Philip Neri wasn’t alone. The Church has a rich tradition of “holy fools,” men and women whose intense sanctity comes tied hand-and-foot to their extreme self-abasement. St. Simeon Salos was known to drag a dead dog behind him; St. David the Dendrite lived in a tree for three years; and St. Benedict Joseph Labre spent thirty years in a state of voluntary homelessness, sleeping among the ruins of the Colosseum in Rome.

What do we do with stories like these? What do we do with Saints like these?

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I think we’re supposed to marvel at them. Scripture says that “the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” and “the foolishness of God is wiser than men” (see 1 Cor 1:18-25). Saints such as these give us shocking and abrasive opportunities to believe it. Purely human reason, purely human prudence, cannot comprehend the actions of holy fools. In fact, even for people with the Holy Spirit’s gift of wisdom (and that includes every Christian in a state of sanctifying grace) it can be tough to make out the divine reason behind the apparent folly. But the holy fools do make clear one thing: God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, nor are his ways our ways (cf. Isaiah 55:8).

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St. Philip Neri did a lot of things we can relate to: he gave young people wholesome alternatives to the lascivious entertainment of the carnivals; he invited musicians and composers to offer their art to God; he praised cheerfulness as a far more religious temperament than solemnity. But he also did a lot of things that, on a purely human level, we cannot relate to. And that’s ok.

In fact, it might well be those things that are the most important. The holy fools thought so little of themselves – lived lives of such awe-inspiring humility – that mere human reason cannot comprehend what that would be like.

And praise God for it. Because if we cannot wrap our minds around these holy fools, how much more will God transcend our wildest dreams?”

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FNeri

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“Cheerfulness strengthens the heart and makes us persevere in a good life. Therefore the servant of God ought always to be in good spirits.” -Saint Philip Neri , CO

O holy St. Philip Neri, patron saint of joy, you who trusted Scripture’s promise that the Lord is always at hand and that we need not have anxiety about anything, in your compassion heal our worries and sorrows and lift the burdens from our hearts. We come to you as one whose heart swells with abundant love for God and all creation. Hear us, we pray, especially in this need (make your request here). Keep us safe through your loving intercession, and may the joy of the Holy Spirit which filled your heart, St. Philip, transform our lives and bring us peace. Amen.


Prayer to Know and Love Jesus

-by St. Philip Neri

“My Lord Jesus, I want to love You but You cannot trust me. If You do not help me, I will never do any good. I do not know You; I look for You but I do not find You. Come to me, O Lord. If I knew You, I would also know myself. If I have never loved You before, I want to love You truly now. I want to do Your will alone; putting no trust in myself, I hope in You, O Lord. Amen.”

Love,
Matthew

May 22 – St Rita of Cascia, (1381-1457), the bitter valley into a place of springs…

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-by Br Joseph Martin Hagan, OP

The life of St. Rita can read like a Shakespearean tragedy. As a young woman, Rita desired to enter the convent and consecrate herself to God alone, but her parents had other ideas. They arranged for Rita to marry a nobleman, Paolo, and she humbly obeyed their wishes. Sadly, her husband was an abusive, violent man who treated Rita with little dignity. Paolo, however, died a sudden death when he was ambushed and stabbed by members of a rival family. Rita was left a widow with two young sons.

At her husband’s funeral, Rita forgave his murderers and pleaded for peace between the feuding families. So strong was her family’s vendetta that she asked God to take her sons’ lives rather than allow them to commit murder. Her prayers were answered rather brutally: both of her sons died of a fatal illness before they could seek vengeance. Rita was now a widow and childless.

Returning to her childhood desire, Rita again sought to enter the local convent of Augustinian nuns; however, the nuns objected to her entrance. Many of the nuns were related to the murderers of Rita’s husband, and they were wary of inviting dissension if they accepted Rita. Before allowing her into the convent, they required the impossible of Rita: bringing peace to the rival families.

