Monday, April 30, 2007
Thus begins the Pastoral Constition on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes, promulgated by His Holiness, Pope Paul VI.
As I was reading this, certain words, 'community composed of men' and 'United in Christ' which I have taken the liberty of highlighting in red, struck me as I pondered the tangled fates that lie balanced on the point of a sword.
What the heck am I talking about? It is this. There is a possibility that Man United will face Chelsea in 3 cup deciding ties, the FA Cup (both are finalists), the League Championship (Man U leads Chelsea by 5 points with 3 games remaining with a potential title decider at Stamford Bridge) and the Champions League (they'll meet in the final if Chelsea beats Liverpool and United beat AC Milan).
Why am I talking about this? Well, Holy Mother Church has said that "The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, ... , these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ." The battle between United and Chelsea has certainly given rise to many joys and hopes, not to mention griefs and anxieties of many men of this age and this then concerns the Church.
As I watched the fortunes of both teams hang in the balance last Saturday as United were trailing Everton 0-2 away and Chelsea were leading Bolton 2-1 at home, I was thinking to myself, wow, we could lose all three cups to Chelsea. Wouldn't that be crappy. After the Roma win, fans started to talk about the Treble but at that moment, I was thinking that we could lose it all. But, as usual, the Good Lord came through and United won 4-2(as I predicted) and Chelsea drew which gave United a 5 point lead with 3 matches to go.
It's a bit early for Treble talk if you ask me, but hey, we all know that although Our Lady is a Blues fan, Jesus is a Red through and through, and he's calling the shots. There's even some evidence, as the picture to the right shows, that Blessed Virgin too is a Red underneath and that blue is merely a cover. United in Christ, that's what Gaudium et Spes says and let is be our call too. So, Chelsea fans out there, you'd better give up your Novena to St. Jude as I think I can smell a Treble in the air =) Just a little hope that will bring boundless joy.
United in Christ!
Sorry for the digression. Now, back to your regular programming.
Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow -
Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
We Stand For God
Holy God We Praise Thy Name
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Hail Holy Queen Enthroned Above
O Esca Viatorum
Ave Verum Corpus
O Salutaris Hostia & Tantum Ergo
You Are Worthy of My Praise
I Stand in Awe of You
Gentle Woman/Hail Mary
Jesus, Lover of My Soul
I now tag Mr. Smith, Mark of Ireland, Shellie of Profound Gratitude, Danny of Prodigal Son, Mrs. Jackie Parkes of Catholic Mom of 10 and Mac of Mulier Fortis. Cheers.
Friday, April 27, 2007
Now, those who know me know what a mess my books are in, piled all around the place and on the bed, so much so that I sleep on the couch. I used to move the books to the couch when I sleep and move them again when I wake up. Afterwards, I just gave up and let the books sleep.
I don't read in an organized manner. I'll read multiple books at once depending on what catches my fancy. I might then lay it down again and for days before picking it up and finishing it in one seating.
Here's some of what I'm mainly reading now.
I'm re-reading George RR Martin's epic series, A Song of Ice and Fire whilst waiting for the fifth instalment, A Dance with Dragons, to be finished so I can keep track of the many characters and complex plot lines when the book comes out. Waiting for this book to come out is like waiting for the motu proprio. You know its there, but you wait and wait and one date after another goes by but still, bupkus.
Anyway, A Song of Ice and Fire is the only book I've read so far that warrants the claim of coming close to Tolkien's epic Lord of the Rings. Martin is truly a master story teller, bearing the reader to distant lands and wondrous scapes with his use of words. A true delight to read. My first time, I read it through the night and went all sleepy to the office =)
I'm still plonking through Jaroslav Pelikan's magnum opus, The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine. I'm currently reading Volume 4: Reformation of Church and Dogma (1300-1700). In volume 4, he traces the origins of the reformation, introduces the major players and delineates the causes if the Lutheran revolt which was soon taken up by the Calvinists and the response, or rather lack of it, on the part of the Church. ll the major players and ideas are there. Read it.
