Friday, April 28, 2006

Mater Admirabilis in Grand Coteau

In Grand Coteau, Louisiana, home of the New Orleans province novitiate for the Jesuits, there is also Saint Charles parish church, a Jesuit-run parish. I had occasion to visit that Church numerous times when I was a novice. The artwork and statuary in the parish is not especially striking, and the colors are rather dull--with one exception. At the front of the church, to the left of the sanctuary is a seemingly out-of-place, colorful and striking portrait of the Blessed Mother. The painting (shown at the left) is very similar to the one pictured above, and obviously inspired by it. I was so taken by the painting that I tried to learn more about it and found out that it was indeed inspired by the above painting, which has an interesting history. I found a nice account of that history, in French, at the blog Fils de Chretiente. If you can read French, and want to read the whole story, go there. I will try a rough summary translation here (my French is pretty rusty!).

In 1844, a young painter accompanied Mother Madeleine-Sophie Barat, founder of the Madames of the Sacred Heart, on a voyage to Rome. She received permission to paint a fresco of the adolescent Mary in the monastery. The painting took a long time to complete. The painter spent thirteen hours alone on the face. When the fresco was finished, the complaint was that the colors were too lively, and the painting was hidden behind a curtain. But a few days later, the painting seemed just right, she had the grace of a bride. Two years later, Pope Pius IX visited, and said of the painting that it was truly the "mater admirabilis." And from that day on it could be found by that name in all the houses of the Madames of the Sacred Heart.

Given that the Academy of the Sacred Heart, operated by Mother Barat's sisters, is also there in Grand Coteau, I suppose it's not surprising that it would find its way into the Jesuit church. After all, it was the Madames of the Sacred Heart that convinced the Jesuits to come to Grand Coteau in the first place!

Parlez-Vous Francais?

If you can read French, or just might want to look at the pictures, I suggest checking out a blog that appeared on my radar this week.

It's the blog of Dunstan de Lassance, a seminarian in France. There's some good stuff there, and it's the only blog I know with the very Vatican II-ese word "subsiste" in its header.

Check out Deus in adiutorium.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Our Dancing Man in Rome

You might remember my recent post featuring our New Orleans Province man in Rome Fr. Joseph Carola (he teaches at the Gregorian). The Roamin' Roman has the scoop. He just seems to be having too much fun! He's the dancer on the right (which, if you know him, is not a surprising place to find him).

Discerning Woman Exposed!

Our friend Susan Rose at Musings of a Discerning Woman writes this week about how her worlds have collided, thanks to a call from a local news reporter who caught on to her "double life":

Can You Believe This?

City elections officer Susan Francois is resigning after eight years on the job.

But it's not because the fledgling voter-owned elections system she helped to craft has gotten a rough ride its first time out. She's leaving this summer to become a nun. Francois, 33, says she wants to spend most of her time on what she feels called to do. . .

read the rest.

But you don't have to count on the local paper for a great story, you can catch all her great stories at herCBA-nominated blog!

One Small Step

Yes, it's the last day of classes for me!

Only three papers and one exam left to go.

That means light blogging for the next couple of weeks, but I'll do my best not to disappear completely.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Some Catty Star Trek Humor

Since blogger is driving us crazy today, how about a break for a little more humor, in the spirit of the announcement of the new Star Trek film.

Crystal posted this today. It's Data's ode to his cat, Spot:

Ode to Spot

Felis Cattus, is your taxonomic nomenclature,
an endothermic quadruped carnivorous by nature?
Your visual, olfactory and auditory senses
contribute to your hunting skills, and natural defenses.
I find myself intrigued by your subvocal oscillations,
a singular development of cat communications
that obviates your basic hedonistic predilection
for a rhythmic stroking of your fur, to demonstrate affection.
A tail is quite essential for your acrobatic talents;
you would not be so agile if you lacked its counterbalance.
And when not being utilized to aide in locomotion,
it often serves to illustrate the state of your emotion.
O Spot, the complex levels of behaviour you display
connote a fairly well-developed cognitive array.
And though you are not sentient, Spot, and do not comprehend,
I nonetheless consider you a true and valued friend.

Reason to be Retro

A refreshing proposal from today's New York Times:

Bombs Away



IN my lifetime, I have witnessed two successful titanic struggles by civilized society against totalitarian movements, those against Nazi fascism and Soviet communism. As an arms control negotiator for Ronald Reagan, I had the privilege of playing a role — a small role — in the second of these triumphs.

Yet, at the age of 85, I have never been more worried about the future for my children and grandchildren than I am today. The number of countries possessing nuclear arms is increasing, and terrorists are poised to master nuclear technology with the objective of using those deadly arms against us.