By this point in her story, we get the message: Rita, though innocent, had a tough life. Is this what made her a saint? Was her holiness merely a matter of patiently suffering the tragedies of her life? No. Surely suffering is part of every Christian’s journey with the Cross of Christ, but a saint suffers without the usual pessimism of a tragedy.

The life of St. Rita can also read as a song of hope. She met adversity with an anthem of God’s unfailing mercy. Rita did not merely endure her husband; she met his abuse with her love and kindness. She was a mercy to him, and many accounts record that by the time of his death, he had become a good, peaceful man. His violent death came not by his instigation, but by the betrayal of his trusted allies.

Her sons’ premature deaths too were a sort of mercy. No good parent desires their child’s death. And we do not know if Rita’s sons would have grown up to seek violent revenge. But what is worse: the death of the body or of the soul? Our dead bodies will be resurrected, but a dead soul in hell awaits no return. Rita’s prayers potentially saved her boys from murder and from losing their souls by attempting to fulfill their inherited vendetta.

In response to the convent’s initial rejection, Rita worked one of her greatest miracles: bringing peace to a town torn by family feuds. First, she invoked the intercession of St. Augustine, St. Nicholas, and St. John the Baptist. Then, she successfully exhorted her family to accept peace, and subsequently the rival family. For this, she received the title the Peacemaker of Cascia.

Then, as a nun, she committed herself to a life of prayer and penance. She entered into mystical union with the Crucified Christ and received a thorn in her forehead—a suffering born of love. Offering herself to God, her life was a blessing to all of Cascia, to all of the Church. Even unto today, St. Rita is invoked as the saint of the impossible.

This second reading of St. Rita’s life emphasizes an important point. Saints do not just suffer through life, waiting for it to be over. Rather, they raise a song of hope in the midst of life’s suffering. And even more, this song is not a solo but a chorus. St. Rita’s holiness was contagious, bringing others closer to God.

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To rightly praise St. Rita and her love of God, the words of Psalm 84 seem fitting:

“They are happy, whose strength is in you,
in whose hearts are the roads to Zion.
As they go through the Bitter Valley
they make it a place of springs.
The autumn rain covers it with blessings.
They walk with ever growing strength,
they will see the God of gods in Zion.”

By her intercession, may we go through the Bitter Valley of our life and make it a place of springs. May the roads to Heaven be written in our hearts, and may we travel with ever growing strength.

St. Rita, pray for us.

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Strita

Love,
Matthew

1 Cor 9:16

-by Br Alan Piper, OP

“The days of acceptable Christianity are over. The days of comfortable Catholicism are past.”

So spoke Princeton Professor Robert P. George during his address at last week’s National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC. The thesis is especially remarkable coming from George—one of America’s foremost defenders of marriage and the family, and a thinker noted for his hopefulness about the power of reason to prevail in the public square.

George is not talking about restrictions on worship. The cultural clime is not about to make it more difficult to get to Mass (at least, not directly). What he means is that the whole Gospel—in particular, the Christian teaching on marriage and the family—is no longer acceptable in public. “The Gospel of Life,” once considered tolerably retrograde, is now considered bigoted, even hateful.

The signs of a shift are numerous. Think of the lawsuits filed by Christian institutions, notably the Little Sisters of the Poor, in response to the mandates of the Affordable Care Act. Think of Mozilla’s former CEO or the two television hosts at HGTV—all three of whom apparently lost their jobs only because of previous opposition to same-sex marriage. It has recently been reported that the U.N.’s Committee Against Torture is currently trying to frame the Church’s teaching on abortion as a human rights abuse. The suggestion is that Christian sanctions against abortion are forms of torture. And one hears more and more about individuals being pressured to suppress their Christian opinions, under pain of financial and professional setback.