Another big series I'm reading is NT Wright's, the evangelical Anglican Bishop of Durham's Christian Origins and the Question of God. Currently, I'm reading volume 1, the New Testament and the People of God. NT Wright is a leading evangelical and Bishop in the Church of England. He's also one of the foremost scholars of the New Testament today. I enjoyed his earlier book on St. Paul title 'What St. Paul Really Said". He's a follower of EP Sanders and the New Perspective on Paul school of thought and one of it's most articulate and brilliant proponents.
Judgement & Justification In Early Judaism And The Apostle Paul. This book by Chris van Landringham is interesting. The New Perspective on Paul folks propose that initial entrance into God's covenant was by grace alone while staying within that covenant is synergistic and obedient works done under grace keeps one in the covenant. Reformed Protestants have disputed EP Sanders' contention that works play a part in the final salvation. Van Landringham however challenges the grace part and posits that in Paul's thinking, as in early Judaism, works and how one lived his life, is the criteria of final salvation at the last judgement. His thesis challenges the Reformed understanding of Paul and should he prove to be right, then Protestantism's 2nd pillar will be shaken to the core, and should tumble. Good read. If you likes Not By Faith Alone, this book proves a great follow up which explores all the relevant texts in the context and understanding of early Judaism.
Genesis by John J Scullion. Scullion uses a historical-critical approach that I really don't like, but as I'm currently teaching a bible study on Salvation History and we're going into God's covenant with Noah, some background study is needed although I think the Priestly, Yahwish, Elohist and Deuteronomic sources posited by this theory unnecessary. He gives his own translation of the texts and his opposing interpretations give me another perspective from a liberal point of view rather than the orthodox one that I'm used to.
A Priest Forever: The Life of Fr. Eugene Hamilton. Great book and a very moving account of Fr. Eugene Hamilton's call resulting in his ordination hours before his death after the intervention of Cardinal O'Connor, Bishop (Now Military Archbishop) O'Brien, Pio Cardinal Laghi, Prefect of Catholic Education and Pope John Paul II himself. He never functioned as a priest but in God's eyes, he is still a priest forever. This book underscores the reality that is affected by ordination and serves to undermine the culture that associates functionalism with the priesthood, rather than the priest's mystical union with the person of Christ as an alter Christus.
I'm also going through John Gospel using the excellent Ignatius Study Bible's RSV text and commentary. The scripture course I'm going through now is on John so i have to study it. It has always been my favourite Gospel because it is so deep and spiritual. My favourite signs
And blogs...lots and lots of blogs!
I now tag Darth Binky aka Mark of Exsurge Domine, Archistrategos of Ecce Ego, Quia Vocasti Me, Danny Donellan of Prodigal Son, Paul of Deo Juvante and Fr. Daren Zehnle of Servant and Steward. Do drop me a comment to let me know when you're done.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
The transfer of responsibilities has taken up most of my office time, so I can't find the time to post.
Do keep me in your prayers as I take up this new challenge.
And rest assured, more new and exciting posts are in the pipeline and will be up as soon as I have the time. And if you have time on your hands, do consider voting for this blog or other great Catholic blogs in the religion category for the Bloggers Choice Awards.
If you feel like it, click on this link to register or if you have already registered, just click on this link to log in. To vote for this blog, click on the graphic below.
The Catholic blogs are currently dominating. Let's try too keep it that way.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
What does it mean to be incorrupt? Who are the incorruptibles?
From the earliest days of the Church, the bodies of some saints were preserved incorrupt by God, as a sign of His favour, a testimony to the holiness of the person and a promise of the Resurrection to come, the Resurrection of the body which we profess in the Creed. The preservation of some of these is remarkable, a miracle, seeing that in some cases, the clothes have rotted off them or bodies they were buried with have turned to dust but they remain supple and incorrupt and free from decay.
In this post, I'm going to highlight some of the best known incorruptibles.
