Wednesday, November 30
Or at least, that's how I read this photo caption.
You Saw It Here First...
... if you haven't visited this blog yet, that is.
The Old Dominican Rite, being celebrated at the Angelicum (Rome).
To my two favorite Dominicans on campus: you're welcome.
With the Feast of St. Andrew, November 30, the following beautiful prayer is traditionally recited fifteen times a day until Christmas. It is a meditative prayer that helps us increase our awareness of the real focus of Christmas and helps us prepare ourselves spiritually for His coming. And asks for a Christmas present from God. Because we know: "To ask great things of God is to pay Him a great complement."
Hail and blessed be the hour and the moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary,
at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold.
In that hour vouchsafe, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires,
through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen"
"'I think one of the telling sentences in the document is the phrase that the candidate's entire life of sacred ministry must be 'animated by a gift of his whole person to the church and by an authentic pastoral charity,' ' Skylstad, the bishop of Spokane, Wash., said in an interview. 'If that becomes paramount in his ministry, even though he might have a homosexual orientation, then he can minister and he can minister celibately and chastely.'
Skylstad's comments are the opening salvo in what promises to be a wide-ranging battle within the U.S. church over the document's implementation. Bishop John M. D'Arcy of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind., said yesterday that Skylstad's interpretation is 'simply wrong' -- a rare public clash among bishops, who usually go to great lengths to preserve an image of collegiality, even when they disagree.
'I would say yes, absolutely, it does bar anyone whose sexual orientation is towards one's own sex and it's permanent,' D'Arcy said of the document. 'I don't think there's any doubt about it. ... I don't think we can fuss around with this.'"
Coming soon, to a holy card near you...
Rumors of JPII's first official miracle:
(HT: Catholic Ragemonkey)
Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, who was personal secretary to John Paul, told reporters in Rome that "there are no problems with miracles because there are many, but they have picked one because they don't need more."
Pressed further, Dziwisz added: "Maybe this I can say: they have picked (one in) France."
Tuesday, November 29
For the few women who arrive [at the abortion clinic] ambivalent or beset by guilt, Harrison's nurse has posted statistics on the exam-room mirror: One out of every four pregnant women in the U.S. chooses abortion. A third of all women in this country will have at least one abortion by the time they're 45.
"You think there's room in hell for all those women?" the nurse will ask.
If the woman remains troubled, the nurse tells her to go home and think it over.
Can that be?
Original Story Here, but it's really depressing.
Monday, November 28
Surprising on Many Levels
Today's Zenit included the following headline:
"Pontiff Tells Young Dutch How to Know Christ"
This headline is, of course, surprising on many levels:
- Apparently, there are young Dutch people
- Some quantity of them are interested in listening to the Pope
- The remarks were part of a "Youth Day" organized by the Dutch Church
I'm not sure which of the above is more impressive.
Sunday, November 27
We have been praying for the safe delivery of three children, whose mother has had many miscarriages.
--Captain Gavin Menzies, Royal Navy (retired)
Vatican Congregation Issues Document
The Vatican has issued a long-awaited document on the admission of Protestant Minsiters to the sacraments of initiation.
According to the edict, all potential converts must shave their Protestant Minister Beards. Ministers who have sported The Protestant Beard in the past may still join the Church, if they have overcome Beard tendencies for at least three years, the draft says.
"If an RCIA candidate sports the Protestant Minister Beard, or presents deep-seated Beard tendencies, his sponsor and pastor have the duty to dissuade him in conscience from proceeding towards conversion without a personal encounter with Gillette razors," it says.
"Such persons in fact find themselves in a situation that presents a significant obstacle to a correct relationship with cradle Catholics, especially those over the age of 65."
The ruling comes in response to a growing trend within the Catholic Church, where Protestant Minister Converts are believed to account for a surprisingly high percentage of Catholic authors and intellectuals.
The document makes no reference to ministers who have already converted, but only to those about to join enter RCIA. Critics have already objected that many potential converts might feel they have no choice but to lie about their facial hair preferences.