George is warning that Christians are increasingly liable to encounter dilemmas where previously there were none. Those who espouse the Gospel are thereby more likely to jeopardize their professional ambitions, risk familial discord, and lose friends. It is George’s suggestion that they ought to be ready to accept these losses. Otherwise, Christians are at risk of finding themselves ashamed of the Gospel.

Not that George reduces the Gospel to the Church’s teaching on sexuality. The doctrines of the Triune God, the Incarnation, the Resurrection, and the rest of the articles of the Creeds—these doctrines are absolutely central to the Gospel, but it does not therefore follow that the Church’s sexual doctrine is an unnecessary accretion. The claim of the Church is that “the Gospel of Life” is entailed in the revelation of God in Christ. It is this part of the “seamless garment” that has become intolerable to the mandarins of our society.

The solution that George proposes is for Christians to think of the present time as Good Friday: Will we stand with Jesus, or will we flee? The point is not that we should cultivate a martyrdom complex—no more than the Blessed Mother did at the foot of the cross. The point, I take it, is that Christians should recall why they got into Christianity in the first place. Are comfort and social acceptance all we really want from the absolute goodness of God in Christ? “Billy, what do you want to be when you grow up?” “I want to be comfortable!” “What do you want to be, Sally?” “Socially acceptable!”

It would also be a mistake to interpret George’s remarks as an invitation to bunker down and hole up. In the keynote address, Sean Cardinal O’Malley emphasized the centrifugal force of the Church. The Cardinal called for the Church to move from “maintenance” mode to “missionary” mode, propelled by the joy of the Resurrection. Ultimately, the focus of the Cardinal’s speech is the same as that of George’s more somber words. What’s the point of taking up one’s cross, anyway? It is Jesus, the Resurrection and the Life. This is the Gospel—woe to us if we do not preach the Gospel!

angelico9

“St Peter Preaching in the Presence of St Mark”, Fra Angelico, 1433, oil on panel, 39 x 56 cm, Museo di San Marco, Florence

Love,
Matthew

Regina Caeli – Queen of Heaven, Rejoice!!!

I have to tell a tale on Kelly.  Forgive me, my love.  We joke about this all the time!  🙂  She finds it funny, too!  Not just me.

The first time I said the words “Regina Caeli” to Kelly, she thought I meant a person named Regina, a middle-aged Italian woman, she pictured in her mind.  So it has stuck.  🙂  We also think Rosetta Stone is an angry African-American woman!  🙂  “Oh, Hell no!” -Rosetta Stone.  My mother thought Dot Com was a friend of hers named Dorothy!  Yucks galore!  🙂  The “fun” never ends at our house.  Kelly and I, to the extreme chagrin and dismay of those who love us, have very similar senses of humor.

Regina caeli

V. Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia.
R. Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia.
V. Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia.
R. Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.

V. Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia.
R. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.

Oremus. Deus, qui per resurrectionem Filii tui, Domini nostri Iesu Christi, mundum laetificare dignatus es: praesta, quaesumus; ut per eius Genetricem Virginem Mariam, perpetuae capiamus gaudia vitae. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Queen of Heaven

V. Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
R. For He whom you did merit to bear, alleluia.
V. Has risen, as he said, alleluia.
R. Pray for us to God, alleluia.
V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
R. For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.

Let us pray. O God, who gave joy to the world through the resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, grant we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

In many Christian cultures, the greeting during Eastertide is:  “He is Risen!”  The appropriate response is:  “He is truly Risen!”  In communist bloc countries, during the Cold War, it was amended for safety sake, to become:  “The Comrade is returned!”  Response, “He is truly back!”

BrHumbertKilanowski
-by Br Humbert Kilanowski, OP (Br Humbert received his doctorate in mathematics at Ohio State University prior to entering the order.)

