September 2009

I have a confession.

I have a weakness for Nutella crepes.  Could you all promise me something?  If you ever go to Rome, get a Nutella crepe.  Your life will never be the same.  Once you walk through old Roman streets, attempting to gracefully eat a melted glob of wonderfulness without getting Nutella all over the front of your shirt, your life will be different forever.


You’ll be able to bite into a homemade Nutella crepe on your couch, 5,000 miles away from that Roman street, close your eyes, and be instantly transported back.  You’ll be able to feel the crisp spring evening air, hear the laughter of your friends, feel the weightlessness of heading home after a long day of class.  You’ll hear the buses struggle by, loaded down by their human cargo, swaying as they rumble over the cobblestones.

Or maybe it’s just me.

There’s something about Nutella– especially warm Nutella– that takes me back every time.  I suppose because it’s the one thing that can be closely duplicated in the States.  Gelato isn’t the same.  Ditto for pasta, pizza, and coffee.  But nutella– it’s there.  The taste.  The warm wonderfulness.

So, please, have a crepe when you’re over there.  It would make me really happy.

Thank you.

note: the picture above was taken by my dear friend Katy, who is entering a religious order called the Familia Spiritualis Opus, “the Work,” in Austria tomorrow morning– Austrian time, just a few hours from now.  Please keep her and her family in your prayers!

Happy Feast of Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel!

apse mosaic michael1

I love how our Faith influences so much of society, whether everyone else knows it or not.  “Michaelmas” refers to today’s feast– St Michael the Archangel.  And while it isn’t a word we hear very often in the States, it may be familiar to you if you read a lot of British literature.   It has been extended to refer generally to autumn, and I believe English universities still use the phrase “Michaelmas term” to designate what we here in the States would call the fall semester.  “Michaelmas term” is also the name given to one of the terms of the law courts of England and Wales, and while our court system doesn’t use the phrase, they still follow suit by beginning a new term on the first Monday of October (which generally falls close to Michaelmas).

This was a great feast during the Middle Ages (and was then a Holy Day of Obligation), and it was celebrated with processions, parties, much feasting, and the eating of goose.

For those Jane Austen fans, you’ll find many of her books either opening at Michaelmas (e.g., Pride and Prejudice) or the story really picking up at that time (Persuasion).

Happy Feast!

Today’s opening prayer gave me pause to think:

“Father, you show your almighty power in your mercy and forgiveness.”

As I prayed before Mass, I found myself reflecting on this sentence.  Perhaps we’re so used to the ways of God that the strangeness of that sentence doesn’t faze us.  But in today’s world, how often do we associate mercy and forgiveness with power?  Isn’t mercy a sign of giving in, of submitting– of weakness?  Don’t powerful people punish?

Thankfully for us, God is different.  The world’s ways are not God’s ways.

I looked up and found myself looking at the large crucifix in the front of church.  Power?  Yes, those three hours on Calvary, when the Son of God hung in agony, was a moment of power.  A moment of power that is perpetuated in the liturgy, when the power comes upon bread and wine and transforms them into the flesh of God.

A violent death on a cross.  Simple bread and wine.  These are instruments of true power.

It’s been a crazy past few days, which usually means I end up neglecting this blog.  Today, however, I’m making it up to you with a special post from a special guest blogger.  She doesn’t know she’s my guest blogger for the day, but when you receive emails like this, they’re just begging to be blogged somewhere.  Who knows, I might get her to write for me more often!

Without further ado, my first guest blog post.  From… my mom!

Paul VI warned us of the horrors

In the encyclical that turned the Catholic world upside down, Humanae Vitae, Paul VI warned that if contraceptives were allowed, the world as we know it would take a sinister turn.  He was truly a prophet– as we have seen through the proliferation of diseases caused by the Pill, the increased push for contraception for younger and younger women, and the availability of abortion on demand.

These past days we have been hearing the tale of a young mother who is carrying a baby conceived by in vitro fertilization and has discovered that the baby is not hers– that someone else’s frozen embryo was used.  One wonders if this is the first time this glitch has happened.  The story will have a happy ending for the baby because the mother is carrying the baby to term, then giving it to the parents.  But this unnatural process is not what God intended. Life is not supposed to start in this manner.  The end does not justify the means.

In today’s government witchhunts, big corporations are likened to the sons of Satan because they make a profit.  In Obama’s world, no one should make money if they aren’t going to give it away so that we are all on the same economic playing field.  But he turns a blind eye to those big corporations who make money at the expense of the hearts of women: in vitro labs, Planned Parenthood, and all of those businesses that make billions every year either artificially creating life or getting rid of it while ruining the hearts and bodies of young girls and women.

