The Immaculate is a living ideal, a pattern of life to be replicated by our external comportment, and more importantly, by our interior lives. She lives enthroned, not merely in paradise, but in the hearts and minds of those who truly love Her. In this way She is alive and active in and through us, influencing directly the choices we make as a Mother who loves and nurtures us. This we must remember every time we think of Her. Here we will find true enlightenment and our feet will be led into the way of peace (Luke 1:79) to “the summits of our desired holiness,” to peaceful rest and blissful union with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But to achieve this our thought of Her must be prayerful and profound. This is only made possible by humble meditation and prayer.
Thinking about the Immaculate
St. Maximilian Kolbe was a man who during his whole life meditated and contemplated in this fashion. He was consumed by a truth in which he believed with all his mind and heart. Often he spoke of his love and zeal for the Mother of God in terms of a “fixed ideal,” and for love of Her he wished to live, work, suffer, be consumed and die.
Now, St. Maximilian was not an idealist, not a man chasing after a dream. Nor was his ideal some abstract principle formulated by philosophers, rather it was a person, (more…)
The blog Rorate Caeli has leveled a new accusation against the authority of the Institute of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. In a recent post there, the blogger makes the accusation that the Apostolic Commissioner, Fr. Fidenzio Volpi, with the approval of Pope Francis, has engaged in the purposeful destruction of the Institute.
The latest “evidence” shown for this is Fr. Volpi’s alleged prohibition of a yearly Christmas Novena of Masses that had been offered in one of our contemplative houses for some time previously. The blogger quotes an unnamed source, which he claims to be one of our former seminarians.
Furthermore, according to this unnamed source the alleged prohibition of the novena has placed a financial burden on the community that threatens its very survival. The blogger then is careful to end the piece by exhorting his readers to pray for the poor friars, especially those in this isolated friary that has been allegedly deprived of this financial help.
Please note the following facts:
Novena of Masses
The Apostolic Commissioner of the FI has never prohibited (more…)
I have expressed my concerns about Catholic Internet culture many times before. Mostly it appears to be a problem with some bloggers, who seem to transform into a fiend returned from the dead as soon as they sit down in front of a computer. But I am of the opinion that the problem runs much deeper than just some mutant bloggers.
Now, I don’t want to generalize. I am probably just from the wrong side of the blogosphere, and aware of my own shortcomings, but where I come from this is a widespread problem. So if this does not gel with your experience just forget everything I am about to say and don’t bother to finish reading. But if, on the other hand, any of this makes any sense to you, then read to the end and assess.
In the Clutches of Interwebs
Recently in one of my classes we were commenting on the Holy Father’s Apostolic Letter, Evangelii Gaudium, where Francis criticizes the way in which the new media is sometimes used in a manipulative fashion. One of the students, a priest, commented on how some of his former parishioners caused tremendous damage to others by posting on Facebook information harmful to others under their own names. The whole parish was adversely affected. (more…)
The latest conspiracy theory concerning the resignation of Pope Benedict goes like this: a group cardinals lobbying for Cardinal Bergoglio went to Pope Benedict and convinced him to retire because they had someone, very conservative (they said), waiting in the wings to take over. It was all set, they told him. He could go in peace. But then as soon as the resignation was official they sprung Bergoglio as the real candidate. And the rest . . .
As much as this satisfies the urge to have an explanation for something one does not understand, and while those who are likely to swallow this do so in reverence to Pope Emeritus Benedict, it paints him as a real chump—basically—as an idiot. Not to mention that in collaborating in this plan he would have executed a deed that would have resulted in automatic excommunication of all involved.
Needless to say, the point is to demonize Pope Francis.
This is not “news,” my friends, it is something quite different. Let it go.
First Things just posted an excellent post by William Doino, “The Pope’s True Agenda.” It is necessary reading, because it it is a well documented piece showing that Pope Francis doesn’t fit into any of the boxes partisans wish to put him in. He is not a liberal, nor a conservative, but a Catholic. Thank God for Bill Doino’s courage.