“Throughout this Easter season, one of the most commonly said prayers is the Regina caeli, a plea to Mary, the Mother of God, to rejoice in the Lord’s Resurrection. At our Dominican House of Studies, the prayer replaces both the Angelus, normally prayed at midday to commemorate the Annunciation (the moment at which God the Son took on human flesh), and the Salve Regina (which is our last prayer in the chapel each day). Even now, a month after Easter Sunday, Mary’s role in the mystery of the Resurrection pervades our prayer life. Even the Pope’s midday addresses to the crowds at St. Peter’s Square are called the Regina caeli speeches throughout the fifty days of Easter. Mary’s own assumption, by which she was caught up into Heaven, body and soul, at the end of her life on earth, shows that she has already participated fully in this mystery, having experienced her own resurrection. This raises a curious question, then: if Mary already has a glorified body in Heaven, and constantly looks upon the face of God, leaving nothing to be desired, why are we asking her to be happy?

One can imagine that Easter Sunday morning, how the first disciples to hear of Jesus’ Resurrection from the tomb and see his risen body must have rushed to Mary to tell her the news of great joy: as a hymn version of the prayer says, “Be joyful, Mary, heavenly queen/ Your Son who died was living seen.” Could that be the event that we recall with this frequent prayer?

While not recorded in Scripture, many writers within the tradition, such as St. Ignatius of Loyola, report that the risen Christ appeared to his mother before anyone else. (Fr. Romanus Cessario, O.P., relates this in his book The Seven Joys of Mary, whose title refers to a devotion that has taken many forms, including one, called the Franciscan Crown, that developed alongside the Rosary, and the Resurrection appearance is one of the mysteries.) If Jesus is the first to tell Mary about his Resurrection, by directly appearing to her, then the words of Regina caeli are His. That would cover the initial announcement, at least, but the rest would not seem to fit: it would be awkward for Christ to refer to Himself in the third person, after all.

The context of the prayer, and the joy of the Blessed Virgin, therefore must extend beyond the historical event of Jesus’ Resurrection, as momentous as it was. Truly, hearing that her same Son—whom she raised and whom she watched as he was obedient unto death on the Cross—has been transformed to the new life of the glorified body is a cause for celebration! Yet each Christian believer also participates in Jesus’ death and resurrection, through Baptism. For as St. Paul reminds us, “Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life” (Rom 6:3-4).

In addition to participating in Jesus’ Resurrection, which causes joy for us and for Mary, we also take part in being Mary’s children spiritually. As she who knew no pains in labor when she gave birth to Christ (St. Thomas Aquinas, ST III.35.6) became the mother of the Church through the pain of standing at the foot of the Cross, when Jesus gave her to His beloved disciple (John 19:27), Mary, the mother of all believers, spreads her Paschal joy to all her children. As Cessario says, “Mary’s unspeakable joy at the Resurrection of her Son catches on contagiously, and like the Easter fire spreads rapidly throughout the whole Church.” In asking Mary to rejoice, we ask all of the Church to exult as well.

Thus, every time that we recite or sing the Regina caeli, we share in the joy of the Mother of God and in the joy of the worldwide Church, a joy that flows from not only the Resurrection of Jesus, but also from each soul born of water and the Holy Spirit. And this rejoicing continues, and reaches its perfection, beyond this life. For just as the Dominican chant of the prayer switches from resurrexit (has risen) to jam ascendit (now ascends) at the upcoming feast of the Ascension, so Mary’s happiness, and ours, also stems from Jesus’ entry into the glory of the realm beyond this one, where we hope to follow both him and his mother, body and soul.

In this Easter season, and in Mary’s month of May, let us then ask the Queen of Heaven to “pray for us to God,” as the chant concludes, so that we may rejoice with her and her divine Son for all eternity.”


-Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, The Immaculate Conception, 1767-68, oil on canvas, Prado Museum, 281 × 155 cm (110.6 × 61 in), please click on the image for greater detail.

Love,
Matthew

The Days of Socially Acceptable Christianity Are Over!

-by Robert P. George, delivered at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, 5/13/14, Wash DC

http://www.princeton.edu/admission/whatsdistinctive/facultyprofiles/george/

robert-p-george

Robert P. George, McCormick professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University and chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, delivers the “lay guest speaker” address at the 10th annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, Washington, D.C., May 13, 2014.

