Monday, April 25, 2005

I told the Lord..."Don't do this to me."

There's a pretty good story by an AP reporter covering the comments that Pope Benedict made in his audience with German pilgrims this morning. Click here to read the entire article.

There are many excellent quotes in the article, but this one was my favorite:

"I was so surprised. I didn't know he was so personable," said Annette Wilkemeyer. "This is great, especially for the young."

Race for the White Cassock

Time Magazine reports a reaaally stooooopid story about how Cardinal Ratzinger began "campaigning" for the Papacy over a year ago. I think the only real campaign underway is the race between all of Ted Turner's assets to be the one that operates on the highest budget with the fewest expenditure of brain power.

On Behalf of Love

I'd like to kick off my first blog with an eloquent poem authored by St. Thomas Aquinas, the Saint which I owe my vocation primarily too.

On Behalf of Love
Every truth without exception- no matter
who makes it- is from God.
If a bird got accused of singing too early
in the morning,
if a lute began to magically play on its own
in the square
and the enchanting sounds it made drove a pair of young lovers
into a wild, public display of
if this lute and bird then got called before the inquisition
and their lives were literally at stake,
could not God walk up and say before the court,
"All acts of beauty are mine; all happen on the behalf of love."
And while God was there, testifying for our heart's desires,
hopefully the judge would be astute enough
to brave a question,
that could go,
"Dear God, you say all acts of beauty are yours;
surely we can believe that. But what of all actions
we see in this world,
for is there any force in existence greater than the power
of your omnipresent hand?"
And God might have responded, "I like that question,"
adding, "May I ask you one as well?"
And then God would say,
"Have you ever been in a conversation when children entered
the room, and you then ceased speaking because your
wisdom knew that they were not old enough
to benefit- to understand?
As exquisite is your world, most everyone in it
is spiritually young.
Spirituality is love, and love never wars with the minute, the day,
one's self and others. Love would rather die
than maim a limb,
a wing.
Dear, anything that divides man form man,
earth from sky, light and dark, one religion from another...
O, I best keep silent, I see a child
just entered the
-St. Thomas Aquinas

Sunday, April 24, 2005

A Bit of Spes for the Future

There are many things for which I am excited to see come about in the reign of Benedict XVI. Many of these things have received adequate media coverage: like the combat of relativism in the Western World, liturgical renewal, etc.

But one thing which hasn't been talked about much is the recovery and rejuvination of Latin in the Church. Now, please don't think I'm so foolish as to think Latin went away. Rome still uses it, I'm well aware. But when's the last time your pastor did? Actually, this last question probably isn't too hard to answer. In fact, I can probably answer it, not even knowing your pastor: Habemus Papam.

Fox News had for its headline that very Latin phrase when Benedict XVI was seen for the first time, on his balcony overlooking St. Peter's Square. In the past couple of weeks, the world has heard more Latin probably than in the entire previous decade. Between the three televised masses during the Papal transition period that included Litanies of the Saints, the proclamation of the Urbi et Orbi, and all the various rites and rituals that have so captured the attention of the world, phrases like "ora pro nobis" have become familiar even to members of American Protestant congregations.

Hopefully people catch on. I feel pretty confident that Benedict's pontificate will be marked by notably frequent use of this beautiful language. I think it would be a great thing for the average Catholic to recover a bit, at least enough to participate in a Latin Novus Ordo.

Something to hope for...
Sancte Hieronyme, ora pro nobis.

I return to the Seminary this evening, so I will be away for a while from my instrumento computatorio. I will try to use the computers at school to blog, but my output will diminish.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

How Do You Plead?

The small-town courtroom came to order as the judge took his seat at the bench and the defendant was charged. The teenage boy sat stone-faced in his chair, his father's team of top-notch lawyers huddled around him like a pack of bodyguards. Key words sent murmers running through the assembly: "disturbing the peace," "disrespecting an officer," "possession of drug paraphernalia." Old women clicked their tongues, impatient mothers sighed, and the young criminal's classmates even chuckled. His mother buried her face in her hands and wept, while her father consoled her and shook his head with indignation at the proceedings, occasionally leaning forward and whispering in the head defense lawyer's ear.

The witnesses came forward to give testimony and gave varied accounts of the truth.