The United States must face this reality head on and undertake decisive steps to prevent catastrophe. Only we can exercise the constructive leadership necessary to address the nuclear threat.

Unfortunately, the goal of globally eliminating all weapons of mass destruction — nuclear, chemical and biological arms — is today not an integral part of American foreign policy; it needs to be put back at the top of our agenda . . .

read the rest.

Prayers, Please

If you could, please remember my friend Cathy who's having knee replacement surgery today.

Maggie's asking prayers for her daughter's surgery also.


Sunday, April 23, 2006

Since I'm Talking Star Trek . . .

Zach at The Peeping Thomists linked to this video a couple of weeks ago of William Shatner doing his version of Elton John's "Rocketman."

The picture isn't great (it goes back a ways), but it is humorous. Shatner, however, has been maybe at his funniest lately on "Boston Legal."

Snapshot of the Catholic Blogosphere

Today I was reading a rather uncharitable post at another blog and I was particularly struck by one of the comments in response.

A previous commentor had said something along the lines of "people that don't agree with us don't belong in the Church." (yeah, heard that one a few thousand times)

To which the following commentor emphatically agreed "got that right," and then went on to say:

Happy Divine Mercy Sunday everyone!

"Lost" in Space

Star Trek will rise again.

Reportedly, Paramount Pictures is planning to release another Star Trek feature film in 2008. J.J. Abrams, the creator of Lost, will produce and probably direct.

No word yet on cast or plot. But, who knows, maybe they'll find "the others" out there in the Final Frontier.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Heart, Order, Cents, Sophistication, Hiding, Clamoring, Fringe-Dwelling & Mom

Those Darn Jesuits . . . Liturgy in Sign

You might remember that former blogger Father Ethan of the now defunct Diary of a Suburban Priest was learning to offer the Mass in sign language. The NYT had an article today about the great need for this ministry and the difference being made in Rhode Island by one of our Jesuit priests, Fr. Joseph Bruce, who is himself deaf:

For Deaf Priests and Parishioners, a New Mass Works

For most of her 67 years, Mary Lomastro could not fully understand the Roman Catholic Mass that she attended each Sunday.

Ms. Lomastro, of Coventry, R.I., is deaf. She attended weekly services at her home parish, but could not follow the Mass beyond what was printed in the missalette.

That all changed last summer, when the Diocese of Providence became one of the few in the country to have a deaf priest celebrate a Mass in American Sign Language, with a verbal interpreter.

The priest, the Rev. Joseph Bruce, says Mass at St. Ann's Church in Providence and at other parishes throughout Rhode Island, where 60 percent of residents are Catholic, the highest percentage of any state.

"Attending Mass with a deaf priest who uses sign language is more inspiring than an interpreted Mass," Ms. Lomastro, who now volunteers as a lector at the deaf Mass, wrote in an e-mail message. "When Father Bruce signs, it is coming from his inner self."

Father Bruce is one of seven deaf priests ministering in the United States, said the Rev. Thomas Coughlin, head of the Dominican Missionaries for the Deaf Apostolate in Hayward, Calif. Four deaf seminarians are studying to be priests, the most ever at one time, according to the National Catholic Office for the Deaf . . .

Read the rest.

B16 Celebrates Ignatius, Xavier and Faber With the Jesuits

This year marks special anniversaries of three of the founders of the Jesuits: St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Francis Xavier, and Bl. Peter Faber. At a gathering marking this occasion Benedict XVI had the following to say to the Jesuits:

Dear Fathers and Brothers of the Company of Jesus,

It is with great joy that I meet you in this historic Basilica of St Peter, after the Holy Mass celebrated for you by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, my Secretary of State, on the occasion of various Jubilee occurrences of the Ignatian Family. To all I extend my cordial greeting. First, I greet the Superior General, Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, and I thank him for the kind words with which he has manifested to me your shared sentiments. I greet the Cardinals, the Bishops and the priests and all those who have desired to participate in this event. Together with the Fathers and Brothers, I greet also the friends of the Society of Jesus here present, and among them the many religious men and women, the members of the Communities of Christian Life and of the Apostolate of Prayer, the students and former students with their families from Rome, from Italy and from Stonyhurst in England, the teachers and students of your academic institutions, your numerous collaborators. This visit of yours offers me the opportunity to thank together with you the Lord for having granted to your Company the gift of men of extraordinary sanctity and of exceptional apostolic zeal such as St Ignatius of Loyola, St Francis Xavier and Bl Peter Faber. They are for you the Fathers and Founders: it's right, therefore, that in this centenary year you recall with gratitude and look to them to lead you and make secure your spiritual path and that of your apostolic activity.