The five-page document, drafted by the Vatican's Congregration for the Discipline of the Sacraments and approved by Pope Benedict on 31 August, describes the Protestant Minister Beard as a "fashion faux pas" that cannot be justified under any circumstances.
American Catholics are divided over the new policy. "I think it is very important to emphasize the important contribution which Protestant Minister Converts have made to the Church," remarked a high-ranking EWTN official.
"While these new rules may be well-intentioned, we run the risk of undermining the many converts who still love their Minister Beards, yet have served the Church faithfully since their conversion."
The new guidelines were prompted by a 2002 incident at Divine Mercy Gifts. At that time, Italian grandmother Dolores Giordano --while looking for a novena to St. Anthony-- was scandalized to discover a large number of books which appeared to be authored by Protestant ministers. Only after much heated discussion with proprietor was a wary Giordano convinced of the tomes' Catholicity.
Red stains are seen running from the left eye of a statue of the Virgin Mary at the Vietnamese Catholic Martyrs Church in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2005. According to Anthony Nguyen, a deacon at the Church, the stains first appeared more than a week ago, but they were wiped away. The stains reappeared a week later. Visitors have been flocking to the church to see what many call 'a miracle.'(AP Photo/Rich
This turns out to be fake often enough, but then again it turns out to be of supernatural origin often enough, too.
Saturday, November 26
For more info, check out the photos at Yahoo.com. The spectacular violet Advent cope Benedict has on more than makes up for the slightly funky green chasuble we saw at the Synod Mass. I'd go as far as to say it's one of the nicest modern-style vestments I've ever seen. It's a perfect symbol of B-XVI's pontificate--ancient and uniquely new all at the same time.
BBC News has helped me make a bit more sense of Mel Gibson's forthcoming film on the Mayan Empire:
"Gibson, who will not act in the film, has said Apocalypto will focus on the life of a Mayan man, touching on "civilisations and what undermines them"."
Which can easily be interpretted in such a way as to understand how the film might fit into a sense of Christian mission by critiquing modern civilization. And it also shows how the film might appeal to the "Christian film audience" which Gibson basically created a year and a half ago.
Warning: The linked page contains a photo of The Beard.
Friday, November 25
Our friends at The Rome Report pass along this recent quote from their Bishop Robinson:
"This strikes me as language from people who profoundly do not understand gay and lesbian people ... who know next to nothing about being gay or lesbian."
Now really. For decades, people have insinuated that a shocking and alarming percentage of the Catholic priesthood and hierarchy was gay. But now, as soon as it's cool to be ecclesial and gay, suddenly no Catholic hierarch has ever even met anyone gay.
It's a given that the Church will be constantly slandered in some quarters, but I guess I'm at least asking for consistancy in the slandering.
Wednesday, November 23
Yesterday was the 42nd anniversary of the death of C.S. Lewis.
Guilty Palmarian Pleasures
We at the Shrine took a certain pleasure in following the surreal antics of everyone's favorite anti-Pope, the late "Gregory XVII" (above) of the highly schismatic Palmarian Church, who passed away in March of 2005, shortly before the real Pope John Paul the Great. Then there was silence, and some rumors that the Palmarians had elected...(jarring chord)..."Peter II" to replace crazy Greg. Then we really never heard anything else about the guy. Until now. I found a photo of him today, and I'm a bit disappointed...
Poor guy. He doesn't look too happy, and he looks like Mr. Peterson from Bob Newhart. Sure, Gregory had some truly bizarre theological opinions (he believed that Elijah and St. John lived in the eighth dimenson on the Planet of Mary), but he always looked, well, downright jolly, unlike, oh, say, dour anti-Pope Michael. I guess, after Greg went and canonized Franco, Columbus and (probably) the string section of the Madrid Philharmonic, Petey's got a lot of catching up to do. Not sure what's up with the green gloves, though. The tiara's nice, anyway.