"The problem is with kids these days. They have no respect for the law," said the Sheriff. "I'm always chasing them off street corners and out of parking lots with their darned skateboards and hackeysacks. I always said it wouldn't be long before the drugs moved in, the way they drive around playing their loud music..."

The school principal blamed the education system. "We don't get enough money to do our jobs properly," he said. "We don't have the right textbooks, and our facilities are falling apart. If these kids got a good education, they could make something of themselves." As the boy sat and listened, he cooly and furtively removed his class ring, emblazoned with the National Honor Society crest.

The boys mother choked through her tears: "His father and I try to provide well for him. We bought him a new car and always try to give him what he wants. But kids around here are restless. There's nothing for them to do, and they act out in boredom. It's no wonder they turn to drinking to have fun... it's not his fault; it's not our fault." And as further evidence that the boy's home environment was not to blame, she went on to name all of the various gaming systems, sports equipment, computer gadgets, and recreational items she and her husband had purchased for their only child.

The Mayor was next, and objected to the accusation that there was nothing to do. "We have the public park and playground," he said, "and they're open until 9 every evening! And there's the ice cream shop downtown! And the bowling alley isn't too far of a drive from here. Besides, we have new businesses moving in every day. Why, how about that Dollar Store that just opened on Main Street!?" As he was stepping down, he flashed a smile to some old ladies in the front row, who whispered giddily amongst themselves.

The psychologist stepped up and asserted: "The entire region is depressed. It has a profound effect on our young people's moods. They feel trapped, and have no good role models, no mentors, no models of success in society to emulate -" Here, the bailiff interrupted the proceedings to announce that there was a Lexus in the parking lot with its lights on. The psychologist asked if he could be excused, and left the courtroom with thirty other concerned people, including the boy's father.

The boy's best friend came to testify next. He had been with the boy at the time of the arrest. "He ain't happy at home," the friend said. "He's the only child, and his parents is always naggin' him about his grades and stuff. My mom and my step dad, they don't care. And I got 7 other kids living with me at home so I don't get lonely like he does. How can you blame him for wanting to escape and get high?" But when asked why he participated in the same activities, and what was his excuse, the friend simply shrugged: "I dont know..."

"He's a great guy," oozed the boy's girlfriend, blushing. "He even said he was going to marry me. At first, I thought he was just saying it to get me to sleep with him. But he bought me a bracelet from Tiffany's, and he promised me I was the one. He's a great guy." While the girl spoke, two other young ladies got up and left the room in an angry and tearful huff.

The boy was last to speak, but he had very little to say. The lawyers asked him why he had done it. "Why not?"

As the judge deliberated, the occupants of the room talked anxiously amongst themselves. The mother's friends consoled her as she repeated her testimony to them, begging that they see how innocent she was. The old ladies prattled on about what a nice boy he had been, and how they'd seen him at church with his parents every Christmas and Easter, and how the friend went every week. They concluded, "It just goes to show..."

The judge returned and sat enveloped in his black robe with an air of authority and power about him. "This case reveals a deeper problem in our society," he began. "This isn't just about one isolated case, but a larger epidemic of degenerative culture in the youth. It must be stopped, and quickly. Why, this young man is actually more a victim than a criminal. What has transpired here is an outrage. There ought to be a law against it..."

The judge went on to speak of his own analysis of the problem and all its possible solutions. Each listener reflected upon his or her own theories, and tuned out the jabbering old man.

Meanwhile, in the courtroom next door, a different trial was underway, and had been for some time. The defendant was stepping to the stand. He had no one to speak on his behalf, but faced His accusers alone. The odd proceedings had continued on for what seemed like an eternity, with charges having never really been brought against the man. As He looked out at the angry faces in front of Him, He listened to the words being read: "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." The man's answer was that He indeed had come to testify to the Truth.

The boy's trial was ended. The judge pounded his gavel and each one left the courtroom, affirming in his or her own heart a varied version of "the truth." The testimony next door continued on... but no one from the other case stopped in to listen.

Where's Dan Brown Now?

Of the 100 Top Selling titles listed in books at, eleven of them were written by Cardinal Ratzinger, and two by Pope John Paul II. Six of Ratzinger's are in the Top 25.