St Ignatius of Loyola was above all a man of God, who gave the first place of his life to God, to his greater flory and his greater service; he was a man of profound prayer, which found its center and its culmination in the daily Eucharistic Celebration. In this way he left his followers a a precious spiritual inheritance which must not be lost or forgotten. As a man of God, St Ignatius was a faithful servant of the Church, in which he saw and found the spouse of the Lord and the mother of Christians. And from the desire to serve the Church in a more useful and effective way was born the vow of special obedience to the Pope, who he classified as "our first and principal foundation" (Constitutions of the Society of Jesus, I,162). This ecclesial character, so specific to the Society of Jesus, continues to be present in your persons and in your apostolic activity, dear Jesuits, as you make yourselves able to encounter faithfully the Church's urgent necessities of each time. Among these, I find it important to mark out the cultural imperative in the areas of theology and philosophy, the traditional environs of the apostolic presence of the Society of Jesus, as well as the dialogue with modern culture, which boasts marvelous progresses in the scientific realm, remaining firmly marked by a postive and relevant (materialista) science. Certainly, the force of promoting in close collaboration with the other ecclesial realities a culture inspired toward the values of the Gospel calls for an intense spiritual and cultural formation. For this reason, St Ignatius wished that young Jesuits be formed for many years in the spiritual life and in their studies. It is good that this tradition be maintained and reinforced, given the growing complexities and vastness of modern culture. Another great preoccupation for him was that of Christian education and the cultural formation of the young: from this impulse with he gave to the institution of the "colleges" [high schools], which, after his death, sprung up in Europe and across the world. Continue, dear Jesuits, this important apostolate maintaining unaltered the spirit of your Founder.
Speaking of St Ignatius we cannot leave behind a remembrance of St Francis Xavier, whose 500th birthday was marked on 7 April: not only their history which was interwoven for many years from Paris and Rome, but a unique desire -- it could be said, a unique passion -- moved and sustained them through different human events: the passion to give to God-Trinity a glory always greater and to work for the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ to the peoples who had been ignored. St Francis Xavier, who my predecessor Pius XI of venerated memory proclaimed "Patron of Catholic Missions," made his mission that of "opening new ways" to the Gospel "in the immense continent of Asia." His apostolate in the East lasted just ten years, but its fertility revealed itself wonderfully in the four and a half centuries of the life of the Society of Jesus, as his example sustained among the young Jesuits so many missionary vocations, and still remains the call that you may continue the missionary work in the great countries of the Asian continent.

If St Francis Xavier worked in the countries of the East, his confrere and friend from his years in Paris, Bl Peter Faber, Savoyard, born 13 April 1506, worked in the European countries, where the Christian faithful aspired to a true reform of the Church. A modest man, sensible, of a profound interior life and given to a strong rapport of friendship with all kinds of people, attracting in his time many young people to the Company, Blessed Faber spent his brief life in different European countries, especially in Germany, where by order of Paul III he took part in the diet of Worms, of Regensburg and of Spira, at conferences with the heads of the Reformation. It was a mode of practice in an exceptional way the vow of special obedience to the Pope "for the missions," becoming for all future Jesuits a model to follow.

Dear Fathers and Brothers of the Company, today you look with particular devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remembering that on 22 April 1541 Ignatius and his first companions took their solemnn vows before the image of Mary in the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls. May Mary continue to keep watch over the Society of Jesus that each of its members carry in his person the "image" of Christ Crucified so to have a part in his resurrection. For this, I assure you of a remembrance in prayer, while to each one of you present and to your entire spiritual family I gladly impart my blessing, which extends to all the other religious and consecrated persons who have come to this Audience.

So, consider me blessed!

Thanks to Rocco for the translation.

My First Blurb

Jim Martin's not my only friend with a new book out, so it's only fair I give equal time.

Indeed, I even gave this one a little endorsement of my own. Brian, the author, sent me his pages before the book came out. I felt privileged to have an early look. He put me in contact with his publisher, who asked me for some thoughts on.

Well, today I was in the Harvard Coop bookstore and there it was. So, I opened it up, and there in the opening pages, amidst a bunch of people far more well-known than I, was my humble opinion! Brian is of evangelical Protestant background and is one of the leaders in what is now known as the "emerging church" movement. His latest book is a reflection on the life, ministry, and message of Jesus, especially with regard to the kingdom of God. Though I think some Catholics would resonate with many of the things he has to say, it's some fairly radical stuff for the evangelical community, and so a bit controversial. But it's a good help to anyone interested in reflecting on the implications of our faith in Jesus on the way we live our lives today. Brian is also not a professional theologian, so the language is accessible, and the wisdom apparent.