Image Source: Cafe Press Mousepad
Have a Catholic Thanksgiving!
What exactly the connection between the turkey, the computers, and the nun is, I don't know. But it sums up Happy Thanksgiving wishes blogged by a bunch of Catholics well enough, so there you go!
Tuesday, November 22
Orpheus could lead the savage race;
And trees unrooted left their place;
Sequacious of the lyre:
But bright Cecilia rais'd the wonder high'r;
When to her organ, vocal breath was giv'n,
An angel heard, and straight appear'd
Mistaking earth for Heav'n.
~John Dryden, A Song for St. Cecilia's Day, 1687
While looking for the picture on the post below, I found this other picture on Google's image search under "Opus Dei."
This book is not worth the paper it's printed on. If the author knew anything about Opus Dei, he would know that an albino monk would never be caught dead in whatever pseudo-monastic alb this guy is wearing.
And he would be using a missal stand.
Spot an Opus Dei Infiltrator in Your Church!
This page falls under the "not true, but boy would I bask in their power if it were" catagory of Hyper-Protestant Conspiracies. (Also in this file are nearly all Jesuit conspiracy theories.)
It includes very important advice for detecting Opus Dei operatives within your very own rinky-dink church, before they destroy it with their papist plotting. Are Opus Dei operatives visiting your house of worship?
(1) "They just couldn't bring themselves to do certain things. One was to wear Protestant orange. Alone, this matter could have been overlooked, but taken with their other pro-Catholic behavior, we should have caught them. We didn't until very late."
"I always suspected little Johny might be papist. He just didn't wear orange with all the other kids. And he always borrowed his older sister's Latin book."
(2) "Go around to a Roman Catholic institution which has a big library. They may have the directory of priests on the shelf where you can browse it. See if you can find your infiltrator in past listings in the directory."
Ah, yes. "The Directory." WTF? Do they think we'll just hand The Directory over to anyone? Who are these people?
(3) "You may want to use some subterfuge. Call a priest in high authority in your area, and in the infiltrator's former area. Tell him you are Father _________ of the Jesuit Order, and you need a good man for a short assignment to pretend to be a Baptist and get some information from a Baptist church near you. Tell him you are on sabbatical from Aquinas College to do some special investigating, for the Holy Office, into several Baptist churches... "
Someone please do this! And send me the recording!
OK--There are definitely Opus Dei operatives at my Bible Believing church. Oh no! What do I do?
"Once you have a clear pattern of Roman Catholic behavior, in small matters that is, do NOT panic."
"Set them up with you in a series of anti-Roman Catholic situations where they will be seen by the world as anti-Roman Catholi ... If you get poor response after poor response to opportunities to, and situations involving, the Catholic Church, start getting really blunt and kick the Pope violently when you are in conversation with them. If they get really uncomfortable, simply confront them: 'Ask them, "Why should I believe you are not in Opus Dei? You keep failing the test, and you get uncomfortable when it is time to kick the Pope. Who are you anyway?'"
Frankly, I feel safer already.
Keep in mind, though:
"The infiltrator may loudly accuse you of being schizoid and paranoid. I had one infiltrator tell me I was an egomaniac and paranoid. Think about that a minute."
Sagrada Familia Sparks Controversy
Boy, I've never heard this one before:
The church is at the center of a brewing dispute between Barcelona's Archbishopric and the construction committee. The Sagrada Familia is formally described as an "expiatory temple." Its multimillion dollar budget is funded
entirely by tourist ticket sales and the donations of Christian believers.
Barcelona Archbishop Lluis Martinez Sistach, the committee's nominal head, wants a chunk of the money to help fund poorer parishes and the indigent.
"We are insisting that a good part of the money that is raised through tourism -- some 20 million euros (about $23.4 million) -- goes to paying the poor parishes and poor people in the city," said Father Manuel Serra, who spoke on behalf of the Archbishop's office.
"We've gotten criticism from people who ask how the church can justify so much money in donations for Sagrada Familia and tie it to the humility of the Gospel of Jesus Christ," he added.