Check it out.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Neither Panzer nor Pansy

Over at Jimmy Akin's place, Michelle Arnold shares a story about a teenage boy who met our Holy Father once, and offered him a "Ratzinger Fan Club" t-shirt. It's a pretty charming story, and describes the Cardinal's gentle and amusing reaction to the gift. It will be much to the chagrin of both the ultra-conservatives and the radical liberals alike to read that the Cardinal simply beared his teeth to smile, and not to bite the boy.

I find it ironic how both extremes will be disappointed by Benedict XVI for essentially the same reason. The left want the Pope to be an extremist because in order to "bring the fight," so to speak, they need provocation. The right, on the other hand, want him to abolish all opposing ideologies because they fear that their own cannot stand the continued onslaught - a fear that is well-grounded. But Benedict XVI will undoubtedly prove the same type of Pope as he was Cardinal - passionate, pastoral, progressive, and moderate. [Aside: Sigh... oh, to must need forsake alliteration on the last word of a grouping to preserve a nuance of meaning. Would that our language were more functional...]

In media virtus stat.

The Church is not as polarized as the media is making it out to be. She safeguards the good and the true, and her place is in the middle of the extremes that have been painted by the media. It's a false dichotomy to imply that one either must be a mysogynist or a feminist, a homophobe or a gay-rights advocate, a militarist or a pacifist. It's not the first time the media has done this. Take the latter contradiction as an example, and consider the way our former Pontiff's view of the war in Iraq was misrepresented by the media. The reason is no great mystery: these polar views make for better news headlines. A front page column runs longer than the Just War Doctrine, with all of its theological and philosophical development and theory. We live, after all, in the society of Cliffs Notes and Shakespeare for Dummies. We "translate" works already written in English so that they may be "understood" - as if our understanding doesn't depend at least somewhat on the original words and sounds, rhymes and rhythms of the author. Have It Your Way is the long-standing slogan of Burger King; but America sees the same deferential attitude across the boards from anyone providing for our needs, from the news-media to our politicians. But not from the Church. Not from Cardinal Ratzinger. Not from Pope Benedict XVI.

Our Holy Father will be what the Holy Spirit wants him to be, and if that coincides with others' expectations, be they those of CNN or of Opus Dei, that simply means that those expectations have conformed to the Will of God - not vice-versa. Las Vegas gave good odds to Cardinal Ratzinger winning the election, but the Cardinals were in a media blackout and weren't influenced in Conclave by information coming through on a ticker via cellular phone. Let the media and all its junkies fly from one extreme to the other; let them judge conservatism and liberalism by their own fluctuating standards; let them try to find their way through these troubled times with maps that are nothing more than legends. Christ is the Way, and that Way is the same yesterday, today and forever. And it is to Christ, along the middle path of virtue, that Benedict XVI will lead his flock - and those who seek Christ will follow.

Words of Welcome

This message serves as the official introduction and welcome to my new associate blogger on Veritatis Visio, Giuseppe. On here, he will go by "Joey E." Joey is a classmate of mine in the seminary, and we're pretty like-minded about most things, so we decided that collaborating on a blog wouldn't be too difficult. We have signed a "prenub" agreement, though, just in case things get hairy.

Anyway, welcome to Giuseppe! I'm sure he'll be very happy here.

In other news, here's some funny stuff.

And more.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Think ye that I have come to give peace in the earth?

"Think ye that I have come to give peace in the earth? Nay, I say to you, but rather division: for from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided; three shall be divided against two, and two against three: father against son, and son against father; mother against daughter, and daughter against mother; a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."
Luke 12:51-53

From an associated press article:
"I would have preferred a more moderate choice," said Barbara Bowen, 56, a self-described "lapsed Catholic" from New York who was visiting Los Angeles and hurried over to the downtown Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels when its bells began ringing.

"I was personally looking for someone who would approve the ordination of women - that would be nice and progressive," Bowen said.

And from another:
"He could be a wedge rather than a unifier for the church," said the Rev. Thomas Reese, editor of the Jesuit weekly magazine America.

Evelyn Strauch, a 54-year-old housewife from Ratzinger's home state of Bavaria, buried her head in her hands and wept as she stood in St. Peter's.

"This can't be true," she said. "I had hoped so much that we would get a good pope who would do something for women. ... This is so terrible."

Mark Wunsch, 27, a religious philosophy student from Denver, was elated.

"The cardinals elected a good and holy man who was close to Pope John Paul II," he said. "He'll be a wonderful and good leader in preaching the truth and love."