I met Brian a little over a year ago, because it just so happens that his wife was the college roommate of a very close friend of mine. Go figure. Anyway, it's a good read for the Easter season, and it has a title that's very apt for a time when we are being subject to all the DaVinci code hoopla: The Secret Message of Jesus. But don't just take my word for it. Have a look at those opening pages and you'll see a whole bunch of people besides me telling you it's a good read!

And, in case you're wondering about my book. I'm told that we can expect it on April 28.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Tagged by Sr. Claire Joy, I give you six random things:

1. I can relate to Kevin Smith's Clerks, because I was once an assistant manager at a video store.
2. I have rated 1800 movies on my Netflix account.
3. I know loads of insignificant pop-culture trivia like that Happy Days was a spin-off of Love, American Style, and itself birthed a number of spinoffs including Laverne & Shirley, Joanie Loves Chachi, Mork & Mindy and Out of the Blue.
4. I'm an ENFP on the Meyers-Briggs scale.
5. I share a birthday with Gene Rodenberry, Bill Clinton, & Malcolm Forbes.
6. I can curl my tongue and make the Vulcan sign with my right hand, but not with my left (Live long and prosper!).

Jim Martin-Palooza

I don't know if you've noticed, but in the world of religious media and commentary, Jim Martin has been almost as ubiquitous (I love that word!) as TomKat (who, in case you haven't heard, have a baby girl named "Suri" [of course!]). Today, Martin was quoted in The Washington Post and also weighs in on Opus Dei in this week's Time magazine. He had an op-ed in The New York Times, and was interviewed on NPR and in The Boston Globe. Could it be he has a new book out? Well, it just so happens he does, and it's pretty darn good. It would make a great graduation gift for your favorite Catholic graduate! And, yes, Jim's a friend of mine, but, trust me, I wouldn't be promoting it if I didn't think it was good stuff. The more objective critics like it too! So, buy a copy of My Life With the Saints for your Catholic graduate and, while you're at it, why not get one for yourself!

[Hint: Go to the Amazon page for Jim's also excellent In Good Company, and you can get both together at a reduced price]

Those Darn Jesuits . . . Over There

With Karen Hall's creation of "A Little Battalion," you could say that, in a sense, my "Those Darn Jesuits" feature has been outsourced. So, you'll not only find me chiming in here, but you can catch me waxing away over there about things Jesuit. (I can hear some of you groaning--watch it!)

There have been a couple of posts there in the last few days which certainly fit the "Those Darn Jesuits" mold, so you should check out the posts by Joe, Steve and Karen. There's also a new contribution from yesterday by me.

I've added a link for A Little Battalion in the sidebar so you can easily check it out from time to time.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Trying It Out Without Having It All Figured Out--What's Good About "God or the Girl"

Susan Rose and Jenn (rather humorously I must say) have already beat me to the punch as far as commenting on this, but I thought I'd offer my thoughts briefly on God or the Girl. I thought it started at 10:00, so I saw only what I guess was episode 2, but a few thoughts. It seems like each story had to have an "angle": the cross, the girlfriend, the mission and the Mom. I also can't watch without thinking the whole time: There's a camera, so how genuine can this be? That said, let me say that one of the things I liked about it, is something that others seemed to have a problem with: These guys just don't quite seem to get it.

The truth is, I see this as a good thing. Why? Because it says to young men who are thinking about being priests that you don't quite have to have everything figured out before you try it out. Joe, who is a former Jesuit novice, is a good example. He's already tried it, and he seems the least interested in being a priest of the four!

Read Father Jim Martin's In Good Company, or even his new book My Life With the Saints, and you'll be struck by the fact that he's the first to admit that when he was looking into becoming a Jesuit and a priest he really had no idea what he was doing. I think that's true of many of us, myself included. That's why my blog is called "You Duped Me Lord." Certainly, you don't want to do it merely on a whim. But I hope that what the following episodes of God or the Girl will show is that you don't need to have it all figured out or even know exactly what you're getting into to enter the seminary or novitiate, you just have to have a desire and a sense that God might be calling you. Part of the work of the seminary or the novitiate is taking the time to discover whether you indeed have a call to the priesthood or religious life.

So, that's what I hope and I think that young men--and women--might be able to get out of God or the Girl, that if you have a desire to serve God as a priest or religious that you don't have to be certain or even have it all figured out before you try it out.

More on Being Bothered

A nice reflection by a Sojourners staffer:

Bothered by the cross
by Deanna Murshed

As someone who has been a Christian for a while now, I must confess that the idea of redemption through the cross has lost its power to bother or puzzle me as it did in the past.