To quote Ecclesia de Eucharistia:
47. Reading the account of the institution of the Eucharist in the Synoptic Gospels, we are struck by the simplicity and the “solemnity” with which Jesus, on the evening of the Last Supper, instituted this great sacrament. There is an episode which in some way serves as its prelude: the anointing at Bethany. A woman, whom John identifies as Mary the sister of Lazarus, pours a flask of costly ointment over Jesus' head, which provokes from the disciples – and from Judas in particular – an indignant response, as if this act, in light of the needs of the poor, represented an intolerable “waste”. But Jesus' own reaction is completely different. While in no way detracting from the duty of charity towards the needy, for whom the disciples must always show special care – “the poor you will always have with you” – he looks towards his imminent death and burial, and sees this act of anointing as an anticipation of the honour which his body will continue to merit even after his death, indissolubly bound as it is to the mystery of his person.
48. Like the woman who anointed Jesus in Bethany, the Church has feared no "extravagance”, devoting the best of her resources to expressing her wonder and adoration before the unsurpassable gift of the Eucharist.
Pope Widens Bishop's Authority in Assisi
This is interesting. I had only heard bits and pieces of what went on in Assisi.
The Pope wrote: "In the course of the centuries, the Conventual Friars and the Friars Minor, with their solicitous work and testimony have kept alive the spirit and charism of St. Francis, spreading his evangelical message of peace, fraternity and goodness throughout the world."
Until now, these churches were "directly subject" to the Franciscans' jurisdiction, added the document.
Benedict XVI considers this arrangement "useful to modify" because of "the need to carry out a more effective agreement between the activities that are undertaken both in the Basilica of St. Francis (with the Sacred Convent) as well as in the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels (and its Convent)."
From The Independent:
"Vittorio Messori, a conservative Catholic commentator, said: 'The Church has a long memory. Joseph Ratzinger has had an account to settle with the friars of Assisi since the inter-religious meeting of 1986. Now he has fixed it.'
He went on: 'Ratzinger has not forgiven the Franciscan community for the excesses of the first day of prayer of the religious leaders with [Pope John Paul II]. It was a mockery, as many said, that forced the hand of the Pope, and it was the friars who broke the agreement they had made. They went so far as to allow African animists to slaughter chickens on the altar of the basilica of Santa Chiara, and American redskins to dance in the church.'"
It's good to see some papal smackdown where it's well-deserved.
Thursday, November 17
The Mass isn't entertainment
...but I'm glad this guy did instead.
What should not be the case, insists the Nigerian cardinal, is "individuals just composing anything and singing it in church. This is not right at all -- no matter how talented the individual is. ...
"The local church should be conscious that church worship is not really the same as what we sing in a bar, or what we sing in a convention for youth. Therefore it should influence the type of instrument used, the type of music used." ...
"I will not now pronounce and say never guitar; that would be rather severe," Cardinal Arinze added. "But much of guitar music may not be suitable at all for the
Wednesday, November 16
Now That Looks Papal
Requiem aeternam. Et lux perpetua.
...is just scary and wrong.
(HT: Joseph of The OC)
Tuesday, November 15
Monday, November 14
The Shrine is MSN's number-one search result for "just past knee length dresses."
A little while ago, we received a prayer request about a couple who, after several miscarriages, is expecting twins. There may be complications with the pregnancy, so we were asked to offer our prayers for the children's health.
They are still concern with the twins as one is quite smaller then the
other as for the solo baby they believe is doing fine.However,on Thursday
they put her in the hospital and the last we heard she will be there until
she delivers.Which means she will be in the hospital till at least February
Your prayers are greatly appreciated and I thank you for your
kindness.I hope this finds you well and know that you are tucked safely
away in my prayers.
Not that random is a bad thing.
The challenger for Prime Minister of Italy is running on a platform of trans-continental pilgrimmage renewal.
