Saturday, July 31, 2010

For All the Saints: Ignatius of Loyola

In Congregational Sunday School as a child, I used to sing, “Jesus loves me, yes I know, for the Bible tells me so.” Today, I have a dear friend who signs his e-mails, “If the Catholic Church teaches it, it must be true.” This moves the argument from Protestant to Catholic terms: I know what I know, not because the Bible tells me but because the Church does.

But there’s really only one thing that can convince me of the Truth, or of Jesus’s love. If I am going to be a free and reasoning human being, the only thing that tells is my experience. I want to experience Jesus as intimately as that little child in the picture.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

For All the Saints: Martha

I had “Catholic” daughters long before I was a Catholic. By some inspiration, I pushed to name our first child Martha. (Katie preferred Alicia.) Martha virtually forced the name of our second child by skipping around the living room endlessly singing the song “Marian the Librarian” from “The Music Man” in the weeks before Marian was born. So (Marian being a form of Mary) my daughters were named for sisters who waited on Our Lord after he had raised their brother from the dead, and when I became a Catholic over twenty years later, I may not have had the pedigree, but, by golly, at least my kids had the right names! If we had become the parents of a boy, I'm pretty sure he would not have been Lazarus, however. I would have opted for George.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

To Be One of Mary's Clients

I'll probably die when I least expect it. That is my sense, anyway. Death for me will come "as a thief in the night." It almost happened that way for me once already. Then again, I really have no idea.

I do know several people who are close to me who are looking death in the eyes from an illness. The dreaded cancer takes one down this road slowly and tortuously. That path may await me as well. It's the "thief in the night" once again, just in a different guise. But certainly I will die, and I won't have a say in the manner or method. What to do? I intend to go down like a Christian, but I'll need a lot of help to do so.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Because When You Leave It to the Lord, Life Fills Up with Surprises

Yesterday was my 59th birthday, and the party was impromptu. At two in the morning Wednesday, the inspiration had hit me: I would send e-mails to people I would like to see; tell them I planned to be home on Sunday from 4 to 9; and propose that they drop in, or not. There were only two rules: no gifts and leave when I tell you. I sent about 40 messages, then helped Katie get the house ready for the arrival of the Magi.

Eclectic Mix (Music for Mondays)

Over the week just past, we were plying deep waters. You see, we can't just stay in the shallows and expect to get anywhere. You have to plot a course with confidence, prayer, faith, and with the courage that you can leave the sight of land behind and still live to tell the tale.

There was Scripture 1A, then rough weather,  a hunting obsessed saint, and Scripture 1B. Then we had an obituary and a calling and scary parenting posts. And we can't forget Belloc!

Thanks to Anselm Kiefer's Palmsonntag

While my husband participated in a conference at the University of Toronto, I spent a glorious Thursday exploring as much as I could of the Art Gallery of Ontario (pictured at left), one of the largest art museums in North America.

I spent time viewing Drama and Desire, a special exhibit on visual artists who depict the performing arts. I strolled through Playing with Pictures, The Art of Victorian Photocollage. I was intrigued by a video about factory life by 32-year-old Cai Feu of Gaungzhou, China.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Because Nature Abhors A Vacuum

I found this photograph on a blog with the following caption: So Funny, So True. Maybe it's just me but I would argue that the caption should have been So Sad, So Tragic.

As a parent of three school-age children, there is plenty for me to worry about in the world. Teen "Self-Help" is not one of them. As the title for this post states, "Nature abhors a vacuum," a quote attributed to the philosopher Baruch Spinoza.

Because God Calls Us

Last weekend I had three encounters with three people that left me mulling how we manage to face our days when we come to the understanding that so much of what happens to us is beyond our control.

I met three people from three different parts of the United States. One was contending with unemployment, the next with environmental disaster and the third with war.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Because of Others Who Showed Me the Way

Guest post by Meredith Cummings

Yesterday when I woke, I didn’t realize that before day’s end, I’d be writing an obituary. Writing obits isn’t difficult. I wrote many when I worked as a journalist. Just follow the style guide: First graph – name, age, place of death, date of death; second graph – summarize primary career in one sentence. Follow with a paragraph of chronological events – marriage, survivors, those preceding in death and funeral arrangements. Simple. It takes 10 minutes.