Ashamed of the Gospel?

“The days of socially acceptable Christianity are over. The days of comfortable Catholicism are past. It is no longer easy to be a faithful Christian, a good Catholic, an authentic witness to the truths of the Gospel. A price is demanded and must be paid. There are costs of discipleship-heavy costs, costs that are burdensome and painful to bear.

Of course, one can still safely identify oneself as a “Catholic,” and even be seen going to Mass. That is because the guardians of those norms of cultural orthodoxy that we have come to call “political correctness” do not assume that identifying as “Catholic” or going to Mass necessarily means that one actually believes what the Church teaches on issues such as marriage and sexual morality and the sanctity of human life.

And if one in fact does not believe what the Church teaches, or, for now at least, even if one does believe those teachings but is prepared to be completely silent about them, one is safe-one can still be a comfortable Catholic. In other words, a tame Catholic, a Catholic who is ashamed of the Gospel-or who is willing to act publicly as if he or she were ashamed-is still socially acceptable. But a Catholic who makes it clear that he or she is not ashamed is in for a rough go-he or she must be prepared to take risks and make sacrifices. “If,” Jesus said, “anyone wants to be my disciple, let him take up his cross and follow me.” We American Catholics, having become comfortable, had forgotten, or ignored, that timeless Gospel truth. There will be no ignoring it now.

The question we face

The question each of us today must face is this: Am I ashamed of the Gospel?  And that question opens others: Am I prepared to pay the price that will be demanded if I refuse to be ashamed, if, in other words, I am prepared to give public witness to the massive politically incorrect truths of the Gospel, truths that the mandarins of an elite culture shaped by the dogmas of expressive individualism and me-generation liberalism do not wish to hear spoken? Or, put more simply, am I willing, or am I, in the end, unwilling, to take up my cross and follow Christ?

Powerful forces and currents in our society press us to be ashamed of the Gospel-ashamed of the good, ashamed of our faith’s teachings on the sanctity of human life in all stages and conditions, ashamed of our faith’s teachings on marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife. These forces insist that the Church’s teachings are out of date, retrograde, insensitive, uncompassionate, illiberal, bigoted-even hateful. These currents bring pressure on all of us-and on young Catholics in particular-to yield to this insistence. They threaten us with consequences if we refuse to call what is good evil, and what is evil good. They command us to conform our thinking to their orthodoxy, or else say nothing at all.

Do you believe, as I believe, that every member of the human family, irrespective of age or size or stage of development or condition of dependency, is the bearer of inherent dignity and an equal right to life? Do you hold that the precious child in the womb, as a creature made in the very image and likeness of God, deserves respect and protection? Then, powerful people and institutions say, you are a misogynist-a hater of women, someone who poses a threat to people’s privacy, an enemy of women’s “reproductive freedom.” You ought to be ashamed!

Do you believe, as I believe, that the core social function of marriage is to unite a man and woman as husband and wife to be mother and father to children born of their union? Do you hold, as I hold, that the norms that shape marriage as a truly conjugal partnership are grounded in its procreative nature-its singular aptness for the project of child-rearing? Do you understand marriage as the uniquely comprehensive type of bond-comprehensive in that it unites spouses in a bodily way and not merely at the level of hearts and minds-that is oriented to and would naturally be fulfilled by their conceiving and rearing children together? Then these same forces say you are a homophobe, a bigot, someone who doesn’t believe in equality. You even represent a threat to people’s safety. You ought to be ashamed!

But, of course, what you believe, if you believe these things, is a crucial part of the Gospel. You believe the truth-in its fullness-about the dignity of the human person and the nature of marriage and sexual morality as proclaimed by the Church-our only secure source of understanding the Gospel message. So when you are invited to distance yourself from these teachings or go silent about them, when you are threatened with opprobrium or the loss of professional opportunities or social standing if you do not, you are being pressured to be ashamed of the Gospel-which means to give up faith in the Lordship of Christ and hope in the triumph of goodness, righteousness, and love in and through Him.