From Yahoo News: Kurdish President Presents Benedict with a Gift
"Oh man, now I'm going to have to hang this thing over the Diplomatic Corp's fireplace whenever this guy visits."
Sunday, November 13
An Inquiry On the Dignity of the Episcopacy
Recently, questions have been raised in the comment box about the relevance of bishops for the structure of the Church.
The Catholic vision has consistently seen the Episcopacy as one of God's great gifts to the Church. Through it, Christ is made present to us in the sacraments, most especially His abiding presence in the Eucharist. What is more, by it, the teachings of the Paraclete are discerned. And through it, we are constituted as a Church, as a community of people in a real communion of heart and mind.
Some Selections from the Writings of St. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, A.D. +115
Epistle to the Smrnaeans
VIII. Avoid divisions, as the beginning of evil. Follow, all of you, the bishop, as Jesus Christ followed the Father; and follow the presbytery as the Apostles. Moreover reverence the deacons as the commandment of God. Let no man do aught pertaining to the Church apart from the bishop. Let that eucharist be considered valid  which is under the bishop or him to whom he commits it. Wheresoever the bishop appears, there let the people be, even as wheresoever Christ Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful apart from the bishop either to baptize  or to hold a love-feast. But whatsoever he approves, that also is well-pleasing to God, that everything which you do may be secure and valid.
Epistle to the Magnesians
XIII. Submit yourselves to the bishop and to one another, as Jesus Christ [was subject] to the Father [after the flesh], and the Apostles to Christ and the Father, that there may be union both of flesh and spirit.
Epistle to the Philadelphians
VII. For even if after the flesh some wished to lead me astray, yet the Spirit is not deceived since it is from God. For it knoweth whence it cometh and whither it goeth, and it convicts the things which are in secret. I cried aloud, when I was among you, I spake with a loud voice, with the voice of God, 'Give heed unto the bishop and the presbytery and deacons.'
Saturday, November 12
I've always preferred the phrase "Bought the Farm"
Trust me. Just read it. It's worth it.
Friday, November 11
So, I woke up this morning...
... fried some bacon, poured my orange juice, and wouldn't you know...
Cultivo una rosa blanca en junio como en enero
Para el amigo sincero que me da su mano franca.
Y para el cruel que me arranca el corazón con que vivo,
Cardo ni hortiga cultivo, cultivo una rosa blanca.
O say, can you see,
By the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd
At the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars,
Thro' the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watch'd,
Were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare,
The bombs bursting in air
Gave proof thro' the night
That our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled
Banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free
And the home of the brave.
~Francis Scott Key, 1814
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
~Lt. Col. John McCrae, 1872-1918
Thursday, November 10
UPDATE: For 'canonization' above, read 'beatification.'
Tuesday, November 8
Not to beat Rocco to the chase, but rumors abound about this coming February.
A synod is meeting in Rome. In itself, not particularly interesting... unless, that is, the synod is a meeting of traditional Anglican bishops:
Led by Archbishop Hepworth, [communion with Rome] is the way that the Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion have decided to go (and they all are meeting in a synod in Rome in February 2006 to move on with this agenda). In the UK the Forward in Faith is looking for either the establishment of a new Province in the Church of England or for acceptance by Rome as a group – or both.
The leader of the Traditional Anglican Communion recently had this to say:
(I don't remember if I've posted this already)
We have no doctrinal differences with Rome which would keep us from being in full communion with each other. The climate is brewing for the Traditional Anglican Communion to be the 27th ecclesial group accepted into communion with Rome and the first church touched by the Reformation to do so.
Shrine readers shouldn't be suprised--We predicted something to this effect last April!
In honor of my Renaissance Art exam tomorrow
Oh, Albrecht, Albrecht Dürer, du Held mit deiner Bande!
Gefuerchtet von den Boesen,
Geliebt von allen Guten, Guten.
Du Dürer Albrecht Du!
Albrecht Dürer, Albrecht Dürer riding through the glen;
Albrecht Dürer, Albrecht Dürer with his band of men.