But I was writing about someone I knew – my dear friend Gina’s mother, Olga. How does one sum up 84 years of living in 10 minutes? Even my son thought the obit was bland. “It’s boring, mom. Mrs. Fuller wasn’t boring.”

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Because the Modern Phase has Arrived

Looks like we made it all the way to the end of The Great Heresies.  We started it around the first of  June with the Introduction, and then followed along as Belloc made his way through the biggies. First, the plan and then the following in succession: Arianism; Islam; Albegensianism; and Protestantism. And this weeks selection? The final chapter, The Modern Phase.

In every chapter, Belloc has thrown heaps and heaps of history at us.  It has really been enough to make your head spin, or at least mine anyway.

More From the Treasure Chest: "Cannot" Part II

A few days ago, I found an essay written by Father George Bampfield entitled "Cannot". I posted the first part of it here. This post today is the rest of the essay.

I feel compelled to share the rest of it with you for a good reason. From some of the comments to the first post, comments which I didn't publish, it is obvious that some of you don't realize that many passages in the Bible are taken literally by the Catholic Church.

In fact, every Bible passage referred to here by Father Bampfield is the scriptural basis for the Catholic Church's teachings on each of the positions he writes about in this essay.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Because of Catholics like Hubert of Aquitane

Wait a second, isn't that what is on the label of a bottle of Jägermeister  liquer? What does that remotely have to do with being Catholic, you say? Well, let me introduce you to another Catholic saint, and all around swell guy, named Hubert of Aquitane. This is a rendition of the vision he saw while deer hunting. And yes, its on the label of a bottle of Jägermeister too.

Confessor, thirty-first Bishop of Maastricht, first Bishop of Liège, and Apostle of the Ardennes, born about 656; died at Fura (the modern Tervueren), Brabant, 30 May, 727 or 728.

Yawn, right? Yep, just another run-of-the-mill perfect saint story. Where do they come up with these guys, central casting? What happened to all the regular guy saints, like St. Peter and the rest of the crew?

Maastrict—that's in the Netherlands. Isn't that the hometown of some important treaty? Yeah, that's right. In 1992 when the European Union was formed. But that is way after Hubert's time, and nowhere near as interesting as his story.

From Hymns on Paradise (A Few Words for Wednesday)

Webster wrote a post way back in October of last year entitled Because a Tornado is Coming.  As it turned out, it was a hurricane.  See those two flags there in the photograph? That is the signal for "a hurricane is coming." Don't let the cloudless sky fool you.

We all know what has happened over the past 18 months—lots of bad stuff. Economic melt downs in 2008 - 2009, jobless recovery in 2010, societal acrimony  and unsettled general feelings and then Whammo!— more discoveries of priest abuse scandals early this year. Top it all off with the spectre of a "double-dip" recession (and all that this implies) and even the hardiest sailor would be getting queasy in this crazy gale.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Silver Bullet Selection II (Music For Mondays)

Steel Pulse is a reggae band that I don't know diddly squat about. But it's Monday, it's raining, and I like the advice these guys are giving here: Chant A Psalm A Day. It makes a whole lot of sense, which is why it's like a silver bullet.

What have you got to lose? 150 Psalms = 150 days. Some are longer than others, but I'm willing to give it a try. Not sure which ones to pick? Check out the LOTH or just do them in numerical order from your Bible. While you think about it, listen to the song.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

From the Treasure Chest: "Cannot" Part I

Every once in a while, I unearth a real jewel of a find.  You may have noticed that we are reading Hilaire Belloc's The Great Heresies in the YIMC Book Club.  The most recent chapter is about the Protestant Reformation.  Having finished my chores on Saturday afternoon, I began trolling Google Books, like a fisherman, for new selections to add to our YIM Catholic Bookshelf.

I came across this essay, and it couldn't be more timely.  Because not only does it tie in with our book club selection, but it also is an answer to the question Why I Am Catholic.  I've done a few posts in the past about how the Catholic Church is a Bible-believing Church, so this essay by Reverend G. Bampfield is a real treat.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

For Psalm 10, "The Prayer of Justice"

If you haven't taken a look at the post on the Carmelite Martyrs of Compiegne yet, have a look at the psalm of David, from which the responsorial psalm is derived from in today's Mass readings, in full below. Written by David over 3000 years ago, are you as amazed as I am at how current and relevant the words of this prayer are for us today?