Heavy costs

To be a witness to the Gospel today is to make oneself a marked man or woman. It is to expose oneself to scorn and reproach. To unashamedly proclaim the Gospel in its fullness is to place in jeopardy one’s security, one’s personal aspirations and ambitions, the peace and tranquility one enjoys, one’s standing in polite society. One may in consequence of one’s public witness be discriminated against and denied educational opportunities and the prestigious credentials they may offer; one may lose valuable opportunities for employment and professional advancement; one may be excluded from worldly recognition and honors of various sorts; one’s witness may even cost one treasured friendships. It may produce familial discord and even alienation from family members. Yes, there are costs of discipleship-heavy costs.

There was a time, not long ago, when things were quite different….Biblical and natural law beliefs about morality were culturally normative; they were not challenges to cultural norms. But those days are gone. What was once normative is now regarded as heretical-the moral and cultural equivalent of treason. And so, here we are.

You see, for us, as for our faithful Evangelical friends, it is now Good Friday. The memory of Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem has faded. Yes, he had been greeted-and not long ago-by throngs of people waving palm branches and shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David.” He rode into the Jerusalem of Europe and the Jerusalem of the Americas and was proclaimed Lord and King. But all that is now in the past. Friday has come. The love affair with Jesus and his Gospel and his Church is over. Elite sectors of the cultures of Europe and North America no longer welcome his message. “Away with him,” they shout. “Give us Barabbas!”

The days of comfortable Catholicism are past

So for us there is no avoiding the question: Am I ashamed of the Gospel? Am I unwilling to stand with Christ by proclaiming His truths? Oh, things were easy on Palm Sunday. Standing with Jesus and His truths was the in thing to do. Everybody was shouting “Hosanna.” But now it’s Friday, and the days of acceptable Christianity are over. The days of comfortable Catholicism are past. Jesus is before Pilate. The crowds are shouting “crucify him.” The Lord is being led to Calvary. Jesus is being nailed to the cross.

And where are we? Where are you and I? Are we afraid to be known as his disciples? Are we ashamed of the Gospel?

Will we muster the strength, the courage, the faith to be like Mary the Mother of Jesus, and like John, the apostle whom Jesus loved, and stand faithfully at the foot of the cross? Or will we, like all the other disciples, flee in terror? Fearing to place in jeopardy the wealth we have piled up, the businesses we have built, the professional and social standing we have earned, the security and tranquility we enjoy, the opportunities for worldly advancement we cherish, the connections we have cultivated, the relationships we treasure, will we silently acquiesce to the destruction of innocent human lives or the demolition of marriage? Will we seek to “fit in,” to be accepted, to live comfortably in the new Babylon? If so, our silence will speak. Its words will be the words of Peter, warming himself by the fire: “Jesus the Nazorean? I tell you, I do not know the man.”

Perhaps I should make explicit what you have no doubt perceived as implicit in my remarks. The saving message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ includes, integrally, the teachings of His church on the profound and inherent dignity of the human person and the nature of marriage as a conjugal bond-a one-flesh union. The question of faith and fidelity that is put to us today is not in the form it was put to Peter-“surely you are you this man’s disciple”-it is, rather, do you stand for the sanctity of human life and the dignity of marriage as the union of husband and wife? These teachings are not the whole Gospel-Christianity requires much more than their affirmation. But they are integral to the Gospel-they are not optional or dispensable. To be an authentic witness to the Gospel is to proclaim these truths among the rest. The Gospel is, as St. John Paul the Great said, a Gospel of Life. And it is a Gospel of family life, too. And it is these integral dimensions of the Gospel that powerful cultural forces and currents today demand that we deny or suppress.