It strikes me as a bit ironic, especially among those concerned about orthodoxy, that even as people eschew labels and generalizations, they attempt to pigeonhole Francis. I recently read a post by a well-known theologian, who while admitting he ordinarily argues against the use of labels, decided to use the tags “liberal” and “conservative” just one time in defense of Francis.
I for one, have never argued that the labels are inappropriate in the concrete because they say something real. There are liberals and conservatives who are Catholic, and attempt to bend the faith to their party. This goes on all the time, and even those who say the labels are inappropriate do it.
This is really obvious when the social teaching of the Church comes up. Both liberals and conservatives have to do a dance to get around the parts they don’t like. It is the conservatives most of all who tend to be offended by the labels because they say they are for orthodoxy. Yet the labels continue to be useful so long as peoples’ behavior does not change.
And it is not just the liberals, and conservatives. There are other partisans, as we all know, who find their own excuses for sowing division. Pope Francis is not averse to the give and take of public discourse. He has called for the “conversion of the papacy” and has said:
But he is fundamentally opposed to the sowing of discord. This is why just yesterday in an interview he said, contrary to partisan views, the recent synod was not a parliament, and that while he had no problem with the content of the discussions being the subject of news, he did not agree (as a personal opinion) that the names of who said what ought to have been released. I interpret this as meaning he did not wish to see the formation of parties fomented within the synod, or to give partisan journalists and bloggers fodder for their already loaded canons.
Lest I be misunderstood, I must say once again that for me all this really does not touch upon the question of what Catholics are obliged to believe and what they may legitimately discuss. This has much more to do with the phenomenon of the information highway. Even for those who do not read blogs, news is instantaneously and information is regularly filtered through sources who can hardly be said to be objective. (I will treat of the problem of the Internet in the next post). It seems to me that there is much more heat than light in the new information democracy, and narratives are created and repeated that are too convenient for the agendas of the creators not be be seriously questioned. In my opinion Pope Francis’ repeated warnings against ideology are entirely warranted.
Perhaps everyone should calm down and read the Encyclical of Four Hands and Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter in a prayerful and trusting way. Perhaps we need to confidently entrust Pope Francis’ ministry, which he has received from the Lord, to the Immaculate Virigin. But I believe, most importantly, that we also need to entrust our own lives to Her as well, so that at the heart of the Church we might work to build in God’s way, rather than tear down in man’s.
Today, the First Sunday in Advent, November 30, 2014, Pope Francis released a message inaugurating the Year for Consecrated Life, which will end on February 2, 2016, the Feast of the Presentation. In the message the Holy Father outlines a program for reflection and action that should be a source of renewal for individual religious and their institutes. Please support Pope Francis and all religious in this endeavor by taking the time to read his message. I offer a few reflections of my own here.
Under the title of “aims” for the year, Pope Francis encourages religious to reflect on the past, present and future. The past brings us into contact with our origins, the inspiration of our founders and the nature of our charism. The original inspiration from the Holy Spirit was a response to the signs of the times, and was a seed that continued to grow and develop. (more…)
I want to take a moment to ask for prayers for the repose of the soul of one of our earliest and most faithful tertiaries in the United States, Brother Martin, a.k.a., Alex DeMaio. He has several cousins who are also Tertiaries. Please remember his children and family in your prayers as well.
Brother Martin, was “old faithful.” A quiet man, whose presence could be counted on, early every Third Order Sunday and every Day with Mary. He was always cheerful and always kept the faith. He was always an example of what was best about our third order. He was as all franciscans ought to be: “a thoroughly Catholic and apostolic man.
I will miss the kindness and support he offered to me, personally, and I know others will as will. He was a pillar of the Institute in Connecticut.
We need your prayers as well, Brother Martin! Don’t forget us.
This is just to let those who might be interested that I am still here. I am studying for my licentiate in theology at the Angelicum and have taken a pretty heavy load. I just don’t have time or mental energy to blog right now.
Please keep me in your prayers and I will pray for all of you.
Read Kevin O’Brien’s reflections on Don Quixote. They are right up the Mary Victrix alley.