I remember being jealous of folks who could confess a grand conversion experience that pulled them from lives of sheer drunken hedonistic debauchery - dramatic stories in which they were saved just in the nick of time - into resurrection just by the skin of their teeth. And although getting in by the skin of our teeth is surely true for all of us, it is at least more obvious in those great stories, for whatever reason.

But that is not my story.

Even my earliest memories include my mother sharing Bible stories with me. Though I struggled with the meaning or reality of these accounts to be sure - I can't recall a time when I didn't perceive myself within this grand story of redemption.

My mother showed me a simple faith. My father, on the other hand, questioned just about everything. And I somehow inherited both. God help those who hear me think out loud.

I also remember that as a child, the idea that Christ died on the cross and rose again for me - though it was repeated over and over again and I so desperately wanted to believe it made sense - seemed odd. But I think it was repeated often enough, that eventually, I just came to accept it. After all, the answer to almost any question in Sunday school was easy: "because Jesus died on the cross!"

read the rest.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

This is the Day


and Happy Birthday to Pope Benedict and Penni!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Cross Purposes on Good Friday

So this semester I’m taking a Christology course, which makes Holy Week really interesting! All semester we’ve been dealing with questions of who Jesus is, salvation and the challenge of the cross. The result is that this Holy Week I just want to turn off my brain and just take everything for granted. Yet, I can’t help but recognize how “just taking everything for granted” is a way out of dealing with the scandal of the cross.

In a recent class, the professor asked me (as I was arguing for a more traditional position regarding the cross) what I thought we were doing when we venerated the cross on Good Friday. My response, which got a laugh (though I didn’t intend it to), was “something fundamentally irrational.” His point was that according to some of the theologians we’ve discussed—and it’s a good one—that the appropriate response to the veneration of the cross might not be to kiss it, but rather to turn away from it, because for them the cross represents the continuing crucifixion that the poor and oppressed in the world suffer. From this perspective, we shouldn’t celebrate the cross because our vocation in life is to take those who are poor and oppressed down from the cross. I’m sympathetic to this point of view. We can always do well to remember that one of the goals of our Christian life is to as best we can stop being the crucifier, and instead work to stop people from being crucified in the first place. Yet, my point was that there is more to the cross than that. There has to be some truth, however mysterious, however irrational to our conviction that Jesus’ death saves us in some real way, in addition to all the other things that his passion and death accomplish and witness to.

What I see in the attempt by many theologians to deal with the cross is an attempt to reason it out, to make sense of it. And, as my response to him implies, I believe that there is no way that we can wholly account for the mystery of the cross in a rational way. There is something fundamentally irrational about it. It’s an attempt to control something that can’t be controlled. It’s a way to avoid facing the reality that our lives are not about control, our lives are not our own, that if we choose the way of independence and control we will never find the happiness we desire. The cross points us to that fundamental paradox that the only way to truly live our life is to lose it, that being out of control and in touch with the ways in which we are and always will be dependent on others and, when we can’t even depend on others, utterly dependent on God is the only way we can truly be free. Jesus’ cross transforms a tool of oppression into a witness to true freedom. That doesn’t make oppression and suffering OK, that doesn’t make God into the ultimate child abuser, it shows us that Jesus was willing to make the choices required of him to be truly and fully human and in doing so, in some equally irrational way, his divinity was revealed.

As I lean over to kiss the cross today, then, I will be celebrating the life of Jesus which showed us the way, the death of Jesus which saves us, and I will be praying to stop being the crucifier and instead being one who stands for all the crucified peoples of the world.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Yay! Rubrics!

I'm as much a cheerleader for good liturgy, following the rubrics, etc. as anybody. But I think given the reality of the Church and the variety of liturgical practice I witness on a regular basis, I think undue obsession with liturgical abuses can be unhealthy, not to mention drive you crazy!

So, at the risk of angering a few friends of mine (you know who you are), I just have to say:

Who cares how many liturgical abuses there were at a certain Mass on the West Coast last week??!!

Aren't there more important things for us to be worried about?

(and don't accuse me of saying mass/rubrics/liturgy/eucharist are not important, because I didn't say that!)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

All Fall Down

God's fidelity to us is what gives us the courage to be true to ourselves. And the legacy of God's total commitment to humankind, the proof of God's fidelity to our poverty, is the cross. The cross is the sacrament of poverty of spirit, the sacrament of authentic humanness in a sinful world. It is the sign that one human being remained true to his own humanity, that he accepted it in full obedience.