History is not our judge

These forces tell us that our defeat in the causes of marriage and human life are inevitable. They warn us that we are on the “wrong side of history.” They insist that we will be judged by future generations the way we today judge those who championed racial injustice in the Jim Crow South. But history does not have sides. It is an impersonal and contingent sequence of events, events that are determined in decisive ways by human deliberation, judgment, choice, and action. The future of marriage and of countless human lives can and will be determined by our judgments and choices-our willingness or unwillingness to bear faithful witness, our acts of courage or cowardice. Nor is history, or future generations, a judge invested with god-like powers to decide, much less dictate, who was right and who was wrong. The idea of a “judgment of history” is secularism’s vain, meaningless, hopeless, and pathetic attempt to devise a substitute for what the great Abrahamic traditions of faith know is the final judgment of Almighty God. History is not God. God is God. History is not our judge. God is our judge.

One day we will give an account of all we have done and failed to do. Let no one suppose that we will make this accounting to some impersonal sequence of events possessing no more power to judge than a golden calf or a carved and painted totem pole. It is before God-the God of truth, the Lord of history-that we will stand. And as we tremble in His presence it will be no use for any of us to claim that we did everything in our power to put ourselves on “the right side of history.”

One thing alone will matter: Was I a faithful witness to the Gospel? Did I do everything in my power to place myself on the side of truth? The One whose only begotten Son tells us that He, and He alone, is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” will want to know from each of us whether we sought the truth with a pure and sincere heart, whether we sought to live by the truth authentically and with integrity, and-let me say this with maximum clarity-whether we stood up for the truth, speaking it out loud and in public, bearing the costs of discipleship that are inevitably imposed on faithful witnesses to truth by cultures that turn away from God and his law. Or were we ashamed of the Gospel?

The Gospel is true. The whole Gospel is true. Its teachings about life and marriage are true-even its hardest sayings, such as Christ’s clear teaching about the indissolubility of what God has united and about the adulterous nature of any sexual relation outside that bond.

“I do not know the man”

If we deny truths of the Gospel, we really are like Peter, avowing that “I do not know the man.” If we go silent about them, we really are like the other apostles, fleeing in fear. But when we proclaim the truths of the Gospel, we really do stand at the foot of the cross with Mary the Mother of Jesus and John the disciple whom Jesus loved. We show by our faithfulness that we are notashamed of the Gospel. We prove that we are truly Jesus’s disciples, willing to take up his cross and follow him-even to Calvary.

And we bear witness by our fidelity to the greatest truth of all, namely, that the story does not end at Golgotha. Evil and death do not triumph. Yes, it is Good Friday, but the One who became like us in all things but sin conquers death to redeem us from our transgressions and give us a full share in eternal life-the divine life of the most blessed Trinity. The cross cannot defeat Him. The sepulcher cannot hold Him. His heavenly Father will not abandon Him. The psalm that begins in despair, Eloi, Eloi lama sabachtani, ends in hope and joy. Easter is coming. The crucified Christ will be raised from the dead. The chains of sin will be broken. “Oh death, where is thy victory? Oh death, where is thy sting?”

I grew up as a Catholic in a Protestant culture. The Protestants of my boyhood were what we today call Evangelicals. In those days, the religious differences between us seemed vast, though today the personal and spiritual bonds we have formed in bearing common witness to marriage and the sanctity of human life have relativized, though, of course, not eliminated, those differences. We now know that Evangelical Protestants are truly our brothers and sisters in Christ-separated from us in certain ways, to be sure, but bound together with us nevertheless in spiritual fellowship. Growing up, I admired the strength of their faith, and their willingness openly to profess it. And I loved their hymns. One of the most familiar ones contains a vital message for us Catholics today. You will recognize the first verse:

On a hill faraway, stood an old rugged cross,

The emblem of suffering and shame;

I love that old cross, where the dearest and best,

For a world of lost sinners was slain.