St. Bernadette Soubirous
St. Bernadette is the great grandmommy of all the incorruptibles and by far, the most famous.
To the amazement of all present, Bernadette appeared exactly as she had been on the day of her death. The body was completely intact and no smell or other trace of corruption was seen on the little body in the coffin. Doctor Jourdan, the surgeon who was present for the exhumation, has left a written record in the Community archives describing what occurred:
"The coffin was opened in the presence of the Bishop of Nevers, the mayors of the town several canons and ourselves. We noticed no smell. The body was clothed in the habit of Bernadette's order. The habit was damp. Only the face, hands and forearms were uncovered. The head was tilted to the left. The face was dull white. The mouth was open slightly and it could be seen that the teeth were still in place. The hands, which were crossed upon the breast, were perfectly preserved, as were the nails. The hands still held a rusting Rosary. The veins on the forearms stood out."
After the identification, the Sisters washed the body and dressed it in a fresh habit. It was then placed in a new coffin lined with white silk, and lowered back into the tomb.
In August 1913, Pope Pius X authorized the introduction of the Cause for Canonization and Bernadette could now be given the title 'Venerable'. This meant that her body had to be exhumed once again. This process was however interrupted by the First World War, and the body wasn’t re-exhumed until April 1919. The process was the same as before - as were the results. The body remained intact.
In November 1923, the Pope announced the authenticity of Bernadette's virtues and her beatification could finally proceed. Consequently, a third exhumation was needed. This time, relics were to be taken from the body and sent to Rome, Lourdes and to Houses of the Sisters of Nevers throughout the world.
On April 18, 1925, this third exhumation took place. Bernadette had then been dead more than forty six years. Yet, her body remained completely incorrupt. Dr. Talon, the surgeon who removed the relics, later wrote a report about this exhumation, for a medical journal, in which he described his amazement at the perfect preservation of the skeleton and the muscles in particular, as well as the liver which - he stated - should have deteriorated entirely very soon after death, and concluded that "this doesn't seem to be a natural phenomenon".
At the exhumation, it was noted that a small portion of the skin on the face had discolored slightly, due probably to the washing the body had received and its exposure to the organisms of the air. Consequently, it was decided to cover the face and hands with light wax masks. The firm of Pierre Imans in Paris was contacted, and they agreed to make the necessary masks.
On June 14, 1925, Pope Pius XI declared Bernadette 'Blessed', which meant that her relics could now be exposed for public veneration. A workshop in Lyons was subsequently commissioned to make a beautiful reliquary of silver, gilt and crystal for the body.
But St. Bernadette is by no means the only incorruptible. Let's look at a more ancient one.
Saint Zita (c. 1212 - 27 April 1272) is the patron saint of maids and domestic servants. She is also appealed to in order to help find lost keys.
She was born in Tuscany, Italy, in the village of Monsagrati, not far from Lucca where, at the age of 12, she became a servant in the Fatinelli household. For a long time, she was unjustly despised, overburdened, reviled, and often beaten by her employers and fellow servants for her hard work and obvious goodness. The incessant ill-usage, however, was powerless to deprive her of her inward peace, her love of those who wronged her, and her respect for her employers. By this meek and humble self-restraint, Zita at last succeeded in overcoming the malice of her fellow-servants and her employers, so much so that she was placed in charge of all the affairs of the house. Her faith had enabled her to persevere against their abuse, and her constant piety gradually moved the family to a religious awakening.
Her body was found entire in 1580 and is kept with great respect in St. Frigidian's church, richly enshrined; her face and hands are exposed naked to view through a crystal glass. Pope Leo X granted an office in her honour. The city of Lucca pays a singular veneration to her memory.
The solemn decree of her beatification was published by Innocent XII in 1696, with the confirmation of her immemorial veneration.
1580! How cool is that? Now, let's look at some familiar faces, some old friends we pray to each day. We'll look at St. John Mary Vianney, the Cure of Ars and patron of parish priests and St. Vincent de Paul, the Apostle of Charity.