Hanging in utter weakness on the cross, Christ revealed the divine meaning of our Being. It said something for the Jews and pagans that they found the cross scandalous and foolish (1 Cor. 1:23). To the enlightened humanitarians and liberals of a later day the cross provokes only flat irony or weary skepticism. These self-styled advocates of humanity are more experienced; they are too indifferent to find the cross scandalous, yet not so naive as to laugh at its foolishness. And what is it to us? Well, no one is exempted from the poverty of the cross; there is no guarantee against its intrusion. The antipathy to it found its way into the very midst of Christ's disciples: "You will all fall away because of me this night"
(Mt. 26:31).

--Johannes Baptist Metz, Poverty of Spirit

Monday, April 10, 2006

A New Place For the Jesuit Obsessed

Karen Hall admits to her Jesuit obsession and hopes to enable anyone who would like to share in it. She has created "A Little Battalion," a sister blog to her own, as a place of prayer and positive news about the Jesuits.

She describes it as "An eclectic assortment of mild-to-moderately obsessive Jesuit lovers, striving to turn worry into prayer. Or at least into an entertaining and informative blog. A.M.D.G."

She's invited contributions from "ignaciophiles" like myself and others like Steve Bogner. So, you'll see us chiming in there now and then. Check it out!

Get Into "The BC" (and Can Jesuits Rock?)

Some students and Jesuits at Boston College have gotten together to produce their own campus drama, modeled on a similarly named popular TV show. It was recently mentioned in Entertainment Weekly and Sports Illustrated.

Check out "The BC"

Also, there you'll find the answer to the question: Can Jesuits Rock? Well, check out the evidence:

Jon Bon Jesuits, "Living on a Prayer" (That may not be real hair, but those are real Jesuits)

and "Saint Ignatius Started the Fire"

Answer?: Well, sort of.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Twisted and Reformed

There is a painting of the awful death of Jesus that the German artist Matthias Grunewald completed in 1484 for the patients and the staff at a hospital specializing in diseases of the skin. It is one of the most terribly beautiful depictions of Calvary ever made. The two greatest Protestant theologians of the twentieth century--Paul Tillich and Karl Barth--had a reproduction of this masterpiece over their desks as they worked on their dogmatics. The body of Grunewald's Jesus had been, it is obvious, impressive and powerful, but now it is wracked, twisted, and disfigured--the neck at almost an impossible angle to the torso, the hands and feet distended, the legs bowed almost to the point of breaking, the chest covered in wounds, scratches, and blisters, the head wreathed in a particularly brutal crown of thorns. What is, for me, most disturbing are the shut eyes and the gaping mouth: this Christ is no longer seeing or speaking; he is simply lost in the terror of the moment. To the right of the crucified Christ stands John the Baptist performing his usual iconic task of pointing at the Lord, but what is remarkable are the contortions in his arm, hand, and fingers as he indicates the Christ. It is as though his own life has to be twisted into a new and unusual form if he is to function effectively as a prophet of the suffering Jesus.
--Fr. Robert Barron, The Strangest Way

How will I be twisted and reformed this Holy Week?

Overdue 2

A few more of those overdue additions to the blogroll:

Mary Meets Dolly

More Light

Old Testament Space Opera


Sincerely My Thoughts

Check 'em out!

Aha! Mechanically Separated Meat

I can't help but take notice when I see the acronym MSM, as it's my monogram! The S is for Steven, if you must know.

I've been seeing it on blogs for months and figured, like WSJ, it referred to some publication (though I couldn't even begin to come up with a name for said publication). So, finally, today I started to do some digging. Turns out, besides Mark Steven Mossa, it can mean a number of things (thanks to Wikipedia):

# Mainstream media
# Manhattan School of Music, a conservatory in New York City
# Material Specification Management
# Mechanically separated meat

To name a few. Though now, thank God, I know what to do when I want to abbreviate "mechanically separated meat," I have a feeling its use, when it comes to Catholic bloggers, may be to indicate the first (and for some it can be further defined as anything that is not Fox News).

And, hey, even if it is MSM, I still like my NYT!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Heard About Our Latest Visitor in Cambridge?