Feared by the bad,
Loved by the good,
Albrecht Dürer, Albrecht Dürer, Albrecht Dürer!
Announcer: We apologise for this song about Dürer. It is not being sung by Anita Eckberg, but by a man crouching behind Miss Eckberg.
2 workmen remove the cutout of Anita Eckberg, and there is a man in a tux crouching behind it. He looks sheepish and walks off the stage.
~translated from the German of Monty Python's Fliegender Zirkus (1971)
Monday, November 7
I've heard little snippets of info about this here and there, and know several of the student organizers involved--the whole thing's been put together, not by the administration, but at grassroots level, and it looks to be very good. After all, the speakers and other personalities invited include Notre Dame philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre and the redoubtable Bishop Darcy of Fort Wayne-South Bend. That's a pretty darn good endorsement!
Sunday, November 6
How do homeschoolers change a lightbulb?
First, Mom checks three books on electricity out of the library, then the kids make models of light bulbs, read a biography of Thomas Edison and do a skit based on his life.
Next, everyone studies the history of lighting methods, wrapping up with dipping their own candles.
Next, everyone takes a trip to the store where they compare types of light bulbs as well as prices and figure out how much change they'll get if they buy two bulbs for $1.99 and pay with a $5 bill.
On the way home, a discussion develops over the history of money and also Abraham Lincoln, as his picture is on the $5 bill.
Finally, after building a homemade ladder out of branches dragged from the woods, the light bulb is installed.
And there is light.
Saturday, November 5
5 November 1605
But it is nonetheless the 400th anniversary of the botched Gunpowder Plot, and the fascinating geopolitics of the era, the tangled circumstances and personalities are available for your perusal at the Gunpowder Plot Society's rather handsome webpage. Check out the inimitable 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia's entry on the subject, while you're at it.
Also, the character gallery looks good. Little Georgie Henley is absolutely perfect for the part of Lucy. The write-up on Susan Pevensie is a bit...odd, though. You'll know what I mean when you see it. The only big problem I see is the actor playing Peter looks uncannily like Father Dougal McGuire. "Oh, Ted, that's mad, a talking Lion and a wardrobe where it's always winter and never Christmas. Hey, maybe Mr. Tumnus would like my joke telephone?"
Friday, November 4
Biretta tip: Mark Shea.
If only mothers could marry; if only women could be mothers.
We must ensure that mothers have no contact with children, that no one else becomes a mother, that we give mothers the cold shoulder and take all of their household's money. We have to make all mothers attend insulting sessions where psychologists and lawyers will talk down to them.
None of that is funny, because abuse is not funny: it's the destruction of a child's life.
What is also tragic, though, is the destruction of the priesthood, and of the lives of priests, a miniscule percent of whom committed vile actions--and a percent far lower than that of the average population of men. And maybe the average population of women, given the preponderance of school teacher abuse cases that have been hitting the news lately.
Image Credit: St. Crispin
Notre Dame's own Duncan Stroik is the architect of the above Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. That Shrine was the initiative of the unparalleled Archbishop Burke, now of St. Louis (formerly of La Crosse, WI, where the shrine is being constructed).
When it is finished, it will look like this:
For more information, which you really should be fascinated by, frankly, click here.
(Another contribution to the American Church brought to you, by the way, by Notre Dame.)
It is not uncommon to see discussions of the reception of communion by the divorced and re-married franed as "they are not worthy to recieve communion."
Well, and of course, they're not. But they are not unique in their unworthiness, because we are all unworthy.
The dirty secret about a "divorced and remarried Catholic" is that the phrase, as used with reference to Communion, means "remarried, despite validly being married to another."
The issue at hand, then, is not THE MAN trying to keep poor Catholics down--that is, if by "the MAN" you mean the Pope, and by "down" you mean, "excommunicate them."
A cursory reading of the Gospels is pretty clear: it's more a matter of THE GOD-MAN trying to keep cohabitating Catholics UP. Teaching on divorce is explicitly Biblical in a way that few Christian doctrines are--it is more explicit than the Trinity, frankly.