My friend Kevin O’Brien over at Waiting for Godot to Leave, has kindly given me permission to cross-post his excellent essay “Approaching what is Real: Don Quixote, God, and the Rest of Us.” I have covered the here the differences between true and ephemeral chivalry before. But it is extraordinarily important and I very much appreciate Kevin’s perspective. Reality is our friend as much as it hurts us to admit it.
As we drive around the country performing murder mystery dinner theater shows, my actress Maria Romine and I listen to audio books. We’ve lately been listening to Don Quixote, the unabridged version, read very well by George Guidall.
It’s a 40 hour long production, and we’re only about five hours into it. But we’re listening to parts that I’ve never read (my printed version is abridged).
We’ve come to the “pastoral interlude” where Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are spending time with some shepherds. We are beginning to learn that Don Quixote is not the only madman who’s a bit too idealistic for his own good. While Don Quixote has been inspired to become a knight errant, a group of well-fed suburban yuppies have been inspired to become shepherds and live out a kind of pastoral romance while not at the shopping mall.
In this interlude, we hear Don Quixote wax eloquently on the “golden age”, a mythical era of chivalry that sounds as if it is set in the Garden of Eden before the Fall. Then we hear one of the yuppies who’s living as a shepherd wax eloquently on his “lady”, the disdainful woman he’s pursuing, whose scorning of him leads literally to his death. We also hear from the pursued lady herself, and while Don Quixote bravely rushes to her defense, her own idealism – a kind of haughty virginity, a sort of smug isolationism – is as strained as the rather contrived love of the yuppie shepherds who dote on her. Their romance is not quite love and her celibacy is not quite purity.
And that’s the way we often are, even when we’re at our best. The reason this novel is brilliant is that it examines the complexities of idealism and cynicism. Don Quixote, the yuppies, their lady – all are really quite mad in a way, and yet all are following ideals – ideals that they can’t quite seem to make work in the real world. (Kind of like all of us!) And somehow everyone around them gets sucked in to the yarns they’re spinning – and yet this is not entirely a bad thing.
What does this have to do with the Faith? (more…)
That Pope Francis would have executed the synod in the manner in which he did was predictable from many things he has said over the course of his papacy, including Evangelii Gaudium, esp. 32-39. From what he says there, especially about the “conversion of the papacy,” it seems he is not adverse to critique, as long as there is ultimate unity with Peter and under Peter (cum Petro et sub Petro).
One ought to make a distinction between legitimate but respectful criticism from those who are genuinely concerned about the preservation of the deposit of faith, and the radicalizing tendencies of certain factions who will use anything to promote their own interests. One group uses Francis’ openness to sinners as an excuse to justify the unjustifiable, and the other is bent on using the synod to prove that everything since Vatican II was a mistake.
We must pray for the Holy Father, trusting in Christ, not in man. I presume Pope Francis is inspired and that it will all work out in the end. As we all know and profess, the pope is not infallible in every instance, but neither may we adopt a kind of ecclesial communion that is based only infallible pronouncements.
Ecclesial communion is sometimes difficult because the Church is not only divine, it is also human and in its humanity it is influenced spiritual powers. Pope Benedict has called that power “something in the air,” poisoning the “spiritual climate.” St. Paul called it “the prince of the power of this air” (Eph 2:2). Under its influence, the desire to know, to confirm and be certain overcomes the desire for truth. The name of truth thus becomes a tag for curiosities and self-justifications.
Archbishop Chaput said:
But even more dangerous are the purveyors of gossip who travel to Rome on a mission to prove their point. Thus, even Archbishop Chaput’s reference to the diabolical confusion of the media coverage has been used to suggest that problem was at the synod itself.
We need to invoke what Pope Benedict has called “the exorcistic power of Christianity” over the efforts to manipulate men and quicken schisms already resolved upon. Pope Benedict wrote:
We should pray for all the bishops, that the apostolic college, cum Petro et sub Petro, will be open to the Holy Spirit, and receive fruitfully all the necessary graces to guide the Church.
O, Immaculate, deliver us from the spirits of the air . . . and the airwaves.
Sorry, I had to re-post this from yesterday since the video that it was linked to did not show up in the original. I am not sure what is about, but we will find out more on the feast of Christ the King on November 23.
I am pleased to present an initiative which I fully support