Shoot! We've just lost our two-ton cannon in ultimate student prank

From Chris Ayres in Los Angeles

AFTER decades of rivalry between America’s geekiest colleges, a group of undergraduates from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has pulled off one of the most audacious student pranks in history: they have stolen a 130-year-old, two-ton cannon from the grounds of the California Institute of Technology, and shipped it 3,000 miles (4,800km) to their campus on the East Coast. The stunt was all the more impressive given that Caltech is literally a school for rocket scientists, thanks to its famous Jet Propulsion Laboratory. As of yesterday, the antique Fleming Cannon was still in Cambridge, Massachusetts, adorned with a large Massachusetts MIT “school ring”. Next to it was a plaque that referred to the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) as “its previous owners”. The plaque explains that the cannon was moved using bogus documentation to get it past the Caltech security guards. The theft was perfectly timed for maximum gloating value: this is the week when prospective students visit college campuses across America. It is thought to be retaliation for last year’s prank by Caltech, which involved distributing official-looking, shrink-wrapped MIT-branded shirts to students visiting the Cambridge campus. The front of the shirts said ‘MIT’. On the back was written: “Because not everyone can go to Caltech.”

read the rest.

On Being Prudent--Not To Mention Charitable--Before Hitting "Publish"

Rick Moran of RightWing Nuthouse confronts us with this unfortunate truth we might do well to take note of, even if he's not so optimistic about change (re: Jill Carroll):

The speed and ferocity with which people piled on Miss Carroll for not immediately disavowing her propaganda statement as well as her first statements to the press which seemed to give her brutal captors a pass reminded me of the jaw-dropping way the left pounced on the Administration in the immediate – and by immediate I mean that lefty bloggers were screaming “incompetence” less than 24 hours after hurricane winds had died down in New Orleans – aftermath of Katrina. The point isn’t to bash the left here but to highlight a problem with blogs that seems to be presenting itself with alarming regularity.

In people’s haste to be first, or different, or just plain ornery and contrary (all the better to get links and readers) a culture of “shoot first and ask questions later” has arisen in the blogosphere that quite frankly, is proving every bad thing that the MSM has been saying about blogs from the beginning. Many of us – including myself – have been guilty in the past of hitting that “Publish” button when perhaps it would have been prudent and proper to take a beat or two to think about what we just wrote and the impact it might have beyond the small little world we inhabit in this corner of Blogland.

Scalp hunting has become the national pastime of blogs. Both lefty and righty lodgepoles have some pretty impressive trophies hanging on them; Dan Rather, Mary Mapes (twice), Eason Jordon, Trent Lott, Ben Domenech, to name a few more noteworthy ones.

But is this what we are? Is this what we are becoming? Are we nothing more than a pack of digital yellow journalists writing pixelated scab sheets vying to see who we can lay low next? If this be the way to fame and fortune in the blogosphere, I truly fear that, like television, the last great technological breakthrough that promised to change the world, we will degenerate into a mindless, bottomless pit of muck and mudslinging, dragging down the culture and trivializing even the most important issues.

This is no idle concern that can be dismissed as the nature of the beast or the way of the world. This kind of thing has to be stopped, an admitted impossibility with 29 million blogs out there. Maybe it’s enough that we are aware of it and that people of good faith and good intentions will, in the end, marginalize the muckrakers and come out on top.

Don’t count on it.

via Joust the Facts via Suitable For Mixed Company

Some Overdue Additions To the Blogroll

Friday, April 07, 2006

Either My Doctor's Just Way Too Mellow . . .

. . . or there's not much to be worried about.

In any case, we're doing some tests, and then we'll see. Thanks for your prayers.

My provincial's in town this weekend. So, even if I'm feeling better, you might not hear too much from me!

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Can You Be Bothered?

In 1996 there was a gathering of Christians and Buddhists at the monastery of Our Lady of Gethsemani in Kentucky. At the meeting were scholars and monks from both traditions, as well as the Dalai Lama himself. After days of intense conversation and shared prayer, one of the Buddhist participants spoke to an urgent point. What had been bothering him throughout the conference was the prominent display, in almost every room of the monastery, of a suffering man pinioned to a cross. To his mind, the crucifix represented the agony to which the meditation and practices of his religion were the solution. And thus, he asked his Christian interlocutors, what precisely was the point in showing this terrible scene over and over again? Those who were there say that this question--blunt, direct, and challenging--changed the tenor of the meeting for the better, forcing representatives of both sides to cut to the heart of the matter.

I love that man's question. More to the point, I love the bother that prompted it. Christians have become so accustomed to seeing the crucifix--in churches, in schools, on seasonal greeting cards, worn as jewelry around people's necks--that they have long since lost any sense of how awful and strange it is. But to the first Christians, the cross of Christ was that and more. Paul called it "a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to Gentiles" (1 Cor. 1:23), insinuating that it was sure to bother just about everybody. For the first several centuries of Christianity, artists were reluctant to depict the death of the Lord, because it was just too terrible. They felt, perhaps, something of what the Buddhist commentator at Gethsemani felt. And yet, Paul can say, "we proclaim Christ crucified" (1 Cor. 1:23), and the entire Christian tradition--from Augustine, to Francis of Assisi, to Dante, to Ignatius of Loyola, to Trappist monks in the hills of Kentucky--has echoed him. Somehow, they knew, that writhing figure, pinned to his cross, is the whole story.