Reading this makes me think that the Martyrs of Compiegne were praying this prayer when they stood accused of being "enemies of the people" a mere 216 years ago. Think about that for a second. That was just a few seconds ago on the timeline of history. Because whether  3000 years ago, 216 years ago, or even right up to today, the historical evidence of revolution far outweighs the historical evidence of human evolution. To my small mind anyway.

Friday, July 16, 2010

For All the Saints: The Carmelite Martyrs of Compiegne

Guest post by William “Mac” McCarthy
Blogging makes surprising connections. Back in the day when I was a lapsed Episcopalian and he was the rare Catholic at our New England school, Mac lived down the hall from me. Forty years later, now an attorney in Bakersfield, California, he read YIM Catholic and quickly promised me a write-up on an extraordinary group of Catholic martyrs, whom we honor on July 17.

“Permission to die, Mother?”
“Go, my daughter!”

During the French Revolution’s Reign of terror, on the evening of July 17, 1794, in Paris’s Place de la Nation, a hardened crowd waited at the guillotine for the carts carrying that day’s “batch” from the Palais de Justice. A heavy stench from the putrefying blood in the pit below the scaffold hung over the plaza. During the five weeks the guillotine had stood in the Place de la Nation, a thousand severed heads had fallen into the blood-stiffened leather bag of Sanson, the Paris executioner. The blood pit had been enlarged once already but had quickly filled up again.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

YIMC Book Club, “The Great Heresies,” Chapter 5

Another week, another pithy review of European History. I have to think that when Belloc wrote this book in 1936, he was at the height of his literary abilities. Once again there is a lot of events covered in this chapter, and once again "Old Thunder" manages to make it both educational and entertaining. And short too —now that takes skill!

 This week, we read "What Was The Reformation?"  Did you expect Belloc to  minimize the causes that led to the break-up of the Catholic Church? Well he doesn't do that, but tells it like it was.  The Church needed reforming, and he  does a great job explaining why. But he also explains what now seems to be a prophetic description of what is occurring within Protestant denominations today.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Thanksgiving (A Few Words For Wednesday)

Venerable  Cardinal John Henry Newman will become Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman later this year.  Cardinal Newman is big news for converts to Catholicism, as his "conversion to Catholicism in 1845 rocked Victorian England."

Known for his ability to write well, it turns out that he wrote poetry too. Below is a little poem on thankfulness I found while trolling the YIMC Bookshelf. It's easy to count your blessings when everything is going your way. This poem reminds us to be thankful in the midst of adversity, when the Way seems particularly arduous, as well.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Matt Maher (Music for Mondays)

Does anyone remember Webster's little secret? Well, how about Christian Contemporary music written and performed by a Catholic? No need to keep that a secret, right? But heck, I'm probably the last Catholic to ever hear of Matt Maher or his music.

Now, I first heard one of his songs on the Message, which I play whenever I'm driving my wife's car on taxi duty.  A quick search on the internet later and I learned that he is a Catholic, which really wouldn't matter if he couldn't carry a tune. But from the selections below you will hear that he can do that quite handily.

Friday, July 9, 2010

For Tips on Fatherhood from St. Benedict

As I rounded the corner and headed up the walk that leads to the entrance of the parish church, I was informed by a fellow congregant that there was a funeral going on. That snapped me out of my reverie because, sure enough, there were the hearse and the motor cycle cops, and a more than usually crowded parking lot to boot.

We both decided to do something else for lunch. I decided to share what I was reading as I was walking. I hadn't noticed what was going on because my head was buried in a little copy of The Rule of Saint Benedict that I had received from Belmont Abbey College.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Because Lebron is Not King

I had a choice tonight: to watch “Black Robe” on Netflix or the Lebron James Sweepstakes on ESPN. Where are my priorities—The story of Jesuit saints among the Hurons and Iroquois, or the King of the World, Lebron James, making the Choice that Changed the World? I went with Lebron.

Because Living in Hope Beats Living in Fear

After thirty months, I have come to the end of the biggest writing project of my life: a 200-year-history of Massachusetts General Hospital (left, in its original form, the Bulfinch Building). Tuesday, I brought the manuscript to the copy editor, all 213,000 words of it. While I have a thousand loose ends to tie up (epilogue writing, photo editing, caption writing, etc.), I have begun to scan the horizon and ask: What's next?