St. Vincent de Paul
Returning by sea from a journey to Marseilles in 1605, he was captured by Turkish pirates who took him to Tunis, where he was sold as a slave. Two years later he managed to escape together with his master, a renegade whom he had converted to Christianity.
After returning to France, he served as parish priest near Paris where he founded several organizations to help the poor, nurse the sick, finding jobs for the unemployed, etc.
Vincent de Paul died in Paris in 1660. In 1737 he was canonized by Pope Clement XII.
He was almost eighty years old when he died in Paris, in 1660. His body was found to be incorrupt fifty years after his death.
St. Vincent is called the Apostle of Organized Charity. His remains now rest in a reliquary in the chapel of the Vincentian Fathers in Paris. His still incorrupt heart is enclosed on the altar of his shrine in the motherhouse of the Sisters of Charity in Paris.
St. John Mary Vianney, the Cure of Ars
Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney was born in 1786 as the son of a poor farmer in the village of Dardilly, France. During his childhood he worked as a shepherd and didn't get any education until he was 20 years old.
John had always felt a call to the priesthood. His eventual entry into the seminary, especially the study of Latin, however proved to be very difficult and he twice failed his examination before finally being ordained as a priest in 1815. Thought to be incompetent, John was placed under the direction of another priest in the neighboring village. After the death of this priest in 1818, John was transferred to the remote tiny village of Ars to be the parish priest.
Here he lived a very ascetic life, ate the simplest food, wore old clothing and only slept two hours each night on a hard bed. The number of parishioners grew rapidly, as the word spread that this holy man could see into people's souls. People began coming to him from other parishes, then from all parts of France, and finally from other countries. Throughout France and the Christian world he soon became known as the "Cure d'Ars" (the Cure of Ars).
By the year 1855, Fr. Vianney was hearing as many as 20,000 confessions a year, spending 13 to 16 hours a day in the confessional. His direction was characterized by common sense, remarkable insight, and supernatural knowledge. As the news continued to spread, the sick were brought to Ars and many were miraculously cured.
During 30 years, Fr. Vianney claimed to experience frequent attacks of the devil. Voices, strange noises, threats, furniture being thrown about and many other demonic assaults took place almost every night. Besides all this external suffering, Fr. Vianney had physical ailments such as severe headaches, rheumatism, toothaches, fever and exhaustion.
The heroic self-sacrifice of Fr. Vianney eventually led to his death. At the age of 73 he began to have fainting spells. By the end of July he could no longer rise from his bed. Four days later on August 4, 1859, Fr. Vianney died.
Fr. Vianney was declared Venerable 13 years after his death. In 1904 when his body was exhumed and found to be incorrupt although the flesh had dried up and darkened. To this day the incorrupt body can be seen, encased in glass on a marble Altar, in Ars. In 1905 Fr. Vianney was declared Blessed. And finally in 1925 he became Saint John Marie Vianney.
If the Lord can preserve even mortal flesh from decay, can he not raise us back to life again at the last day? Truly these signs are meant to inspire us to believe in the power of God who had not let decay touch His servants.
Come back tomorrow for part 2.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Alois. Joseph Alois.
A humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord. Joseph Alois Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.
How many of you knew his middle name was Alois?
Come on... =)
Today we celebrate the Anniversary of the Election of Pope Benedict XVI, just a few days after his birthday.. God bless the Pope!!! Viva il Papa!!!
Here, through the pictures, I hope you may "re-experiencing" what happened 2 years ago...
White smoke rose above the Sistine Chapel followed by the ringing of bells ten minutes later. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had been elected after four ballots.
"Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum; habemus Papam: Eminentissimum ac Reverendissimum Dominum, Dominum Josephum Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem Ratzinger qui sibi nomen imposuit Benedictum XVI"
"I leave from where the apostle arrived."
"I too hope in this short reign to be a man of peace." Explaining to the cardinals his choice of name after Pope Benedict XV who worked against World War I.