There is no such thing as a sacramentally "remarried" individual, an individual who has truly "remarried" in a way that is compatible with the Gospel, so long as the other spouse is alive. That's a core Catholic teaching, and it is absolutely not the case that this teaching, written in every Bible on earth, could change.
The divorced and remarried aren't unique in their unworthiness. But, because they are living in a consistant and irregular situation (with someone who is not their sacramental spouse), they are unique in that they for them, to recieve the sacrament in a state of prolounged cohabitation would be an additional sin. They are unique in that to recieve the Eucharist would be sinful.
Since the entire purpose of the Church is to help us grow in holiness and to avoid sin, if we ask the Church "Can married people recieve Communion," the answer will always be "no." This is not a ban, it is a description. And the Church is obliged to give precisely this description each and every time the question is asked, just as we are obliged to give the moral description "lying is sinful" each and every time that question is asked.
Trying to avoid that teaching, as the article to which I link suggests, is disingenious: it is acting like we do not believe something which we clearly believe. And for some reason, an amazing number of cradle-Catholics (converts don't have this problem) are convinced that ingenious disingenuity is somehow a virtue: "If we only look at it this way, we can act as if the teaching doesn't exist!"
But this mindset will never mark a robust approach to Catholicism, because a robust approach to living a radically-committted life in Christ isn't interested in seeing what it can get away with. That's precisely what makes it radical.
Unfortunately, it was not this one, which currently resides in the basilica's sacristy museum, but we're working on that...
Thursday, November 3
Still, the whole problem offers food for thought.
It is not always necessary to do what I suggest (especially in large families that have other matters on their budget), but it's not a bad idea when possible, and easier than people think, at least in my opinion. I've been known to be wrong before. And let's be civil in the comments boxes.
Mel Gibson's Beard, Plaid Jumpers, and Other Thoughts on Living in the World
I'm pretty sure birds were nesting in it. Really. The guy looked eerily like he was about to film a TV movie about Saddam Hussein coming out of the bunker. I don't care if you're Amish or what, that's never a good look for a gentleman.
Mel's a great guy, despite his schismatic tendencies (I do not know the present details), and he's staked a lot on his faith and the Faith. He's got a bit of an odd reputation in some circles--perhaps because of this, perhaps because of his oddball dad, which he can't be faulted for. However, the man's a movie star, a hunk, and that means the folks in the street pay attention to him. He looks like a normal, pretty clean-cut, everyday kind of guy, in his movies, when he's not kicking the crap out of the Redcoats or Uncle Claudius. So people think, hmmm, he's a Christian, this guy I could imagine myself knocking a few beers back with. Maybe this Jesus thing ain't half bad.
Now, they see Mr. Saddam Lumberjack Beard Crazy Amish Man, and think, wow, the rumors are true: the guy's gotta be nuts. Yes, that's bad judgment: it's shallow, it's silly, and it's superficial, but the world's shallow, silly, and superficial, and stealth evangelization has to sneak under the radar somehow.
We're all called to be icons of our faith to the world and preach to the masses through our lives. Sometimes shock therapy works. Sometimes you need St. Francis to go strip himself naked in the town square, or Diogenes to tell Alexander he's getting in the way of his tanning session. That's why priests and nuns wear habits, that they show themselves in their bridal garb to the world in plain view, and people see their smiling, young faces above the collar--if they look long enough--and think, they're not so different from me. That's how that works. They stick out like sore thumbs, and I wouldn't have it any other way. It's easier to spot them doing good works and charity and getting their hands dirty doling out God's grace.
With the laity, it's a bit different. We've been struggling with our role as layfolk for thirty-odd years now since Vatican II, and we'd been struggling with it for nineteen hundred years before that. What makes our current identity crisis so frustrating is our desire to show the legitimate dignity of the laity by illegitimate means--dressing up as priests, taking over clerical duties, making ourselves something we're not in the name of power. It's like women demanding to be priests--it's a huge insult to their own unique power and charism.