These are big businesses too. Why is no one looking at the profits and bonuses of those groups? The hypocrisy is amazing.

Sometimes I have posts brewing in my head for awhile.  It’s usually a good thing that they sit up there and simmer so that when they finally come out of my fingers, they’re a big more refined.

This post, for example, is completely different than the post I was about to write last night, partly because my nightly reading included a passage from 2 Tim 2, which reminded me, “Have nothing to do with stupid, senseless controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.”

The subject of the controversy and quarrel I was going to write about is not stupid or senseless, nor are the possible effects of the quarrel.  Indeed, both the subject and the possible effects are quite grave.   But I think Paul has some good advice, both in 2 Tim and in today’s first reading, Ephesians 4.  The more people who stick their noses in controversies, the greater the fight that breaks out, and the greater the disruption of unity, which is so damaging to the Church.

I was going to detail the controversy here, but changed my mind after I realized that the biggest problem is the prolonging of the quarrel by the interference of outside parties.  To simplify, there is a fight amongst prolifers that has become public and messy.  What began on a blog with a priest warning prolifers against becoming hateful and self-righteous, soon turned into false accusations and hateful remarks being thrown around by various people, many of whom know little about the real, original situation.  It seems  everyone wants to get the last word in the argument, even prolife leaders who had nothing to do with the initial discussion.

As a result, the devil is succeeding in further dividing both the prolife movement and the Catholic Church.  It is a shameful display of disunity, perpetuated by passions and egos and misunderstandings, all contrary to the Gospel message.  As Paul reminds us in today’s first reading, “I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph 4).

This did not need to be a public fight.  It did not need to splinter the Church or divide the prolife movement.  But it has, and it will continue to, unless we all rise above it.

Much of it comes down to this: there are radicals in the prolife movement who do nothing to help the cause by their self-righteous, bull-headed behavior, and they eclipse what the prolife movement is really about: imago Dei.

Abortion is a horrible crime against humanity and needs to be fought.  But it is part of a much bigger problem.  Our culture no longer recognizes the imago Dei in each person– the fact that each person– regardless of age, health, color, education, or political stance– is created in the image and likeness of God and has an inherent human dignity.

When members of the prolife movement engage in verbal denigration, backbiting, or public displays that lack respect for anyone involved… well, their message begins to ring hollow.  Do we have the obligation to speak up when the truth is attacked?  Yes!  Do we have the right to speak with passion for what we believe in and hold dear?  Yes!

Do we have the obligation to always speak with gentleness and compassion?  Yes.

St. Paul continues in his reminder to Timothy, “Have nothing to do with stupid, senseless controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.  And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to every one, an apt teacher, forbearing, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth,  and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”

I was thankful I read that passage before posting.

Let us stop attacking each other and work together to bring about the civilization of love in this country.  Not a false love that lacks truth and settles for false unity under the banner of relativism, but also not a false truth that lacks the virtue of charity.

Father Rosica concluded his weekly reflection on the Sunday Mass readings (available on Zenit every Wednesday) with this beautiful quote from John Paul II, when he addressed the U.N. in 1995.  I wanted to share it too, because I think it can really speak to our time:

“We must overcome our fear of the future. But we will not be able to overcome it completely unless we do so together. The ‘answer’ to that fear is neither coercion nor repression, nor the imposition of one social ‘model’ on the entire world. The answer to the fear which darkens human existence at the end of the 20th century is the common effort to build the civilization of love, founded on the universal values of peace, solidarity, justice, and liberty. And the ‘soul’ of the civilization of love is the culture of freedom: the freedom of individuals and the freedom of nations, lived in self-giving solidarity and responsibility.

“We must not be afraid of the future. We must not be afraid of man. It is no accident that we are here. Each and every human person has been created in the ‘image and likeness’ of the One who is the origin of all that is. We have within us the capacities for wisdom and virtue. With these gifts, and with the help of God’s grace, we can build in the next century and the next millennium a civilization worthy of the human person, a true culture of freedom. We can and must do so! And in doing so, we shall see that the tears of this century have prepared the ground for a new springtime of the human spirit.”

Seventy years ago today, the Soviets invaded Poland, while Poland’s Western allies stood by and did nothing.  Let us today remember that anniversary by … bowing to Russia’s pressure to remove our missile defense shield in Eastern Europe, (even as a report issued today disclosed that Iran has the capacity to make a nuclear bomb and is creating a missile system to carry it), much to the alarm of our allies… including Poland.

I h0pe President Obama knows what he is doing.  But it might have been better to announce it on a different day.

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