“Dear brothers and sisters after the great Pope, John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me, a simple and humble worker in the Lord's vineyard. The fact that the Lord can work and act even with insufficient means consoles me, and above all I entrust myself to your prayers. In the joy of the resurrected Lord, we go on with his help. He is going to help us and Mary will be on our side. Thank you”
The Urbi et Orbi
Sancti Apostoli Petrus et Paulus, de quorum potestate et auctoritate confidimus, ipsi intercedant pro nobis ad Dominum.
Precibus et meritis beatæ Mariae semper Virginis, beati Michaelis Archangeli, beati Ioannis Baptistæ et sanctorum Apostolorum Petri et Pauli et omnium Sanctorum misereatur vestri omnipotens Deus et dimissis omnibus peccatis vestris, perducat vos Iesus Christus ad vitam æternam.
Indulgentiam, absolutionem et remissionem omnium peccatorum vestrorum, spatium verae et fructuosae penitentiæ, cor semper penitens et emendationem vitae, gratiam et consolationem sancti Spiritus et finalem perseverantiam in bonis operibus, tribuat vobis omnipotens et misericors Dominus.
Et benedictio Dei omnipotentis: Patris et Filii et Spiritus sancti descendat super vos et maneat semper.
for English translation of Urbi et Orbi, click here
"As the trend in the ballots slowly made me realize that — in a manner of speaking the guillotine would fall on me — I started to feel quite dizzy. I thought that I had done my life's work and could now hope to live out my days in peace. I told the Lord with deep conviction, 'Don't do this to me. You have younger and better (candidates) who could take up this great task with a totally different energy and with different strength.' Evidently, this time he didn't listen to me."
Well, I hope this brought back the memories of a not so long distant past. Once again, LONG LIVE THE POPE!!!Long live the Pope!
His praises sound
Again and yet again:
His rule is over space and time:
His throne the heart of men:
All hail! The Shepherd Pope of Rome,
The theme of loving song:
Let all the earth his glory sing
And heav’n the strain prolong.
By the foes of earth,
Beset by hosts of hell,
He guards the loyal flock of Christ,
A watchful sentinel:
And yet, amid the din and strife,
The clash of mace and sword,
He bears alone the Shepherd Staff,
The champion of the Lord.
Then raise the chant,
With heart and voice,
In Church & school & home:
"Long live the Shepherd of the Flock!
Long live the Pope of Rome!"
Almighty Father bless his work,
Protect him in his ways,
Receive his prayer, fulfill his hopes,
And grant him length of days!
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
You can view or download it as a pdf file here.
While I'm on the subject, I know that many of you readers are contemplating a vocation to the priesthood or the religious life. So am I. Do share your stories and your journey so that we who are on the same journey can be edified. If you know of the vocation stories of those who have already been ordained or those who have already made their religious profession, share them too. I love a good vocation story as much as I love a good conversion story. =)
There's 2 books I particularly like and would recommend. Firstly, Priest: Portraits of Ten Good Men Serving the Church Today written by Michael Rose. Self explanatory title. Second, A Priest Forever: The Life of Father Eugene Hamilton written by Fr. Benedict Groeschel of EWTN fame. It tells the story of a man who was ordained 3 hours before his death, though he did not complete his seminary training after a special dispensation was granted by Pope John Paul II. Though he never functioned as a priest, nevertheless, by virtue of his ordination, Fr. Gene is a priest forever in the Order of Melchizedek. Cool and inspiring read.
In your journey, perhaps you've been influenced by the example of a holy priest or perhaps there's a particular incident that deeply affected you and led you to consider the priesthood. Please share it in the combox (drop a comment). If not here, then elsewhere.
Even more importantly, if you have an experience or met a priest or religious that has totally put you off from considering a vocation, then share it too. Things like these are important. Priests and religious are on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In a moment of impatience, perhaps they have driven someone away from Christ. Forgive them and give them the benefit of the doubt. Remember that all humans are sinners and are far from impeccable. But it is the Lord Jesus whom we follow and he is neither.