Let me remind you, though, that I am talking to both guys and girls here. (Oh, and allow me one superficial outburst: Guys, would it kill you to learn not to button the bottom button on your blazer?)
I don't think one could take this analogy too far, but the ostentatiousness of what might be deemed radical-traditionalist chic is, on a subconscious level, a desire to be set apart and look different from the ordinary folk around us. One runs a slight risk of false humility. (We should, in a small way, not look entirely like the world, if the world is wearing micro-minis, but there's a long way between that and jumpers). Some of my friends like to joke that they wish there was a "lay cassock," and there's something rather amusing about the idea--but the truth is, such a fictive vestment would be disastrous. We're supposed to blend in and look, well, normal. It helps not to alarm the pedestrians.
I was at St. John Cantius last night, for a beautiful and inspiring Requiem Mass full of the earthy physicality that is the great heritage of our Faith, and the crowd looked--well, they looked quite mainstream, in a good way. Not much in the way of baggy sweaters. Big families, all in their Sunday best, and not looking too Victorian, either. Mantillas, of course, but paired with clothes I wouldn't give a second glance to, otherwise, and quietly modest, too. (I even saw a few girls in pants. Fancy that.) To the man in the street, there's not a big step, subconsciously, from "big Catholic families can look normal" to "big Catholic families can be normal," or are normal, and with time, asking himself "Why aren't there more big Catholic families?"
I don't have any good answers to the modest bathing suit discussion (slowly approaching rigamarole status). I'm a guy, and we can get away with a tee shirt and trunks and have no practical experience in the matter. But looking outlandish or downright weird is not going to help things. This doesn't mean you have to follow fashion down to the minute...but also don't look like you walked off the set of a Merchant Ivory period piece. Ladies and gentlemen, try to look clean-cut and classic.
And by looking clean-cut and classic, there's also a bit of counter-culture thrown in here. Our age is one of egocentric sloppiness. Dressing up requires an explanation, and if the answer is Mass, you have a nice teachable moment. (I am a bit of a hypocrite here--if I had more time I'd wear a tie every Sunday, but I try to at least look presentable). And dressing up ourselves, such a pain in today's horrid casual-Friday universe, can remind us there's something supernatural going on on the altar, and that we are paying a visit of homage to the King of Kings.
We are, sadly, judged by our appearance. St. Francis de Sales advises in Part III, Chapter XXV of his Introduction to the Devout Life, "St. Paul desires Christian women (and he undoubtedly includes men) to adorn themselves in decent apparel with modesty and sobriety...you should avoid all dirt or untindiness. Outward purity is as it were a type of that which is within... Study to be neat, and let nothing about you be slovenly or disorderly. Adhere as far as possible to modesty and simplicity, which, doubtless are the best ornaments of beauty." (No reference to plaid jumpers.) He then goes on to say, "For my part, I would have devout people, whether men or women, always the best dressed in a group but the least pompous and affected...I would have them adorned with grace, decency, and dignity." There's a happy medium between guys in Speedos and Mel Gibson's crazy beard. Let us, with God's grace, find it. Looking normal may aid our credibility in tough situations, and it certainly won't detract from it.
Wednesday, November 2
...and some good things to know about what is probably the least-discussed of the Sacraments.
...and sensible thoughts on the celebration of Halloween.
In fact, you should just read his whole blog.
Um, just out of curiosity...
Hey, that's my diocese!
Yes, I know, I was there for only a couple of days, and you might think I let myself be too impressed by people eager to sell a visitor on the good things happening in the Twin Cities. I don’t think so. For starters, in a lot of places I visit people don’t even try to put a good face on things. The comments of clergy and lay people reflect discouragement, ranging from malaise to disaster. In the Twin Cities, among both evangelicals and Catholics, there was a contagious sense of excitement about Christian renewal and mission.(HT: Amy)
Tuesday, November 1
Before it's too late!
Happy Birthday, Cardinal!