YIMC Bookclub, “The Great Heresies,” Chapter 4

"Why should we suffer? Why should we die?"

Ah, the eternal question. And in this chapter "The Albigensian Attack", Belloc gets to the heart of the matter of why the Incarnation came about, Christianity was founded, and why the Catholic Church exists. Because as we know, we are mere human beings. We die. And since the beginning, mankind has wanted to know "why?"

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Because I Cannot

On a wall in my house, hanging in a place where I pretty much have to see it two or three times a day for about twenty seconds, and sometimes even in the middle of the night, is a framed copy of a poem that every well-bred English-speaking schoolboy memorized a century ago, and maybe some do even today. It struck me last evening, as I was standing and waiting for nature to take its course, that this poem captures everything sad and beautiful about our modern world.

“Master of Beauty” (A Few Words for Wednesday)

I love reading poetry and at one point in my life, wrote it constantly. I still have my well-thumbed Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry from my undergraduate years at the University of Michigan. I often read it and recently wondered how many of the poets within are Catholic. John Berryman is one. Born in Oklahoma in 1914, he was raised Catholic.

I always liked his name. I tried to read his poetry the other day, but found most of it so despairing I could not. His work reflects his troubled soul. The Pulitzer Prize winning poet survived his own father's suicide when he was 12 and spent his life struggling with  depression and alcoholism. He returned to the faith of his childhood as a middle-aged man.

Sadly, Berryman ended his life in 1972 by jumping off a bridge. I thank God that Berryman found times of comfort in this world in the presence of Christ and that he left us luminous words, which speak of the struggle between faith and doubt. I particularly like this one, which he wrote toward the end of his life. He's honest about his doubts while he stands in awe of creation. The entire poem is published in his collected works. I pray for his immortal soul. 

Monday, July 5, 2010

Cistercian Chants (Music for Mondays)

It was the summer of 2008. My wife and kids headed to California to visit family. I would follow them two weeks later for a vacation too (and to ensure they came back to Tennessee with me).

So I was alone in the house for two weeks. It was quiet. When I would come home from work, I didn't turn on the television, or the radio. I ate, read, and prayed. And I did other things, like cut the yard and feed the dog, and wash the dishes. But as a freshly minted Catholic, I was enjoying the silence and using it to read Scripture, read other books, and learned to pray the LOTH.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Because Nothing Is Random

I'm nearly a half century old and launching a new career. After a working life spent in daily newspapers and then teaching at community colleges and raising sons, I am earning a master's degree in Special Education and alternate-route teaching certificates in English and in Teaching Students with Disabilities.

What's this got to do with being Catholic? Well, my faith lets me know that from the moment I entered this planet to the moment I leave it, my life is in the hands of the Almighty. He willed me and everyone else into being. So really, I have nothing to worry about as I embark on this leg of my journey.

Because of Catholics Like Raymond Lull

For the longest time, I just knew that I was too smart to be a Catholic. I mean, I wasn't a cradle Catholic, born into the Church or anything. I just figured that being born into the Church was really the only way that anyone would become a Catholic. Surely not via God-given free will, because no one with a brain would willingly submit to the Church and all those wacky "man-made" doctrines and such.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

YIMC Book Club "The Great Heresies" Chapter 3

Vienna, as we saw, was almost taken and only saved by the Christian army under the command of the King of Poland on a date that ought to be among the most famous in history: September 11, 1683.

This is one of the sentences that hit home for me in this weeks chapter "The Great and Enduring Heresy of Mohammed." There is a lot going on in this chapter, for sure. I compare it to a Cliffs Notes version of the History of Western Civilization 630AD - 1683AD. Sure, Belloc's book may not be an unbiased, footnote toting, peer-reviewed, Ivy League approved, history text book, but that really wasn't his point here.

Because of Community

Guest  post by Meredith Cummings

Community defines who we are, how we live and with whom we share our lives. But there was a time in my life, when I couldn’t wait to escape my community … the community of my childhood. I grew up in what I, at the time, viewed as a dusty, forgotten cowboy town hidden in the remote San Luis Valley of Southern Colorado. (Pictured here)  Over the years, I’d grown a lot and come to appreciate my hometown of Monte Vista … to a point. However, it took an elderly shut-in couple living in my current hometown of Noblesville, Indiana, to help me fully realize the blessings of my youth.