Friday, July 01, 2011


Romans 12:`

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Surrender is done in an attitude of "surrender to his Creator in thanksgiving" (CCC 1078). Even, if not especially, in times of sorrow and suffering.

Jesus is taken down from the cross and given to his Mother
The body of Jesus is embraced by his Mother

Photograph of Michelangelo’s “Pietà” by Aurelio Amendola
(Michelangelo: La Dotta Mano)

Lord Jesus,
placed in the arms of your Mother, the image of our Mother the Church!
As we contemplate the figure of the Pietà
we learn devotion to the “yes” of love;
we learn surrender and acceptance,
trust and practical concern,
a tender heart which restores life and awakens joy.

Come, Holy Spirit,
guide us, as you guided Mary,
by the radiant gratuity of the love
“poured forth from God into our hearts
by the gift of your presence!"


(Way Of The Cross, 2011)

Monday, April 05, 2010

Easter is a season, not a day

Easter is here! One of the beauties of being Catholic is that nothing is only one day. Easter is a season of fifty days. It is Easter from last Saturday night to our praying evening prayer at the end of Pentecost Sunday, 23 May. Moreover, from Easter Sunday to the Sunday after Easter we are in the octave of Easter (octave meaning eight days). So, each day of the octave is much like Easter Sunday.

At the great Easter Vigil last Saturday evening those who had been preparing over this past year for the Easter sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist received these at the hands of Bishop Wester in the Cathedral.

One of the things about following Jesus Christ is that He calls us ever forward. Hence, we look forward to a new beginning (isn't this what Easter is all about anyway?), to celebrating once again the Rite of Acceptance, the rite through which those who have been inquiring about becoming Catholic are made catechumens and begin formally preparing to receive the Easter sacraments at the next vigil. Along with those who enter the catechumenate are candidates, those who already, by virtue of their own baptisms, share the Christian faith, but who seek to be in full communion with the Catholic Church, and those who were baptized Catholic, but who are not catechized and fully initiated. It is a wonderful journey, one leg of the road to destiny.

We will gather once again next Sunday, 11 April, immediately following the 11:00 AM Mass. As always, we will meet in the Our Lady of Zion chapel, which is the small prayer room, just off the cathedral, the one with the prayer candles in it, before moving over to the rectory for our session together.

As the ancient Christian Easter greeting goes: Christos anesti (i.e., He is risen)! The response to which is Alithos anesti (i.e., He is truly risen)!

Monday, March 15, 2010

"I believe what I believe is what makes me what I am"

Our discussion yesterday about the Creed, especially how it forms us, shapes us was very good. This version of the Creed, put to music by the late Rich Mullins is a nice way of engaging it. "I did not make it. No, it is making me."

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Some useful words on the spiritual disciplines

Today in our weekly precatechumenate gathering, Lara asked about why we fast. I wish had seen this lovely quote beforehand because it answers that question directly, simply, and beautifully and captures succinctly what I used a lot of words trying to say:

"A discipline won’t bring you closer to God. Only God can bring you closer to Himself. What the discipline is meant to do is to help you get yourself, your ego, out of the way so you are open to His grace." ~James Kushiner

A deep diaconal bow to Molly, from whose delightful blog, The Faith of a Convert, I gently lifted this quote.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

There really is something about Mary

One question that just about everybody who becomes Catholic asks is, who is Mary for Catholics, according to the Church? Do you pray to Mary? Do you worship Mary? Another question is about the pope being infallible. Do you believe that everything the pope says or writes is infallible, that is, absolutely and irreformably accurate? I want address all of this questions in short order. So the answers, respectively, are: Mary is the Mother of God; Yes; No; No.

More seriously, it is important to note that since the dogma of papal infallibility was formally promulgated by Pope Pius IX at the behest  of the fathers of the First Vatican Council, many would argue the papally coerced fathers of the council, there has only been one infallible teaching: Mary's bodily Assumption into heaven, which was promulgated by Pope Pius XII in 1950.