It is the parish priest who often wields the largest influence in someone's vocation. If your parish priest is firstly holy, and then happy and contented being a priest, then he will inspire men to be like him. Unhappy priests always harping about the injustice of the Church, display irreverence and are heterodox will not attract anyone. Their bitterness merely drives people away.
That's why many women's religious orders who have abandoned the habit and continually harp about the injustice of ordaining only men, the injustice that they cannot be priests, how unhappy they are being nuns, are dying out. With so much wrong being proclaimed, who in their right mind would want to join them? But the orders who have happy women who are proud to be nuns are attracting the most vocations.
But finally, do remember that a vocation is a call, a call from the Lord Jesus to leave everything and follow Him. My we be attentive to His voice so that we may discern whether He is calling us into His service. May he also give us the courage to say Yes! to His call.
Do pray for vocations, that the Lord of the Harvest may send more labourers into His vineyard.
May the Lord give us holy priests! Many holy priests!
Hat tip to Fr. Daren Zehnle.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Need your daily fix of His Holiness the Pope?
Not in Rome and trailing the Holy Father's every move?
Want to? =)
Then this is the site for you.
Called Benedict TV, this site has cool videos of the Pope's comings and goings and his activities.
Do check it out. The first video, One Day in the Life of the Bavarian Pope is worth mentioning. It includes footage of the Pope saying Mass in the Chapel of the Apostolic Palace. Ad orientem of course. It shows him vesting. as he first dons an amice(!), the alb and a cincture before putting on a green Gothic chasuble that looks better than the stuff Marini vests him with when he celebrates a public Mass. He concelebrates with his 2 fully vested secretaries. They come out, genuflect before tabernacle and venerate the altar. Trad!
Too bad there are female lectors and the Mass is celebrated in Italian though.
He speaks firmly and gently, full of kindness. You can also see the great stained glass in his private chapel.
There's also footage of the Pope praying before the tabernacle. You can see the intense concentration, reminiscent of Pope John Paul II when he was praying. The world just melts away, the you only have him and God, in conversation.
The shots of his private office was nice. Loads of books. He has a PC too. LCD monitor, just like the one I use in the office. Msgr. Ganswein has one too. I wonder if he reads my emails?
In the later part, you can see him signing the parchments of the appointments of Bishops, including the Bishop of Salt Lake City.
There's also footage of the Pope's eye view of the Angelus. Very cool.
When the enters the Nervi hall, spontaneous applause erupts with the sound of the entrance music. What fun! I'm surprised he's not blinded by the flashes. No wonder he always wears shades.
His cook looks beefy though. He has his own cutlery inscribed with his coat of arms. I wonder if guests ever make off with a spoon? =) Contrary to popular reports, he does dine with guests. this time, the papal theologian, a Dominican whose name escapes me. Grace in Latin!! The dining room is small, cosy, familial.
You can also see stuff like the terrace on top of the Apostolic Palace. I last saw it in Shoes of the Fisherman. Nice stations and Marian Shrine. Very Italian. Very Mediterranean.
He's then walking in the Vatican Garden's, praying at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, at the Shrine of the Madonna of Guadalupe and praying the rosary.
His meeting with Cardinal Secretary of State Bertone seemed very very cordial and friendly. There is genuine warmth between them. I reeeally wish I could speak Italian. I wonder what they were saying.
At night, the Pope watches TV!!!! A great LCD screen TV. Wow! I really didn't know that. It really shows the family of the Pope, with him and his 2 secretaries gathered around the TV. Haha! But the program made them look real solemn though. Something about the Pope and the Vatican on Italian TV. He was breathing hard and holding his head.
So there you have it. A day in the life of the Pope. Wonder what kind of bed he has? Hmmm...
But everything is in Italian. Sigh...
It has photos of all the Popes events. Great!
It's in Russian though.
If you go here, another Russian site, you can get wallpapers with the Pope. I particularly like the Corpus Christi one.
It also has a video gallery. Check it out!
Link via Amy.