--Fr. Robert Barron, The Strangest Way.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Forecast: Snow Flurries and Light Blogging

Yes, we might get a bit of snow tomorrow, so the Spring tease is still on!

In other news, please accept my apologies for lack o' blogging these days (though I did enjoy your responses to Saturday's post!). I haven't been feeling well these last couple of weeks. I'm off to see the dcotor on Thursday, which tells you something. I'm not the sort to see the doctor unless something's not showing signs of going away on its own. And, I'm afraid this is one of those things.

It's one of those crazy things where one day I feel fine, the next day I feel like crap. I'm afraid today was one of the latter. I'd appreciate your prayers that it's nothing too serious.

Watch for more, including the final segment of Saint Ignatius' Autobiography, as soon as I'm feeling better.



Monday, April 03, 2006

Are You Offended?

“This human being exists before God, may speak with God anytime he wants to, assured of being heard by him—in short, this person is invited to live on the most intimate terms with God! Furthermore, for this person’s sake, God comes to the world, allows himself to be born, to suffer, to die, and this suffering God—he almost implores and beseeches this person to accept the help that is offered to him! Truly, if there is anything to lose one’s mind over this is it! Everyone lacking the humble courage to believe this is offended. But why is he offended? Because it is too high for him, because his mind cannot grasp it, because he cannot attain bold confidence in the face of it and therefore must get rid of it, pass it off as a bagatelle, nonsense, and folly, for it seems as if it would choke him”

--Soren Kierkegaard

Sunday, April 02, 2006

John Paul II, We Miss You

Pray for Us

Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Court of the Two Mothers

The lastest from CANS:

Jesuits Courting Two Ladies

By Steven Assom

Rome, April 1, 2006--Reports from Rome suggest that the Society of Jesus, which operates 28 universities in the United States, is prepared to make a bid to add two more universities to its network. Unconfirmed sources report that a meeting took place here last week attended by Jesuit Father General Peter Hans Von Kolvenbach and five U.S. Jesuits including Fr. Charles Current, Fr. Joseph Fussio, Fr. Brian O'Daily, Fr. Kevin Wilder and Fr. Michael Garbanzo. Current is president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities in Washington; Fussio is chancellor of Ave Maria University; O'Daily teaches at the University of Notre Dame; Wilder is president of Loyola University in New Orleans; and Garbanzo is president of Loyola University in Chicago. The topic of the meetings was reportedly efforts by the storied 450 year old religious order to take over operations of one of the United States’ premier Catholic universities, the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, and one of its newest, Ave Maria University in Naples, Florida.

Speculation has been fueled by the approach of hurricane season. Plaisant Boudreaux, a member of Loyola New Orleans’ Board of Directors would not confirm the rumor, but did say, “We have been exploring ways of minimizing our risk of having to shut down for another semester, having another campus in the same region would certainly be of help.” Wilder would only say, “Our focus right now is rebuilding New Orleans.” Displeasure with some recent statements by Notre Dame’s new president have also reportedly led to a movement among Notre Dame’s faculty to bring the Jesuits in. Outspoken faculty member Brian McRichard told this reporter, “Most of the country thinks Notre Dame is a Jesuit university anyway, it’s likely that most people wouldn’t even notice the change.”

A reported rift between Fussio and Ave Maria University founder Dominic Monahan has set off a power struggle at the fledgling university. Fussio evidently turned to the Jesuits for help when the administration started receiving complaints from students that Fussio seemed far too liberal to lead the university into the eschaton. In a moment of candor, Monahan admitted that the Jesuit “may no longer be the horseman for the job.”

Catholic University expert Rick Riley is concerned about the implications of such a move by the Jesuits. “This would open up two more venues in which young, impressionable Catholic minds would be exposed to heretical commencement addresses,” said Riley, “not to mention the danger of morally complex theatrical productions.” Dick Newsome of the Catholic publication, Second Chances, offers a more positive spin, “Don’t forget these are two universities named for the Blessed Mother. Start your prayers now and what we may see as a result of this move is the conversion of the Jesuits. Imagine the impact thirty orthodox Catholic universities could have on the promotion of capitalism throughout the world.”

Garbanzo would not comment on the matter except to say, “We’ve already got plenty of universities named after Loyola, it would be nice to add a couple of ladies to our family.”

Current promises that we can expect a statement in May about the nature of the Rome meeting. Until then, he said, “You may just want to treat this as if it were all one big April Fool’s joke.”

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