The role of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the oikumene (i.e., economy) of salvation is inarguably important because being chosen as the woman through whom the divine and eternally begotten Son became human is important, to say the least. Another Marian dogma, her Immaculate Conception, was promulgated by Pope Pius IX (Pio Nono) in 1854, some years prior to his summoning of the Vatican Council I, which was never completed. With all that it is useful to define terms. As regards God, Mary, and the Saints the terms involved are all Greek:

latria= worship
dulia= venerate
hyper-dulia= super venerate

Latria is due to God and God alone. Dulia is how we approach the Saints. Praying to the Saints is not exactly the same as asking someone else to pray for you, it is significantly more than that, but certainly stops well short of latria. Hyper-dulia is due only to Mary. It falls somewhere between latria and dulia. This status fully recognizes the unique role of our Blessed Mother in God's oikumene (=economy of salvation).

By calling Mary our Mother as well as Mater Ecclesiae (Mother of the Church), hyper-dulia takes on something of the status of the fourth commandment about honoring one's parents, falling as it does between loving God and loving neighbor. Because of her unique status, which is further set forth in the twin dogmas of her Immaculate Conception and her bodily Assumption, she is a unique mediator of God's grace.

Indeed, there's something about Mary. Of course, this can be tested by praying the rosary, by entrusting our intentions to her and seeing what happens, just as with the intercession of the saints.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Catechumenate preview

I am very excited about the text we will be using for our first year-long catechumenate, which commences with our next Rite of Election, which we will hopefully celebrate on Sunday, 25 April 2010. The book we are going to use is Ascend: The Catholic Faith For a New Generation. This lovely guide to our Catholic faith was written by two Roman Catholic deacons of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Eric Stoltz and Vince Tomkovicz. Deacon Eric a good and dear friend of mine. The video above is one that the authors produced to promote their book. So, watch it, you'll be even more excited than you are now!

In addition to using Ascend as our text, we will use lectio divina material developed in the fine Benedictine tradition by some good folks at St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota for their Seeing the Word program, which we are piloting this Lent on Fridays.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

RCIA Bibliography

Instead of just giving a bunch of titles, I have decided to narrow this document down to some works that are most useful for curious, inquisitive, and intelligent adults preparing to join or be received fully into the Church. Of course, these books also constitute a good place to start for any adult Catholic wishing to learn more about her/his faith. To further assist those interested, I have placed an asterisk by the titles of those books that, in my estimation and given the lack of time and/or resources, will yield the most benefit.

Our Text

Ascend: The Catholic Faith for a New Generation


*From Genesis to Apocalypse: Introducing the Bible, Roland J. Faley, TOR, Paulist Press (May 2005)

And God Said What?: An Introduction to Biblical Literary Forms, by Margaret Nutting Ralph, Paulist Press (January 2003)

Church History

A Concise History of the Catholic Church, Expanded and Revised edition, by Thomas Bokenkotter, Image (August 2005)

Patristic Era

*A Cloud of Witnesses: An Introductory History of the Development of Christian Doctrine to 500 AD, New Revised Edition, by David N. Bell, Cistercian Publications (October 2007)

The Fathers of the Church: An Introduction to the First Christian Teachers, Expanded Edition, by Mike Aquilina, Our Sunday Visitor (October 2006)

Faith & Suffering

Divine Providence & Human Suffering- Message of the Fathers of the Church, no. 17, edited by James Walsh, S.J. and P.G. Walsh, Michael Glazer (July 1998)

Spirituality & Prayer

Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth, by Richard Foster, HarperSanFrancisco, (October 1998)

*My Life With the Saints, by James Martin, S.J., Loyola Press (October 2007)

Opening to God: A Guide to Prayer, by Thomas H. Green, Ave Maria Press; 2nd Rev Ed edition (April 2006)

Surveys of Faith

What Is the Point of Being a Christian?, by Timothy Radcliffe, OP, Burns & Oates (January 2006).

Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense, by N.T. Wright, HarperSanFrancisco (March 2006)

*The Creed: The Apostolic Faith in Contemporary Theology, 3rd Revised Edition, by Berard Marthaler, Twenty-Third Publications (September 2007).

Introduction to Christianity, by Joseph Ratzinger, Communio Books, (November 2004).

Jesus Christ

*Jesus of Nazareth, by Pope Benedict XVI, Doubleday (May 2007)

Living Jesus: Learning the Heart of the Gospel, by Luke Timothy Johnson, HarperSanFrancisco (February 2000)

Jesus of Israel: Finding Christ in the Old Testament, by Richard Veras (February 2007)

The Shadow of the Galilean, Updated Edition, by Gerd Theissen, Fortress Press (June 2007).