And a CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll shows that 74% of American Catholics are "more likely to follow their own conscience on "difficult moral questions," rather than the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI."

As for me...

I'll be singing the "Te Deum" loudly for the next few days and my face will be sore from grinning. The election of Benedict XVI sends a powerful message to the world that the mind of the Church is not concerned with conformity and with politics, but with the preaching of the Word. Cardinal Ratzinger's work over the years has shown an uncompromising focus on this task, and to that end he will be an excellent shepherd for the flock.

I once heard a homily by a priest who was interested in an anthropological and historical approach to reading scripture. While I'm critical of the so-called historical-critical method myself, I found this homily to be very enlightening as it pertained to the parable of the "Good Shepherd." He said that a shepherd in the time of Christ, when a young sheep would wander from the fold, would often smack the knees of the sheep with his staff, and then sling the lamed animal over his shoulders and carry it back. This both prevented the sheep from kicking him in objection to its transport, and also served to sternly admonish the creature to abandon its tendency to wander from the fold.

This image is not necessarily at conflict with our other common views of the Good Shepherd, though it may appear as such on the surface. The fact is that God loves us and sometimes with a "tough love." The God of the Old Testament is the very same God found manifest in the flesh through the person of Jesus Christ, and hence He continued to give correction for His holy people when they stray from keeping the covenant.

To those who fear that Benedict XVI will cause divisions: adopt the attitude of our former pontiff, and be not afraid. Divisions there will be: the fat will be trimmed, the winnowing fan turned against the chaff, the cream skimmed from the top, and the sheep separated from the goats. The lukewarm, who are most displeasing to Christ, will be given further impetus to adopt a firm position, be it hot or cold. But wide and broad as the tumultuous waters may become, and Holy Spirit shall hover over all with His "ah, bright wings," imposing order on the chaos, bringing forth forms from the voids, and breathing life into the Church in the new millenium.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Cute picture

Sorry I haven't blogged lately. I will try to get back in the game soon. It's been hectic.

I had to put this up, though. My sister's son has learned to "pray" with his mom and dad before meals now:

Hah. I love that little guy.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

The Doors Flung Open

"Brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to welcome Christ and accept his power ... Open wide the doors for Christ."
-words from Pope John Paul II's installation homily, 22 OCT 78

©"L'Osservatore Romano"
Photo from the book John Paul II: A Light for the World.

I lie prostrate in the dust;
give me life in accord with your word.
I disclosed my ways and you answered me;
teach me your laws.
Make me understand the way of your precepts;
I will ponder your wondrous deeds.
I weep in bitter pain;
in accord with your word to strengthen me.
Lead me from the way of deceit;
favor me with your teaching.
The way of loyalty I have chosen;
I have set your edicts before me.
I cling to your decrees, LORD;
do not let me come to shame.
I will run the way of your commands,
for you open my docile heart.
Psalm 119:25-32
(Scripture requested by His Holiness as he lay dying on the morning of April 1)

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Con Te

©"L'Osservatore Romano"
Photo from the book John Paul II: A Light for the World.
As dawn broke over [St. Peter's] square, the crowd was considerably diminished, with a group of about 100 faithful continuing their vigil from overnight. They huddled around a message, written with prayer candles placed on the ground, that read "con te," Italian for "with you."
- AP source

"With you." Sometimes, the media catches something truly brilliant, and this is one of those cases. What a beautiful image to contemplate - pilgrims camped out in St. Peter's square praying in solidarity with the man who has meant so much to their faith, to their lives, and to the world. The news is replete with stories of what the Pope has done in his 85 years, especially the latter score during his Pontificate. I ought not bother with these stories, about the fall of communism and the role he played in taming Fidel Castro. They're well-covered by the press, and besides, I wasn't even born until the fourth year of John Paul II's reign; my only real memories are of the latter half of his papacy.

But apart from those earth-shattering tales, the stuff of encyclopedias and almanacs, I have my own stories... and I think my type are the ones that matter most. They are the stories of the average Catholic who, somehow, has been touched to the core of his being by this travelling Pope: by this great man who rose from simplicity and brought himself into the lives of countless people, faithful or not: this man who broke down barriers of class, race, language, and even stone.