And the chorus goes:

I will cherish the old rugged cross,

Till my trophies at last I lay down.

I will cling to the old rugged cross,

And exchange it someday for a crown.

Yes, there’s the story. Christ must endure the sufferings of Good Friday to fulfill His salvific mission. But Easter is coming. And we, who cherish His cross, and are willing to bear His suffering and shame, will share in His glorious resurrection. We who cling to that old rugged cross will exchange it someday for a crown.

And then comes the next verse, and how perfectly it captures the attitude we must adopt, the stance we must take, the witness we must give, in these times of trial if we are to be true disciples of Jesus:

To the old rugged cross, I will ever be true,

Its shame and reproach gladly bear,

Till he calls me someday, to my home far away,

Where forever his glory I’ll share.

Yes.

And I’ll cherish that old rugged cross,

Till my trophies at last I lay down.

I will cling to the old rugged cross,

And exchange it someday for a crown.

Yes, for us Catholics and all who seek to be faithful, it’s Good Friday. We are no longer acceptable. We can no longer be comfortable. It is for us a time of trial, a time of testing by adversity. But lest we fail the test, as perhaps many will do, let us remember that Easter is coming. Jesus will vanquish sin and death. We will experience fear, just as the apostles did-that is inevitable. Like Jesus himself in Gethsemane, we would prefer not to drink this cup. We would much rather be acceptable Christians, comfortable Catholics. But our trust in Him, our hope in His Resurrection, our faith in the sovereignty of His heavenly Father can conquer fear. By the grace of Almighty God, Easter is indeed coming. Do not be ashamed of the Gospel. Never be ashamed of the Gospel.”

Rom 12:1

Sinner, hypocrite, denier of my Lord that I am, pray for me.

I am always keen for new martyrs, starting w/myself.  “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church” (Apologeticus, Chapter 50, 197 AD), Quintus Septimus Florens Tertullian.  Sometime after his conversion to the Christian faith, Tertullian left the Catholic Church in favor of Montanism.

Love,
Matthew

Summa Catechetica, "Neque enim quaero intelligere ut credam, sed credo ut intelligam." – St Anselm, "Let your religion be less of a theory, and more of a love affair." -G.K. Chesterton, "I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men and women who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, and who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it."- Bl John Henry Newman, Cong. Orat., "Encounter, not confrontation; attraction, not promotion; dialogue, not debate." -cf Pope Francis, “You will not see anyone who is really striving after his advancement who is not given to spiritual reading. And as to him who neglects it, the fact will soon be observed by his progress.” -St Athanasius, "To convert someone, go and take them by the hand and guide them." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP. 1 saint ruins ALL the cynicism in Hell & on Earth. “When we pray we talk to God; when we read God talks to us…All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection.” -St Isidore of Seville, “Also in some meditations today I earnestly asked our Lord to watch over my compositions that they might do me no harm through the enmity or imprudence of any man or my own; that He would have them as His own and employ or not employ them as He should see fit. And this I believe is heard.” -GM Hopkins, SJ, "Only God knows the good that can come about by reading one good Catholic book." — St. John Bosco, "Why don't you try explaining it to them?" – cf St Peter Canisius, SJ, Doctor of the Church, Doctor of the Catechism, "Already I was coming to appreciate that often apologetics consists of offering theological eye glasses of varying prescriptions to an inquirer. Only one prescription will give him clear sight; all the others will give him at best indistinct sight. What you want him to see—some particular truth of the Faith—will remain fuzzy to him until you come across theological eye glasses that precisely compensate for his particular defect of vision." -Karl Keating, "The more perfectly we know God, the more perfectly we love Him." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP, ST, I-II,67,6 ad 3, “But always when I was without a book, my soul would at once become disturbed, and my thoughts wandered." —St. Teresa of Avila, "Let those who think I have said too little and those who think I have said too much, forgive me; and let those who think I have said just enough thank God with me." –St. Augustine