Certainly the Pope's example has been a profound influence on my own vocational journey. He's inspired me with a love for the Eucharist, and a desire to consecrate my heart to Jesus through Mary, the Mediatrix of all graces. His "theology of the body" has shed a light on celibacy that has enabled me (at least intellectually) to perceive therein a gift, a unique blessing for one called to receive it. John Paul II's unwavering moral stances have inspired me with courage to defend my faith; his apologetic humility in echumenism has helped to cool my Irish blood on more than one occasion; his dexterity in a dozen languages has brought blood to my cheeks when I've complained in Spanish class about the difficulty of the material. Karol Wojtyla has given me a reason to be proud of my Polish last name - a pride that the combined force of every ethnic joke ever told can never dent. For no matter how many Poles it may take to screw in a lightbulb, it only took one Pole in particular to illuminate the lives of billions.

I commend the Holy Father to God in my prayer tonight, and pledge my own thoughts and prayers in the upcoming days that the will of God be brought to bear gently and mercifully in the life of the Pope. Siamo con te, Papa. We are with you. As you are with us. Be not afraid.

Friday, April 01, 2005

The Signs of the Times

Here's a link from Jimmy Akin's blog that details the signals the Vatican might use in order to announce to the faithful that the Pope has died. I've been trying to find information about the conclave, etc., by digging through my bookmarks, but all of the sources I would normally turn to are practically shut down due to high traffic at this time (as would be expected). I think that it's safe to say the announcement will be official and unmistakeable, coming from the Carmelengo, and we could probably expect to hear from Ratzinger not too long afterwards. If my memory serves, that's followed by a novena of mourning days during which no real activity is undertaken in terms of progress forward - in fact, for all intensive purposes, the Vatican becomes "frozen" during that time. Then, the Cardinals will be invited to Conclave, which convenes between 15 and 20 days after the death of the pontiff.

Wherever the Church is headed, the best anyone can do now is pray, and have hope and faith in the Holy Spirit's guidance in the upcoming days.

UPDATE - 4/1/05 - 2350 hrs

This article from Zenit might put at ease those people anxiously watching for lights to be put out in a window or some such thing. When the moment comes, it will be clear and definitive. A few excerpts:
Media speculations prematurely announcing John Paul II's death surprised the Pope's vicar for the diocese of Rome.

As specificed by the apostolic constitution "Universi Dominici Gregis," promulgated by John Paul II in 1996, the Pope's vicar for the diocese of Rome is to announce the Holy Father's death to the Roman people with a special notification, and will prescribe the intercessory prayers that must be recited in churches.

Before the official notification is announced, the Pope's death must be officially confirmed by the chamberlain of the Holy Roman Church. The current chamberlain is Cardinal Eduardo Martínez Somalo.

The chamberlain, who may be assisted by the medical staff, will be introduced into the Pope's apartments by the prefect of the Pontifical Household, who is at present Archbishop James Harvey.
Cardinal Camillo Ruini is the appointed vicar mentioned by the article whose job it will be to provide the official notification in the square.

Pope John Paul II suffers septic shock

Despite an AP report that the Pope had suffered "heart failure," CNN reports Vatican spokesman Navarro-Valls denying a heart attack, saying instead that John Paul II suffered "cardiocirculatory collapse and shock." This condition, from all that I've been able to learn about it since this story was reported about an hour ago, can be very serious.

If you're wandering through and reading this, please: PRAY!

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, miserere famulo tuo Pontifici nostro Juano Paulo, et dirige eum secundum tuam clementiam in viam salutis aeternae: ut, te donante, tibi placita cupiat et tota virtute perficiat. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Almighty and everlasting God, have mercy upon Thy servant John Paul, our Supreme Pontiff, and direct him according to Thy loving kindness in the way of eternal salvation; that, of Thy gift, he may ever desire that which is pleasing unto Thee and may accomplish it with all his might. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
UPDATE - 4/1/05 - Noon

The Pope is suffering significant renal and heart failure. (Click here)
It is a sad day for the Church - and for the world. Yet there is always hope. It seems the Pope is resigned to return home to the Father. But he's taken actions to prepare the Church for moving forward into her future. It seems almost impossible that God could give us a new vicar as loving and beautiful as this man has been for God's holy people. But we're coming up to Divine Mercy Sunday when we celebrate the unfathomable depth of God's mercy and love. We must face the future with confidence and faith - just as Pope John Paul II is facing his future, immediate or remote.